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Grace Without God

The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age

Katherine Ozment

Book

A THOUGHT-PROVOKING EXPLORATION OF HOW TO LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE WITHOUT RELIGION.

Meet the“Nones,” a rapidly growing group of religiously unaffiliated Americans (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 when we leave religion?

Faith traditions give us a moral grounding and a sense of identity by connecting us to our past and creating tight communal bonds. 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 can summon—“Nothing”—she sets out on a journey across the changing landscape of America to find a better answer.

Insightful, surprising, and compelling, Ozment’s search is both a personal and critical exploration, inspiring readers of all backgrounds to find their own way forward to a meaningful life.

Author

Katherine Ozment

Katherine Ozment

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.

Reviews

“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

“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.” —June Sawyers, Booklist

“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

“What an important book. I inhaled every word. Every person struggling to live a meaningful life will find wisdom and sustenance in Grace Without God.—Mary Johnson, author of An Unquenchable Thirst

“This book is perfect for those of us who have moved past religion but still crave community and sense of moral guidance. Ozment has interviewed dozens of seekers, academics and spiritual leaders, finding 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.” —Julie Scheeres, bestselling author of Jesus Land

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

“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.” The Humanist

“An informative and relatable discussion on the changing landscape of religion, society, and identity.” Library Journal

“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

“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.’” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“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.” —Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us

Grace Without God is a pilgrimage. Katherine Ozment is one of millions who have left traditional religion only to find that not only is something is missing in their lives, but that they long to give their children the meaning, sense of belonging, and spiritual depth of religion. In Grace Without God, we are invited to travel with her as she searches religion, philosophy, and social science for tools to construct meaning in our time.” —Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

“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

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