Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: Diana Butler Bass, Grounded, 2015

Book Review: Diana Butler Bass, Grounded: Finding God in the World: A Spiritual Revolution. 2015.

I have been a fan and an avid student of Diana Butler Bass since the days when her popular book, Christianity for the Rest of Us traveled through my church circles with enthusiastic popularity. But now she has left me behind. I do not know for sure where she went. But she left the church. I am church! My abiding spiritual life, blessed by a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is fully alive in and through the institutional church. I am committed to fighting for the vitality, the effectiveness and the vibrant future of the institutional church. The church embodies my spiritual life. But now, in my reading of her new book Grounded, Diana Butler Bass has abandoned me and the institutional church. She has moved, as a result of her “third conversion”, to some strange place that is, I guess, more aligned with Karen Armstrong’s Charter of Compassion than it is with my stodgy Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

She writes in her Conclusion this paragraph that for me lacks the nuance and sophistication that I found in her works. I find this to be a remarkably simplistic summary of things:

“The old God, the one believed in, preached and celebrated, and served in conventional religious institutions, is fading from view. And a new God, one of intimate longing and infinite love, experienced and proclaimed by seers and prophets through the ages, has risen just over the horizon. It is a new spiritual day.”

I read here her dismissal of the “conventional religious institutions” like the one I am committed to and serve in. This Great Emergence we are living through is certainly NOT going to happen like this. Our Reformation will not be an instantaneous on-off switch from an old God to a new God. There will be fits and starts, there will death and life, there will be success and failure, there will be new and old all mixed up together, and there are institutions doing fresh, creative, bold new things. Good bye, Diana Butler Bass. I am sorry you have abandoned our team, and walked out of our conventional institutions to live into some ethereal “earthy spirituality.” As for me and mine: We are church!