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Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,138 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Diana Butler Bass, one of contemporary Christianity’s leading trend-spotters, exposes how the failings of the church today are giving rise to a new “spiritual but not religious” movement. Using evidence from the latest national polls and from her own cutting-edge research, Bass, the visionary author of A People’s History of Christianity, continues the conversation began in ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2012)
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4.06  · 
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 ·  1,138 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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James R
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing

The subtitle of this book is unfortunate because it suggests the author's purpose is to do away with Christianity. Not so. What Diana Butler Bass is actually arguing for is a way for Christianity to reclaim its authority in a modern world where more and more people are claiming an identity as both religious and spiritual. For the multitudes who have given up on church based orthodoxy, but who still long for something to take its place, Bass offers a picture of what that Christian something migh
David Crumm
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A Valuable Message to Mainline Americans: Don’t Be Afraid of Spiritual Change

Don't be afraid. Religious life in America is changing dramatically, but for millions of Americans who are searching for faith, inspiration and hope on a daily basis—the underlying spiritual strength of our American culture is alive and well. In a couple of sentences, that's the wise and helpful message of Diana Butler Bass's new book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awake
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I chose to read this book because I am at a time of questioning the place of organized church in my own life. Several months ago we stopped attending the church of which my wife and I have been members for twenty-three years because actions of the church leaders do not coincide with our beliefs on proper Christian responses to society. Further, meaningful dialog seems to be impossible as the leaders' opinions are forcefully inserted in discussions in ways so as to squash other opinions from bein ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Are we in the midst of a great spiritual awakening? Reports from the churches might suggest otherwise, but there is other evidence that despite the apparent decline being experienced by institutional religious entities, there is great interest in spirituality. The New Atheists have tried to gain a foothold, but their message of a godless world appeals only to a few. Science has its place, but seems not to answer all humanity’s questions. But, the same is true for older forms of religion. While ...more
Sarah Rice
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
It took me awhile to read this book because 1. there's a lot to digest and 2. I got a lot on my plate right now. I checked this book out because the author is speaking in DC later this month and I wanted to get more out the talk. This book is a good blend of sociology, history, and theology. It offers a good look into the current climate of christian religion, faith, and spirituality in the United States. It summarizes the Great Awakening(s) nicely and puts them into a nice historical and theolo ...more
Teri Peterson
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
I wish I could give half stars--I would give 4.5. I thought this was the best of DBB's writing so far. Though I would not say there was a ton of new-to-me information, I will say that she does a wonderful job organizing, putting words to, and presenting things many of us have been thinking about for a long time. This is an accessible read even for non-professional church people. I so appreciate the clarity with which the author offers us both history and a framework for the present, along with h ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent book. From my blog:

This weekend, read this book. Pulling together analysis from Harvey Cox, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle and others, Diana analyzes the shifts in Christianity which explain – among many other things:

- why faithful people in my denomination want to leave the PCUSA to join the ECO or EPC while other faithful people want to remain in the PCUSA
- why the “how” questions (“How do I believe?”) is a better question today than the “what” questions (“What do I believ
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Diana Butler Bass really nails it, I think. This is a must read for every church governing board, evangelism committee, and clergy person.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Diana Butler Bass has always been on the forefront of religion/church. In this book she gives us a hopeful vision of the new awakening for a renewed faith by building from the bottom up. This is an important book.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
For pastors who applaud and those who dread (and everyone in between) the shifts Bass explores in this text, it’s crucial things to have awareness surrounding. I appreciated her measured view of the shifts—some are choosing to create a bricolage religion for themselves and some find themselves thrust outside the mainstream whether they wish to be or not. The word association with religion and spirituality that she reports practicing all around North America, reveal that spirituality, on the whol ...more
Mike Young
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In her Acknowledgments at the end of Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, Diana Butler Bass says, "These pages are my long-considered answers to questions a book and a teacher raised during my senior year in college." Christianity After Religion is one of those books that took me a long time to read. Not because it was difficult, but because it required me to look at questions that have lingered around my faith and life for years.

Raised in a
May 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Interesting and engaging. Bass has a lively prose style, heavily anecdotal but takes a balanced look at modern culture and trends influencing religion in a North American context. Her central argument in which she inverts the traditional order of believing, behaving, and belonging to the exact reverse is a compelling one for church practice.

The tragedy of this work is that Bass engages in speculation and enthusiasm in her third section that is heavily colored by her political beliefs. Bass's wo
Chad Ryan
Dec 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
1.5/5. Some helpful data & analysis on religious & cultural trends in America. Some good nuggets on the nature of faith & spiritual experience, as well. But this book is built upon caricatures--of groups, arguments, & ideas. Also, though I appreciated that she attempted to give anticipatory counterarguments to traditionalist critics (like me), they were generally poor attempts, for they often amounted to assertions (thus, I was rarely persuaded). Also also, the turn for the polit ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although having an American slant, this book has helped me understand how Christian culture is expressed these days in England. I'm not a visitor from another planet, but having lived in Africa for years I might just as well be - things have changed and seem strange to me. The author is able to paint an interesting overview of not just church history but also the more subtle shifts and trends in personal attitudes to church and faith. Somehow I am left feeling braver about accepting and even bei ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book. This book would be worthwhile reading for anyone who has ever examined their own spiritual journey, questioned their faith, or even been hurt by the 'church'. Some issues would be clarified and brought to light.

In addition this book is for every Christian who cares about Jesus, who cares about the future of Christian faith. Diana carefully researches the status of the Church today, and examines the life and faith of followers of Jesus.

What is the future of the Church?
Kevin Kirking
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Prophetic, analytic and downright fascinating! A guidebook to the "great awakening" taking place within the halls of orthodoxy of American Christianity. The pesky little secret that just won't stay hidden. If you want an understanding of where the church is headed in the 21st Century, this is a good place to start. In able company of the likes of Rob Bell, Parker J. Palmer, Brian McLaren and others, Butler Bass's writing is compelling and fresh.
Neil White
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is Diana Butler Bass' best work to this point and one of the clearest and most helpful examinations of the dynamic within culture in relation to spirituality and religion. It is helpful in understanding many of the larger struggles going on not only in religion, but also in the larger cultural and political struggles for identity going on within our country. I found this not only a helpful book but a very hopeful one.
Eric Ledermann
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at where we've been. A sobering look at where we are. A hope-filled look at where we might be going. Though the church is changing dramatically, it may not be so bad. We may even have a chance to discover an even more faithful way of being in this post-Christian/emerging vision of "spiritual and religious."
Christina Wible
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute "must-read" for those of us wondering where religion, any religion, is going in this world. I spend months reading it slowly because I wanted to savor the wisdom of the carefully reasoned prose. This is a book I will read over and over again in my search for a place I can be in the changing landscape of belief.
Richard Ohlrogge
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview of the evolution of religion in the US and how the changes taking place can be utilized by individuals who are searching among the diversity of choices for communal belonging. Or even the possibility of creating new ways of spiritually being present with a little imagination.
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book teaches me very wide range aspects of Christendom especially in U.S. I'll preserve this book in my bookshelf. I'm a foreigner of christianity and of the U.S., but I could understand what this author want to say.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Bill by: Self
My review is here:

And on Amazon...books like this are crafted once every 5 years...This is a Treasure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm going to have to put this down, mostly because I get depressed whenever I open it. Maybe I'll try again some other time. It's good - very good. Very insightful. But it makes me feel extinct, and that's not really working for me right now. When I'm feeling less irrelevant, I'll try again.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ministry
I wanted something more in this conclusion beyond a 4-step individual plan but I suppose that's the point. The only thing that you can really change us yourself. The rest will follow.
Catherine Davis
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Right on target for the future of church as we know it...
Nindyo Sasongko
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book gives me more courage to take the advanced degrees in Spirituality.
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Much food for thought in this book. It would make a great study for a clergy book group (:)) or within a congregation....
Matt Willis-Goode
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book that presents an overview of the religious history that has brought us to the current spiritual awakening. It is both informative and inspirational.
Michael Gizzi
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this. Excellent read. Provides much to think about. Well worth reading.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
If one thesis of this book could be put in economic terms, it would be that what we call religion in the west, Catholic, Protestant, and even Jewish, to a lesser extent, is in a ongoing recession. Attendance at religious services is steadily declining, especially among the young, But rather than see this, despairingly, as the end of Christian America, the end of religion, Bass looks forward to a new kind of Christianity. Looking backward and lamenting the loss of traditional verities means only ...more
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Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She holds a PhD in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of seven books, including the bestselling Christianity for the Rest of Us, released by HarperOne in 2006. It was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won ...more
“Christianity did not begin with a confession. It began with an invitation into friendship, into creating a new community, into forming relationships based on love and service.” 9 likes
“If we think of belonging only as membership in a club, organization, or church, we miss the point. Belonging is the risk to move beyond the world we know, to venture out on pilgrimage, to accept exile. And it is the risk of being with companions on that journey, God, a spouse, friends, children, mentors, teachers, people who came from the same place we did, people who came from entirely different places, saints and sinners of all sorts, those known to us and those unknown, our secret longings, questions, and fears.” 7 likes
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