Diana Butler Bass

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Diana Butler Bass
Diana butler bass 4090003.jpg
Bass in 2018
Diana Hochstedt

(1959-02-19) February 19, 1959 (age 62)
Other namesDiana Hochstedt Butler
Richard Bass
(m. 1997)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisStanding Against the Whirlwind (1991)
Doctoral advisorGeorge Marsden
Academic work
Sub-disciplineHistory of American Christianity
School or traditionLiberal Christianity
Websitedianabutlerbass.com Edit this at Wikidata

Diana Butler Bass[a] (born 1959) is an American historian of Christianity and an advocate for progressive Christianity.[1] Bass is currently an independent scholar who writes on American religion and culture. She is the author of eleven books, many of which have won research or writing awards. She earned a PhD in religious studies from Duke University in 1991 with an emphasis on American ecclesiastical history. While at Duke she studied under George Marsden. From 1995 to 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. She has blogged for the Sojourners God's Politics blog, On Faith at The Washington Post, Beliefnet, and The Huffington Post. She is associated with Sojourners and the Red-Letter Christian movement.[2] She currently authors the Substack newsletter The Cottage.

Early life and education[edit]

Born on February 19,[citation needed] 1959, in Baltimore, Maryland, as Diana Hochstedt,[citation needed] Bass grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona.[3][4] Raised a United Methodist, she became an evangelical.[citation needed] She attended Westmont College, a Christian college in Santa Barbara, California,[citation needed] from which she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981.[5] She received a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree in ecclesiastical history from Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary in 1986.[5] Studying under the supervision of George Marsden,[6] she received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in religious studies from Duke University in 1991.[5] Her doctoral thesis was titled Standing Against the Whirlwind: The Evangelical Party in the 19th Century Protestant Episcopal Church.[6][7]

Her spiritual memoir, Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community, records her growing dissatisfaction with conservative evangelical religion. She is now a member of the Episcopal Church.


For a decade, she worked primarily as an academic before becoming an independent scholar. She began in 1991 as an assistant professor of religious studies at Westmont College, from which she was fired in 1995.[5][8][9] She went on to serve as a history instructor at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1995 to 1996, as a visiting assistant professor of religious studies at Macalester College from 1996 to 1997, and as an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College from 1997 to 2000.[5] In 2002, the Lilly Endowment awarded Bass a major grant to support her research on mainline Protestant churches[10] at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Bass's books range from a study of nineteenth-century evangelicalism (Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America) to a contemporary ethnography of mainline Protestantism (Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith) to theological explorations of contemporary life (Grounded and Grateful). 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.[dubious ]

Two of her books, Strength for the Journey[11] and Christianity for the Rest of Us[12] 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.[13] Standing Against the Whirlwind was awarded the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize by the American Society of Church History. Grounded: Finding God in the World and Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks won the Wilbur Award as the best nonfiction book of the year from the Religion Communicators Council in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Grounded was also named the Book of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association in 2016. She has received multiple Gold and Silver awards from Nautilus Book Awards and Illuminations Book Awards.

Her work has been written about by USA Today,[14] US News and World Report,[15] Newsweek,[16] The Washington Post,[17] the Los Angeles Times,[18] and other papers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.[19] She has also appeared on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS[20] 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.

In 2015, she was one of the keynote speakers at the Parliament of the World's Religions, held in Salt Lake City.[21][22] She has preached at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Washington National Cathedral, The Riverside Church in New York City, and many other churches in the United States and Canada.

Personal life[edit]

Following her first marriage,[23] she married Richard Bass on January 18, 1997,[24] and is the mother of a daughter, Emma. Her sister-in-law, Dorothy C. Bass, is a theologian of Christian practice.


  • Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence. HarperCollins. 2021. ISBN 978-0-06-265952-1
  • 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 Institute. 2006. With Joseph Stewart-Sicking
  • The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church. Alban Institute. 2004.
  • Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship. Jossey-Bass. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7879-7284-4
  • Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community. Jossey-Bass. 2002. ISBN 978-0-7879-5578-6
  • Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford University Press. 1995. Published as "Diana Hochstedt Butler"



  1. ^ "Progressive Christianity | Patheos". www.patheos.com. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "Diana Butler Bass | Sojourners: Celebrating 40 Years of Faith in Action for Social Justice". Sojo.net. February 16, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Price, Seth (March 17, 2018). "'Grateful' with Diana Butler Bass". Can I Say This at Church (Podcast). Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "Meet Diana Butler Bass". Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Diana Butler Bass". LinkedIn. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Dochuk, Darren; Kidd, Thomas S.; Peterson, Kurt W., eds. (2014). "Appendix: George Marsden's Doctoral Students and Their Dissertations". American Evangelism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 978-0-268-15855-2.
  7. ^ Hochstedt Butler, Diana (1991). Standing Against the Whirlwind: The Evangelical Party in the 19th Century Protestant Episcopal Church (PhD thesis). Durham, North Carolina: Duke University. OCLC 31391686.
  8. ^ Bass, Diana Butler (March 3, 1993). "Between Two Worlds: Evangelical, Female – and a Scholar". The Christian Century. Vol. 110, no. 7. Chicago. p. 232. ISSN 0009-5281.
  9. ^ Bass, Diana Butler (March 28, 2018). "Practicing Gratitude: How Keeping a Journal Changed My Perspective". The Christian Century. Vol. 135, no. 7. Chicago. p. 10. ISSN 0009-5281.
  10. ^ "author, Diana Butler Bass About Diana". Dianabutlerbass.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "/404".
  12. ^ "/404".
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Lynn, Cathy (November 1, 2006). "Some Protestant Churches Feeling 'Mainline' Again". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  15. ^ [1] Archived October 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ [2] Archived September 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Old-Time Religion For Mainline Churches". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  18. ^ "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Religion". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. September 20, 2003. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  19. ^ Rodgers, Ann (June 11, 2007). "She studies what makes churches thrive - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  20. ^ "Diana Butler Bass Extended Interview | July 8, 2005 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly". PBS. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  21. ^ "Diana Butler Bass | parliamentofreligions.org". parliamentofreligions.org. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  22. ^ "Salt Lake 2015 Parliament". parliamentofreligions.org. Retrieved March 4, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Bass, Diana Butler (March 28, 2018). "Practicing Gratitude: How Keeping a Journal Changed My Perspective". The Christian Century. Vol. 135, no. 7. Chicago. p. 11. ISSN 0009-5281.
  24. ^ Bass, Diana Butler (2017). Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community (2nd ed.). New York: Church Publishing. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-89869-082-8.

External links[edit]