The Practicing Congregation
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About "The Practicing Congregation"
The conventional wisdom about mainline Protestantism maintains that it is a dying tradition, irrelevant to a postmodern society, unresponsive to change, and increasingly disconnected from its core faith tenets. In her provocative new book, historian and researcher Diana Butler Bass argues that there are signs that mainline Protestant churches are indeed changing, finding a new vitality intentionally grounded in Christian practices and laying the groundwork for a new type of congregation. The Practicing Congregation tracks these changes by looking at the overall history of American congregations, noting the cultural trends that have sparked change, and providing evidence of how mainline churches are reappropriating traditional Christian practices. The signs of life that Bass identifies lead the reader beyond the crumbling "liberal vs. conservative" dualities to a more nuanced and fluid understanding of the shape of contemporary ecclesiology and faithfulness. In so doing, she helps readers understand tradition in new ways and creates an alternative path through the culture wars that today arrest the energies of most denominations. Invigorated by stories from Bass's own experience, The Practicing Congregation provides a hopeful and exciting vision for the church. The imaginative "retraditioning" she identifies and celebrates will guide pastors and other leaders on this "pilgrimage of creating church" and convincingly counter the naysayers that long ago gave up on the viability of the mainline church.
Meet the Author
Diana Butler Bass
Diana Butler Bass is senior research fellow and director of the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, a Lilly Endowment funded research study of vital mainline Protestant churches, at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. Bass is an expert in American religion who works as an author, speaker, and independent scholar. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of six books on American religious practice including Christianity for the Rest of Us, scheduled for release by Harper San Francisco in September 2006. Her best-selling book, The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church (Alban, 2004), has been lauded as one of the most important books on mainline Protestantism in the last two decades and has been featured in The Christian Century, Sojourners, and The Door.Dianas other books include From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories from Practicing Congregations (Alban, 2006), Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship (Jossey-Bass, 2004), Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community (Jossey-Bass, 2002) which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was named one of the best religion books of 2002 by the same publication, and her dissertation, Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in 19th Century America (Oxford University Press, 1995), which won the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer prize of the American Society of Church History. She is currently working on two more books, Pilgrimage, part of the Seven Ancient Practices series, to be published by W books in 2008, and Episcopalians in America.