Raising Moral, Community-Minded Kids In A Secular Age
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 with this exodus from organized religion? Religion gives us a moral grounding and a sense of identity by connecting us to our past and creating tight communal bonds. It also makes us happier, healthier, and more giving. 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 are moving front and center.
Katherine Ozment, award-winning journalist and former senior editor at National Geographic, and author of the new book Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age, comes face-to-face with these issues when her son asks her the simplest of questions: “What are we?” Unsettled by the only reply she could summon — “Nothing” — she begins a personal and critical examination of the many ways non-religious Americans create their own traditions and communities in an increasingly secular age. Ms. Ozment visits diverse congregations, from an atheist church to a storytelling gathering to a nature-based coming-of-age ritual. She turns to science and the humanities, seeking guidance from noted scholars in a wide range of disciplines. She interviews community leaders and parents, and searches for meaning on mountaintops and in her own front yard. Along the way she shares how her family finds purpose and connection without the organizing principle of religion.
NOTE: Ms. Ozment will be joined on stage by Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt, Ph.D., the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago and Director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at Chicago Booth School of Business. “In this beautifully written, exhaustively researched, and deeply personal book, 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,” says Prof. Levitt.