Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship

Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship

by Diana Butler Bass
     
 

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The relationship between Christian identity and secular citizenship has been a source of tension and conflict since the fourth century when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, renewed the ancient debate about the roles of church and state as people of faith have struggled with issues

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Overview

The relationship between Christian identity and secular citizenship has been a source of tension and conflict since the fourth century when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, renewed the ancient debate about the roles of church and state as people of faith have struggled with issues of war and peace, of terrorism and homeland security.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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) (Publishers Weekly, March 29, 2004)
Publishers Weekly
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) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780787972844
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
04/16/2004
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“This is a timely project addressing the delicate and imprecise relations between piety and politics in contemporary America. It will help people in the pew discern a more active role in our national politics.”
—Peter Gomes, author, The God Book, and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, Harvard Divinity School

“Diana Bass has written a moving, deeply personal and provocative history of her struggle to be a peacemaker in the midst of post 9-11 patriotism. Broken We Kneel will resonate with everyone trying to live in the City of Man and the City of God.”
—Bob Abernethy, executive editor, Religion & Ethics News Weekly

“Whether through her down-to-earth stories about her daughter Emma, her insightful contrast of chapel and church or security and shalom, her re-evaluations of Constantine and St. Francis, or her exploration of empire and its relation to the gospel of Jesus, Diana Butler Bass educates, inspires, corrects, and stimulates. I wish every Democrat in America would read this book, and then quickly pass it on to a Republican—including our President.”
—Brian McLaren, pastor, author, A New Kind of Christian, and fellow emergentvillage.com

“In Broken We Kneel, Diana Butler Bass weaves her experience of and love for the church into conversation with the deepest and most urgent theological questions, in particular, ‘What does it mean to be a faithful church in a post-September 11 world?’ Pastoral leaders and Christians will find Broken We Kneel rich in pastoral insight and prophetic provocation.”
—Anthony B. Robinson, senior minister, Plymouth Church (UCC) Seattle and author, Transforming Congregational Culture

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