Publishers Weekly "Best Books of 2016"
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.
“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