Publishers Weekly “Best Books of 2016”
Spirituality & Health Magazine Best Book of 2016
Nautilus Gold Award Winner 2016: Religion and Spirituality of Other Traditions
Religion News Association, First Place: Excellence in Nonfiction Religion Books
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.
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About 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.
Table of Contents
Prologue "We're Nothing" 1
Chapter 1 Losing My Religion 9
Chapter 2 How Did We Get Here? 21
Chapter 3 Religion Tries to Stay Relevant 33
Good-Bye to All That
Chapter 4 The Big Picture 51
Chapter 5 Moral Authority 65
Chapter 6 Religious Literacy 79
Chapter 7 A Sense of Belonging 90
The Path Forward
Chapter 8 Morality Without a Map 113
Chapter 9 Do-It-Yourself Religion 125
Chapter 10 Almost Church 149
Chapter 11 Ritual Without Religion 166
Chapter 12 Facing the Big Unknown 187
Chapter 13 The Wonder of the Natural World 205
Chapter 14 The God of Here and Now 220
Conclusion Make Your Own Sunday 235
Epilogue A Letter to My Children 241
Resources for Readers 249