Finding God's funny bone
Julia Sweeney's brave, hilarious, ultimately moving new solo show "Letting Go of God" is a gale-force breath of fresh air.
By Rob Kendt, Special to The Times
Oct 14 2004
Religion is just too easy a target for mockery. Seen from the outside,
any supernatural belief system can seem absurd. You drink your God's
blood? You could be a gnat in your next life? You can't eat what
Which is why Julia Sweeney's brave, hilarious, ultimately moving
new solo show "Letting Go of God" is a gale-force breath of fresh air.
Into the mostly politic dialogue about religion in our time — which
liberals of every faith have largely ceded to fired-up fundamentalists
— the humbly sage Sweeney has needling questions that can't be swatted
away with the laughing, lukewarm tolerance we typically afford
faith-based humor, as if to say: Gosh, people believe funny things, but
don't we all?
We shouldn't laugh so dismissively, Sweeney insists, at others'
beliefs or our own assumptions. While she scores some easy, flawlessly
deadpan laughs at the expense of Mormonism, Deepak Chopra, astrology
and Catholicism, the tradition she says she was happily raised in, she
is after much bigger game than cheap disdain. As she says to an
imaginary God she's at last parting with near show's end: "It's because
I take you so seriously that I can't bring myself to believe in you."
Looking very at home with herself, on a set dressed like a study
rife with religious books and artifacts, the now white-haired Sweeney
delivers her monologue with her trademark blend of ironic
confidentiality and best-friend candor.
Believers of all stripes and intensities, as well as nonbelievers
who may scoff a little too facilely, will be challenged and disarmed
with stick-in-your-throat laughter by Sweeney's utterly uncynical,
blisteringly honest testimony.