As a person who jumps at the chance to try something new, I said “yes” when asked to write a book review and join a virtual book tour.
The book, Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine Ozment, is the result of one mother’s journey to find answers to life’s BIG questions. For her children and for herself.
Religion and politics are not usually discussed here on the blog, but the title of this book piqued my interest. The subject matter resonated with me considerably.
When it came to religion when I was younger, I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this book, not so much as a search for answers to my own spiritual questioning, I have since come to peace with my beliefs, but more out of curiosity about what the author discovered on her quest to find meaning. Also, I was interested to see how people, disillusioned with traditional religion, could find their own moral code, sense of purpose, and feeling of belonging.
Ozment, a secular mother of three, started on her search for meaning after her 8-year-old son, in response to observing people leaving a Greek Orthodox Good Friday ceremony, posed the question, “What are we?”
She regrettably responded, “We’re nothing.”
Like the author, having children was the catalyst to my own inquiry into religion. Not being raised in a strong faith based home, as my children got older, I was concerned that my husband and I needed a stronger, more reliable force to guide us through life and to fall back on when things got hard.
Shortly after the lamentable exchange with her son, the author was reading the daily paper and stumbled upon a Pew Foundation study that stated, “Approximately one-fifth of American’s no longer identified as religious.” This aroused her curiosity and a desire to dig deeper to find answers. Why does religion no longer meet people’s needs as it once did?
Ozment learned that there is a rising number of Nones. People that, like herself, when asked about religious affiliation, check none of the above.
I love the motivation of the author in writing this book. Grace Without God was born out of a mother’s desperate desire to provide her babies with answers. When her children asked the big, tough questions like, “What does it all mean? Why are were here? What happens when we die?,” she wanted to produce something that could supply an explanation.
And isn’t this what mothers do? Out of a deep wanting to provide our children answers, in order to rest their weary minds and calm their fears, we seek out the truth.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find the hard and fast answers we seek. The author spent years trying to unearth them. Trying to find the words, backed by research, that would help it all make sense.
And in the end, she realized, she will never have, “Clear answers about life’s big mysteries.”
But, what she was able to establish, is a jumping off point for her children. A spiritual foundation where they can start on their own search for understanding.
The author doesn’t evangelize or push one belief system over another. She doesn’t dismiss traditional religion like one might expect. Rather, along with a continual seeking of knowledge, she encourages a study of religious stories to better understand culture and history.
“This book is not a theological treatise, a historical text, or a defense of atheism, agnosticism, or secular humanism. It is not a handbook for how to live. It is, at heart, a letter to my children and every future generation of Americans trying to understand their place in the world.”
I think anyone, no matter where they are on their journey to find meaning, will walk away from this book with something. The author has done an excellent job looking at how people who shy away from the dogma of traditional religion can find answers to life’s bigger questions.
This book has extensive research and numerous resources that can serve anyone who is struggling with finding purpose and seeking a sense of belonging and community.
About Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age
by Katherine Ozment
• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 21, 2016)
About Katherine Ozment
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.