* Church membership continues to plummet in America. Yet interest in the soul is rising. What's behind this "spiritual but not religious" trend? Offering fresh research, Bass explores the disillusionment some Christians feel---and shows that when they experience an authentic connection to community and the divine, they're moved to serve others as Jesus commanded. 272 pages, softcover from HarperOne.
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Cotton candy tastes good, and if you eat enough of it, you get a sugar high – briefly. It isn’t nourishing, and you sure can’t thrive and grow on it. That is what this book is: spiritual cotton candy for those who are spiritually immature. It is one of the many insubstantial books catering to the “spiritual but not religious” types, the sort who would define “spirituality” as “I think about God once in a while.”
The tiresome phrase “Spiritual but not religious” passes for deep wisdom in what is called the “emergent” church. That church (maybe “anti-church” would be more apropos) consists mostly of peevish ex-evangelicals who decided that the religion they grew up with cramps their style, that they prefer thinking and behaving like their cool Politically Correct friends but still want to hang on to some slender threat of “spirituality.” The solution: talk a lot about love, tolerance, the environment, and now and then drop the name Jesus, who (so this type says) approves of everything you do. Have your cake and eat it too – be cool, modern, nonjudgmental, and “spiritual” to boot. I don’t know what this is, but it isn’t Christianity.
I notice all these “spiritual” authors quote Harvey Cox, the theological “class clown” of the 1970s. That is a bad sign, quoting (and approving) this superficial goofball who should have been forgotten long ago, except that his silly notion of “secular Christianity” still appeals to the weak-minded who can’t handle full-strength Christianity. I notice that one of the cover blurbs is by Cox, who praises the book highly—apparently a case of “You quote me in your book and I’ll tell the world it’s great!” (Some might say this is a bit unethical . . .)
Aside from having about as much substance as a soap bubble, Diane Bass’s book is terribly edited. On the very first page she refers to “Saltine” crackers (it’s not a brand name, so it isn’t capitalized) and to the New American Standard Version (it’s always called the New American Standard Bible, NASB, and anyone with a background in Christianity should know that). These may sound nitpicky, but unfortunately the sloppy, careless writing goes along with sloppy, careless thinking.
Just a suggestion: if you have issues with church (and most people do, since no church is perfect), instead of turning to such silly, fatuous books as this, spend an hour or two actually reading one of the Gospels in the New Testament. There is a lot of “meat and potatoes” in the Bible, and it has a long history of transforming people’s lives, and it is ten thousand times more nourishing than Diane Bass’s cotton candy religion. I think it will still be read long after such books as this end up in the bargain rack at the local Books-a-Million.