Bass, Dorothy C. 1949-

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Bass, Dorothy C. 1949-


Born May 2, 1949, in TX; daughter of Richard William and Courtenay Bass; married Mark R. Schwehn (an educator and writer), 1983; children: John, Martha, Kaethe. Education: Wellesley College, B.A., 1970; Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, M.A., 1972; Brown University, Ph.D., 1980. Religion: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Home—Valparaiso, IN. Office—Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith, Linwood House, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383.


Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, instructor in religion, 1975-76; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, instructor in women's studies and church history, 1977-79; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, William Rainey Harper Instructor in the Humanities, 1980-82; Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, assistant professor, 1982-87, associate professor of church history, 1987-95; Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, director of Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. Minister of United Church of Christ, until 2002; Holden Village (ecumenical retreat center), member of governing board. St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, resident scholar, Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, 2005-06; guest instructor at Episcopal Divinity School, 1978, Pacific School of Religion, 1981, San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1987, McCormick Theological Seminary, 1987-90, Valparaiso University, 1993, and Graduate Theological Union, 1999.


American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History, Association for Practical Theology, Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.


(With Sandra Hughes Boyd) Women in American Religious History: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Sources, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1986.

(Editor, with Kenneth B. Smith) The United Church of Christ: Studies in Identity and Polity, Exploration Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

(Editor and contributor) Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

Practicing Our Faith: A Guide for Conversation, Learning, and Growth, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

(Editor, with Miroslav Volf, and contributor) Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2002.

(Editor, with Don C. Richter) Way To Live: Christian Practices for Teens, Upper Room Books (Nashville, TN), 2002.

(Editor, with husband Mark R. Schwehn) Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be, W.B. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Shorter works include "American Women in Church and Society, 1607-1920: A Bibliography," Auburn Program at Union Theological Seminary (New York, NY), 1973; (editor, with Kenneth B. Smith, and contributor) "The United Church of Christ: Issues in Its Quest for Denominational Identity," Exploration Press (Chicago, IL), 1985; and (with Lani Wright and Don C. Richter) "Receiving the Day: Christian Practices forOpening the Gift of Time; A Guide for Conversation, Learning and Growth," Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2001. Contributor to books, including Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900-1960, edited by William R. Hutchison, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1989; Beyond Establishment: Protestant Identity in a Post-Protestant Age, edited by Jackson Carroll and Wade Clark Roof, Westminster/John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1993; Contemporary American Religion, edited by Wade Clark Roof, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2000; Changing Churches: The Local Church and the Structures of Change, edited by Michael Warren, Pastoral Press (Portland, OR), 2000; and Life Together: Practicing Faith with Adolescents, Institute for Youth Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary (Princeton, NJ), 2002. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Congregations, Religious Education, Christian Century, Prism, On the Way, Radical Religion, Journal of Presbyterian History, Theological Education, and Interpretation.


Dorothy C. Bass has written several books as well as shorter works on religion. In Women in American Religious History: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Sources, Bass and Sandra Hughes Boyd provide a bibliography arranged into categories dealing with women in particular religious traditions, including African American women and Native American women. The book also includes sections on specific denominations such as Catholicism, Judaism, and various Protestant denominations. The bibliography covers works published though 1985. According to Dale A. Johnson in Religious Studies Review, this is the first comprehensive bibliography for students and researchers on women in American religious history. Johnson also noted that the annotations and author index are very helpful.

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time is a primer on time management for Christians. Bass presents concepts of time from the Bible and the Christian tradition, and also acknowledges the time-stress of modern society. Her answer is to focus on the present, and view each day as a gift from God. Eight chapters advise readers to celebrate the Sabbath, observe Christian holidays, spend daily time in prayer, and focus on what really matters. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called this message "timeless."

Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People provides suggestions for Christians to revitalize the practice of their religion, and the outward celebration of their faith. In Christian Century, Anthony B. Robinson made special note of the book's answers to the question, "How do modern or postmodern Christians shape and sustain communal practices that embody and form a faithful way of life?" According to Robinson, Practicing Our Faith "represents an extraordinary shift and gift" toward integrating tolerance and individual freedom with group practice and worship and toward how to "build a bridge between Sunday and Monday," and integrating faith into daily life. Bass and the other contributors to the book believe that daily practices can go far in this integration. As Robinson noted, "As we honor the body, practice hospitality, engage in disciplines … and keep Sabbath, our agenda is less to change the world than to change ourselves and to resist the fragmentation, reductionism and spiritual emptiness of the world." In addition, the book focuses not so much on what Christians believe but on what they do to demonstrate their faith and bring their religion into every aspect of their lives. Bass and her colleagues stress that these are group practices—that the faithful are, and should be, part of a community that sustains them.

Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life takes the ideas expressed in Practicing Our Faith a step further. Bass, coeditor Miroslav Volf, and several other experts look at the spaces between theology, theological literacy among the faithful, and religious practice in everyday life. Why do so many Americans fail to carry their religious beliefs out of the sanctuary and into their daily lives and the communities in which they live? The book considers this question from a variety of angles. Some contributors attempt to explain why theology even matters (or should matter) in the real world beyond the churchyard. Several essays offer case studies of actual situations in which clergy and congregations are actively engaged in synthesizing belief and practice, with varying degrees of success and occasional unintended consequences. Others offer suggestions to other clergy and academics that might help them in their own work to connect what people believe more directly to what they actually do. Bass and Volf believe that in the optimal context this connection benefits both sides of the equation. Strengthening one's faith tends to encourage the practice of its tenets in the community, and integrating religious practices into daily life reinforces religious belief. Library Journal contributor David I. Fulton recommended Practicing Theology "not only for seminary and university libraries but for libraries with an active religious studies circulation."

Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens represents a less scholarly and more specific approach to encourag- ing religious practices in daily life, particularly among young believers. The contributors are both teens themselves and the adults who work with them. The book is divided into chapters that cover individual issues that young people have to face in their daily lives, offering discussion topics, thought starters, study guides, and directions for program planners. Interpretation contributor Lynn A. Turnage found the book both creative and exciting, commenting: "I had a hard time finishing this book because I couldn't get it into the hands of our youth workers fast enough!"



Christian Century, July 16, 1997, Anthony B. Robinson, review of Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, p. 665; May 22, 2002, John P. Burgess, review of Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life, p. 40.

Christianity Today, October 27, 1997, Robert W. Patterson, review of Practicing Our Faith, p. 79.

Commonweal, December 4, 1998, review of Practicing Our Faith, p. 27.

Currents in Theology and Mission, October, 2002, Nathan C.P. Frambach, review of Practicing Theology, p. 390.

Interpretation, January, 2005, Lynn A. Turnage, review of Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens, p. 102.

Journal of Religion, April, 2003, Joy Ann McDougall, review of Practicing Theology, p. 302.

Library Journal, February 15, 2002, David I. Fulton, review of Practicing Theology, p. 151.

Publishers Weekly, January 13, 1997, review of Practicing Our Faith, p. 68; September 13, 1999, review of Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time, p. 76.

Reference Services Review, winter, 1986, review of "American Women in Church and Society, 1607-1920: A Bibliography," p. 20.

Religious Studies Review, April, 1988, Dale A. Johnson, review of Women in American Religious History: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Success.

Research and Reference Book News, fall, 1987, review of Women in American Religious History, p. 3.

Theology Today, July, 1988, review of The United Church of Christ: Studies in Identity and Polity, p. 236; July, 1998, Jackson W. Carroll, review of Practicing Our Faith, p. 262.