Blakeson’s debut memoir relates his lifelong quest for spirituality and seeks to open up a line of communication between those who are religious and those who aren’t.
The author grew up in Kansas, in the “buckle” of the Bible Belt. Raised in a conservative Baptist family, he was teased in school and felt out of place, so he ensconced himself in the church community, the first place that he truly knew love. After some time—and the onslaught of hormones—he experienced a “growing dissonance” between his preaching and his heart. In college, he studied world religions and came to discover the importance of objectivity, which he used to view religion in all its variations. He grew to believe that no one faith holds the answer to the meaning of life or the keys to morality. By abandoning the faith that formed him, he was free to “unlearn” his indoctrination and find inner peace without the “false advertisements” of polarizing and subjective beliefs. He also realized the depression he battled all his life was the product of his search for God. The second half of Blakeson’s book deals with the lessons he learned on his roller-coaster ride and how others may break the “religious cycle” to begin their true spiritual lives. Although the author’s critiques of conservative and fundamental Christianity are the most persuasive, he also adeptly explores what he sees as the shortcomings of other world religions, observing how good Muslims he knows contradict the Quran’s more troubling passages. He also writes about the difficulty he’s had speaking honestly about conflicts in the Middle East without being “unjustly vilified as anti-Semitic.” The author can be humorous at times, such as when young Cole asks God to watch over the United States on election night in 2004. God’s reply? “No.” The next day, he found out that George W. Bush was re-elected.
An intelligent, impassioned plea for religious objectivity.