Awakening or Bad Religion?

In the three months since my new book, Christianity After Religion, released many people have wanted to talk with me about “the end of church.”  But readers and interviewers seem more reluctant to talk about the other theme of my book: the possibility of awakening.  Not Welton Gaddy of Interfaith Alliance and State of Belief radio.  He goes to the heart of the matter.  Is there an awakening happening in faith and politics?  I argue that there is a new sort of faith “beyond conventional boundaries” based on experience and a new sense of connection, justice, and unity.  And I take on Ross Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion. Listen in and weigh in:  What do you think?  Are we moving through an awakening?

Welton Gaddy Interviews Diana Butler Bass on State of Belief

  • Richard
    • http:/ Nan Bush

      Thanks for the transcription! Saves tons of time…and means I’m likelier to know what’s being said!

  • Karen Nelson

    YES, we are in an awakening. Most people, I believe, associate the word “awakening” with light, joy, freedom, release. Being awake brings all that into being. But first, there is that strange in-between state, when we are no longer asleep but we are not yet fully awake in the new reality of awareness. We are in that place in which we can no longer trust the solid authenticity of what we counted on as reality, and we can’t refute the new and disorienting reality which replaces it. There’s a slow and often painful process of letting go of what was certain, to find something not quite new, but deeper, fuller, richer, and more challenging. There is the loss of letting go of what was ours, however flawed and incomplete it was. Lastly, there is enough blur between the truth of each of these states of being, that we can’t often figure out even if we are standing up, or simply dreaming that we are standing. It’s not an easy place to be, and many people don’t like it at all. They’d rather just be in one state or another without having the need to transition. They call that preference “certainty” and sometimes they call that certainty “faith.” Black and white thinking doesn’t lend itself well to living for some time in the gray.

    But I am glad we’re in that uncomfortable place of awakening. I’m also sometimes pessimistic about our chances. I don’t rest on the assurance that, just because we are awakening, we will finish waking up. I know it is possible to awaken to a new idea, turn over, and go right back to sleep.

    It’s a frightening place to be, in awakening. It is a place of unsettling movement, of changing parameters, of truth reasserting itself but with a new face. Yes, it is moving towards grace, and that is the hope of it.

    Provided we actually keep moving. That’s where I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Dave W

    It is tempting to be scurrilous and suggest that an awakening that really is happening is a growing sense of our existential aloneness in the universe. It could be an awakening from faith… Into something bracing and fresh…

  • http:/ Nan Bush

    “…there are no gatekeepers; there are, essentially, no voting blocs. And you actually don’t know how all those people are going to vote. And so there is no way of controlling the emerging vision of political and cultural life.”

    Here is both promise and the great danger, for this is an amoeba–shapeless, formless, and with no bones to stand on. Some kind of structure is not a bad thing. (Without ego…there’s schizophrenia, as a psychiatrist friend once said.) Political and cultural life without form are anarchy, which is chaos, which gets us back to before Creation. Either we will be free-thinking, individuated amoebas in a post-mordial soup, or–far more likely–some power group will have formed a highly structured, ideological voting bloc. And then what happens to the amoebas?

  • woooooowowo

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  • Ray Bannister

    Ross Douthat’s book is meat. Bass’s are cotton candy. Douthat proposes that the way to revitalize Christianity is to be radical – as in, going back to the roots – and believing and acting like Christians. Bass’s silly writings about the “new spirituality” are lame attempts to make a virtue of necessity. Her type of churches are emptying out, so, to save face, she predicts a churchless Christianity. Apparently the “inclusive” marketing stragety didn’t work too well – call yourself “inclusive” and watch the membership plummet. Her “intentional and transformative engagement with Christian tradition” did some transforming, alright – it changes half-empty churches into empty ones. No wonder she spends so much time in her books bashing megachurches – the unsuccessful envy and hate the successful.
    What a shame she has nothing positive to contribute. The decaffeinated, low-testosterone Christianity in her books defines itself only by negatives: “NOT evangelical.” That is hardly the foundation for any kind of “awakening” – more likely will lead to dead, buried, rotted, and forgotten.

  • Pastor Dave Claark

    Listening to the faith themes in Springsteen’s music at political rallies gives me hope that the awakening is here!

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