The Nones Are Alright

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Almost a third of American Millennials (not to mention their Gen-X elders) have chosen to live a life free from institutional religion. Many of those who do remain in the denominations and faith expressions in which they were raised tend to practice their faith in ways rather more syncretic and casual than previous generations. But beyond the surprising and puzzling statistics, don’t these “seekers” and “nones” have their own stories to tell?

Kaya Oakes, herself a “revert” to the Catholic faith, doesn’t just write from the perspective of her own encounters with faith and its absence, but also introduces the reader to a broad range of voices and experiences, interviewing  dozens of young Americans on how and why they practice (or don’t practice) their faith. She also explores specifically how a Catholic generation of young seekers is experiencing, and changing, the Catholic Church in the United States. “The future of faith,” she concludes, “remains a mystery. But isn’t faith also a mystery?”

Kaya Oakes is author of Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church (Counterpoint, 2012), Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture (Holt, 2009), and Telegraph (Pavement- Saw, 2007), She teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Book Details

The Nones Are Alright
A New Generation of Believers, Seekers, and Those in Between
Kaya Oakes
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Kaya Oakes has written a most informative book, full of great human stories of persons, usually young, who are on a long journey of seeking what the Lord wants of them, even at the risk of remaining at the threshold. She devotes chapters to women, to seekers, to LGBTQ persons, to cradle Christians and to others who wander in and out of various churches. For missionaries working in the post-Christian west, this book can be a great help getting acquainted with a culture with which we are barely familiar.

An excellent book that belongs in many libraries and that
will inform conversations on the state of faith in the modern United States. The volume should be required reading for those in parish and young adult ministries and chaplaincy. High school and undergraduate instructors will find several of the short chapters if not the whole book especially germane to discussion and reflection.
Useful for the reader who seeks greater insight into the lives of nones as described in their own words.
I cannot recommend this book enough to pastors, teachers but also concerned lay leaders and to all of those who form the communities of local congregations. I say this because no matter the location, one will meet doubters and believers, seekers and critics here they well know, but surely as well, others they have never yet encountered.... It is a beautiful study that will leave much to ponder.
Oakes invited young seekers on social media to share their stories of "reinventing what it means to 'be church' outside of church walls." In The Nones Are Alright, she paints a sympathetic, thoughtful portrait of this "Generation of Believers, Seekers, and Those in Between" for whom there is "no one way to believe and no one way to belong."
The style is fluid, thoughtful and intimately personal.The reader shares in the joys, sorrows and doubts of those seekers who pass through the pages.... The book is a reminder that we must not fear but embrace the margins.
Oakes’ analyses and reflections have implications transcending both Roman Catholicism and North America. Indeed, missiology can welcome her book as a valuable resource offering important impulses for research in world
Christianity and beyond, including religious studies, sociology of religion, and the interfaith. The Nones Are Alright can be recommended to all those interested in studying the contemporary religious landscape and the dynamics of Christian faith.
Oakes hits the perfect tone of humor and humility to make The Nones Are Alright an important document of spiritual witness. She profiles believers and unbelievers with a comprehensive, sympathetic approach.
In The Nones are Alright accomplished journalist, writer, and Catholic revert/None/agnostic Kaya Oakes leans close to listen to doubters, reverts, agnostics -- all the people slipping through the cracks in the institutional walls -- as these people tell stories of their efforts to build communities of faith, of living in-between traditions, and of the long struggle to articulate (and perhaps believe in) the mystery called God. What she hears both comforts and inspires, disturbs and challenges. But, as Pope Francis said in Tel Aviv, "the walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another." This is what Oakes herself has, quite provocatively, done.
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