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