The rising population known as "nones" for its members' lack of religious affiliation is changing American society, politics, and culture. Many nones believe in God and even visit places of worship, but they do not identify with a specific faith or belong to a spiritual community. Corinna Nicolaou is a none, and in this layered narrative, she describes what it is like for her and thousands of others to live without religion or to be spiritual without committing to a specific faith.
Nicolaou tours America's major traditional religions to see what, if anything, one might lack without God. She moves through Christianity's denominations, learning their tenets and worshiping alongside their followers. She travels to Los Angeles to immerse herself in Judaism, Berkeley to educate herself about Buddhism, and Dallas and Washington, D.C., to familiarize herself with Islam. She explores what light they can shed on the fears and failings of her past, and these encounters prove the significant role religion still plays in modern life. They also exemplify the vibrant relationship between religion and American culture and the enduring value it provides to immigrants and outsiders. Though she remains a devout none, Nicolaou's experiences reveal points of contact between the religious and the unaffiliated, suggesting that nones may be radically revising the practice of faith in contemporary times.
Nicolaou, hoping to learn what the faithful know and discover the positive aspects of religion without focusing on one single faith, makes her way through the tenets of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Over four years, she creates her own spiritual blueprint, an assemblage of different practices and shared sentiments without fidelity to any one worldview or ethos. Admittedly nonacademic in nature, the book presents Nicolaou's unassuming narrative of theological explorations across the faiths. It is a journey of appreciation and understanding and ends up feeling like an experiential course in religious literacy. Believers will take interest in Nicolaou's account of the "un-churched" or "un-mosqued" who come to places of worship, as she explains what catches their interest, compels them, or pushes them away. The nonreligious will appreciate Nicolaou's frankness concerning critical questions about the four religions and discussions of the differences that divide them. At times, the understanding of religious beliefs, practices, and material elements is unrefined, but this is not the story of an academic researcher or a devoted practitioner. Perfect for those looking to ground themselves in the overlapping but often contradictory morals of the world's major religions, Nicolaou's book vividly and respectfully unpacks the nature of spiritual practice.