In Versions of Deconversion John Barbour examines the work of a broad selection of authors in order to discover the reasons for their loss of faith and to analyze the ways in which they have interpreted that loss. For some the experience of deconversion led to another religious faith, some turned to atheism or agnosticism, and others used deconversion as a metaphor or analogy to interpret an experience of personal transformation. The loss of faith is closely related to such vital ethical and theological concerns as the role of conscience, the assessment of religious communities, the dialectical relationship between faith and doubt, and the struggle to reconcile faith with intellectual and moral integrity. This book shows the persistence and the vitality of the theme of deconversion in autobiography, and it demonstrates how the literary form and structure of autobiography are shaped by ethical critique and religious reflection. Versions of Deconversion should appeal at once to scholars in the fields of religious studies and theology who are concerned with narrative texts, to literary critics and specialists on autobiography, and to a wider audience interested in the ethical and religious significance of autobiography.
John D. Barbour is Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College. His previous book include Tragedy as a Critique of Virtue: The Novel and Ethical Reflection and The Conscience of the Autobiographer: Ethical and Religious Dimensions of Autobiography