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Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community Paperback – October 12, 2004


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Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community + Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith + Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787974250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787974251
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York Times syndicated religion columnist Bass delivers the ostensible goods an account of her life in eight different Episcopal churches and even if the book stopped there, it would be magnificent. Her parish stories unfold in that riveting, better-than-fiction way that the best sociological case studies always do. Each chapter is more intriguing than the last, and it is a pleasure to see how their titles, such as "Competing Authorities" and "Interim," perfectly label the personal and congregational stories therein. But what strikes the heart is Bass's own journey from conservative evangelicalism to mainline liberalism. A precocious undergraduate who was reading the likes of Luther, Bultmann and Julian of Norwich in her free time, Bass went on to get a seminary degree and a Ph.D. in church history. She joined the Episcopal Church in her early 20s because of her passion for liturgy and the Eucharist, and she initially hoped to "renew" the church, a euphemism for making it more evangelical. Instead, becoming a member made her less evangelical. Each parish story is also the story of her baby steps away from evangelical belief until, finally, the floodgates broke loose and she chose to leave all vestiges of her conservative Christian life behind, including her job and her marriage. This book is more than the chronicle of a baby boomer who stayed in a mainline denomination while most of her peers fled; it records a soul's search for God and communion with God's people. (Feb.) Forecast: This title has the potential for crossover between ABA and liturgical bookstores, evidenced by strong advance orders from both markets. Jossey-Bass plans a $60,000 marketing budget and a six-city author tour.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a longtime religion instructor, Bass is now a religion columnist for the New York Times syndicate. Although raised as an evangelical Christian in Baltimore in the late 1960s, she found a home in the Episcopalian tradition as she entered adulthood. In this spiritual, journalistic autobiography, Bass traces her faith journey from her undergraduate years at Westmont College to lay leadership at several troubled congregations in California and the South during the last three decades. Informed readers will find her "insider" analyses of congregational conflict to be an astute, if painful, reflection of troubled times. With a refreshingly straightforward style, she offers a constructive perspective of American churchgoing in mainline traditions. An additional purchase for public, Protestant church, and seminary libraries. Joyce Smothers, M.L.S. student, Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Diana Butler Bass was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. For as long as she can remember, she's been interested in religion, history, and politics--the passions she intertwines in her books and writing. She holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from Duke University. After a dozen years teaching undergraduates, she became a full-time writer, independent researcher, educator, and consultant. Her work has been cited in the national media, including TIME Magazine, USA TODAY, and the Washington Post, and she has appeared on CNN, FOX, PBS, and on NPR. For five years, she wrote a weekly feature on American religion for the New York Times syndicate. She currently blogs for Huffington Post and Washington Post OnFaith and is a contributing editor at Sojourners magazine.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a dangerous book to start reading, unless you have some time on your hands. I couldn't put it down! I've never encountered a book quite like this. The author weaves together many different strands that make up a single, powerful story.
On one level she tells the story of her own spiritual development that covers everything from being brought up as a Methodist, to becoming "born again" in high school, and then an Episcopalian (!). If the story stopped there, it would be enough because the writing is so engaging and humorous.
But the story doesn't stop there---it keeps on going. She also tells true stories of all the different churches she attended, the inside politics, the everyday drama of community life. The stories come off as honest, both the good and the bad, but the book is never vindictive. She doesn't have an axe to grind, which is refreshing when it comes to organized religion.
But again, the story doesn't even stop there. She puts all of this, her personal story and the congregational stories, into the larger social and historical context of religious trends in America.
This is a stunning achievement. But again, be forewarned: once you start reading you won't be able to put it down. It's that good!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "jeanne_gris" on April 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Spiritual autobiography in the best sense, this rather spare account continually is a continual surprise and a quiet delight, avoiding cliche and the temptation to be too personally confessional. The itinerary inverts the tale common to the post-war generation; the author's early conversion to dogmatic religion and to ritualism gradually yields, against her will, to a more flexible and at the same time more rigorous faith, quite different from the caricature of 'liberalism' inculcated by dogmatic churches. It is full of insight into the interaction between the personal seeker and the social realities of a church-going life, and a remarkable courtesy for the conservative Christians whose company she ultimately departs. The balance between deep feeling and deep reflection is fully achieved, and the story of this 20th century Pilgrim is moving as it is compelling.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a late twenty-something student of both counseling and religion, I have often found books on spirituality--especially first person accounts--to hover precipitously on the boundary between vacuous platitude and careless self-indulgence. This book is different. Its pages are both insightful and engaging, and its story about the potential of mainline religion is one that hopefully more will feel called to share.
Bass manages to embed a keen analysis of the state of mainline religion in the engrossing story of her own faith journey--a journey that was never just her own, but one always linked to those of others. To mainline believers struggling to find their place in contemporary society, Bass shows that serious faith need not be dogmatic and that critical faith can be nutured within communities grounded in the richness of the Christian tradition.
To those looking for strength for their journey, Bass is a spiritual friend worth getting to know.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By chris boyatzis on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Diana Butler Bass gives us a gem of a book that will help each of us on our own faith journey and spiritual struggle. The writing is clear and intelligent, the narrative is often gripping, and I think her book's basic structure, captured perfectly in her subtitle, is brilliant: She describes her story not just as the progress of some solitary pilgrim but as a faithful person embedded in a series of different churches and religious communities. This approach allows the reader to simultaneously learn about the author's own personal faith journey as she lives in different parts of the country and moves through her educational and professional development, but it also illuminates the "dark spots" in our churches, the all-too-human sides of our congregations and the regular folk who fill them on Sundays.
I'd like to call this book a "page-turner" because of its fascinating topic and fine writing, but the fact is that many pages had such provocative ideas that I often found myself getting lost in thought--about not only the author's faith journey but my own, about the author's faith communities in conservative and mainline Protestant churches as well as the different churches I've worshipped in, and about the triumphs and pains that marked the author's life as well as those that have comprised my own. This is superb autobiography: While laying bare the author's singular life it illuminates more universal lessons, and consequently allows the reader to see oneself in the pages.
This is a mature, serious book and I think readers will find that both their hearts and their minds will be deeply engaged. In addition, though, the reader will be sometimes enraged.
Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rew on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having journeyed thorugh my own myriad religious background and experiences, I found this book in a way reflecting my own story. But more than that, the author sets the personal story in the context of a community of faith's story - and further extends the story into the context of American culture and political system. She exhibits a breath of knowledge of the various tensions at work within in the church, which is never far away from being what it is:"in the world."
I was facinated with her personal story of moving from an evangelical - fairly rigid religious orientation as a teenager and college student - to confronting the questions and paradoxes that life brings. In the midst of that honesty with her own life she allows us to listen to her own struggle with faith questions, which are truly interwoven into life decisions and choices.
There seems to be a dialogue that forms with the reader as the author becomes open to her changing religious reference points: where the rites, riuals, forms, textures, tastes, smells and sounds of spiritual life become alive within a community of people. The hunger for spiritual nurishment is never quite satiated...but as the author indicates in her title: she is given strength for the journey.
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