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Letting Go of God | [Julia Sweeney]

Letting Go of God

Julia Sweeney says she was a "happy Catholic girl" when, one day, she walked into church and signed up for a Bible-study course. "What an eye opener that was!" she says. Equally comedic and insightful, Letting Go of God is Sweeney's brilliant one-woman show about her struggle with her faith.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Anyone who thinks that Julia Sweeney is just the comedian who played "Pat" on Saturday Night Live, doesn't know Julia Sweeney. Letting Go of God, an elegantly written and beautifully performed monologue about her loss of faith, made me laugh - a lot - and think even more. Far from being an angry atheistic screed, it is an uplifting journey of the heart. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

Julia Sweeney says she was a "happy Catholic girl" when, one day, she walked into church and signed up for a Bible-study course. "What an eye opener that was!" she says. "Next thing you know, I was on a quest for something I could really believe in. I traveled to places like Bhutan, Ecuador, and my local Starbucks looking for answers. Would I embrace Buddhism? New Age pseudo-science? Was I a freak for feeling the way I did, or were there other people out there just like me? I was grappling with serious questions. But, somehow, a lot of the things that were happening to me seemed, well, funny."

Equally comedic and insightful, Letting Go of God is Sweeney's brilliant one-woman show about her struggle with her faith. Grappling with the seeming contradictions in Adam and Eve, Noah, the Ten Commandments, and even the teachings of Jesus - and trying to understand the Bible's messages about morality, family values, and human suffering while faced with door-knocking Mormons and wise-cracking priests - Sweeney takes listeners on her very personal journey from God to "not-God".

This performance was recorded on November 19, 2005, at the Ars Nova Theatre in New York City.

Julia Sweeney was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1989-94, and is best known for the mysteriously androgynous character, "It's Pat!". She has also served as a consulting producer on Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives. Letting Go of God is her third monologue. She performed her first, God Said, "Ha!", in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and on Broadway, as well as in a film produced by Quentin Tarantino. The CD version was nominated for a Grammy.

There's lots more Julia Sweeney available at AudibleĀ®! Just click here to download In the Family Way, her appearances on This American Life, her Un-Cabaret performances, and other great programs.

©2006 Julia Sweeney; (P)2006 Julia Sweeney

What the Critics Say

"Searing and bracingly funny....Letting Go of God is refreshingly unrancorous, lucid and, yes, inspirational." (The New York Times)
"Letting Go of God is a gale-force breath of fresh air into the mostly political dialogue about religion in our time." (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (1537 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mark Warner, NH, USA 12-09-06
    Mark Warner, NH, USA 12-09-06
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    "A Brilliant Personal Journey of Discovery"

    You can read Dawkins, Harris, or Dennett and find yourself informed, inflamed, or even affirmed, but none of them is as "humanly" insightful as Julia Sweeney. This is not juat another comic "rant" about the foibles of religion. Sweeney's deep personal journey was not just about her reactions but also about her explorations. She speaks profoundly as someone who both feels the emotional implications of her journey and the knows the intellectual basis for it. If you've ever been anywhere near the route she's traveled, you'll recognize the terrain as if it's being described by an old friend. If you've been afraid to take the journey, Sweeney's caring and poignant account will urge you forward. And if you're threatened by such journeys of discovery, you might just discover there's less to be afraid of that you thought. All of this is delivered in Julia Sweeney's impecable comic timing - she's speaking from the heart but she's also speaking as someone who knows how to get her message across in a way it can be heard and enjoyed. At 2 hours, this audiobook is just the right length to engage you but not overwhelm you. Buy, listen, enjoy, and think.

    35 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JJ Johnson 07-11-07
    JJ Johnson 07-11-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Entertaining and Thought Provoking"

    As a former believing Mormon, I could not stop listening to Julia's story. I went through the SAME journey and came to her same conclusions. She is surprisingly well read and has a genuine quest for truth. I really admire her intellectual honesty with herself. I can tell you first hand that her telling of the story from her visit with the Mormon missionaries is spot-on what you would hear from any Mormon missionary, other than the part about Joseph Smith putting his face in a hat to translate the Golden Plates. The church hides that little nugget and 95% of missionaries are not aware of that being in the historical record. She keeps your attention throughout the journey. She often will discuss something deeply thought provoking and then say something extremely funny right after so as to not get too serious. She has truly mastered story-telling skills. I have heard this type of story many times before, but never so entertaining and thought provoking. I listen to this over and over again. It does not get old.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Mississauga, ON, Canada 07-25-07
    Robert Mississauga, ON, Canada 07-25-07 Member Since 2001

    Best-novel Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction writer. Audie Award winner for CALCULATING GOD. Author of FLASHFORWARD and 20 more.

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    "Brilliant, charming -- sheer genius"

    Letting Go Of God covers all the bases: the journey from childhood religious indoctrination to freethinking adulthood, the contradictions in the Bible, the silliness of New Age thinking as a substitute for reason, the prejudice against atheists, and, most of all, shows that you can be a good, kind, loving person without God (indeed, it's hard not to be totally in love with Sweeney by the end). It never sneers, never uses condescension, and never once tells anyone else what to think -- it trust that the members of the audience can find their own way. A tour de force; I recommend it highly and wholeheartedly.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Crozet, VA, United States 12-13-06
    David Crozet, VA, United States 12-13-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Wise, touching, and awfully funny"

    Julia Sweeney has come a long way since her "Pat" days on Saturday Night Live, when she suffered by comparison with a born character actor like Gilda Radner. Instead, Sweeney is a master of the comedy that comes with experience and insight, the comedy of maturity. "Letting Go of God" is a performance by a woman who has grown tremendously as a humorist as well as a person.

    This Audible.com title is a live recording, before an audience, of her one-woman show. It comes without context or introduction, which is a bit startling: after "This is Audible" you're thrown right into the opening story of Sweeney as a 7-year-old learning that her Catholic church now considers her to have reached the "age of reason" (meaning that God starts keeping score).

    The rest of the narrative fits squarely into the genre of spiritual autobiography, but not your forefathers' pilgrim's progress: hers is hilarious, and it leads away from Catholicism and belief in God to a confident humanism.

    Totally missing from "Letting Go of God" are the stridency and pugnaciousness of this year's defenses of atheism by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Sweeney honors the part of herself that will always be Catholic, and while she's as impatient as Dawkins or Harris with narrow-minded fundamentalism she doesn't share their tendency to call people she doesn't agree with idiots. (Well, okay, except for Deepak Chopra, but that's like making fun of mimes or something--you just *have* to do it.)

    The quality of the recording is excellent, and the audience response mostly adds to the experience and never intrudes on Sweeney's storytelling.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karon Gilbert, AZ, United States 05-21-08
    Karon Gilbert, AZ, United States 05-21-08
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    "Artfully told"

    I would not have tolerated this book if it were written any other way than the way she told it. From her experiences, I can see why she has come to the conclusion she did. I learned a valuable lesson from her, my thoughts are my own and I don't have to worry about being judged one day for them. Thank you for clearing my head of the "judgement seat" of God. I cannot let go of God, but I can understand those who have and will not burden them with the mundane questions and comments in attempts to "figure them out". Thank you for gently telling your story with humor and love. I finally get it.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    reggie p PA 01-07-07
    reggie p PA 01-07-07 Member Since 2003

    reggie

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    "Funny but true"

    Julia is halarious and it's hard not to agree with her arguments. She asks the questions that most people growing up Catholic only thought about but were afraid to ask out loud.

    Julia didn't let go of God without a fight. She has done her research and is well informed in a variety of fields. In this performance she tells us about her personal struggle with religion, and demonstrates how her doubt and research have led her to where she is today. And she does this all in a very entertaining way.

    If you struggle with religion, and especially Catholicism, you will enjoy this. If you are on the other side, you may find it troublesome, although she is not disrespectful at all.

    It takes guts to do what she has done and she deserves kudos for her bravery.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 09-07-08
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 09-07-08 Member Since 2006

    Don't you just love a great story well told?

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    "Sweet Funny Tale of a Spiritual Journey"

    Julia Sweeney with humor and "textual" evidence direct from the Bible combined with personal experience really makes you understand her need to wander from the "flock" of the Christian-Catholic church. If you're open minded and have enough faith in your personal beliefs you'll withstand the few excellently placed jabs she makes at the Christian/Catholic's "bestseller". However if you are religiously fundamental and think of the Bible as the LITERAL WORD of GOD then you will see this comedian as a blasphemer. As a deist, I found her thoughtfulness very refreshing as she truly struggles to reconcile her visions of God and Jesus as loving beings... with the outright nastiness of God and many other contradictions so well documented in both the Old and New testaments. Even Jesus says/does some pretty surprising things as "the Prince of Peace" Granted the Old Testament writings are "Bronze Age" ramblings and that we should "...leave that book to the professionals." She really WANTS to believe but as she studies the actual Bible and THINKS you can hear the pain evident during her slow transformation. God gave us free will which God may want us to use correctly. Especially to develop a personal relationship with..uh... "him." It's hard to support anything that encourages "cult" thinking or discourages thinking for yourself and developing one's own reasonable set of morals that encourages love and kindness to all. Of course, personal belief is just that. This reviewer has no right to criticize anyone's personal beliefs (as long as they are not violent). But back to this concise wonderful monologue it really will open your eyes and you too may feel her outraged quip as she watches churchgoers with the Bible in their hands: "Have you even READ that BOOK?????"

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina north las vegas, NV, USA 03-08-07
    Christina north las vegas, NV, USA 03-08-07
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    "drop dead funny. 'nuf said."

    being raised catholic, this was "pee your pants" hysterical! it was deeply insightful on the general, everday human condition, as well. i am getting all her books. exactly what an audiobook should be, no matter how you were brought up. i wish it was longer.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 02-18-08
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 02-18-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Extremeley funny and insightful"

    This is a real gem. Julia Sweeney manages to be extremeley funny while talking about her own journey of spiritual and religious discovery. She conveys more insights and fundamental truths in just over two hours than most of the other "popular" atheist/agnostic tomes out there that are many times longer. Unlike many of those other books, she is able to do it without being depressing, disrespectful, or taking herself too seriously. I have listened to it twice already and will likely listen again.
    If the subject matter and approach of this book looks interesting to you, then I encourage you to get it. You will not be disappointed!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aracely New Fairfield, CT, United States 01-03-08
    Aracely New Fairfield, CT, United States 01-03-08
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    "She could have been telling my own story!"

    I absolutely loved this audio book! Julia Sweeny does such a wonderful job of explaining a very personal, sometimes painful soul-searching journey into her spiritual beliefs. I loved it because it also mirrored my own journey and took me to the same place in almost the exact same way. She tells her story in a humorous, but very intelligent manner that is very enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever grappled with the question, "What if there is no god?"

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Nigel
    Swadlincote, United Kingdom
    9/13/12
    Overall
    "Thoroughly Uplifting"

    For anyone who has a doubt over their religious viewpoint please download this audiobook. It is highly entertaining and clearly cuts through the absurdity of organised religion of any denomination. Julias style is light hearted but with a bite when needed. Thoroughly uplifting and highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • D. C. Telfer
    Scotland, UK
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "What a joy!"

    I downloaded this recording after seeing Julia Sweeney recommended by Phil Plait (aka Bad Astronomer) and I would strongly echo his recommendation. This is intelligent, moving and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, all in a short space of time. Julia describes her personal journey of discovery from the Catholicism of her early life, through other types of spirituality and finally to atheism. With both humour and humility, she is able to convey the joy and increased sense of wonder, awe and mystery that can be delivered by a deeper understanding of science and freedom from religion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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