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Despite the fact that “Nones”-people who do not identify with or belong to any religious tradition-are, by definition, impervious to generalization, there is a tendency for others to draw to mind a certain prototype when imagining them. It is often an unflattering or overly simplified portrait of a person whose spiritual life might be characterized by words like “individualist,” “narcissistic,” “uncommitted,” “unbelieving,” “consumeristic,” “superficial,” and otherwise less serious and meaningful than that of a person whose spiritual identity is anchored in formal membership in an institutional religious organization. As Elizabeth Drescher points out in Choosing Our Religion, Nones are described by negatives; they do not identify as belonging to a specific group, and are not affiliated with an institutional religion. However, there are now more self-identified Nones in this country than Mainline Protestants or Non-Denominational and Born Again Christians, a result of what is clearly a significant religious and spiritual shift in American culture.
Breaking away from both the derisive accounts of this trend, as well as myriad studies focusing on data analysis of its social, cultural, and political impact, Drescher invites members of the fastest growing religious demographic in the US to speak for themselves. She asks them about how they came to their present spiritual outlook, how they understand the divine, what role spiritual sages and sacred texts play in their spiritual lives, what the meaning and purpose of the spiritual life might be, how community functions in spirituality, what practices enrich the spiritual life, what happens when we die, and other basic theological and spiritual questions. As she discovers, most Nones report having been raised in religious households, nearly two-thirds of them Christian; in fact, the majority of Nones are not atheists or agnostics, but believers and seekers most of whom adhere to nominally Christian beliefs and practices mixed liberally with resources from non-Christian traditions.
Research for the book began with on an online survey about the beliefs, practices, and outlooks of religious Nones. Drescher then used the survey results as a guide for a series of focus groups and one-on-one interviews. In Choosing Our Religion, Nones will emerge as real people drawing on the resources available to them-diverse religious traditions, spiritual exploration, personal and communal experience-to shape a spiritual outlook and practice that they find meaningful and life-giving.
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|Title||Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones|