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Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Su ering and the Search for What Saves Us. Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker Beacon Press, 2001, $24 RRP.
Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Su ering and the Search for What Saves Us. Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker Beacon Press, 2001, $24 RRP.

What is the Christian response to trauma?

Rebecca, an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and a seminary president and Rita, a theologian and researcher, explore through their own individual experiences, deep and difficult theological perspectives and teachings of Western Christianity in relation to issues of family violence, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, racism, addiction, homophobia and post-traumatic disorders.

The detailed analysis of their life experiences in the context of traditional theology and Christian attitudes is thought-provoking, challenging and sometimes distressing.

The three parts of the book correspond to the liturgical seasons of Lent, Pentecost and Epiphany. What Christian theology of the cross says to people who are carrying their own personal pain and suffering is addressed by Rebecca through six Lenten sermons to her congregation. In these she challenges the teaching that the violence of the crucifixion of Christ reveals the grace of God.

In part two, both share their life experiences and reveal how people cope silently with their own traumas while contributing to the support of others. Rita shares how her personal experiences of working as a volunteer in a summer camp program for high school students reshapes her life personally and theologically.

In the final section each author unveils their own deep personal struggles through life. In their postlude they say, “In our efforts to cleave to life, we have found the presence of God”. They affirm that despite their personal trials and the difficulties with some of the current Christian teaching, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God”.

This book is well written and will challenge you to think deeply about current issues of child abuse, domestic violence and a range of prejudices within the community.

Yvonne Burns AO PhD
Member of Albert Street Uniting Church

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