Empty Altars

American Saints in a Cynical Age

An Online Pop-Up Learning Community with Dr. Diana Butler Bass & Dr. Tripp Fuller


A 6-Week Lenten Exploration of American Saints

Launching Lent, 2023

6 Feature Sessions

Diana & Tripp will facilitate our feature sessions, including a mini-lecture, conversation, and QnA. Live each Monday and available immediately after for your own schedule.

Curated Readings

Each week we will have readings from the American Saints featured in each session and QnA about them.

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Online Community

Everyone will be invited to join the private online group to connect with other nerds and have access to everything in Audio/Video on the class resource page

Empty Altars

We live in iconoclastic times. All around us, saints and heroes are being knocked off or taken down from public altars. It seems that nearly everyone we once admired or held in esteem has failed us. We've stripped the altars of both state and church. America's spiritual landscape is now marked by empty altars everywhere. 

Taking down statues is nothing new, especially in Christian history. Cynicism and anger at failed institutions and flawed heroes is nothing new. But human beings rarely leave altars empty very long -- there's almost a pressing need to re-sanctify the geographies we inhabit. People always put statues back up. 

But of who? And to commemorate what? How do we move ahead with new saints and a less troublesome iconography? What "saints" can inspire us to address the hurts of our hearts, the brokenness of our communities, and the pressing issues of our times?

Shouldn't we just give up on the whole idea of saints anyway? Why bother? 

Join Diana and Tripp this Lent as they explore "sainthood" for an American -- and global -- future. We'll share stories that need to be told of "saints" you know and those you need to know in a quirky learning journey through American religious history. 


Class Preview

The 6 Feature Sessons

Each week's main session will focus on a specific theme of faith and how it was expressed in the lives of those that came before us. Our goal is not to sanitize or clean up the details of the past but to trace the threads of faithfulness and folly in our history. By bringing these stories to the fore, they can become sites of reflection and, hopefully, inspiration for those of us struggling to live faithfully in our all too cynical age.

While you may join each class session live immediately following its conclusion, you will be able to access it, on your own time, on the class resource page.

Meet The Hosts

Diana Butler Bass 

Public Scholar of American Religion

Dr. Bass is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. She is the author of ten books, including her most recent, Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence.  Diana’s passion is sharing great ideas to change lives and the world – a passion that ranges from informing the public about spiritual trends, challenging conventional narratives about religious practice, entering the fray of social media with spiritual wisdom and smart theology, and writing books to help readers see themselves, their place in history, and God differently. You can connect with her on Twitter or by subscribing to her popular newsletter, The Cottage. 

Tripp Fuller

Homebrewed Christianity

Tripp just moved back to North Carolina after three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology & Science at the University of Edinburgh. He recently released Divine Self-Investment: a Constructive Open and Relational Christology, the first book in the Studies in Open and Relational Theology series. For over 14 years Tripp has been doing the Homebrewed Christianity podcast (think on-demand internet radio) where he interviews different scholars about their work so you can get nerdy in traffic, on the treadmill, or doing the dishes. Last year it had over 4 million downloads. It also inspired a book series with Fortress Press called the Homebrewed Christianity Guides to... topics like God, Jesus, Spirit, Church History, etc. Tripp is a very committed and (some of his friends think overly ) engaged Lakers fan and takes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings very seriously.

A Preview Live Stream on the Class Theme


When does the class meet?

The class is asynchronous and you can participate fully without being present at any specific time. The weekly streaming session will take place on SIX consecutive MONDAYS at 2pm ET - February 27 through April 3.

How do I get access to the class content?

The complete class content collection will be available on the password protected resource page. The downloadable audio and video of each session will be uploaded there and available for at least a year.

What happens after I sign up?

The email you enter when signing up will receive an email from tripp[at]homebrewedchristianity[dot]com. The email will include access to the resource page, details on how to join the class Facebook group, and more.

Do I have to have Facebook?

No. Facebook is not required to participate, but an additional way to connect with other class members and interact throughout the class.