Alumni/ae and Friends Day 2013
Each year, the Alumni/ae of Claremont School of Theology have the opportunity to reconnect on campus, learn from the best scholars and practitioners in theology, and celebrate the accomplishments of their peers. In addition to alumni/ae, faculty, staff, clergy and the community are welcome to participate in this exciting day.
Diana Butler Bass
Christianity as Spiritual Experience, a "Feminine" Faith for the Future
Diana Butler Bass is the author of eight books, including Christianity for the Rest of Us and A People's History of Christianity. She earned her Ph.D. in Church History from Duke University and has served on the faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Rhodes College, and Virginia Theological Seminary. Bass is a popular speaker at churches, retreats and workshops across the country. She lives in Alexandria, VA
In her new book, Christianity After Religion: The End of the Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, Bass examines how in the past few decades American faith has undergone a profound and extensive reorientation away from externalized religion and toward internalized spiritual experience.
Drawing on rigorous research, including visits with hundreds of strong Christian communities, polling information, and conversations with pastors, Bass points out that what started in the seventies as the stirrings of a new spiritual awakening has evolved into a vast interreligious movement of individual social and cultural transformation significantly altering the religious landscape in America.
In fact, these days more Americans are discontent with religion, and instead turn to spirituality to reconnect with God, themselves, and others. This is because traditional Christianity focuses on the prescriptions What to believe, How to behave, and Who you are. With spirituality, on the other hand, people experience a connection to the divine directly and through community, and are moved to change and serve others, and ultimately discover what they believe.
Bass urges readers to ask spiritual questions like "How do I believe," which places the focus on meaning and purpose, and "Whom do I believe," which leads to authority through connection, personal investment and communal accountability. The result is religion unhinged from the notions of believing versus not believing, truth versus untruth, and us versus them.
By fusing together spirituality and religion, we arrive at new visions for believing, behaving, and belonging based on our experiences, and learn how to awaken to and participate in the new spiritual renewal that is reshaping the world.
2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Larry W. Hixon '60
After graduating seminary in 1960, Larry served as the Associated Pastor at Pasadena Christian Church before his calling to lead in the Bella Vista/Eastmont Parish. Just one year after starting in his new parish, Larry developed a community center whose purpose was to serve the needs of the Hispanic community in Eastmont. The community center became a hub of ministry to and with the people living in the area, offering tutoring, family counseling, language classes, boys and girls clubs, and the site of a Headstart program. H Larry successfully launched Eastmont as an effective community center that today, forty years later, is continuing its vibrant ministry in East Los Angeles.
While serving in Eastmont, Larry also partnered with the Rev. Dennis Short founding the Unity Walk, an event bringing Disciples of Christ congregations together from across the Pacific Southwest Region to raise money for the Community Center and other justice oriented ministries. The first of these walks was held in 1971 and was 25 miles long, raising over $15,000 and eventually raising over half a million dollars in the years the walk continued.
Following his tenure at Eastmont, Larry became the Associate Director for Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP), where he increased awareness of world hunger issues and solutions. Larry continued his justice work by serving as the Director of Hope Net, a consortium of several congregations in Los Angeles, whose purpose was to build low income housing and offer job training, health care and other services.
Throughout Larry's years in ministry, and continuing into his retirement, he has relentlessly pursued peace and justice. As a member of the Disciples' Social Concerns Committee, he has organized communities to take action on civil rights issues, the Vietnam War, poverty, fair housing, sexual orientation and the like. Larry's commitment to social justice has even gotten him arrested after non-violently opposing environmental devastation. For the past 11 years he has organized and participated in an annual mission trip to both Nicaragua and Guatemala, doing hands-on work with the mission outposts in each country. He just got home from a trip to Nicaragua on January 15th 2013.
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