More than anything I have read in many years, Saving Paradise presents the issues which I must ponder as I continue to reflect upon the nature of the Christian faith, the character of Christian worship, and Christian life in the world.
—Keith Watkins (Read the full review)
Why are images of the crucified Jesus absent from early Christian art? When Brock and Parker … investigated representations of Christ in Italy and Turkey’s first millennium of public art, they found pictured not death but earthly joy. Descriptions of this art, quotes from early Christian writers, and strong analyses reveal a powerful ‘genealogy of paradise’ in this life focusing on the ‘ethical grace’ at the heart of Jesus’ message … Brock and Parker locate the paradigmatic shift toward suffering, judgment and atonement in the bloody forced conversion of the Northern European Saxons by Charlemagne. The book’s second half describes the harrowing adoption of ‘redemptive violence’ in medieval Europe and the New World’s Eden, built on genocide and slavery. This humane and often beautiful study of faith, loss, and hope straddles the boundary between historical discovery and spiritual writing.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
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!
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
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
Every Christian theologian and preacher should read this book and be profoundly challenged.
—James H. Cone, author of Martin & Malcolm & America
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