Recently, the country was somewhat startled to hear that people, especially young people, were leaving brick and mortar churches to pursue their spirituality in their own way, or not at all.
Elizabeth Drescher is a Professor of Religion and Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University, California. Dr. Drescher has provided a wide ranging, nuanced, informative, and very interesting look at the nones phenomenon.
A Pew survey revealed that by 2015, 23% of Americans were unaffiliated with a recognized religion. Choosing Our Religion is a follow up study to examine the who, what, why, and where of this trend. The book is a result of focus groups, questionnaires, and interviews. The respondents range from Atheists, to the barely churched who just drifted away, to the disaffected, to those who found no place for them left in their former church lives.
As to what they’ve become, SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) describes many, but not by any means, all. What do they do now? The first person cited said that maze walking was one of her spiritual practices. Some described yoga, meditation, preparing food, and other seemingly everyday activities as spiritual. The four Fs (Fido, food, friends, and family) are well represented. Everyone is not necessarily alone in their noneness. There are informal networks and avenues of connection for the unaffiliated to connect with like-minded persons.
The fact of the matter is that there are almost as many modes of being none as there are people who claim that status. The finest part of the book is that most pages contain an excerpt from an interview, and I guarantee that you will find yourself with a kindred spirit in there somewhere.
Choosing our Religion is an informative, even handed look into the lives of nones in the United States. I am enthusiastically recommending it to anyone interested in the changing landscape of religion.
Norman West has been retired for almost five years and is loving it. He lives in Keizer, Oregon with two rotten Labradors, Bella (little wart) and B (for big, or black wart), a granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter. The dogs are so bad, he has to leave the house to read and review books. He considers himself an “idea” guy, so concentrates mostly on current events, science and religion. That last is a little problematic since he's an atheist, but he really does try to be fair and judge the work on its merits, not just on its truth claims.
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