Saving Paradise on Earth: Faith for the 21st Century

May 3, 2012 - May 4, 2012
Offered by Wisdom Centre

Saving Paradise on Earth: Faith for the 21st Century

Rita Nakashima Brock, Ph.D., is Founding Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Truth Commission on Conscience in War ( From 2006-2009, she was Senior Editor in Religion at The New Press. 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.

Before her time at Harvard, Dr. Brock taught religion and women’s studies for 20 years at a number of colleges and universities. She is a widely sought lecturer and has spoken in Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and Canada, as well as across the United States. Her work continues to interweave religious questions with issues of justice and peace in the U.S. and international contexts.

Dr. Brock is the author of Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power, which won the Crossroads/Continuum Publishing Company award for the most outstanding manuscript in women’s studies in 1988. She is the co-author with Susan Thistlethwaite 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 with Rebecca Parker of Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us, published by Beacon Press in 2001 and heralded as a major work in feminist narrative theology.

Her most recent book co-authored with Rebecca Parker is Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire (, selected as one of the best books of 2008 by Publisher’s Weekly. It investigates early Christian ideas of paradise as this world, the development of theologies of holy war and holy violence in Western Europe during the Crusades, the resulting invention of racism and genocide, the colonization of the Americas, and the contemporary need for a new understanding of paradise. She is currently at work on a book on moral injury in veterans.

Saving Paradise on Earth: Faith for the 21st Century

with Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock PhD

Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4, 2012 at
Lakeview United Church

Thursday, May 3, 2012 4:30 – 9:00 pm An evening including two lectures and dinner.

Lecture 1:

In the Beginning: An Earth-Embracing, Beauty-Loving, Justice-Seeking Christianity

No images of Jesus dead exist in Christian church art for a millennium. Instead, churches filled spaces with images of paradise as this world. Paradise frames the entire biblical story. The story begins with Genesis 1-2, echoes in the Song of Songs, Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, re-emerges in the Gospels, and ends with the book of Revelation with a renewed city on earth. In reading the story of the Bible as the struggle for paradise in this world, we can uncover a different, life-affirming understanding of Christian faith.

This lecture explores the implications of paradise for Christian understandings of Jesus Christ, salvation, and the presence of God in the world.

Lecture 2:

What Happened to This World as Paradise and Where Do We Go From Here?

Beginning in the twelfth century, Christians shifted from salvation as baptism into paradise in this world to an emphasis on salvation in the afterlife through crucifixion.

This lecture explores how this shift happened and how Christian social justice movements in the 19th and 20th centuries sought to create the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” They echo early Christian sensibilities about this earth and this life as blessing, reject much about medieval Christianity that worships death and suffering, and seek to restore a this-worldly Christianity.

This final lecture examines the future of these movements, their limitations and possibilities for an earth-loving Christianity.

Friday May 4, 9:30 – 12:00 A further and more in depth lecture aimed at those who want to dig deeper into the Biblical texts.

Lecture 3


We’ll look at the Bible as the story of how creation and the garden tell us how to live, everything that can go wrong when we leave the garden, and what we must do to reclaim and tend the paradise in this world. The focus will be especially on the prophets and gospels and the relationship of the Basileia, the reign of God, to the paradise garden of Genesis 2 and the Song of Songs.

Registration to begin in late fall 2011. Watch this website for more details and information. This event is a joint offering of St. Stephens College and The Wisdom Centre.

For more information please visit the website.

Categories: Biblical Studies  |  Lectures  |  Social Justice