'LETTING GO OF GOD'
October 24, 2006
THEATER REVIEW | 'LETTING GO OF GOD'
Questioning Religious Faith and Yet Finding Inspiration
By ROB KENDT
Can an atheist lift the spirit?
In her searing and bracingly funny
solo show "Letting Go of God,"
Julia Sweeney traces her bumpy journey
away from religious faith in an accessible, no-frills format that
suggests the kind of inspirational self-help lecture you might see
around PBS pledge time.
But where Deepak Chopra or Wayne W. Dyer, say, come bearing warm
broth, distilled from revered spiritual traditions,
arrives with a bucket of cold water for all supernatural belief
from her family's old-school Roman Catholicism to the New Age
alternatives (including Mr. Chopra) embraced by many of her peers.
In her fluent, friendly and offhandedly riveting account,
with a visit from two young Mormon missionaries soon became a fitful
but unrelenting quest for an adult understanding of the deity she
always sincerely sensed was at her side.
Ms. Sweeney felt God's
presence, sure — but what did she really believe about him?
She's almost sorry she asked:
upon examination, the Bible horrifies
and so, ultimately, does the implicit determinism of every
spiritual approach she tries,
from Buddhism to the Deist notion of God
Once she loses the Christian plot she'd never before
the idea that everything happens for a reason in a
where someone, or something, is minding the store
increasingly rings hollow.
Ms. Sweeney, in other words, has come a long way from the snickering
androgyny of the film "It's Pat!"
and gone deeper than her previous
solo show, "God Said `Ha!'," about her brother's fatal lymphoma.
Without breaking her affably conversational tone,
in "Letting Go of
God" she inhabits the emotional memory of each step on her path,
the cozy warmth of her erstwhile prayerful faith to the confusion and
and finally the hard-earned peace of mind,
that attend her
At a time when religious faith is either the subject of shrill
controversy, with prejudice and misunderstanding on both sides (Mel
Gibson, meet Christopher Hitchens),
or of a lukewarm tolerance that's
fundamentally uncurious about what people actually believe,
Go of God" is refreshingly unrancorous, lucid and, yes, inspirational.
Ms. Sweeney may not believe her audience has spirits*** to be moved, but
that's certainly how it feels.
End of review
* Parts of the Bible should horrify.. have an open-minded look at
Yes, I know the arguement for progressive revelation,
but I think that humanity has become at least a little more moral in spite of religion,
not because of religion.
Think of the Crusades ( Holy War )...
Europe's wars between Catholics & Protestants
"Heretics" & "witches" burnt alive
etc etc - all after the NT "revelation"
** Deist :
Definitions of deist on the Web: (from Google.com)
One who admits the possibility of the existence of a God or gods,
but claims to know nothing of either, and denies revelation.
A person whose worldview embraces Deism [noun] [OW]
a philosophy of natural religion, emphasizing morality,
and, usually, denying interference by a Creator with the laws of the universe.
One who subscribes to or professes the belief in the existence of a personal God, based solely on the testimony of reason and rejecting any supernatural revelation;
also believing that God created the world and set it into motion,
subject to natural laws,
but takes no interest in it.
a person who believes that God created the universe and then abandoned it
Deism is a religious philosophy and movement that became prominent in England, France,
and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries. ...
From wikipedia ( at the time I wrote this ) :
"Defining the essence of English Deism is a formidable task.
Like priestcraft, atheism, and freethinking,
Deism was one of the dirty words of the age.
Deists were stigmatized — often as atheists — by their Christian opponents.
Yet some Deists claimed to be Christian, and as Leslie Stephen argued in retrospect, the Deists shared so many fundamental rational suppositions with their orthodox opponents... that it is practically impossible to distinguish between them.
But the term Deism is nevertheless a meaningful one....
Too many men of letters of the time agree
about the essential nature of English Deism
for modern scholars to ignore the simple fact
that what sets the Deists apart
from even their most latitudinarian Christian contemporaries
is their desire to lay aside scriptural revelation as rationally incomprehensible,
and thus useless, or even detrimental, to human society and to religion.
While there may possibly be exceptions, ... most Deists,
especially as the eighteenth century wears on,
agree that revealed Scripture is nothing but a joke or "well-invented flam."
About mid-century, John Leland, in his historical and analytical account of the movement
[View of the Principal Deistical Writers],
squarely states that the rejection of revealed Scripture
is the characteristic element of Deism,
a view further codified by such authorities as Ephraim Chambers and Samuel Johnson. ...
"DEISM," writes Stephens bluntly, "is a denial of all reveal'd Religion."
– James E. Force, "Introduction (1990)
to An Account of the Growth of Deism in England (1696) by William Stephens"
Don't forget these Deists emerged from a world dominated by the church
before the size of the universe was known
before the evidence of species evolving
and before our understanding of the psychology of subjective experience.
If the universe "must" have a creator/designer who HAD to create/design "Him" / "It" ?
It's too easy to simply "have faith" without thinking much about it.....
*** Spirits - A clever use of two of the different meanings of "spirits"
Of course our spirits ( emotions ) can be raised by those who believe that "our spirit" refers only to our personality.
Have a thoughtfull read here....
and and here....
The word spirit — generally a synonym for soul — comes from the Latin spiritus, and clearly meant 'breath' originally.
It makes perfect sense that when primitive man saw that a fellow tribesman had stopped breathing,
he thought that the life spirit had left the now dead body of his friend....
The body went down into the earth eventually
after the breath (spirit ) & smell (spirit ) rose "up" and "went away" !!