Not everyone agrees on what certain words mean: religious, spiritual, faith, even Christian. There was a time when discussion about the meaning of these words wasn’t needed. Even if people couldn’t explain the difference between spirituality and religion, there was little in lived practice that made such explanation necessary. Times have changed. Diana Butler Bass’ book provides clarity when it comes to navigating a world where one can be spiritual but not religious, or religious but not a theist. Bass is an observer and practitioner of faith who has become a regular commentator on religious practice and cultural realities. Part I describes the contemporary state of religion in America. Part II is subtitled A New Vision. Bass comments on four concepts: Believing, Behaving, Belonging, and The Great Reversal. All four sections contain fresh ideas that are rooted in a living tradition. For example, with the help of Harvey Cox, she distinguishes between faith in Jesus and a religious worldview based on the experience of Jesus. Part III describes the signs and possibilities of a new religious awakening. The book may be a bit long for a congregational board to read, but the benefits could be many.
Reviewed by Tim Shapiro