Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt

Richard Holloway

Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt

The writer, thinker and outspoken former bishop Richard Holloway recounts a life defined by the biggest questions: Who am I? And what is God? At fourteen, Richard Holloway left his home in the Vale of Leven, north of Glasgow, and travelled hundreds of miles to be educated and trained for the priesthood by a religious order in an English monastery. By twenty-five he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. Throughout the following forty years, Richard touched the lives of many people in the Church and in the wider community. But behind his confident public face lay a restless, unquiet heart and a constantly searching mind. Why is the Church, which claims to be the instrument of God's love, so prone to cruelty and condemnation? And how can a man live with the tension between public faith and private doubt? In his long-awaited memoir, Richard seeks to answer these questions and to explain how, after many crises of faith, he finally and painfully left the Church. 3.6 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Religion & Spirituality
Format Hardback
Pages 288
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-0857860736
Publisher Canongate
 

The writer, thinker and outspoken former bishop Richard Holloway recounts a life defined by the biggest questions: Who am I? And what is God? At fourteen, Richard Holloway left his home in the Vale of Leven, north of Glasgow, and travelled hundreds of miles to be educated and trained for the priesthood by a religious order in an English monastery. By twenty-five he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. Throughout the following forty years, Richard touched the lives of many people in the Church and in the wider community. But behind his confident public face lay a restless, unquiet heart and a constantly searching mind. Why is the Church, which claims to be the instrument of God's love, so prone to cruelty and condemnation? And how can a man live with the tension between public faith and private doubt? In his long-awaited memoir, Richard seeks to answer these questions and to explain how, after many crises of faith, he finally and painfully left the Church.

Reviews

The Observer

Mary Warnock

It is Holloway's insistence that Christianity is a great work of the human imagination that makes his memoir so compelling and so intense … What a deeply lovable man; and what a wonderful book he has written.

19/02/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Telegraph

David Robson

The tone of the writing is so gentle and rational that one cannot call the book a polemic. But Holloway certainly throws down the gauntlet — with a quiet, elegiac passion — to Christians who arm themselves in certainty, believe homosexuality is an abomination and regard a woman bishop as a contradiction in terms. They should read this wise, erudite book as a matter of urgency, and with an open mind.

20/02/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Andrew Motion

Leaving Alexandria gives a profound sense of the benefits, as well as the difficulties, that accrue from taking a zigzag path through life ... "The mistake," he says, "was to think religion was more than human. I was less sure whether God was also just a human invention, but I was sure religion was." This is simply put, but with the whole weight of a very thoughtful and courageous book behind it, it summarises an argument that a lot of people will find sympathetic, as well as compelling.

18/02/2012

Read Full Review


The Times

Alain de Botton

Holloway’s loss of faith is attractive in that it is presented to us with genuine sorrow, rather than as a confident movement towards an allegiance with reason and science. He doesn’t crow about the illogicality of belief, he merely regrets that belief has become impossible for him, as it is now for so many of us. He tells us that those who think religion is a human creation should see God as a child, “conceived by our longing and cradled in our imagination”. We are far from the shrill tone of Richard Dawkins...

25/02/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Jenni Russell

I wrote a cross note to myself at page 141, observing that I had so far spent some 30 years in the company of a man I found so dull, unperceptive and self-important that in real life I’d be reluctant to spend 10 minutes sitting next to him at dinner ... Just as I was losing all patience with the man and his personality, I reached chapter eight and found myself reading a totally different, compelling book. Once Holloway is released from the fashionable obligation to recount his mundane personal experiences, and starts reflecting on the big questions of faith, need and human nature to which he has devoted his religious and intellectual life, he becomes a wise, sympathetic and absorbing companion.

04/03/2012

Read Full Review


The Independent

Pat Kane

To riff on one of his fellow-travellers in the publishing lists, Leaving Alexandria ends up as "atheism for the religious". But whereas young Master De Botton runs excitedly round the commonwealth, having extracted new activist tools from spiritual tradition, Holloway's memoir — however beautifully written and dramaturgically candid — is an inspiritus lenis, the last gasp of a religious life. If we need to find a guide to a world resacralising before our eyes, we may need to look elsewhere than to this corporeal, complex, all-too-human wanderer.

09/03/2012

Read Full Review


The Evening Standard

Melanie McDonagh

What you really want to know is how someone whose beliefs are so remote from Christianity could ever have occupied the position he did. You never really do find out. What you do get is a curiously affecting, melancholy account of his early life.

01/03/2012

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore