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Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  161 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Harper Wave (first published June 23rd 2015)
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Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I've got a lot of complicated feelings about this book, and reviewing it requires a little coming out and disclosure.

I work for the Unitarian Universalist Association, the national office for the denomination. I'm married to a former seminarian. And until a few months ago, neither of us were members of a church because we both struggled with religion, religious organizations, and our own personal faith beliefs (but we've spent a decade searching for a church home).

Ozment's book immediately intri
...more
Jennifer Margulis
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of nonfiction books about many different topics--global parenting, crime, spirituality, medical advances, gay rights, prison reform, even aspirin--and I can honestly say Grace Without God is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The book combines the author's personal history and present-day family experiences, which I found very moving, with fascinating research and reporting on this issue of being a "none" (that is, NOT identifying with any given religion and not necessa ...more
Linda
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Without preaching "my way or the highway," Katherine provides a very insightful, well-researched viewpoint on the trials and tribulations of navigating a secular world. Clearly she talked to a lot of people and the reporting was balanced. Not only does she personalize the journey, she also gives guideposts to others who are looking for spirituality and meaning outside the confines of organized religion. I found it refreshing without being insulting or demeaning to others who embrace "t ...more
Mackenzie
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Ozment is fairly repetitive of the common theme of losing community when we diverge from religion, and that made for repetitive answers; the same answers or really none at all. I appreciated the chapter on death and the reflection section of questions and phases of losing religion the most.
Candy Hudziak
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
I appreciate the author's purpose, but this work makes it clear, either unintentionally or not, that only the church can fulfill the role of creating community and providing meaning to people's lives in any long-lasting and structured way. I'm not sure that will come as a surprise to anyone despite the book's title.
Kelly Davis
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, inspiring, and poignant -- but not preachy. Regardless of your relationship with religion, you will probably find something to appreciate in Katherine Ozment's gentle prose and reverent exploration of the many ways in which people practice spirituality and create meaningful lives.
Robyn
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
It might have been okay for another 100% secular humanist but there was insufficient depth and research for anyone who has actually studied the phenomenon of the "nones". I recommend Diana Butler Bass and Phyllis Tickle for more substance.
Danuta
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I would not reach for this kind of book but it was recommended by a friend so I gave it a try. Couldn't handle it till the end. Too illogical for me, not convincing or inspiring. Beginning is quite OK but then the books becomes some kind of psychobabble. Too much God in Grace Without..
Wendy
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
My review can be found on my blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty:
http://www.literaryfeline.com/2016/06...
Chris
Sep 10, 2016 marked it as to-read
Heard about this in Walla Walla In a sermon by Alex Bryan, who said he finished it in two days and thinks it's one of the greatest arguments for church he's ever seen, though written by an agnostic.
Lisa
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
I reviewed this book here: http://www.lisamorguess.com/2016/07/2...
Audrey
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great work here. I really enjoyed her journey to find a way to help her children grow up w the benefits (in her mind) of a church community without the doctrine or dogma or whatever the appropriate word is for the strict interpretation of so many organized religions. In our current situation where I believe that religion divides us rather than unifies us, her extensive research and her accessible writing were very interesting. She didn't have an answer for everyone but just her answer for hersel ...more
Philip Garside
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading this excellent survey of secular life makes me sad. Sad that for so many people religious faith has not given them meaning, purpose and belonging. I am a member of a multi-cultural Methodist church in New Zealand, where we value and blend together pakeha, Maori & Pacific island values and rituals, along with those of people from other countries. Pacific people have much to teach us all about good things to do when loved ones die. Our monthly communion services include singing and lit ...more
Jami Murphy
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent.

The amount of thought, research and care that went into creating an examination of what it means to understand who you are in relation to religion was astounding. She is very earnest and honest about her longing to find a connection with a faith system that matches her emotional, intellectual and familial needs. I never felt as if she was trying to convince me that one way was better than another. Personal opinion was noticeably omitted with regard to the many religious f
...more
John Kaufmann
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good. Ozment, like so many other [moderns], has abandoned religion. However, she is caught short when her children start asking questions such as "What are we?" She recognizes something has been lost - community, ritual, a sense of being part of something larger than oneself - and goes out in quest of trying to find others who have tried form a non-religious community. While there is no full replacement at this time, there are many fledgling efforts that have brought some degree of success. Her ...more
Suzen
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2017
I had such a complicated difficult time reading about her personal journey. I did not realize that it was just about her and her kids though. Other than that part about her super-natural children who come up with profound questions at exceptional ages. Trust me I do not believe that. Kids mimic what they hear especially at very young ages. I did get a list of authors and ideas that were actually atheist in nature. It was just difficult to unwrap the good information from her woo-woo belief syste ...more
Yvette Hatton
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. It started a little slow but it was so thoughtfully constructed and a great combination of personal perspectives and careful research that it kept me engaged to the very last page. It was very useful for my approach to my kids religious education.
Christina
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Mixed feelings. I'm an atheist and I wanted to go to church after I read this book. HA! Only for the community though... not the sermon. Kind of like being invited to the reception, not the wedding. The reception is the best part.
Adam Boltz
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Super fascinating book that I could very much relate to, being raised Christian but no longer being religious. It examines what organized religion provides and options for trying to achieve the positives without a traditional church.
Mary Nee
A well-written book!Highly recommended.This book explores ways of replacing meaning and sense of community that believers lose when they leave religion.
Socraticgadfly
Uneven at best, slanted or inaccurate in spots

The book's hedgings and half-truths reflect, I think, what Lawrence Krauss said in talking with her (an interview which was surely truncated). And that is that we do, basically, create our own meaning, to the degree we're conscious about it — and that includes the religious fundamentalist.

That said, per the first phrase above?

The early-middle chapters are where this book goes off the rail.

In “Moral Authority,” she says all major religions have the Go
...more
Daphne
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
As more and more people choose to live secular lives, where will they find the sense of community and benefits of ritual that religion typically provides? Ozment sets out to answer this question, meeting with experts on religion, as well as people who are trying to live secular lives of meaning. As it turns out, there is no one right answer, but Ozment provides multiple perspectives in this thorough and thoughtfully written account of her quest. She presents difficult topics without passing judg ...more
Jeremy
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Ozment lost her faith long ago, and is struggling to figure out how to raise a secular family in a religious world. She talks to a lot of people and visits many humanist/atheist functions. Much of the book revolves around how one of the main benefits people get from church is a sense of community. People’s satisfaction with their church correspondingly increases with the number of friends they have at that church. It is very difficult, near about impossible, to create this outside of the church ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
With a growing number of people drifting away or actively leaving religion there are some services that religion provides that unbelievers can no longer rely on. This book explores ways of replacing meaning and sense of community that believers lose when they leave religion. The book after spending some time on the phenomenon of the rise of the nones or those people who are unaffiliated with a religion she goes on to explore ways people try to come together and still partake of the positive aspe ...more
Kevin Summers
Sep 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
Ozment presents the worldview of what seems to be the typical 21st century American secularist.

Sample quote: "Was it possible to have all of the good of religion--without the parts we didn't like?"

Side note: Ozment appears to have no understanding of what traditional Christianity means by "grace."
Bindy
Sep 14, 2016 added it
"I do not know if I believe in God" Two of my three sons have told me this. I received this book just when I was struggling with that turmoil in my life. What did I do wrong to cause this, I thought to myself.
This book just validated what I come to accept that I did not do enough to bring My kids closer to the belief In God, to religion. But at the end of the day what matters is the values that you believe God stands for is taught and accepted by your children. No matter the race, religion or v
...more
Lyn
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
The first 50 pages or so were great - lots of personal stories, and a clear explanation of Ozment's goals. She brought in some research, but not too much. However... After the first section of the book, she began bringing in a lot more of other people's ideas. And then even more. And seemed to just progressively add more, with hardly anything to make the book any kind of personal, which was what I liked in the beginning. By page 90, it got to the point where I felt like the book was just Ozment ...more
Aaron Carpenter
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A well-written book, but sad. Having given up on God and acknowledging what she has left behind, the author is left to continue her search. Often she speaks better than she suspects, and I appreciate the respect with which she treats organized religion. Yet were I to follow her path, I believe I would find it deeply unsatisfying.
John Morrison
Sep 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Did not get into this book. Kind of boring. I won this through the giveaways.
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Katherine Ozment's musings on the ups and downs of raising three children have been published in such venues as The New York Times, Salon, Brain Child, Fitness, and Babble. Raised in Arkansas and New England, she loves hot yoga, fried catfish, and strong verbs. Her first book, Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age, took three years to research and write ...more
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“I remember somebody telling me they had been to Africa, and they were asking the people of a local tribe about their spirituality. The tribesman couldn’t make sense of the word ‘spirituality.’ And so the visitor kept trying to explain what they meant by spirituality, and finally the man said, ‘Oh, we call that life.’” Shepherd” 0 likes
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