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Proverbs of Ashes
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Rita Nakashima Brock is Research Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, Texas. She is author, with Gabriella Lettini, of Soul Repair- Recovering from Moral Injury after War and author, with Rebecca Ann Parker, of Proverbs of Ashes- Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us and Saving Paradise- How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire. She lives in Oakland, California.

Rebecca Ann Parkerwas President of and Professor of Theology at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California, until 2014, and coauthor of Proverbs of Ashes- Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us and Saving Paradise- How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire. An ordained United Methodist minister, Parker has dual fellowship with the United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association.She currently serves on the board of an interfaith think tank focused on progressive religion and politics called Faith Voices for the Common Good.

Reviews

"Your maxims are proverbs of ashes!" Thus spoke Job when his friends spouted pious platitudes in the face of his considerable suffering. Brock, a Harvard theologian, and Parker, a seminary president, echo Job's cry in this deep theological study of suffering and its role in the Christian faith. The two women became friends in graduate school and continued to meet after graduation, discussing their personal lives and how their experiences shaped their theology. "We were convinced Christianity could not promise healing for victims of intimate violence as long as its central image was a divine parent who required the death of his child," writes Brock. The two authors take turns communicating their views, sharing deep and painful traumas (such as Parker's childhood sexual abuse, estranged marriage and abortion) as they weigh the concept of "redemptive suffering." Too many Christian women, they argue, have remained in abusive situations because they have been taught that their suffering is necessary for spiritual growth. The authors are serious theologians, confidently challenging such explicators of the faith as Anselm and Abelard, Wesley and Whitehead. Readers may not agree with Brock and Parker that the fundamental Christian doctrine of Jesus' atonement is inherently dangerous and destructive for Christians, especially women. But they cannot help but be swayed by the book's searing passion and profoundly literary writing style (a remarkable achievement in a coauthored work). Brock and Parker have thrown down a gauntlet that cannot be ignored. (Nov. 20) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

A searing indictment, personal and experiential, pastoral and theological, of the most unfortunately successful idea in the history of Christian thought.
-John Dominic Crossan, author of Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

"Poignant and provocative. . . . Brock and Parker have written a book of both sorrow and hope, and a blueprint for deeper thinking about the things that matter most."
-Rosemary Bray McNatt, author of Unafraid of the Dark "Parker and Brock unveil their own deep pain and suffering to build the book's backbone. They blend self-disclosure with serious theology to underscore their outlook." -Cecil S. Holmes, Cleveland Plain Dealer "Provocative. . . . The authors weave theological reflections with deeply moving personal accounts of abuse and trauma, including their own experiences." -The Other Side "[Readers] cannot help but be swayed by the book's searing passion and profoundly literary style (a remarkable achievement in a coauthored work). Brock and Parker have thrown down a gauntlet that cannot be ignored." -Publishers Weekly "You don't have to be a Christian to applaud the courage and vision of these two devout women who boldly propose that human sacrifice has no place at the heart of Christianity. Their gospel of presence and restoration is good news for everyone."
-Judith Herman, author of Trauma and Recovery Rita Nakashima Brock is a research associate at Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is the author of the award-winning Journeys by Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power. Rebecca Ann Parker, an ordained United Methodist minister in dual fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, is president and professor of theology at Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union.

Brock (director, Fellowship Program, Radcliffe Inst., Harvard Univ.) and Parker (president, Starr King Sch. for the Ministry, Graduate Theological Union) have written an intensely personal and provocative book. They aim to show that the theological assertion that God required the death of Jesus to save the world sanctions violence. This is not a theological text but more of a dual memoir in which the authors alternately tell the stories of their lives, emphasizing the violence that they have encountered. Basing theology on their own experiences is not a problem, but on balance, the narratives swamp the theological arguments presented here. The most telling indictment of the harmful effects of traditional Christian views comes from their stories of women who have stayed in abusive relationships because they felt that the church taught them to accept suffering passively, if not gratefully. A first step in an interesting but unfinished theological project, this is recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries with religious studies and women's studies collections. Stephen Joseph, Butler Cty. Community Coll., PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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