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Proverbs of Ashes

by Rita Nakashima Brock Rebecca Ann Parker

Rebecca Parker was a young minister in Seattle when a woman walked into her church and asked if God really wanted her to accept her husband's beatings and bear them gladly, as Jesus bore the cross. Parker knew, at that moment, that if she were to answer the woman's question truthfully she would have to rethink her theology. And she would have to think hard about some of the choices she was making in her own life. When Rita Nakashima Brock was a young child growing up in Kansas, kids taunted her viciously, calling her names like "Chink" or "Jap." She learned to pretend that she did not feel the sting of scorn and the humiliation of contempt. The solitude and silence of her suffering-decreed by both her mother's Japanese culture and her father's Christian heritage-kept the wound alive. It was the gap between knowledge born of personal experience and traditional theology that led Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker to write this emotionally gripping and intellectually rich exploration of the doctrine of the atonement. Using an unusual combination of memoir and theology in the tradition of Augustine's Confessions, they lament the inadequacy of how Christian tradition has interpreted the violence that happened to Jesus. Ultimately, they argue, the idea that the death of Jesus on the cross saves us reveals a sanctioning of violence at the heart of Christianity. Brock and Parker draw on a wide array of intimate stories about family violence, the sexual abuse of children, racism, homophobia, and war to reveal how they came to understand the widespread damage being done by this theology. But the authors also undertake their own arduous and unexpected journeys to recover from violence and to assist others to do so. On these journeys they discover communities that begin to give them the strength to question the destructive ideas they have internalized, and the strength to seek out an alternative vision of Christianity, one based on healing and love. Proverbs of Ashes is both a condemnation of bad theology and a passionate search for what truly saves us.From the Trade Paperback edition.

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

by Rita Nakashima Brock Rebecca Ann Parker

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.

Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War

by Rita Nakashima Brock Gabriella Lettini

The first book to explore the idea and effect of moral injury on veterans, their families, and their communities Although veterans make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an alarming 20 percent of all suicides. And though treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder has undoubtedly alleviated suffering and allowed many service members returning from combat to transition to civilian life, the suicide rate for veterans under thirty has been increasing. Research by Veterans Administration health professionals and veterans' own experiences now suggest an ancient but unaddressed wound of war may be a factor: moral injury. This deep-seated sense of transgression includes feelings of shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse from having violated core moral beliefs. Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini, who both grew up in families deeply affected by war, have been working closely with vets on what moral injury looks like, how vets cope with it, and what can be done to heal the damage inflicted on soldiers' consciences. In Soul Repair, the authors tell the stories of four veterans of wars from Vietnam to our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan--Camillo "Mac" Bica, Herman Keizer Jr., Pamela Lightsey, and Camilo Mejía--who reveal their experiences of moral injury from war and how they have learned to live with it. Brock and Lettini also explore its effect on families and communities, and the community processes that have gradually helped soldiers with their moral injuries. Soul Repair will help veterans, their families, members of their communities, and clergy understand the impact of war on the consciences of healthy people, support the recovery of moral conscience in society, and restore veterans to civilian life. When a society sends people off to war, it must accept responsibility for returning them home to peace. From the Hardcover edition.

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