The Common Good

Blog Posts By Diana Butler Bass

Posted by Diana Butler Bass 2 years 6 weeks ago
In recent days, conservatives have attacked the Episcopal Church. The reason? The church has just concluded its once every three-year national meeting, and in this gathering the denomination affirmed a liturgy to bless same-sex unions. Conservatives assert that the Episcopal Church's ever-increasing social and political progressivism has led to a precipitous membership decline and ruined the denomination.Many of the criticisms were mean-spirited or partisan, continuing a decade-long internal debate about the Episcopal Church's future. However, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat broadened the discussion, moving beyond inside-baseball ecclesial politics to ask a larger question: "Can Liberal Christianity be Saved?"The question is a good one, for the liberal Christian tradition is an important part of American culture, from dazzling literary and intellectual achievements to great social reform movements. Mr. Douthat recognizes these contributions and rightly praises this aspect of liberal Christianity as "an immensely positive force in our national life."Despite this history, however, Mr. Douthat insists that any denomination committed to contemporary liberalism will ultimately collapse. According to him, the Episcopal Church and its allegedly trendy faith, a faith that varies from a more worthy form of classical liberalism, is facing imminent death.
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 2 years 19 weeks ago
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year's end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglicans' institutional failure.But why should anyone, other than Anglicans and their Episcopal cousins in the U.S., care? The Anglican fight over gay clergy is usually framed as a left and right conflict, part of the larger saga of political division. But this narrative obscures a more significant tension in Western societies: the increasing gap between spirituality and religion, and the failure of traditional religious institutions to learn from the divide.
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 3 years 25 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 3 years 33 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 3 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 15 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 17 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 20 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 39 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 41 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 47 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 48 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 4 years 51 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 19 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 19 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 29 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 29 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 30 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 35 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 36 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 36 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 36 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 36 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 36 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 37 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 38 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 48 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 5 years 49 weeks ago
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 18 weeks ago
Over the last several days, I watched Rev. Jeremiah Wright in discussions of faith, theology, history, and culture on television. The three-plus hours I devoted to PBS and CNN amounted to some of the most sophisticated and thoughtful programming on American culture and racial issues that any news station has offered in recent years. And, for those who really listened to Rev. Wright, he moved from [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 18 weeks ago
Several weeks ago, a pair of doves built a nest on a front windowsill at my house. My family watched as the mother bird laid two eggs, as they hatched, and as the young chicks feathered. We grew attached to the winged family who made their home with ours. Two mornings ago, I was checking on the baby birds when a grackle (a large blackbird that a friend calls the "Darth Vader" of the bird world) swooped down and [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 19 weeks ago
No two events in this political season stand in starker contrast than last night's ABC Democratic debate and last Sunday's CNN Compassion Forum. Rather unbelievably, ABC anchors used 50 minutes of airtime attacking Democratic candidates on tabloid issues, including a line of questioning from George Stephanopoulos lifted from right-wing pundit Sean Hannity. Almost as an afterthought, the final questions turned toward actual issues including the economy and war. The ABC Web [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 24 weeks ago
The current media flap over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor, strikes me as nothing short of strange. Anyone who attends church on a regular basis knows how frequently congregants disagree with their ministers. To sit in a pew is not necessarily assent to a message preached on a particular day. Being a church member is not some sort of mindless cult, where individuals believe every word preached. Rather, being a church member means being part of a community of faith-a [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 33 weeks ago
During the South Carolina Republican debate, Mike Huckabee garnered greatest applause when defending his views of wifely submission as part of his evangelical faith. The questioner quizzed Huckabee about being one of 131 signers of a 1998 USA Today ad by the Southern Baptist Convention that asserted, "a wife is to graciously submit herself to the servant leadership of her husband." Huckabee responded by saying "I am not the least bit ashamed of my faith." He joked that his own wife [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 33 weeks ago
The new political buzzword is change. Every candidate claims to be the change candidate-and every pundit is contrasting "change" with "establishment." In the midst of the change-din, I would like to suggest that there is an important question to ask the candidates: "How will you lead change?" Harvard leadership professor Ronald Heifetz has identified two major approaches to change: technical fixes and adaptive change. In her fine book, Leadership Can Be Taught, Sharon Daloz [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 34 weeks ago
Now that the people of Iowa have chosen Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama as their nominees for president, pundits will spend much of the next few days (until New Hampshire at least) analyzing the results. Many will note religion as an important factor-especially as evangelicals turned out largely for Huckabee. But evangelicals are not the only religion story from Iowa. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama represent something much more profound in American politics [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 37 weeks ago
Last week, a Liberty University student asked Gov. Mike Huckabee to account for his recent surge in the polls. "There's only one explanation for it, and it is not a human one," Huckabee claimed, "It is the same power that helped a little boy with two fishes and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people. And that's the only way our campaign could be doing what it is doing." In other words, God apparently wants Mike Huckabee to be president-or, at the very least, win the Iowa caucuses. And, [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 39 weeks ago
I couldn't help but be struck by a bizarre similarity in two back-to-back events this week: the YouTube/CNN Republican forum and the swearing in of Pakistan's President Musharaf broadcast by NPR. Although worlds apart, both demonstrated what happens when religion and politics mix in a less-than-productive way-the insistence on religious tests for holding office. In the case of President Musharaf, he took the oath of office to a country with Islam as the state religion by swearing that [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 6 years 39 weeks ago
A week before Thanksgiving, I spoke in Lake Tahoe for the clergy convocation of the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church, a sprawling geography that comprises a wide array of congregations in big cities and small rural towns. The wide variety of clergy reflected that of the churches-the group included many women, persons of color, younger pastors, folks with a spectrum of theological views, and ordained and non-ordained leaders. It was obvious that this group of [...]
Posted by Diana Butler Bass 7 years 46 weeks ago