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Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded…
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Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for…

by Rita Nakashima Brock

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Very interesting account of the early Christians and when they did not use the crucifix as their symbol!
  LiveOakUU | May 24, 2013 |
Saving Paradise is a book that can't decide whether it wants to be church history or theology-based. Brock and Parker trace the ideas of salvation and paradise from the origins of Christianity through the present day - oftentimes stopping to reflect upon the brutality and corruption that have crept into Christianity's ethos of love. As we look back on the history of Christianity - the Inquisition, Crusades, martyrdoms, treatment of Native Americans - the authors seem to think that there's nothing to be said for this bloodshed except for 'Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do.' And from there they advocate a more peaceable paradise, brought about by Christians who recognize the perversion of pure religion and seek to correct it.

I'm not saying this is a bad message; I'm a huge fan of love and peace and everything. But it's bad theology and an extremely selective reading of history, to say that 'real' Christianity simply doesn't engage or condone violence. But I think they disregard and disrespect the reality of the crucifixion by so steadfastly distancing Christianity from violence. They seem to think that if Jesus had died in his sleep at age 100, surrounded by grandchildren, Christianity would be no different and perhaps even better off.

But what does it mean for God to be Incarnate in a bloody and humiliating death? Paul calls the crucifixion a 'scandal' for good reason - it is shocking, a place where we would never expect to find God, yet that's precisely where God chooses to be presented. Why take away the overwhelming pathos of suffering and death in favor of this bland and selective reading of Jesus' ministry? For every time that Christians hear 'Follow me, for my yoke is easy and my burden light," they should also recognize that Jesus' yoke and burden were the cross that he had to carry to his own execution. The crucifix may become for Christians an embodiment of recognition of the full humanity of suffering - that if they can mourn Jesus' humiliation and death, they should be able to mourn each and every injustice against humanity. And by that, perhaps the violent and critical origins of Christianity can be partially redeemed for compassionate Christians like Brock and Parker. But to simply skim over the entire Passion and falsely bemoan the violence that 'corrupted' Christianity later just does a disservice to the challenging complexity of Jesus' ministry and God's Incarnation. ( )
  the_awesome_opossum | Nov 16, 2010 |
I've only gotten through the prologue and I already know it's going to be one of those "aha" books. Check out the website for the book, particularly the photo pages. http://savingparadise.net/ ( )
  jolinda | Jan 16, 2009 |
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It took Jesus a thousand years to die. Images of his corpse did not appear in churches until the tenth-century.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807067547, Paperback)

One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2008

During their first millennium, Christians filled their sanctuaries with images of Christ as a living presence-as a shepherd, teacher, healer, or an enthroned god. He is serene and surrounded by lush scenes, depictions of this world as paradise. Yet once he appeared as crucified, dying was virtually all Jesus seemed able to do, and paradise disappeared from the earth. Saving Paradise turns a fascinating new lens on Christianity, from its first centuries to the present day, asking how its early vision of beauty evolved into a vision of torture, and what changes in society and theology marked that evolution. It also retrieves, for today, a life-affirming Christianity that the world sorely needs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:00 -0400)

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"Saving Paradise offers a 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." --Book Jacket.… (more)

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Beacon Press

2 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.

Editions: 0807067504, 0807067547

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