A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story

The Grassroots Movements That Preserved Jesus s Message of Social Justice for 2,000 Years and Their Impact on the Church TodayFor too long, the history of Christianity has been told as the triumph of orthodox doctrine imposed through power Now, historian Diana Butler Bass sheds new light on the surprising ways that many Christians have refused to conform to a rigid churchThe Grassroots Movements That Preserved Jesus s Message of Social Justice for 2,000 Years and Their Impact on the Church TodayFor too long, the history of Christianity has been told as the triumph of orthodox doctrine imposed through power Now, historian Diana Butler Bass sheds new light on the surprising ways that many Christians have refused to conform to a rigid church hierarchy and sought to recapture the radical implications of Jesus s life and message.
A People s History of Christianity The Other Side of the Story The Grassroots Movements That Preserved Jesus s Message of Social Justice for Years and Their Impact on the Church TodayFor too long the history of Christianity has been told as the triumph of

  • Title: A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story
  • Author: Diana Butler Bass
  • ISBN: 9780061448713
  • Page: 321
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story”

    1. A People’s History of Christianity is not so much a “history” (either scholarly or general) as it is an argument for a return to the roots of Christianity that finds fault with both modern expressions of “liberal” and “conservative” religion. As Bass argues in her introduction, liberal theologians and congregations tend to lose their “devotional” memories; their conservative cousins lose their “ethical” memory. The result is a liberal tradition that’s often little more th [...]

    2. Diana Butler Bass has very openly used Howard Zinn's successful history of the other sides to her specialty, Church History. In A People's History of Christianity she attempts to draw attention to the threads of hospitality, openness, welcoming and love that purport to be at the center of Christianity, but so often seem missing from Christian history. Much like the history of textbooks, Christian history is generally reduced to conflicts and their victors. What's often ignore (or seen only in in [...]

    3. I have a friend who says that a book earns 5 stars for her if it is better the second time she reads it. I think that's a wonderful system to use. My system for rating a book 5 stars is if it makes me cry. I found myself sobbing through the last 30 pages of A People's History of Christianity. I picked up this book because it was recommended by a friend. When I found out that Bass counts Phyllis Tickle, Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, Barbara Brown Taylor, Jim Wallis and Lauren Winner in her circle o [...]

    4. I picked up this book because of the title, and assumed that it would tell a lot of untold stories, like Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. In a sense this is what Diane Butler Bass attempts to do. She says she wants to tell an alternative history to the militant story of "Big C Christianity -- Christ, Constantine, Christendom, Calvin and Christian America" (p. 4). Instead her goal is to tell a story of "generative Christianity, a kind of faith that births new possibilities o [...]

    5. Bass treads lightly around the more difficult and dirty issues surrounding Christianity, switching seamlessly between social reporting and personal anecdote. She posits Christianity as best realized in its post-dogma, post-church, post-conservative form, and though my personal sympathies lean slightly this way, I've heard this message countless times before. I didn't care for Bass's interest in Christian syncretism; mixing and matching your personal faith is all well and good, but she never poin [...]

    6. This book is an answer to the question "Why would I ever want to be a Christian when the Christian Religion is responsible for such horrific and tragic events throughout history?". Diana (a history prof) concedes the horrific events, but notes that History is the story of the rich, powerful and successful. Christianity shines among the least, the last and the lost in society, and their stories are rarely ever told. This book brings to light the stories of Christian service, love, and selfless sa [...]

    7. Best church history I have read but it is more than that. It is a one volume story that relates, in every part, to what is going on in our church today.It kind of gives me hope.I will recommend to all of my churchy friends.

    8. Obviously, what Bass's project was meant to do is rather admirable. Just as Zinn put together a people's history of the United States, she wanted to do the same for Christianity and emphasize what people were actually experiencing as Christians through the centuries. For attempting to do that, I applaud Bass. For sort of doing it, I applaud Bass. For starters, Bass's attempt to focus on lesser-known figures from Christian history is nice. Lesser-known for laypersons anyway, which is fine, except [...]

    9. Perhaps because I was hoping for a history like Howard Zinn's or Eduardo Galeano's. I was very disappointed with this book. I was hoping to read stories of the underside of Christianity - or, better, to read Christianity from the side of the poor, of the underdog, of the marginalized.There are places where the author rises to the task, but I found the work plodding.I had a hard time getting past the first few chapters. The examples from her contemporary experience were, to be kind, distracting - [...]

    10. This is a good book for those who don't know a lot about the history of Christianity and want a broad view while also being a reasonable length and easy to read. Be warned however, that her goal is to highlight broad trends in christian thinking over the centuries and to bring out the good over the bad. She does not pretend certain events did not happen; rather she is trying to record christianity at its best. I think she does meet this goal but someone who wants more depth and a more complete h [...]

    11. Mixed feelings. Many of the "historical" snippets were helpful and encouraging that what is important about faith in Christ is rooted in real people throughout the Christian age. Some stories, however, left you with the feeling, "Gee, those medieval people were just like us postmoderns" Perhaps a bit of a stretch.I guess I was looking for a history book relating how real people lived out the command to love God and neighbor. But what left me queasy was a feeling that the book is a polemic for po [...]

    12. I was between giving this 4 stars or 5 stars and ended up going for 5 based on how much I highlighted and how many things I wish everyone knew about Christianity. I found her to be fairly accessible, regardless of one's personal belief system, and very straightforward. I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks the militant "Big C" Christianity (as she calls it) is the only form of Christianity that exists, as well as to anyone who wonders how Christians in the first few centuries after J [...]

    13. An excellent history of Christianity from the perspective of people practicing the faith for the past two thousand years. Bass writes with a breadth of knowledge and experience that should satisfy most readers and the manner in which she writes is straight-forward and easy to read. You won't find any nuanced theological arguments here, but you will come away with a deeper appreciation for those, right up to the present day, who have sought to follow Jesus in deed and not only in word.

    14. i've been a churchgoer most of my life so i thought i knew what christianity was all about, and that the way it is now is the way it has always been. I was amazed to find so much information in this i had never heard before, people and ideas that have hugely influenced the version of Christianity we have today in the United States. This and the other book I reviewed, "The House Church" were big influences on my decision to join a house church network.

    15. With explicit reference to Howard Zinn, Diana Butler Bass provides an alternative view of Christian history by looking at what ordinary people of were doing in the midst of wars, schisms, church councils, and theological arguments. It's a refreshing and encouraging look at how the Spirit moves even in dark times. Unsentimental and surprising.

    16. This was a pretty fantastic view of the peoples' practice of Christianity throughout the years, as opposed to the institution of Christianity. It doesn't address the really negative effects of Christianity, but I don't think that was the point. Inspiring, and recommended to any progressive Christian or religious inquirer.

    17. In a day when Christianity seems to be appropriated by the religious right, Bass gives us a history of other, non-dominant, now-all-but-silenced voices that speak up for pacifism, social justice, radical love, and, yes, communism, etc.

    18. Following the history of "Great Commandment" Christianity (as opposed to "Big C" Christianity), Basss offers a window into a Christianity that has made, is making, and will continue to make a positive difference in the world.

    19. Tended to confirm rather than challenge my dominant world view. Feel good book about the history of Great Commandment Christianity. Some new to me illustrations of enlightenment / great awaking folks towards the end, but most of it was religious history as I have generally learned it, although I certainly see how she is contrasting a pop history since I run into that too. It was only at the end that she brought in a sense of global Christianity. I would have liked more of the early stories of Sy [...]

    20. This book is a broad survey of holy women and men of the Christian tradition throughout the past 2,000 years. It's an easy read and while I don't think the author breaks any new ground theologically speaking, she does a lot to reclaim a tradition of people doing good works and seeking god, despite centuries of other horrible things being done in the name of Christianity.

    21. I had higher hopes for this book than it was able to fulfill. It read more as an apologetic for liturgical, liberal Christianity than it did an actual history of "the people" who have followed Jesus in myriad ways through the centuries. There were some valuable insights scattered throughout, but nothing that will bring me back to read it again.

    22. It took me a bit of time, but I finally finished this book. The book’s message is an important one, and I wanted to keep going, despite the sometimes dry material, because I felt it was necessary to recognize what I see as a central theme – history is told by the victors, and this includes the history of Christianity. The author sets off on a journey to explore the lives of Christians throughout the ages whose stories have been drowned out by what she calls Big C Christianity – Christ, Con [...]

    23. I liked this book. But it was not what I expected and it could have been much better. With the title it has, I expected a retelling of Christian history with a focus on figures, groups and movements that do not get top billing in more traditional history books. Bass says she is specifically going to avoid a way of telling that focuses on C’s – Christendom, Calvinism and so on. The first part of the book mentions many figures from the early church who are familiar to anyone with even a cursor [...]

    24. “Thus we inhabit a post traditional world – a world of broken memory – in which some tell history badly, others do not know it at all, and still others use history to manipulate society to their own ends. All contemporary faiths struggle with lost memory.…At the center of the attempt to remember stands a startling question: Is spiritual amnesia a precursor to religious Alzheimer’s, a fatal loss of memory for which there is no cure?” p. 7-8This book has been on my TBR list since 2012. [...]

    25. The author paints a picture of the goodness of Christian practice and thought through two millennia. Providing glimpses, anecdotes and quotes into the Christianity that was, that could have been and could still be, Bass manages to convince us that the adverse elements of organized religion, which so often haunt us, should not be allowed to hide the bright light of Christian love amply demonstrated by so many individuals and movements.For the sincere reader this book can be a good source of refer [...]

    26. This just in: Christianity is in a state of flux--wrestling with cultural & religious pluralism, lampooned by mainstream media, and "defended" by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni. Ms. Bass explains this milieu with her People's History, a look back at the countercurrents of Christian history that drove the faith forward. She keeps the book moving, interspersing anecdotes from today with historic examples from five different eras, including today, which she calls "Conte [...]

    27. The author spoke in Roanoke a couple weeks ago. One comment she made that struck me was when the church does not know its own history, it is like a person who has Alzheimer's. That was a striking image, but it seems to me an exaggeration. She seeks to bring out the good figures and events in Christian history--as a sort of inspiration to liberal/progressive Christians. She may be right that many Christians do not know that history, but it was pretty familiar to me. One amazing thing I did not kn [...]

    28. What a refreshing and energizing (read: not dull!) account of the history of Christian faith and practice! These words, from the final chapter, sum up the spirit of the book quite well:"In these pages I hope it is clear that no period of church history is superior to another. Rather, each time unfolds on its own historical merits, as Christians struggle to enact Jesus's command to love God and neighbor in a unique human context."This book is more of a 'thematic' study of the epochs in the church [...]

    29. A researched confirmation that Christianity or "The Way" was strictly about Two Commandments: 1. Love God with all your heart soul mind and strength and 2. love your neighbor as yourself. The Church was a virgen up until Constantine. After Constantine, the union between our religion and the state set in place new commandments that justified Holy war, Bible battles, and forced morality. Author Diana Butler Bass divides our history into 5 segments: Early Christianity, Medieval Christianity, Reform [...]

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