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Book Review: Grace Without God

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Kathryn Drury Wagner

Grace Without God
The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age
By Katherine Ozment

I’m a spot-on “none” as described by Katherine Ozment. Growing up in the 1980s as the daughter of a woman who’d rejected the chokehold of strict Southern Baptism and practiced no religion in our home, I envied my Catholic friends. There was structure, mystery, and identity at church. I converted, only to eventually abandon the religion. Today my rituals are yoga-based, and I’m grateful to have a small role with S&H, which provides a wealth of soul-feeding perspectives. But I do have this nagging sensation I’m doing wrong by my children. At least I’m not alone: The Pew Foundation reports that one-fourth of Americans categorize themselves as nonreligious.

In her new book, Grace Without God, Katherine Ozment examines why so many Americans are leaving organized religion behind. Ozment is a well-respected Chicago-based journalist and a secular mother of three. She spent years researching the answers to why her own family’s identity seemed to be forming around “the lack of something.” She writes, “I didn’t necessarily want our children to be religious, but I wanted them to have the sense of bowing before something greater than themselves. I just didn’t know what that something was—or how to find it.” After all, religion can offer so much, including “belonging, community, history, ritual” and prepackaged beliefs that give meaning and purpose to life.

Ozment went on a quest to find grace without God and, during her exploration, met with everyone from theoretical physicists to grief experts to “agnostic-atheist-humanists,” to see how they and others are creating meaningful rituals and connected lives, sans religion. If you want a more reflective life, yet have turned away from organized religion, give this book a try. It provides a framework for finding purpose and a sense of belonging, even when you’re a “none.”

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