The Madawaska Institute for Culture and Religion
Where The Spirit and Life meet.
Saving Paradise: A History and Recovery of Christianity's Forgotten Love of This World
For the first millennium of Christianity, many believed salvation was the experience of paradise: paradise as this world, permeated and blessed by the presence of God.
Saving Paradise offers a fascinating new lens on the history of 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.
Brock uses art, liturgy, history, and theology, to explore the meaning of Christian love for life and beauty; examine how paradise was lost by a promised afterlife and the focus on crucifixion as salvation that dominated the second half of Christianity in the West.
With these changes, Christianity also turned to holy war, conquest, and colonization, beginning with the crusades. Brock explores the recovery and revision of ideas of this world as paradise for a new ethics and aesthetics of loving this world as a divine blessing and as the place of struggle for justice and peace.
Why Paradise? Paradise surprised us. It is interesting how the image is all around us, from Jeffery Burton Russell’s book, Paradise Mislead; to Joni Mitchell’s, "we paved over paradise," or, "we have to get back to the garden;" to the Eagles new cd, "Back to Eden."
We need a new dedication to church as the embodiment of paradise on earth. We need worship that fosters wholeness and joy. We need to come to our senses and reground ourselves in a love of beauty. We need to reclaim the sacraments that teach us to taste and touch and see life as good. This event will help us in this direction.
Click here for a nine page Adobe PDF article by Rita and Rebecca Parker on this theme.