Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship

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 ...
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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

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, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/16/2004
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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. From 1995—2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She is the author of Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2002.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction : "the almighty has his own purposes" 1
1 Broken we kneel 15
2 "And a little child shall lead them" 30
3 "God bless America" and "amazing grace" 45
4 Going to the chapel 59
5 Compassionate imperialism? 83
6 Homeland security 98
7 Peace and the city 112
Epilogue: an Easter epiphany 130
Notes 137
The author 143
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