Diana Butler Bass
Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality.
Diana’s passion is sharing great ideas to change lives and the world – a passion that ranges from informing the public about spiritual trends, challenging conventional narratives about religious practice, entering the fray of social media with spiritual wisdom and smart theology, and writing books to help readers see themselves, their place in history, and God differently. She does this with intelligence, joy, and a good dose of humor, leading well-known comedian John Fugelsang to dub her “iconic,” the late Marcus Borg to call her “spontaneous and always surprising,” and Glennon Doyle to praise her “razor-sharp mind” and “mystical heart.”
She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of ten books (below). Her bylines include The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN.com, Atlantic.com, USA Today, Huffington Post, Christian Century, and Sojourners. She has commented on religion, politics, and culture in the media widely including on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, CBC, FOX, Sirius XM, TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and in multiple global news outlets. In the 1990s, she wrote a weekly column on religion and culture for the Santa Barbara News-Press, which was distributed nationally by the New York Times Syndicate.
Her work has received two Wilbur Awards for best nonfiction book of the year, awards from Religion News Association for individual commentary and for Book of the Year, Nautilus Awards Silver and Gold medals, the Illumination Book Award Silver medal, Books for a Better Life Award, the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize for Church History, multiple nominations for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards, and Publishers Weekly’s Best Religion Book of the Year.
She and her husband live in Alexandria, Virginia, with their dog and their sometimes-successful backyard garden.
Books by Diana Butler Bass (selected):
Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks (HarperOne, 2018)
Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution (HarperOne, 2015)
Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne, 2012).
A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009)
Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (HarperOne, 2006)
Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Politics (Jossey-Bass, 2004; Church Publishing, second edition, 2019)
Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community (Jossey-Bass, 2002; Church Publishing, second edition, 2017)
I. KEEPING FAITH? Reconstruction After Deconstruction or Putting Things Back Together After They Fall Apart
A vibrant spiritual life is never stagnant. We all change all the time. Yet we often embrace the myth that our beliefs about God and our behaviors (in devotional life and our ethical lives) should remain the same for decades! Many of us have grown up in churches or families that insist we must “keep the faith.” This causes enormous stress and guilt, and often broken relationships, when change happens – especially the change of rejecting a particular tradition or theology in search of a more authentic way of being. Despite this, thousands of people are deconstructing the faith they inherited from parents, church, or culture. And it isn’t just individuals. Whole congregations and entire denominations are taking new and unexpected paths – either willingly or unwillingly – where everything they have known is changing.
How do you put things back together when everything has fallen apart?
Diana Butler Bass has experienced three deconstructions in her life, followed by three reconstructions – each time discovering that Christian faith was more than imagined, more open and creative than she ever expected. Being a person of faith isn’t a matter of “keeping the faith” like locking doctrines in a museum. Rather, it is a matter of keeping faith – the word “keeping” in its more ancient sense of “keeping the way” or “keeping on a journey.” Being Christian is a living way of going further and deeper with God.
This learning event doesn’t tell you what to believe or how to behave as a person of faith. Instead, it invites you into a vision of trusting your experience of God, learning to “keep on” when things fall apart.
II. GRATEFUL AND GROUNDED: Spiritual Wellness and Wisdom in Difficult Times
In four lectures, Diana explores a theological and spiritual vision to guide our lives and communities during times of uncertainty and division. Drawing from our connections to nature and neighbor, we can rediscover God’s presence with us and through all things in ways that strengthen both personal resilience and social activism. Best offered as a full weekend, the lectures can be supplemented by bodily prayers, times of silence, and journaling. Based on Diana’s work in her books Grateful and Grounded, and presented with updated ideas and practices.
This topic can be presented in four lectures including both themes or it can be presented in shorter events with two major lectures (+ additional material) as a single theme:
GRATEFUL: Spiritual Wellness in Difficult Times
GROUNDED: Spiritual Wisdom in Difficult Times
III. Additional Topics
Faith and Politics: Diana’s book Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Politics, has been released in a second edition in advance of the 2020 elections. She is happy to talk with your group about faith and politics, whether specific issues in the news or her passionate belief that politics springs from a posture and practice of humility.
Preaching: Diana frequently preaches at churches, conferences, and major events. She enjoys preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary, on seasonal themes from the Christian year, or on specific events in the news.
Writers Conferences: Always open to share the joy and struggles of being a writer, Diana loves encouraging other writers. She especially likes teaching on issue of structuring narratives and how discovering a book’s inner structure is the key to a great project.