About the Authors
Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock, Ph.D.
Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock, Ph.D., is Founding Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the values and concerns of religious leaders and organizations. She also works with The New Press in New York as Senior Editor in Religion. During 2001-2002, she was a Fellow at the Harvard Divinity School Center for Values in Public Life. From 1997-2001, Dr. Brock directed the Fellowship Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, formerly called the Bunting Institute, and the seven years before she became an administrator, she held an endowed professorship at Hamline University. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Dr. Brock's first book, Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power won the Crossroads/Continuum Publishing Company award for the most outstanding manuscript in women's studies in 1988. She is the co-author of Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States, which won the Catholic Press Award in Gender Studies in 1996, and the co-author of Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us, published by Beacon Press in 2001. In addition to publishing many essays, she was an editor and contributor to Guide to the Perplexing: A Survival Manual for Women in Religious Studies, Setting the Table: Women in Theological Conversation, and Off the Menu: Asian and North American Asian Women's Religion and Theology.
Dr. Brock has lectured in Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and Canada, as well as throughout the United States and is a member of the U. S. group of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians, the leading global organization of liberation theoloigans. Her work continues to interweave religious questions with issues of justice in the U.S. and international contexts.
As an active member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rita has served on its General Board and Administrative Committees and, from 1996-1998, was the first Chair of the Common Global Ministries Board, a joint venture of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ. In 1993, she represented the National Council of Churches on an ecumenical, international, high-level delegation to Guatemala and El Salvador to support the peace-making processes in both countries. She lives in Oakland, CA.
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker has been President of Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist) since 1990 and Professor of Theology since 2001, the first woman to serve as the permanent head of an accredited theological school.
Starr King School is the Unitarian Universalist school at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Graduates of the school serve as leaders and ministers throughout Unitarian Universalism, and as progressive religious leaders in society. The school's distinctive pedagogy embodies Unitarian Universalist values, fosters personal depth and authenticity, and promotes multi-religious understanding. The school gives priority attention to educating to counter oppressions and create just and sustainable communities. It is currently developing a new educational model that integrates on-line learning into its degree programs.
An ordained United Methodist minister, Parker has dual fellowship with the United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Before coming to Starr King School, she served as a parish minister for ten years in the Pacific Northwest and taught part-time at Northwest Theological Union in Seattle.
Born in 1953, Parker grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the daughter, granddaughter and niece of liberal Methodist ministers and creative, intellectual women. She received her Doctor of Ministry and the President's Award for Academic Excellence from Claremont School of Theology in 1979; and her B.A.cum laude from the University of Puget Sound (1975).
Parker is the co-author with Rita Nakashima Brock of Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001). The book received praise from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jesus’ seminar scholar John Dominic Crossan, womanist theologian Renita Reems, and Harvard psychologist Judith Hermann, who applauded “the courage and vision of these two 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.” Rosemary Bray McNatt (formerly of the New York Times Review of Books) called the book “poignant and provocative a book of both sorrow and hope, and a blueprint for deeper thinking about the things that matter most.”
Parker's most recent book is Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now (Boston: Skinner House Books, 2006), collected essays edited by Robert Hardies. Theologian John Cobb says of this work, “Parker's thinking is rooted in her total honesty about her lived experience. To read her book is to see our world and the Christian heritage with new eyes. We cannot do that without pain. Yet her way of challenging our habits of thinking and even of feeling is so gentle that we are drawn into new perceptions, not driven into them. Her writing integrates story and doctrine until we can hardly draw a line between them.”
Parker focuses her professional work as a religious leader in several areas: She is dedicated to the discipline of theological thinking and writing, is experienced as an educator, is committed to social activism and is practiced in the life of pastoral ministry. As a theological educator she has been dedicated to educational practices that counter oppressions and promote just and sustainable community.
Parker's theological roots are in the liberal Protestant traditions of the Social Gospel, Boston personalism, process and feminist theology. Her focus has been in critical analysis of the links between Christianity and violence, especially sexual abuse, and in the constructive creation of a post-patriarchal theology, using the methodologies of feminist theology and philosophical theology. Her wider concern is not just in theology; it is in progressive faith as a way of life, a way of community and a way of social engagement.
On her work as a theologian, Parker says “Legacies of violence, terror and trauma continue to bring anguish into the world. Now more than ever, people of conscience and love need to do the hard work of theological thinking that deconstructs religion that sanctions violence. We need to re-dedicate ourselves to the creation of life-giving theology and justice-making religious communities. This is the calling to which my life is devoted.”
A frequent keynote speaker for conferences, in addition to her books she has published in the Union Seminary Quarterly Review; the American Academy of Religion series on Religion, Literature and the Arts; the Journal of Religion and Abuse, and Open Hands magazine. She has contributed chapters to numerous books, including Christianity, Patriarchy and Abuse (edited by Joanne Brown and Carolyn Bohn), Walk in the Ways of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza; and Soul Work: Anti-Racist Theologies in Dialogue, edited by Marjorie Bowens Wheatley.
Her denominational and public service has included serving on the United Methodist Study Committee on Homosexuality (1988-1992), the board of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence (now the Faith Trust Institute), the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship, and the Executive Committee of the Association of Theological Schools. She has chaired the Advisory Committee on Women in Leadership for the Association of Theological Schools, been convener of the Council of Presidents at the Graduate Theological union, served on the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Theological Union, co-chaired the Islamic Studies Task Force at the GTU, and been an ex officio member of The Panel on Theological Education of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Currently, she serves on the board of Faith Voices for the Common Good, a new, interfaith think tank.
An accomplished cellist, Parker regards the arts as fundamental to life and spirituality.
Brock and Parker
Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker
Photo by Yen Li Studios