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FAITH FRONT; Atheism with a smile
[HOME EDITION]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Atheism; Theater -- Letting Go of God
Author: Winston, Diane
Date: Mar 5, 2006
Start Page: M.2
Section: Current; Part M; Editorial Pages Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

[Julia Sweeney], a former cast member of "Saturday Night Live," has reprised "Letting Go of God," her 2004 one-woman show, at the Groundlings Theater. The comical and poignant saga of Sweeney's loss of faith seems more prescient now against the backdrop of Muslim rioting over cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad, court battles over teaching "intelligent design" in schools and Hamas' victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.

Asked by a Mormon missionary if she believed God loved her, Sweeney, a lapsed Catholic, was stymied. She returned to church to find out. Studying Scripture with the priest, she couldn't square her vision of a loving divinity with images of a God who flooded his creation and a Jesus who smote a fig tree because it had no fruit.

That's the mystery Sweeney taps -- a fundamental human need for meaning (hard-wired, according to some scientists). Some find meaning in church community and religious ritual while others -- the self-styled "spiritual but not religious" -- recoil from institutional life.

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