Diana Butler Bass This Year’s Harry Vaughan Smith Lecturer

February 2, 2012

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or vanderhoek_m@mercer.edu

MACON — Diana Butler Bass, an accomplished scholar, lecturer and best-selling author, has been named the 2012 Harry Vaughan Smith Visiting Distinguished Professor of Christianity in Mercer University’s Roberts Department of Christianity. She will deliver three lectures as part of her appointment on Feb. 14 and 15 built around the theme “Christianity After Religion.” All three lectures will be held in Newton Chapel on the Macon campus and are free and open to the public.

Dr. Bass’s first lecture, titled “Millennial Disappointment: The Great Religious Recession,” will be held Feb. 14 at 10:50 a.m. She will then deliver a lecture, titled “The Longing for Experience: Being Spiritual and Religious,” at 7:30 p.m. On Feb. 15, at 10 a.m., she will give her final lecture, titled “Patterns and Prospects of Awakening.”

“Our society is awash in confusions about faith, religion, church and spirituality,” said Dr. Richard F. Wilson, Columbus Roberts Professor of Theology and chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity. “Diana Butler Bass is an accomplished scholar and lecturer whose vocation is to explore and write about the changing contours of Christianity through the centuries. Her breadth of knowledge and depth of insight make her a near-perfect choice to deliver the 2012 Harry Vaughan Smith Lectures.”

Dr. Bass is an author, speaker and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She is the author of eight books, including Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, which will be published this month. Her other books include: A People's History of Christianity: the Other Side of the Story (2009), which was nominated for a Library of Virginia literary award, and the best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us (2006), which was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly.

Currently a Chabraja Fellow with the SeaburyNEXT project at Seabury Western Theological Seminary, Dr. Bass regularly consults with religious organizations, leads conferences for religious leaders and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues. She blogs at The Huffington Post and Patheos and regularly comments on religion, politics and culture in the media, including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR. From 1995-2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She is a contributing editor for Sojourners Magazine and has written widely in the religious press, including Christian Century, Clergy Journal and Congregations.

From 2002 to 2006, she was the project director of a national Lilly Endowment-funded study of mainline Protestant vitality. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary in New York.

Bass holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College and the Virginia Theological Seminary. She has taught church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, religion and politics, and congregational studies.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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