Like most Christians, I don’t pay attention to missives from church leaders.  This week, however, dueling pastoral letters issued for Pentecost from Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, caught my attention–because one so rarely witnesses a first-class theological smack down between tea-drinking Anglican…

June 1 celebrates Justin Martyr (d. 165), a Christian philosopher who integrated faith and philosophy–appreciating ancient wisdom and argued that “Socrates was a Christian before Christ.” Before embracing Christianity, Justin mastered many ancient philosophies (he studied at the best schools of antiquity) including Stoicism and Platonism.  While walking on a beach in Ephesus, an elderly…

Every Memorial Day, I remember how early Christians almost uniformly rejected any kind of military service–and how little we have learned from their witness to peacemaking.  As we pause today, it may well be good for our souls to consider this perspective from church history about what it means to be both a Christian and…

This week, my daughter’s sixth-grade class visited a mosque.  In advance, the teacher prepared instructions about how to dress and behave.  At home, we talked about respecting others’ faith (even when we find things difficult to understand), expectations of religious modesty, and differing roles for men and women in Christianity and Islam.  On trip day,…

With most of the online world buzzing about Lost, another tale of loss caught my attention in this morning’s Washington Post.  It began by posing the question:  “If 2008 was the year Democrats finally got religion, will 2010 be the year the party loses it again?” The story tracked Democratic successes with faith outreach in…

Although I grew up in a Methodist church in Baltimore, my grandfather had rejected religion and was quite vocal about his freethinker (that’s what we used to call atheist) views.  One day, when I was about eight, I asked him why he hated the church.  “Because it is full of hypocrites,” he replied.   Given…

In March, I signed The Civility Covenant issued by the folks at Sojourners.  Believe it or not, the Civility Covenant wound up being somewhat controversial as critics from both the political right and left attacked the document.  From the left, commenters said that calls for civility are nothing more than tactics to protect white male…

On May 13, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Ascension.  The Episcopal saints calendar marks an additional commemoration on May 13, a day set aside to remember Frances Perkins (1880-1965), the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, who served as Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt.  An Episcopal laywoman, Perkins worked tirelessly for…

President Obama has picked Elena Kagan, former dean of Harvard Law School and Solicitor General, to fill the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Much will be said of Ms. Kagan over the coming weeks–praise and criticism of all sorts.  But little will be in a form of lament, and that’s what I’d like to…

May 8 is the celebration of Dame Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-1416?) author of the first English-language book written by a woman.  She was a shadowy figure, her real name and the facts of her life largely unknown.  For some reason, she took up the life of an anchoress–a solitary nun–walled into a cell in…

Diana Butler Bass
about

Diana Bass

Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of seven books including A People’s History of Christianity: the Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009) Her best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us (2006) was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won the Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, and was featured in a cover story in USA TODAY.

Diana regularly consults with religious organizations, leads conferences for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues. She regularly comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR. From 1995-2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She has written widely in the religious press, including Sojourners, Christian Century, Clergy Journal, and Congregations.

From 2002 to 2006, she was the Project Director of a national Lilly Endowment funded study of mainline Protestant vitality—a project featured in Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Diana also serves on the board of directors of the Beatitudes Society.

Diana has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary. She has taught church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, religion and politics, and congregational studies.

She lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a member of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington, D.C.

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