Cover image for Broken we kneel : reflections on faith and citizenship
Broken we kneel : reflections on faith and citizenship
Bass, Diana Butler, 1959-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 144 pages ; 22 cm
Publisher's description: A thoughtful meditation on the relationship between Christian belief and the demands of American citizenship Drawing on her personal experience as well as her knowledge of American religious history, renowned author Diana Butler Bass examines the highly controversial topic of the relationship between church and state-and between Christian identity and personal patriotism-in America. Detailing how the historic relationship between Christian identity and secular citizenship has been in conflict for centuries, Bass argues that religious nationalism is a dangerous idea in an age of terror. Diana Butler Bass (Alexandria, VA) is the author of two critically acclaimed books on mainline religion: Strength for the Journey (0-7879-5578-7) and Standing Against the Whirlwind. She is currently directs the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, funded by the Eli Lilly Endowment.
Introduction "the Almighty has His own purposes" -- Broken we kneel -- "And a little child shall lead them" -- "God bless America" and "Amazing grace" -- Going to the chapel -- Compassionate imperialism? -- Homeland security -- Peace and the city.
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Home Location
Item Holds
BR516 .B365 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Drawing on her personal experience as well as her knowledge of religious history, Diana Butler Bass examines the contours of the uniquely American relationship between church and state, Christian identity and patriotism, citizenship and congregational life. Broken We Kneel attempts to answer the central question that so many are struggling with in this age of terror: "To whom do Christians owe their deepest allegiance? God or country?" In writing both impassioned and historically informed, Bass, who lives outside of Washington, D.C., reflects on current events, personal experiences, and political questions that have sharpened the tensions between serious faith and national imperatives. This book incorporates the author's own rich experience of faith, her vocation as a writer and teacher, and her roles as wife, mother, and churchgoer into a larger conversation with Christian practice and contemporary political issues. Broken We Kneel is a call to remember that the core of Christian identity is not always compatible with national political policies.

Author Notes

Diana Butler Bass is a 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.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this timely and quite personal book, Bass explores post-9/11 America and, in particular, the often volatile, confusing relationship between Christian belief and U.S. citizenship. Unlike many in and out of government, she doesn't see good and evil in stark black and white, and she has no patience for the simplistic, with-us-or-against-us stance that disguises itself as public policy. She makes an anguished appeal for self-reflection, sprung from an ecumenical approach, and a spiritual lament of sorts acknowledging that, in a world of increasingly righteous patriotism, some use religion for their own agendas. Looking for the revival of civic religion in the public sphere, she notes that Americans are once again talking, and often passionately arguing, about the role of faith in national life. Thoughtful readers are sure to be moved by the tension Bass descries and personally feels between loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the teachings of the Gospels. --June Sawyers Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, American cars, homes and churches were suddenly covered with flags and the phrase "United We Stand." Bass (Strength for the Journey) gives eloquent expression to the discomfort such patriotism caused among Christians who, like her, find themselves "resident aliens" in an America once again steeped in civil religion. The book's title is Bass's faith-based answer to "United We Stand," and she weaves a series of reflections around her conflicted reactions to the patriotism of her parish at the time: Christ Church of Alexandria, Va., four miles from the Pentagon, heir to a long military tradition and dominated by memorials to both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Drawing on Augustine, Bass argues that American Christians have become so enamored of "the City of Man" that they have forgotten their true citizenship in the "City of God." She deftly explores the history of "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace," the two songs that defined post-September 11 religiosity, contending that neither provides adequate guidance for Christian citizenship. Bass's prose is often lyrical, and readers troubled by America's combination of military might and professed faith will find this book refreshing. But Bass displays so little sympathy for her former fellow worshippers at Christ Church, and delves so little into the rich variety of Christian reflection on civic responsibility, that others will be frustrated by her seemingly impermeable idealism. (May 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Jim Wallis
Forewordp. xi
Introduction: "The Almighty Has His Own Purposes"p. 1
1 Broken We Kneelp. 15
2 "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them"p. 30
3 "God Bless America" and "Amazing Grace"p. 45
4 Going to the Chapelp. 59
5 Compassionate Imperialism?p. 83
6 Homeland Securityp. 98
7 Peace and the Cityp. 112
Epilogue: An Easter Epiphanyp. 130
Notesp. 137
The Authorp. 143