Meet the “Nones,” a rapidly growing group of the religiously unaffiliated in America (so-called because they check the box that reads, essentially, “none of the above” when asked about their faith). While many Americans are raised in a religious tradition, recent decades have seen large numbers of families drift from their churches and synagogues, temples and mosques, and abandon faith-based practices. But what is lost with this exodus from organized religion?
Religion gives us a moral grounding and a sense of identity by connecting us to our past and creating tight communal bonds. It also makes us happier, healthier, and more giving. But without the one-stop shop of religion, how do the nonreligious fill the need for ritual, story, community, and, above all, purpose and meaning? With a quarter of Americans identifying as religiously unaffiliated, these questions have never been more urgent.
Katherine Ozment—writer, journalist, and mother of three—comes face-to-face with the fundamental issue of the Nones when her son asks her the simplest of questions: “What are we?” Unsettled by the only reply she could summon—“Nothing”—she sets out on a journey across the changing landscape of America to find a better answer.
Ozment visits diverse congregations, from an atheist church to a storytelling gathering to a nature-based coming-of-age ritual. She turns to science and the humanities, seeking guidance from noted scholars in a wide range of disciplines. She interviews community leaders and parents, and searches for meaning on mountaintops and in her own front yard. Along the way she shares how her family finds purpose and connection without the organizing principle of religion.Grace Without God is both a personal and critical exploration of the many ways nonreligious Americans create their own traditions and communities in an increasingly secular age. Insightful, surprising, and compelling, Ozment’s journey reveals how to find your own way forward to a meaningful life.
“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.” —Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers
“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.” —Julien Musolino, Associate Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, and author of The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs
“I inhaled every word. Ozment’s curiosity and honesty in her passionate pilgrimage for secular community yield vital insights. Every parent wondering how best to raise a child without religion, as well as every person struggling to live a meaningful life, will find wisdom and sustenance in this important book.” —Mary Johnson, author of An Unquenchable Thirst
“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.” —Steve Levitt, bestselling author of Freakonomics
“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.” —Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy and Catastrophic Happiness
“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.” —Laura Fraser, best-selling author of An Italian Affair
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.” —Phil Zuckerman, author of Living the Secular Life