The author of the multiple award-winning Grounded and leading trend spotter in contemporary Christianity explores why gratitude is missing as a modern spiritual practice, offers practical suggestions for reclaiming it, and illuminates how the shared practice of gratitude can lead to greater connection with God, our world, and our own souls.
More and more people are finding God beyond the walls of traditional religious institutions, but these seekers often miss the church community itself, including its shared spiritual practices such as gratitude. While four out of five Americans have told pollsters they feel gratitude in their daily lives, cultural commentator and religion expert Diana Butler Bass finds that claim to be at odds with the discontent that permeates modern society.
There is a gap, she argues, between our desire to be grateful and our ability to behave gratefully—a divide that influences our understanding of morality, worship, and institutional religion itself. In Grateful, Bass challenges readers to think about the impact gratitude has in our spiritual lives, and encourages them to make gratitude a "difficult and much-needed spiritual practice for our personal lives and to make a better world."
Grateful is partially an individual, emotional response to our circumstances, but research has shown that what we often miss is how much more it is a communal, actionable response. Bass examines this more unexpected experience of gratitude, and reveals how people and communities can practice it and thrive, whether or not they are part of a traditional religious community.
About the Author
Diana Butler Bass is the author of eight books on American religion, including Christianity After Religion, Christianity for the Rest of Us, and A People's History of Christianity. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Duke University, has taught at the college and graduate level, and is currently an independent scholar. She was a columnist for the New York Times Syndicate, and blogs for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post on issues of religion, spirituality, and culture. Bass is a popular speaker at conferences, colleges and universities, and churches across North America. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and dog. Her website is dianabutlerbass.com and she can be followed on Twitter at @dianabutlerbass.
“Bestselling author and scholar Bass takes two seemingly contradictory recent surveys of the mood of Americans as the jumping off point for her excellent call for a more conscientious practice of gratitude…. Will please longtime fans as well as readers interested in living a more productively thankful life.”
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Diana Butler Bass is one of the most thoughtful, insightful voices to emerge among us. Her words are a gentle but fierce reminder that on some eternal level, all is well.”
— Marianne Williamson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears to Triumph
“Gratitude is the undeniable beginning of the spiritual life. Diana Butler Bass offers us a superb overview of this virtue in our individual and communal lives. As she unpacked the various graces and challenges associated with expressing thanks, I found myself grateful to her for this deeply spiritual book.”
— James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
“There is no better response to this historical moment than cultivating gratitude. This book will show both why and how to do it, and in the process you will get the extraordinary pleasure of Diana’s company, as she rediscovers the gifts that gratitude brings.”
— Ana Marie Cox, political commentator, host of With Friends Like These podcast
“Grateful is a timely and beautifully-written book. The practice of gratitude has been a lifeline for me in a challenging season, and this wise book articulates both a helpful challenge and a soul-shaping framework.”
— Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author of Present Over Perfect
“An insightful, illuminating, and thought-provoking book on the subject, one that is simultaneously a meditation and celebration.”
“Provides a series of ethical actions to bring gratitude truly alive in our everyday lives, making it both a personal and a public practice.”
— Spirituality & Practice
Bass writes about things that matter, and she does so with graceful, accessible intelligence. In Grateful, she guides us to discover how we can grow in gratitude as individuals and as communities. If you let this book into your mind, it will find its way to your deepest heart.
— Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration
“In Grateful, Diana Butler Bass is a calming voice in raging cultural seas. She accomplishes this feat by flipping individualism on its head using a surprising lever: gratitude. Grateful is challenging and refreshing, and speaks to the core of so much modern misery.”
— “Science Mike” McHargue, author of Finding God in the Waves and co-host of The Liturgists Podcast
“If the world has you feeling a little down, I urge you to read this book and enjoy its invitation to a deeper, richer life.”
— Spirituality and Health
“Deep, warm, smart, spiritual, reflective, practical, thoughtful and oh-so-engaging, Gratitude is a spoonful of honey to help us transform the ‘hard’ in our lives into wisdom, compassion, and even resistance.”
— The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church and author of The Pentecost Paradigm
Grateful is that beautiful miracle of both challenge and embrace; pushing us toward a deeper way of living while understanding how difficult that living can be and what it costs us. Diana’s warmth, humor, and resilient faith are in full bloom in Grateful—and they’re contagious.
— John Pavlovitz, author of A Bigger Table
“In weaving together sociology, psychology, art, religion, and data, Bass has produced an intimate, spiritual case for reconsidering gratitude — one that suggests others’ practices of thankfulness may save us, too.”
“Full of provocative and inspiring ideas... it’s terrific reading for anyone trying to preach or teach or lead a small group in this anxious era in which confrontational voices seem to be surrounding us. This book is an invitation, a pathway forward.”
— David Crumm, Read the Spirit
“Invites us to a personal virtue and habit of thankfulness, even as it nurtures us into a deeper spirituality, even as it reminds us of the social and civic implications of taking on authentic gratitude. This simple virtue, when teased out and given some political teeth, can be downright revolutionary.”
— Hearts and Minds
“Mixing sociological research with warm personal anecdotes of appreciation for the everyday, Bass examines why individuals find it challenging to maintain a practice of gratitude and reveals how thankfulness can serve as the foundation of a healthy community.”
“A fascinating book.”
— The Faith Angle