Stepmother: Redeeming a Disdained Vocation

Broadleaf Press 2022

Every year hundreds of thousands of American women become stepmothers. Committing to partners who are already parents, we gain relationships with young people who may–or may not–be pleased by our presence.

When Dorothy Bass married a man with a four-year-old daughter, she was hesitant to embrace the title “stepmother,” with its many negative cultural associations, and she soon realized she had very little sense of what this new role required of her.

In Stepmother, Bass explores the complex emotional, material, and spiritual terrain we share with our stepchildren, and with their other parents. Bringing together insights from sociology, history, clinical studies, and literature, she unpacks practical questions to help readers explore the deeper issues: What is my definition of home? How does this relationship affect all the other relationships in this family? And how do I deal with the emotional triangles of stepfamily life?

Bass centers us on the work to be done in our own hearts, where spiritual strength can grow and love can be intentionally built, bringing peace and hope instead of scarcity and competition. By being honest about our own pain and the pain of others, we open ourselves to the love and mercy often born from unexpected relationships. It is here that we make way for constructive family dynamics.

Leading Lives That Matter (Second Ed.)

Eerdman’s Press 2020

Leading Lives That Matter compiles a wide range of texts—from ancient and contemporary literature, social commentary, and philosophy—related to questions of vital interest for those who are trying to decide what to do with their lives and what kind of human beings they hope to become. This book draws upon both religious and secular wisdom, bringing these sources into conversation with one another. 

Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass identify four vocabularies typically used in discussions of the meaning of life choices: authenticity, virtue, exemplarity, and vocation. Six guiding questions shape the chapters that contain the majority of the texts. Each chapter’s texts provide a variety of insights and approaches to be considered in addressing the question, arranged and introduced in ways that prompt deeper reflection. Leading Lives That Matter invites readers into arguments that have persisted for generations about what we human beings should do and who we should be. 

This second edition includes forty-seven new readings from a diverse array of writers, including Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Denise Levertov, Malcolm Gladwell, Julia Alvarez, Alice Walker, Martin Luther King Jr., Pope Francis, and Chung Tzu. Three new guiding questions have also been added: To whom and to what should I listen as I decide what work to do? With whom and for whom shall I live? What are my obligations to future human and other life? 

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time

Fortress Press 2019

Embrace time as a gift to be received–not an obstacle to be overcome.

Receiving the Day invites us to open the gift of time, to dwell in the freedom to rest and worship that God intends for us and for all creatures. In this book, Dorothy C. Bass shows how Christian practices for rest and worship continually welcome us into a way of life attuned to the love of God, neighbor, earth, and self.

Bass does not aim to provide clear instructions for creating a schedule that solves all our puzzles about how to live in time. Rather, convinced that Christian faith bears great wisdom about time, Bass offers an account of the weekly practice of keeping sabbath, along with other practices by which Christians have sought to live faithfully in time.

These practices have been lived by diverse communities of faith across centuries and cultures. Through them, we can learn to dwell more graciously, attentively, and faithfully within the hours and days we have. We can also learn to share the gift of time gladly and gratefully with others, in and for this world God loves.

Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People

Augsburg Press 2019

Twelve time-honored Christian practices that will help us, and the world, to flourish

Practicing Our Faith offers help to Christians who are asking how our faith can help us discern what we might do and who we might become.

How can we live faithfully and with integrity in a world where the pace of existence is so fast and life’s patterns are changing all around us? Can we conduct our daily lives in ways that help us not just get by but flourish–as individuals, as communities, and as a society in concert with creation and in communion with God?

These questions are on the hearts and minds of many seekers who are exploring spirituality today. They are also at the heart of Practicing Our Faith.

Practices are those shared activities that address fundamental needs of humankind and creation and that, woven together, form a way of life. The twelve practices explored in this book are practices that human beings simply cannot do without, particularly at this time in history.

This book will stimulate your imagination. It will encourage you to reflect. It initiates a conversation that will spread into many contexts, each of which presents unique opportunities for noticing, discussing, and living the practices of faith.

An array of resources about this book and the practices it sets forth is available at

Eerdmans 2016

In this richly collaborative work, five distinguished scholars examine the oft-neglected embodied practical wisdom that is essential for true theological understanding and faithful Christian living. After first showing what Christian practical wisdom is and does in several real-life situations, the authors tell why such practical wisdom matters and how it operates, exploring reasons behind its decline in both the academy and the church and setting forth constructive cases for its renewal.

Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

Eerdman’s Press 2001

In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life.

The work of thirteen eminent theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essays explore the relationship between Christian theology and practice in the daily lives of believers, in the ministry of Christian communities, and as a needed focus within Christian education.