Diana Butler Bass

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Can Christianity Be Saved? A Response to Ross Douthat

by Diana Butler Bass 07-16-2012
Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass

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.

When Religion and Spirituality Collide

by Diana Butler Bass 04-16-2012
Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Westminster Hall on March 20. Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool/Getty Images

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.

God in Wisconsin: Scott Walker's Misguided 'Obedience'

by Diana Butler Bass 03-08-2011
As the stand off between workers and Governor Scott Walker continues in Wisconsin, http://www.wichurches.org/advocacy/faith-community-response-to-the-wisco..." target="_bla

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: Speaking for the Soul

by Diana Butler Bass 01-11-2011
The Sunday after Martin Luther King Jr. w

The Real Housewives of Proverbs 31

by Diana Butler Bass 08-10-2010
As a working mother who lives in the Washington-metro area, I admit that I was dreading Bravo's new program The Real Housewives of D.C.

Civility: The Problem of Being Nice

by Diana Butler Bass 05-18-2010
In March, I signed The Civility Covenant issued by the folks at Sojourners.

Is Western Christianity Suffering From Spiritual Amnesia?

by Diana Butler Bass 05-04-2010
In the 1990s, I taught history and theology at an evangelical college, a place where the students were serious young Christians.

Baseball, Tiger Woods, March Madness, and the American Soul

by Diana Butler Bass 04-08-2010
I'm not much of a sports person, but I have to admit that April 5 was a remarkable day for sports -- especially sports and religion.

Advent: Apocalypse Now?

by Diana Butler Bass 11-30-2009
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations caused by the roaring of the sea and the waves," proclaims Jesus in the gospel of Luke.

Psalm 109:8 -- A Prayer to Destroy Obama?

by Diana Butler Bass 11-17-2009
During the last few days, Psalm 109:8, a Bible verse in the form of a "prayer for Obama," has topped the Google trends chart: "May his days be few; may another take his office." Evidently, a bump

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