The Nones Are Alright

The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Seekers, Believers, and Those In Between

The ascent of the “Nones”, those with no religious affiliation, has puzzled religious leaders from every denomination. But the increasing number of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have walked away from, or have never belonged to any religion, means that up to 40% of not one but two entire generations of Americans have chosen to live life without a traditional religious practice.

And yet, some members of Gen X and Gen Y have chosen to embrace religion, but they’ve done so in a DIY fashion, recreating religion for a new generation of skeptics, in a time when past ideas of career, home ownership, and the nuclear family model are all changing. Through profiles of dozens of individuals, this book investigates how and why the exodus from organized religion is occurring, and contrasts the stories of Nones, atheists and agnostics with the stories of those who took different tracks: those who defied the trend and found religion as adults, or experienced a conversion from the religion of their childhood to a completely new set of beliefs, and those who’ve remained in the religion of their childhood, but have reimagined and redefined what religion means.

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Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church

As someone who clocked more time in mosh pits and at pro-choice rallies than kneeling in a pew, Kaya Oakes was not necessarily the kind of Catholic girl the Vatican was after. But even while she immersed herself in the punk rock scene and proudly called herself an atheist, something kept pulling her back to the religion of her Irish roots.

After running away from the Church for thirty years, Kaya decides to return. After years of searching to no avail for a better religious fit, she realizes that the only way to find harmony—in her faith and her personal life—is to confront the Church she’d left behind.

Rebellious and hypercritical, Kaya relearns the catechisms and achieves the sacraments, all while trying to reconcile her liberal beliefs with contemporary Church philosophy. Along the way she meets a group of feminist nuns, a “pray-and-bitch” circle, an all-too handsome Italian priest, and a crew of misfits doing their best to find their voices in an outdated institution.

This is a story of transformation, not only of Kaya’s from ex-Catholic to amateur theologian, but ultimately of the cultural and ethical pushes for change that are rocking the world’s largest religion to its core.

Oakes... not only treats readers to gorgeous prose, but manages to provide an overview and history of the best of the Catholic faith, without losing momentum. Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
Honestly, humorously, and irreverently recounted... A clarion call for an institution's radical reinvention. Booklist
Bold and affecting... passionate ...informative, irreverent, and often hilarious, Oakes has written one of the most important books about religion of the year. LargeHearted Boy
Turns the typical conceit of the conversion memoir on its head... a fascinating window into the world of belief that doesn't lead the reader to a foregone conclusion about the nature of God or Christianity Zyzzyva Magazine
Her eventual belief in a church that meets the needs of everyone, sinners and skeptics alike, is palpable -- and perhaps enough to get other disenfranchised believers to look twice Bitch Magazine

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Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

You know the ethos: DIY with a big helping of irony. But what does it really mean to be “indie”? As popular television shows adopt indie soundtracks and the signature style bleeds into mainstream fashion, the quirky individuality of the movement seems to be losing ground. In Slanted and Enchanted, Kaya Oakes demonstrates how this phase is part of the natural cycle of a culture that reinvents itself continuously to preserve its core ideals of experimentation, freedom, and collaboration.

Through interviews and profiles of the artists who have spearheaded the cause over the years—including Mike Watt, David Berman, Kathleen Hanna, and Dan Clowes—Oakes examines the collective creativity and cross-genre experimentation that are the hallmarks of this popular lifestyle trend. Her visits to music festivals, craft fairs, and smaller collectives around the country round out the story, providing a compelling portayal of indie life on the ground. Culminating in the current indie milieu of music, crafting, style, art, comics, and zines, Oakes reveals from whence indie came and where it will go next.

Relays indie's development … with uncommon insight … [and] makes an impassioned, optimistic case for indie's vitality that doesn't assume readers are coming to [the] book already well versed in the subject…. A comprehensive approach to a subject that is too often reduced to discrete parts…. Fresh and perceptive.San Francisco Chronicle (2009 Notable Book)
[An] absorbing nonfiction study of indie culture.... Oakes is no dry outsider. She believes in what she describes, she contributes to it and she speaks its language.The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
[A] lively and highly literate explication of various American indie scenes and art forms . . . [Oakes’] focus on independent publishing and writing—provides a worthy parallel narrative to Michael Azzerad’s essential indie music history, This Band Could Be Your Life . . . Oakes begins the book with a much appreciated primer on some of the intellectual forebears of her book’s central characters, including the poets Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg and the revolutionary street theater group the Diggers. As an explanation and excavation of the already fading recent past, it is essential reading.Publishers Weekly

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