Christianity After Religion: Diana Butler Bass at All Saints Church, Pasadena

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Diana Butler Bass in the Rector’s Forum at All Saints Church, Pasadena presenting “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.” — February 12, 2012

“Some contend that we’re undergoing yet another evangelical revival; others suggest that Christian belief and practice is eroding entirely as traditional forms of faith are replaced by new ethical, and areligious, choices. But Bass argues compellingly that we are, instead, at a critical stage in a completely new spiritual awakening, a vast interreligious progression toward individual and cultural transformation, and a wholly new kind of postreligious faith.” [from ]

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hi I'm Edie bacon director of All Saints Church Pasadena whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith I hope that you'll find something here that speaks to you welcome good morning and thank you for coming we have a very important topic to discuss addressed by a very resourceful leader our speaker is an author presenter independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture she has a PhD in religious studies from Duke University and is author of eight books including the book that brings her to us today I want to lift those texts that we have for sale a people's history of Christianity the other side of the story many of you Arkin familiar with what Howard Zinn the gift of Howard Zinn gave to us by telling us the real story of American history dinah Butler brass has done the same thing for us in terms of Christianity Christianity for the rest of us how the neighborhood church is transforming the faith and this book that brings her to us today about which we want to learn so much Christianity after religion the end of the church in the birth of a new spiritual awakening was born in Baltimore she grew up in Scottsdale Arizona raised the United Methodist she became an evangelical Christian she is now an Episcopalian she attended Westmont College at Santa Barbara what is so very wonderful about her is that she is a staunch eloquent passionate critic of conservative evangelical religion and the religious right she has she has a fantastic website and presence on Facebook and Twitter she's somebody I visit regularly on Facebook she always says something pithy to say that was with a th and I am always grateful for her unpredictable stances I am thrilled to warmly welcome and ask you to join me in warmly welcoming Diana Butler best I love All Saints and I'm not just saying that to get you to like me he blew my cover I graduated from Westmont College in 1981 and when I graduated from Westmont I came here to Pasadena not to go to fuller seminary but instead to work at something called the u.s. Center for world mission and so for one year of my life I lived on is it Hill Hill up in Altadena and I attended two churches during that time I came to All Saints and I went to st. Luke's in Monrovia and I couldn't decide if I was a progressive or a Pentecostal so I have sat in your pews and listen to your sermons and I have been even as a person who is just a visitor transformed by the message oh sure okay by the message and the power of the gospel that you present perform and preach in your communities and community and I thank you very much for that now it said I was unpredictable and he also said as I was coming up to to the pulpit here he said just let it rip and I am but I'm going to do it softly I wore my pearls today so I want to take you back to a time that some of you probably remember I'm going to take you back to the 1970s as a way of starting the conversation about my new book Christianity after religion whose birthday is today this is actually my books birthday and so so I'm very excited to share and actually read to you a part of the beginning of the book as an author authors love to read to their audiences but since I'm an Episcopalian friend of mine says that Episcopalians are the people who like to read to God so so I want to start by reading to you which seems a little bit more gentle way into a very provocative topic this is from the very beginning and it's called the beginning Saguaro High School Scottsdale Arizona 1976 I opened my locker it was overstuffed and unorganized as usual and out fell a copy of the new American Standard Version of the Bible the Word of God hid the sandaled feet of the girl with the locker near mine you're so religious my high school companion grow'd a Bible at school are you becoming a Mormon or something no I replied I'm not a Mormon I had recently joined a non-denominational Church however a church that took the Bible both seriously and literally I was only vaguely acquainted with scripture through childhood Sunday school but my new church friends knew the Bible practically by heart I was trying to make up for lost time by reading it at lunch what sort of religion makes you bring a Bible to school are you a religious fanatic I'm not religious I stammered I've got a relationship with God I I don't really like religion religion keeps us away from Jesus it's more more I wasn't sure how to put it of a spiritual thing my answer did not register with her she turned away flipping her long Marcia Brady like hair impertinently in my face and walked off it would be another decade before I would hear someone confessed to being spiritual but not religious but I was only trying to describe something that had happened to me an experience that I had had with God a few months earlier I had started to tending a new church one where the pastor urged members to get born again and I wasn't entirely sure what that meant but I listened to friends testify to God's presence in their lives they said Jesus was their friend and they felt the Holy Spirit in their hearts and I had grown up in a method although I had grown up in a Methodist Church I've never heard anyone talk about God with such warmth or intimacy so one Sunday during communion as I ate saltine crackers followed by Welch's grape juice I actually felt Jesus he was there he showed up again a few days later at youth group in the backyard pool party as we all sang I wish we'd all been ready a popular song about the rapture and the end times I heard somebody out there laughs you know you sang that song I didn't know how to explain it but God had touched my heart and I felt fresh and new relieved that God was there I figured that this was what the pastor meant by getting born again so I told a friend and then I asked him what's this religion called he laughed and he said it isn't a religion it's a relationship at the time I felt pretty special that God had chosen me or the small group of us for this experience what I didn't know was that millions and millions of other people shared this story of growing up in formal religion finding that somehow chilly or distant or wounding and rediscovering God through a mystical experience of connection many of those people would call it being born again but others of it would say they were filled with the holy spirit or renewed by God they left traditional religion in search of new communities and they tried to reform their old churches by praying for the spirit they embraced all sorts of theologies from fundamentalism to medieval Catholic mysticism from Pentecostalism to doctrines of their own design they got baptized or rebaptised formed alternative communities wrote praise songs and raised their arms and his ecstatic prayer and it was not only Christians many of my Jewish friends recount similar experiences of finding God and knew in those days as those who grew up in agnostics or secular families millions of Americans connected with her higher power and recovery groups religion morphed from an external set of rules into a vibrant spiritual experience of God and somehow the word religion did not seem adequate to explain what has happened for those of us who follow Jesus we had stumbled unwittingly into a world of Christianity after religion of a spiritual space beyond institutions buildings and organizations of a different sort of faith with hindsight it is a little easier to understand the 1970s were a time of profound change a rearrangement of social relationships a time of cultural upheaval and transformation there were spiritual aspects to that change as well as political and social one's institutions and practices that once composed what was normal in American life began a prolonged period of decline a failure that has happened in fits and starts and continues a pace even today as the old has ended Americans began an extended experience experiment in reordering faith family community and nation in 1962 only a couple years after I was born posters found that 22% of Americans claimed to have had a mystical experience of God in 1976 the year my Bible nearly broke my mates tow that number had risen to 31 percent of the population then we thought we were in the middle of a revival apparently it was a revival that did not stop for by 2009 48% of Americans confessed that they had had a mystical experience with the design of the divine this was not some sort of short-lived emotional outburst of renewed faith indeed the numbers indicate that during the past 30 years American faith has undergone a profound and extensive reorientation away from externalized forms of religion towards internalized spiritual experience and that's what this book is about it is about that shift from what people refer to as religion towards and reaching for a new language that is called spirituality a language of experience now one of the things that I think is very interesting about what we have all lived through in those same 30 years is that when people talk about what happened back in the 70s when they talk about in the media and even historians and well-informed critics of religion do this they identify that shift towards experience with one form of Christianity and one form only that is they identify that turn towards religious experience with conservative fundamentalism conservative evangelicalism and Pentecostal religion what I want to do to propose to you this morning and also what I do in the book is I say yes it is true that there has been this shift towards experience and that is where the future of faith lies in that terrain of figuring out how to be communities where people can connect and and be transformed by an experience of God that is the future but that that kind of spiritual experience takes many shapes it is not the exclusive purview of conservative Christianity indeed one of the the points of argument here is that this shift towards experience equals sort of a third or perhaps fourth grade awakening and you hear of folks talk about that all the time I was just listening to Glenn Beck last week and he was talking about the third eye do listen to Glenn Beck is that unpredictably weird and he was talking about how this is a third Great Awakening and he was claiming it for his tribe and he was saying that anybody who disagreed with him was not part of the awakening as a matter of fact that they were an enemy to the awakening now we might expect that kind of language from from Glenn our good brother but what we also hear is we also see that and hear it in the media in a much more subtle way that there's an association of spiritual liveliness with only evangelical mega churches Pentecostal religion or other forms of more conservative Christianity and here I argue that while the first thing is true while there has been a shift from externalized religion towards a spiritual experience that it is not true as a matter of fact it is completely false that Awakening or vibrant spiritual experience can be equated only with conservative Christianity that there is a different shape of spiritual experience that moves past our language of conservative and liberal and takes us into an entirely different way of seeing the world one of the the things that I try to do in this narrative is to argue that the the shift from the external of religion towards spiritual experience is not just in you know raising one's hands in prayer or having a mystical experience around a candle or doing some sort of internal kind of work where you feel good about your own spiritual life but that this kind of shift towards experience has radically changed the nature of the questions that the people are asking us asking of religious institutions churches etc in the world if we think about spiritual experience it's not just what you do but actually it is a different kind of engagement with faith and those questions are very simple back in sort of the religious world we asked the question what do I believe I think that as we move towards a more experienced role of faith the question is no longer what do I believe but instead how do I believe or how do we believe it's very simple shift if you think about it for a moment you'll realize that people are asking the whole question all around you I get asked this I wish I had a buck for every time I've been asked the question you seem so smart how is it that you can be as smart as you are and be a Christian I get asked that question it's just amazing in bars on airplanes all kinds of places I also get asked how it is that a person who seems to be so comfortable with science and evolution and all these things can also be a churchgoer I get asked a lot of the how question when something terrible happens how can you believe in a good and loving God when the questions about belief in our culture are not so much what do you Christians believe but how can you believe it and that's a shift towards experience a second question that's changing in our culture is that when we talked about religious behavior when we talked about the things that religious people do we used to tell people how to behave how do you do that how are you an Episcopalian how do Episcopalians worship how do Presbyterians run a church meeting how do you engage faith in the world and so people were asking us back in those days in the old religious world for techniques or lists of behaviors or a process of activity that would make them be able to be more Christian in the world yesterday I was sitting on a plane coming here I was I got in the most amazing conversation the guy sitting next to me was born in Bangladesh to an Iraqi mother and a Pakistani father who had met at Oxford and who now live here in Southern California and the fellow as the conversation unfolded he revealed to me that he happened to be gay and that he was a Muslim and so he asked me if I had ever met a gay Muslim before and I said that no he was my first and and so we had this amazing conversation he is actually married to a fellow who was born in Vietnam who was born as a Buddhist who when his parents came the United States his mother converted to Catholicism and his father became a Baptist minister and he said you should come to Thanksgiving at our house well this fellow was incredibly well-educated he has a PhD from Caltech and he is an engineer and he was we were talking about all this stuff in this this long flight from DC to LAX and he said to me III want to kiss him I thought it would scare him he said we were talking to education and he said you know most people have not realized that the fundamental shift in education in American society has been from telling people how they were supposed to access information or how they were supposed to build things toward what what are we supposed to do with this information and what are we supposed to be building for the future and I I the reason I went to kiss him is that that's chapter 6 actually in my book was the shift about from from how how you do things towards the question of what are we going to do and then he said you know really education now is all about a search for purpose and meaning in finding where God has called us to be in life he also had a pretty fantastic definition of faith he said that faith was taking risks to jump over boundaries that human beings had designed and that keep us from knowing God so he was an amazing person but that's he was talking about that second shift from how we do it to what we do and then the third question that his shift didn't around us is that we used to ask the question Who am I or who are you and the question was supposed to be answered all I am an Episcopalian or I am a Jew or I am a Buddhist or I am a Catholic or whatever our answer was and the question has moved from that kind of external labeling of ourselves through membership toward a question of who's it's a little inelegant I realize as an interrogative to the point who is am I Who am I with Who am I next to how is my identity construed in a variety of relationships in my life in which I find myself and how do i integrate those things so my sense of identity has moved from outward proclamation towards this wandering about myself insofar as it exists in community that my friends I think is what has happened it's not just that Americans don't like to go to church anymore and the churches are narrow or whatever not this one but you know many of them and and it's not just that the institution's are difficult to deal with or that religion is a bad word but it's that the questions have actually changed around us that those questions that religious institutions used to ask no longer speak to the questions that Americans are really asking and this the the way in which the frame has changed is a shift from those external questions of what do I believe how do I do it and Who am I give me a doctrine hand me a book that gives me a process to follow and then give me a label towards these mealy questions of being of growing over time and those questions are how do I believe how do I believe this how do I engage this in the world how does a living encounter with these because options of God make a difference in my life what am I going to do a question of vocation and purpose and then finally whose mi who is my life linked with that makes a difference about the fundamental nature of my identity and how did those communities and those connections make me a richer and different person to me that is actually the shift away from external religion towards internal spiritual experience or experiential faith and I think that that is the territory on which we are going to be living and moving for who knows how long a few more generations at least the terrain has changed in our feet and the media does not quite see that instead they choose to equate the spiritual awakening that is going on around us with only one form of faith and that is a very externalized thing and they have missed the fact that Americans are asking richer deeper questions questions of experience questions of faith questions that are not quite answered questions we are on a journey to answer together and when we think about the shift from external towards experience from religion to spirituality it is not just an issue of liberal versus conservative but what I would like to suggest to you before we take questions is that when it comes to awakenings when it comes to people experiencing these different sorts of realities these spiritual realities you can have evangelicals who are still what I would call religious evangelicals people who emphasize the externals of faith and you have experiential evangelicals people who have grounded their life in the same set of searching questions that I just defined you can have religious liberals and you can have people who are liberal Christians who are in this experiencial frame of mind and you can do that with every category Catholics Buddhists Jews and as my friend yesterday on the plane told me he said you know he said there are plenty of Muslims in the world that would hate me and it's not just an issue of my sexual identity he said it's because I understand Islam different than they do and he said Islam is under a tremendous pressure right now to be an organized faith that tells people what to do and how to behave or returning to the fundamental Islamic vision of a direct unmediated life with God and I said to him well that's Christianity too we're in that fundamental conflict so that's what my new book is about it's about the shift away from religion towards spirituality and it's about trying to identify and locate that shift in a strong and vigorous way in our culture so that we know what's really going on in the world around us so thanks for this attention I was telling you just before you began speaking about a community that I started in 1972 that was based on this kind of experience instead of just dogma and institutional this community is going strong right now but they feel alone community for interfaith celebration is the name of it but they feel like they're not connected to anybody else's there's some network that's out there that ties people together who are thinking along these same lines oh you know I think that's a great question and and I don't think that there's a single network that does that I think that there are networks of people finding each other who are doing similar kinds of work one of the I think one of the best examples of a network like that is you hear a lot about emergent church and basically what emergent church is is the rejection of a whole sort of generational cohort of young evangelicals away from evangelicalism as institutionalized religion toward a kind of evangelicalism that is based in a whole different set of questions and so I think that the emergent church network is largely this kind of evangelicalism and what that meant is because it was a network and it's very interesting people and they're asking many of the same questions that say folks like you might be asking here is that a lot of people who were in liberal Protestantism and Catholic circles found those folks and said hey we're asking those same kinds of questions too and so they began to sort of coalesce and form friendships and so that's one of those kinds of networks I do think there are other sorts of political and social networks in which people are doing that kind of work but we need more of them and I think we also need a more vigorous public conversation about where the real American Awakening is and this to me is the new American Awakening I said to the guy on the plane yesterday I said not only do I feel like I've had an interesting conversation with someone on this plane I said but honest-to-goodness you apparently are the future I said did you come here from another planet to point the way to where we're going to be and and he just he kind of was taken aback by that and I said well you know I think that you know this is this is the place we're going to wind up and what was really amazing about he had such a passionate sense of Islamic identity but it was it was it was not sappy in any way but yet it completely embraced all of these other religions and the way that he talked about faith is risk and all this sort of stuff I just I was blown out of water I wanted to earn a second PhD just sitting around talking to that guy I I think there's a lot of connective tissue that is being built right now and people are doing it on their own and some also from religious leaders like you but I've been interested to just Google say Thomas Merton and an amazing number of websites where people come and read him every day when you put into google the word progressive how progressive faith how much connective tissue comes up there and then there's a lot of secular stuff that's going on I mean the Oprah soul Sunday thing that has been connected to us son you know the Eckhart Tolle it's just an amazing deal whether it takes on the kind I think it will take on what you're talking about but it really is a Great Awakening I think every III that is exactly right I mean I it's I feel kind of weird you asked me to do something unpredictable and what is unpredictable is that an era of incredible decline the first third of the book is about the great religious recession we're currently in I look at all these awful statistics about religious life in America and then but then I turn the corner and I say well despite that I actually believe that there is a Great Awakening occurring and I wind up calling it not a fourth-grade awakening I don't think we can give numbers to it I just call it the great global awakening of the early 21st century and I think it's not just a North America phenomenon I think we're in it around the world and to be able to really identify and unpack what is happening in that Awakening is key to people being able to move ahead because if we miss identify the awakening if we say the awakening is over here with kind of an invigorated form of dogma that the Catholic Church is trying to do parts of the Catholic Church are trying to do but it's not just it's not just like Catholic versus parts of Islam fundamentalist Islam or something the our Presbyterian friends are having a gigantic fight right now not about homosexuality while they are having that fight but it's really only secondary to another fight that they're having is there's a group of Presbyterians who think the way to fix their church and the way to get people to come back to being Presbyterians is to go and restore the Presbyterian Church of the 1950's with its doctrinal clarity with its princes of the pulpit no offense here it's it's tall steeple buildings and on and on and they say that's it that when did the church last grow it grew then when the institution was controlled from top down by largely white men who had a clear sense of the Westminster Confession of faith and if we want to be Presbyterians that's what we have to be and there's another group of people in the Presbyterian Church are saying no that's the wrong way to go and they're leaning more towards what you are describing and what you're describing and so this is really the rift that's in a lot of our denominations and it's sort of unspoken because it hasn't really been defined or clearly analyzed and that that's one things that I'd really try to do here is to give some robust sense of definition to it to me what you've been describing is the postmodern condition and a lot of French philosophers got there a few decades ago yes but you mentioned the fact that what people are seeking now is a direct unmeet unmediated experience of God it occurs to me that Jesus Buddha Muhammad and lots of others had exactly that right where things started to go wrong was when other peoples to institutionalize their experience and their message could you speak to that yes couple cute couple kind of cues in your question that are very interesting one is that yeah French philosophers did of course get there first but nobody can read them and I as a person who was born in 1959 have been the recipient of an amazing philosophical transformation in the West over the last 50 years and my academic work and just kind of the way we all received that my my editor at Harper Harper Collins says that I am never to use the word postmodern in a book because it sort of has become jargon he said you can describe everything there is to say about postmodern culture but I never want to see you use that word and so I think I use it one time and 304 pages but I do describe it what I am describing is a sort of postmodern faith that is growing up in the wake of the ashes of the old construction of faith that was the very end of Christendom if you want to use all that jargon so that is part of it now the second question about institutionalization human beings always make institutions and I don't really have any difficulty with institutions and and part of the there's a and there are huge problems with unmediated experience because it's like well who's to say what experience contributes to human flourishing and what experience winds up being sort of a violent delusion and so that's that's a real problem and postmodern thought and it's a real problem not just in postmodern thought but in human society where there's a lot of misdirected power and sin and evil so uh so institutions at their very best provide I think pathways towards human flourishing rather than just sort of unmitigated sort of delusion but the problem is is when the institutions themselves become mired in the delusion and then institutions have to be renewed and this is what we are very much well past in American really life is that our institutions have not done in a significant institutional way the hard work of renewal which means that they have to be converted there has to be profound internal worldview transformation spiritual change that goes on in institutions in corporations in political parties where they let the past go and they move towards the future instead what our institutions have done is that they have resorted to I think what the desperate measure of the quick fix and the desperate measure of the quick fix is usually in the form of something like this the Southern Baptists in I think was two years ago declared a decade of evangelism because they were losing so many members the Southern Baptist Convention is one the fastest declining denominations in the United States right now and so they declare a decade of evangelism that whenever you see a church declare a decade of evangelism you can pretty well guarantee that they're on their way to the death of their death because what that is is a quick fix it just tells everybody you know if you get out there and you bring your friends to church bringing church friends church Sunday then all of a sudden everybody will be our institution will be fixed or institutional restructuring plans that are like endless yeah they're the hamster or wheels and there are so many of them right now that people are just sort of sick of them and it can be Church or it can be political parties it can be large social organizations what is needed in the United States is for this sense of where the awakening is and the power of this awakening and the questions that are behind this awakening to inspire institutional renewal Reformation and Reformation and when those things begin to happen when when we get for instance a Democratic Party that's not just this but is this what does that mean to have a political party that is based profoundly in a set of experiential questions of connection and transformation rather than just a political party over here that says we have to win the neck selection and I think that that's actually fight in in the political parties as well as in churches and so this is what I want this is Diana the old of angelical girls showing up All Saints on a Sunday even though my best friends are Marcus Borg and I'm crossing and people like that and I'm theologically in a very different place than I was at Westmont I am still in the place where conversion is is is the is the primary call of the church to transform us from people who are fear filled to people who are people of faith willing to take the risks to go over the boundaries that human beings have created that separate us from one another and from God and that's my new Islamic definition of faith yeah so your last observation about a different by example Democratic Party was actually the nature of my question which is is there a parallel experience and is this language that could be useful to look at what's going on in political life in the United States between externals what should I believe what group do I belong to and how should I act yeah I really do I really do think that it is when for example when you get to the issue of what that's been the driving force of political parties for a long time is that you have to believe in certain kinds of things ideologies of ideologies a good member of that party well what if we didn't do it that way well what if the question shifted from what to how around the the things that we're dreaming of how do we live justly in the world not just are you committed to these points of a part of a program i it's i have to be short there but i think that there is a parallel language when I wrote this book I actually developed those three questions and three very long chapters that are central to the book and I think what will happen is that people engaged them from the religion angle that the political and social questions open up very obviously I'm going to end with a quick picture of the awakening and that is this is not in the book because you have to save something when when you're with your friends people ask me all the time where do you see this happening one of the places I see it happening is Omaha Nebraska there is how rising up in the cornfields in Omaha Nebraska a picture of the future about six years ago I was at a conference I got a Selita retreat of Jewish rabbis it was pretty fabulous I wanted to be a Jew when I was done and I was talking to one of the rabbis and he told me a story about how he had had he been born in Jerusalem and that he came to the United States because he had a dream and his dream was that in the United States he could befriend and be a different kind of Jew and one of the things that this hope and dream had led to is that he became friends with the Imam in Omaha who is from I believe Damascus Syria and back in the Middle East of course they would never be friends but their congregations were right near each other in downtown Omaha until the Jewish congregation got so big that had to move out of its historic downtown building and build a synagogue out in the suburbs and so the Jewish rabbi and the Imam were having lunch one day probably not at a place that served pork and in Omaha and the rabbi says to Imam he says you know my congregation is going to have to move and we're very excited but we're also very disappointed because our whole ministry was about urban social justice and now we have to go this suburbs and we don't know who we are going to be and the Imam turns around and says to my friend the rabbi he says you know it's funny enough the same thing is happening at the mosque he said we have so many so many Muslims in Omaha who knew there were Muslims like this in in Nebraska he said we need a new building – and the rabbi told me that they looked at each other and they said what if we do it together and so realizing that they only had two thirds of Abrahamic faith sitting at the table they they called the local Catholic Archdiocese and they told the Catholic Archbishop of Nebraska what they wanted to do and they said you want to build a church with us the archdiocese said are you kidding me no and that was when I met the rabbi and I said you know I I can't really speak for these people but why don't you try the Episcopal Diocese I said you might find a different response there well six years later I was in Omaha Nebraska and I was being introduced at event by a person who works for the Episcopal Diocese and before the event I said oh well you're Tim I said great nice to meet you what do you do for the diocese asking one of these old-fashioned religious questions about his role in the world and he told me what he did he was some sort of kin and then he said but that's not really what I'm passionate about he says what I'm passionate about is I become a church planner and I'm planting a church out in the suburbs with a mosque and a synagogue next door well there it is in Omaha Nebraska and a piece of property in the plains there is a mosque a synagogue and a church being built together with a building that connects the three of them as a public space and what the rabbi said to me is now coming to past he had said to me six years ago that he dreamed of coming to America because it was a city set upon a hill and he caught me at this event just a few months ago and he said Diana whoever knew that the hill was in the cornfields there's a Great Awakening and we're part of it Thank You Diana Diana will be available for a few minutes to sign books here if you'd like to buy I want to connect today with the lent event Richard Rohr will be here to talk about the change that changes everything experiential faith transformative faith you can pick up his books on the lawn today and sign up for the Lent event thank you very much

7 thoughts on “Christianity After Religion: Diana Butler Bass at All Saints Church, Pasadena

  1. Dictionary definition… Religion: The belief in and especially worship of a supernatural deity. Christianity perfectly conforms to this definition. Christianity IS a religion.

  2. As to the group "who are kind of feeling alone… " What will be one of their first major task when they "hook up" with like minded people? They will of course establish what will eventually become another religion. And without question this " new religion" will develop its own set of rules, rituals and membership requirements. Therefore that which is being touted as new is actually nothing new at all.

  3. What is "needed" is live life that is in sync with Bible. No amount of high sounding "christian social analysis" will bring people to Christ. If orthodox Christians are conservative, it is because truth is difficult to DO.
    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” – G. K. Chesterton.

  4. I really think that Dr. Bass is right on. As she points us to deal with the questions / experience …I love where she is taking the conversation. From the what to the how of I believe

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