Diana Butler Bass

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Diana Butler Bass
Diana butler bass 4090003.jpg
Diana Hochstedt

Baltimore, Maryland
Academic background
Alma materWestmont College,
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
Duke University
InfluencesGeorge Marsden
Academic work
Sub-disciplinehistory of Christianity
InstitutionsWestmont College,
University of California at Santa Barbara,
Macalester College,
Rhodes College,
Virginia Theological Seminary

Diana Butler Bass is a historian focusing on the history of Christianity and a leading voice in progressive Christianity. Bass is currently an independent scholar who writes broadly on American religion and culture. She is the author of eight books, three of which have won research or writing awards. She earned a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University in 1991 with an emphasis on American church history. While at Duke she studied under George Marsden. From 1995–2000, she wrote a weekly column on religion and culture for the New York Times Syndicate that appeared in more than seventy newspapers nationwide and has since become a popular commentator on American religion for other media outlets. Currently, she is a blogger for the God’s Politics blog with Jim Wallis at Beliefnet,[1] as well as On Faith and The Huffington Post. She is associated with Sojourners, and the Red-Letter Christian movement.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1959 in Baltimore, Maryland, as Diana Hochstedt, Bass grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Raised a United Methodist, she became an evangelical Christian. She attended Westmont College, a Christian college in Santa Barbara, California, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where she earned a master's degree in church history. Her spiritual memoir, Strength for the Journey, records her growing dissatisfaction with conservative evangelical religion. She is now a member of the Episcopal Church.


For a decade, she worked primarily as a college professor before becoming an independent scholar. During this time she taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and Virginia Theological Seminary. In 2002, the Lilly Endowment awarded Bass a major grant to support her research on mainline Protestant churches.[3]

Bass’s books range from a study of nineteenth-century evangelicalism (Standing Against the Whirlwind) to a contemporary ethnography of mainline Protestantism (Christianity for the Rest of Us). Throughout her work, she displays an interest in the role of religion in cultural and social change. She eschews programmatic spirituality and leadership in favor of encouraging Christians to seriously practice their faith as a way to reform American churches and political life.

Two of her books, Strength for the Journey [4] and Christianity for the Rest of Us [5] have been named among the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. Christianity for the Rest of Us was named Book of the Year by the Academy of Parish Clergy.[6] Standing against the Whirlwind was awarded the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize by the American Society of Church History.

Her work has been written about by USA Today,[7] US News and World Report,[8] Newsweek,[9] The Washington Post,[10] the Los Angeles Times,[11] and other papers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.[12] She has also appeared on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS [13] and is, along with Martin E. Marty, one of two scholars chosen to represent Mainline Protestantism in The Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World, a book edited by the show's host, Bob Abernethy.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Richard Bass and is the mother of two children. Her sister-in-law, Dorothy C. Bass, is a theologian of Christian practice.


  • Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks. HarperCollins. 2018. ISBN 978-0-06-265951-4.
  • Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution. HarperCollins. 2015. ISBN 978-0-06-232857-1.
  • Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-209828-3.
  • A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story. HarperCollins. 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-144870-6.
  • Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith. HarperCollins. 2006. ISBN 978-0-06-174128-9.
  • From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories from Practicing Congregations (Alban, 2006), with Joseph Stewart-Sicking
  • The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church (Alban, 2004) (with Brian McLaren)
  • Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship Jossey-Bass, 2004. ISBN 9780787972844
  • Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community, Wiley, 2002. ISBN 9780787955786
  • Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford University Press, 1995) published as "Diana Hochstedt Butler"


  1. ^ "God's Politics". Blog.beliefnet.com. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  2. ^ "Diana Butler Bass | Sojourners: Celebrating 40 Years of Faith in Action for Social Justice". Sojo.net. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  3. ^ "author, Diana Butler Bass About Diana". Dianabutlerbass.com. Archived from the original on 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  4. ^ http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA257022.html
  5. ^ http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6388182.html
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-09-13.
  7. ^ Lynn, Cathy (2006-11-01). "Some Protestant churches feeling 'mainline' again". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  8. ^ [1] Archived October 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ [2] Archived September 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Old-Time Religion For Mainline Churches". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  11. ^ "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Religion". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 2003-09-20. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  12. ^ Rodgers, Ann (2007-06-11). "She studies what makes churches thrive - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  13. ^ "Diana Butler Bass Extended Interview | July 8, 2005 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly". PBS. Retrieved 2014-06-28.

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