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Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age
     

Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age

by Katherine Ozment
 

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Meet “the Nones”—In this thought-provoking exploration of secular America, celebrated journalist Katherine Ozment takes readers on a quest to understand the trends and ramifications of a nation in flight from organized religion.

Studies show that religion makes us happier, healthier and more giving, connecting us to our past and creating tight

Overview

Meet “the Nones”—In this thought-provoking exploration of secular America, celebrated journalist Katherine Ozment takes readers on a quest to understand the trends and ramifications of a nation in flight from organized religion.

Studies show that religion makes us happier, healthier and more giving, connecting us to our past and creating tight communal bonds. Most Americans are raised in a religious tradition, but in recent decades many have begun to leave religion, and with it their ancient rituals, mythic narratives, and sense of belonging.

So how do the nonreligious fill the need for ritual, story, community, and, above all, purpose and meaning without the one-stop shop of religion? What do they do with the space left after religion? With Nones swelling to one-fourth of American adults, and more than one-third of those under thirty, these questions have never been more urgent.

Writer, journalist, and secular mother of three Katherine Ozment came face-to-face with the fundamental issue of the Nones when her son asked her the simplest of questions: “what are we?” Unsettled by her reply—“Nothing”—she set out on a journey to find a better answer. She traversed the frontier of American secular life, sought guidance in science and the humanities, talked with noted scholars, and wrestled with her own family’s attempts to find meaning and connection after religion.

Insightful, surprising, and compelling, Grace Without God is both a personal and critical exploration of the many ways nonreligious Americans create their own meaning and purpose in an increasingly secular age.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/09/2016
Nonplussed by her young son’s question “What are we?” when they saw a Greek Orthodox procession, secular writer Ozment answered, “We’re nothing.” She writes, “I decided then and there that I would seek a better answer for my son, for myself, and for my family. I knew that we were something, but what?” In this wide-ranging book, Ozment, a journalist and former senior editor at National Geographic, skillfully weaves together interviews with cutting-edge academic experts, her personal story, helpful statistics, and her experiences attending gatherings across the U.S. where she talked with many others on the same quest. Detailing the sense of loss she and others have felt without the benefits of traditional religion—“identity and belonging, rituals, shared stories, moral authority, and belief in God and the afterlife”—Ozment then delves into the many ways secular Americans are trying to build community and shared meaning, with a keen eye for the paradoxes and hazards of those efforts. Her focus throughout is finding ways to raise honest, kind, and compassionate children outside of a religious framework. The author includes extensive resource information for others on a similar search, including lists of books for children by age group. This well-crafted, accessible exploration of a pressing topic, full of hard questions and astute observations, can serve as a springboard for discussion by parents—and others—who wonder whether people “need God to be good.” (July)
Humanist
“An astute journalist, Ozment deftly explores whether meaningful ritual can offer an adequate substitute for organized religion. Her candor, open-mindedness, and reflection provide solace to the reader struggling with similar issues in their own lives, respectfully honoring the ghost of religion rather than writing it off.”
Library Journal
06/15/2016
The United States is seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of people who do not consider themselves religious, who no longer identify with the faith they grew up with, or who are in some way reimagining what religion means to them. Journalist Ozment offers a measured discussion of what this cultural shift means in the long term for individuals, communities, and culture. Infused with personal anecdotes along with interviews with scholars and religious leaders, topics include how organized religion affects individual identity and sense of belonging (e.g., when leaving religion means leaving one's heritage behind), secularization (including differences in secularized vs. religious rituals such as "coming of age" with a driver's license vs. a bar mitzvah), faith and science (e.g., how age and cognitive differences can affect belief), and more. VERDICT Ozment successfully writes an informative and relatable discussion on the changing landscape of religion, society, and identity. Recommended for readers interested in the sociology of religion.—Jennifer Harris, Southern New Hampshire Univ. Lib., Manchester
June Sawyers
“Ozment offers her own version of do-it-yourself religion, encouraging everyone to wonder, to seek knowledge, and to connect to a larger purpose. Grace Without God is thoughtful and insightful.”
The Humanist
“An astute journalist, Ozment deftly explores whether meaningful ritual can offer an adequate substitute for organized religion. Her candor, open-mindedness, and reflection provide solace to the reader struggling with similar issues in their own lives, respectfully honoring the ghost of religion rather than writing it off.”
Julien Musolino
“Combining the talent of a gifted story-teller, the erudition of a scholar, and the soft touch of a mother, Ozment takes her readers on an unforgettable examination of life’s deepest questions. Profound, moving, and uplifting, Grace without God is a gem and is destined to become a classic.”
Mary Johnson
“Combining the talent of a gifted story-teller, the erudition of a scholar, and the soft touch of a mother, Ozment takes her readers on an unforgettable examination of life’s deepest questions. Profound, moving, and uplifting, Grace without God is a gem and is destined to become a classic.”
Dale McGowan
“An engagingly personal exploration of parenting without religion that’s clear and honest, thoughtful and deeply felt. This is a brilliant addition to the growing chorus of voices in nonreligious parenting. Grace Without God is just that good.”
Phil Zuckerman
Ozment is not out to bash religion or defend atheism. Quite the contrary: with insight and sensitivity, drawing from her own experiences, Ozment presents a compelling, informative, and inspirational account. Highly recommended for those who no longer believe or congregate, but yearn to live a meaningful life all the same.”
Catherine Newman
“It’s not a spoiler to say that Ozment goes looking for grace only to discover she’s had it all along. From the first page, you’ll be struck by Ozment’s gracious curiosity, intelligence, optimism, and all-around secular loveliness. I felt proud to belong to her tribe—human and godless both.”
Laura Fraser
“So many of us don’t call ourselves religious, and yet miss much of what religion offered our parents and grandparents—a sense of community, morality, and ritual. Whether you are atheist, spiritual, an occasional meditator, or a confused seeker, this beautifully-written book will help answer some of life’s big questions.”
Steve Levitt
“In this beautifully written, exhaustively researched, and deeply personal book, Katherine Ozment explores the challenges facing parents who want to raise moral, community-minded children in the absence of formal religion. Grace without God fundamentally changed the way I will raise my children.”
Julie Scheeres
“This book is perfect for those of us who have moved past religion but still crave community and sense of moral guidance. Ozment finds secular answers to the big questions: What’s the meaning of life? How do we deal with death? What is our purpose? A satisfying and deep read.”
Peter Morales
“This book is a pilgrimage. In Grace Without God, we are invited to travel with Ozment as she searches religion, philosophy, and social science for tools to construct meaning in our time.”
Ethan Watters
“We are in new and uncharted territory. The family and kinship ties that once insured religious adherence are unwinding. What has been lost? Where might this new freedom take us? In her deeply personal quest to answer these questions, Ozment has created an important book for our time.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062305114
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/21/2016
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
141,788
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Ozment is an award-winning journalist and former senior editor at National Geographic. Her essays and articles have been widely published in such venues as the New York Times, National Geographic, and Salon. She lives in Chicago with her husband and children.

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