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Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire [Hardcover]

By Rebecca Ann Parker (Author) & Rita Nakashima Brock (Author)
Our Price $ 29.71  
Retail Value $ 34.95  
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Item Number 106333  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   576
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.3" Width: 6.72" Height: 1.79"
Weight:   2.14 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 2008
Publisher   Beacon Press
ISBN  0807067504  
EAN  9780807067505  
UPC  046442067508  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 34.95 $ 29.71 106333
Paperback $ 33.24 $ 33.24 2209341 In Stock
Item Description...
A new look at the history of Christianity asks how its early vision of beauty evolved into a vision of torture, restoring the idea of paradise to its rightful place at the center of Christian thought.

Publishers Description
When Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker began traveling the Mediterranean world in search of art depicting the dead, crucified Jesus, they discovered something that traditional histories of Christianity and Christian art had underplayed or sought to explain away: it took Jesus Christ a thousand years to die.

During their first millennium, Christians filled their sanctuaries with images of Christ as a living presence in a vibrant world. He appears as a shepherd, a teacher, a healer, an enthroned god; he is an infant, a youth, and a bearded elder. But he is never dead. When he appears with the cross, he stands in front of it, serene, resurrected. The world around him is ablaze with beauty. These are images of paradise-paradise in this world, permeated and blessed by the presence of God.

But once Jesus perished, dying was virtually all he seemed able to do.

Saving Paradise offers a fascinating new lens on the history of Christianity, from its first centuries to the present day, and asks how its early vision of beauty evolved into one of torture. In tracing the changes in society and theology that marked the medieval emergence of images of Christ crucified, Saving Paradise exposes the imperial strategies embedded in theologies of redemptive violence and sheds new light on Christianity's turn to holy war. It reveals how the New World, established through Christian conquest and colonization, is haunted by the loss of a spiritual understanding of paradise here and now.

Brock and Parker reconstruct the idea that salvation is paradise in this world and in this life, and they offer a bold new theology for saving paradise. They ground justice and peace for humanity in love for the earth and open a new future for Christianity through a theology of redemptive beauty.
Only rarely is a single book an event. This book is such a rarity. Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker show that solid scholarship can be expressed with passion and literary grace as they recover the beauty of an earth-loving Christianity lost for a thousand years beneath dry creeds and formulae and poisonous myths of sacralized violence.—Daniel C. Maguire, author of A Moral Creed for All Christians

"Every Christian theologian and preacher should read this book and be profoundly challenged."—James H. Cone, author of Malcolm & Martin & America

"Saving Paradise challenges us to recover an ancient world view that is life transforming and earth affirming. It reminds us of a biblical perspective that does not reserve paradise for the dead but invites the living to find grace, justice, peace and compassion-here and now-amid the jangling discord of violence and war. It may mark the beginning of a paradigm shift in contemporary Christian understanding and interfaith dialogue."—Reverend James A. Forbes, Jr., president and founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church of New York City

"How did Christianity become a religion of finitude and guilt rather than one of promise and celebration? Brock and Parker ran with the evidence, showing us the importance of art, ritual, devotional practices, and liturgical space for early Christians. This tangible past transformed their research and led them to see that paradise in this world lies at the heart of Christianity." —Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, author of Dictionary of Christian Art

"This powerful, unprecedented, and compelling book brings real Christianity out of the shadows. It lights up the religious roots of American society at a time when progressives need to challenge conservative politicians who use Christianity as a false prop for their ideology."—George Lakoff, author of Don't Think of an Elephant!

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More About Rebecca Ann Parker & Rita Nakashima Brock

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rita Nakashima Brock is research professor and codirector of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, Texas. She is the author, with Rebecca Ann Parker, of "Proverbs of Ashes" and "Saving Paradise." She lives in Oakland, California.
Gabriella Lettini is Dean of the faculty and Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Professor of Theological Ethics and Studies in Public Ministry at Starr King School for the Ministry-Graduate Theological Union. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Rita Nakashima Brock has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Save

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Entering Paradise-Finally  Aug 20, 2009
This book was well written with many fine gems in the end notes. It was and is refreshing to discover what the first millenium of Christianity was really about. It was discouraging to find out where the course of the second millenium has taken us. The recovery of the, probably, true message of Jesus, gives much hope. Creating Paradise here and now is a challenge but is necessary if Christianity is to survive. Be encouraged. Read this awsome work.
Laziness + Wishful Thinking  Aug 3, 2009
The importance of the "world to come" and Christ's death (and resurrection) is of obvious importance to all the early Fathers, not to mention the New Testament writers, so I'm surprised to see people so boldly asserting that these are products of the second millennium (specifically Charlemagne's empire), and actually getting a book published to that effect. To be sure, Christianity is far more in love with the beauty of God's creation than some latter-day Western manifestations would make it seem, and less juridical in its soteriology, but this does nothing to diminish the importance of the crucifixion. The authors would have been on much firmer ground if they had simply pointed out that the Cross is ultimately a symbol of life, and it is inseparable from the Resurrection- but the Orthodox Church has never ceased to proclaim this.

The methodology of this book seems to be sheer intellectual laziness, in the service of modern desires to have a purely human Christ who does not transcend the finite world or demand that we transcend it. One can simply flip open the pages of the New Testament or just about any early Church father to disprove the authors' thesis- the importance of the Cross and Christ crucified is evident for all to see. If all of this started in the second millennium, then why are there crosses dating from well before then (e.g., the 7th century Carndonagh cross)?

Read the decisions of the 7th ecumenical council, which, among other things, exhort Christians to prominently display the "precious and life-giving Cross." Yes, the cross is life-giving, because Christ has "trampled down death by death". Again, read early Christian ascetical works or quotes from the desert fathers- suffering for the sake of Christ is an indelible component of the ancient Christian worldview. This is not because the material world is evil, but because there is a higher, spiritual world too. The authors are largely ignorant of Orthodox Christianity, a major blind-spot for a project like this; they make a few scant and decontextualized references to Orthodox sources, but focus on western Europe, ignoring the fact that the Cross has been venerated in the East since ancient times, completely independent of Charlemagne and the "Holy Roman Empire."

This book won't convince anyone who doesn't already want to be convinced. Anyone with a serious background in Church history, patristics, or iconography will laugh at it. It just goes to show that loads of citations and a lengthy biography are no indication that any actual scholarship is involved.
Saving Christianaity  Jun 5, 2009
"Saving Paradise" is a remarkable book and reading it has both deepened and changed my theological and religious perspective. I don't think I will ever look at Christianity in the same way again. Over and over I found myself saying: "so that's what that means." Things that troubled me are now better understood (the authors make clear that in man cases I was right to be troubled!) and thing that I never thought much about now trouble me! I couldn't begin to summarize a book that covers the history, art, and theology of the church; the religious, economic,and political forces Christianity has confronted in 2,000 years; and the reason why the faith needs to save paradise today. More than a history, not a work of abstract theology, it provides a feminist perspective without ever becoming just propaganda for that perspective. "Saving paradise is a call to return to the paradise God created for all of us in this world. All I think I can do is quote the final paragraph of the last chapter: Entering paradise in this life is not an individual achievement but is the gift of communities that train perception and teach ethical grace. Paradise provides deep reservoirs for resistance and joy. It calls us to embrace life's aching tragedies and persistent beauties, to labor for justice and peace, to honor one another's dignity, and to root our lives in the soil of this great and difficult earth."
Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire  Feb 16, 2009
This book is an event. It breaks free from fundamenalist reading of Chrisitanity and shows its subversive power for justice and peace.
About the Kindle e-book edition  Nov 26, 2008
A worthwhile examination of violence and overemphasis on the afterlife as problems for Christianity. Recommended.

However, re: the Kindle edition

One quarter of this book is the extensive notes, and yet they are not hyperlinked in the Kindle edition. This is a major problem for an e-book, and especially one of this length for which you are being essentially charged full regular this site price, same as the hardbound paper edition.

The notes are so extensive that even an attempt to bookmark/highlight them myself proved too time-consuming and tedious.

I regret I bought the Kindle edition as at this price I probably won't go ahead and buy the paper version after paying[...] for a crippled e version. Shame on the publisher and this site both for allowing this kind of problem edition to be sold; it can only damage the Kindle & this site reputation.

Write your own review about Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire

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