WATER Recommends: July 2017

Tap into what we’re reading at the WATER office with the following resources.

All of the books we recommend are available for the borrowing from the Carol Murdock Scinto Library in the WATER office. Check out librarything.com for our complete collection. We are grateful to the many publishers who send us review copies to promote to the WATER community.

Berry, Selisse. OUT AND EQUAL AT WORK: FROM CLOSET TO CORNER OFFICE, 20th Anniversary Edition. San Francisco, CA: Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, 2016 (207 pages).

What happens when a theologically trained, deeply committed woman is denied ordination because of her sexuality yet feels called to make justice? Out and Equal is celebrating twenty years as the go-to organization for LGBTIQ+ work place equality because the Presbyterian Church missed the chance to put Selisse Berry’s powerful skills to work. Now 95% of Fortune 500 companies have such policies. Let the rest of the world, including religions, catch up and act accordingly. Ad multos annos, Selisse.

Freeman, Judith, THE LATTER DAYS: A MEMOIR. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2016 (336 pages, $11.29).

The Latter Days is a gripping memoir about a girl growing up in a patriarchal world. Freeman’s account of the joys and pain of her Mormon upbringing and journey to a new consciousness will surely resonate with women’s experiences across the religious spectrum. A well-written and honest portrayal of the challenges of self-discovery, a must read. Listen to our May WATERtalk with Judith Freeman here.

Freyne, Gail Grossman. THE CURIOUS CASE OF INEQUALITY: A JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE WITH DOROTHY L. SAYERS. Hindmarsh, South Australia: 2017 (153 PAGES, $29.49).

Would that it weren’t so, but gender binaries are all too present with males still holding the upper hand in just about every situation. Between Dorothy Sayers’ insights and Gail Freyne’s wisdom there are ways to cope, indeed to transform this pernicious reality. Consider the case: “Is any husband better than none at all? Of course not. It is for this reason that I advocate the single life—married or not.” A book to launch a thousand discussions.

Gordon-Lennox, Jeltje. CRAFTING SECULAR RITUAL: A PRACTICAL GUIDE. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017 (175 pages, $15.94).

Jeltje Gordon-Lennox explores the enduring tradition of ritual throughout human history and makes a convincing argument for the importance of ritual, religious or not, in daily life. Weaving theoretical with practical, she provides tools, checklists, and guidelines for creating meaningful, secular rituals. An informative and clear guide for anyone who wants to celebrate life’s key moments outside the traditional or institutional. 

Gross, Nancy Lammers. WOMEN’S VOICES AND THE PRACTICE OF PREACHING. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2017 (182 pages, $20).

Ever been told your voice is too soft? This study of the physical (and emotional) aspects of how women use our voices enlightens as it instructs. Creating our “full-body” voices is not an easy task. Given the many challenges women face: eating disorders, abuse, destruction of self-confidence, racism, ableism, and impossible physical standards it is a wonder that any come to full voice ever. And yet readers/preachers persist thanks to books like this. 

Lassiter, Katharine E. RECOGNIZING OTHER SUBJECTS: FEMINIST PASTORAL THEOLOGY AND THE CHALLENGE OF IDENTITY. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2015 (200 pages, $25). 

Looking at theories of recognition from a feminist perspective, Lassiter suggests that recognition, misrecognition, or the negation of recognition are at the heart of justice work in pastoral care. She claims that, “pastoral theologians are called to account for the power that they hold through social identities or locations.” Relying on Judith Butler, Marcella Althaus Reid, and some feminist pastoral theologians she addresses identity formation on both individual and systemic levels. An approachable and necessary read for those interested in understanding the interconnectedness of identity formation, theology, and injustice.

Lipsett, B. Diane and Phyllis Trible, editors. FAITH + FEMINISM: ECUMENICAL ESSAYS. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014 (288 pages, $35). 

Essays from the Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest School of Divinity feature a variety of international feminist voices. They are found in three sections: Biblical Studies; Interreligious Ventures; Theology and Ethics. Through thoughtful editing, Trible and Lispsett invite readers into dialogue and challenge all who pick up this book to talk with one another across differences.

Mellott, David M., FINDING YOUR WAY IN SEMINARY: WHAT TO EXPECT, HOW TO THRIVE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (196 pages, $22.00).

Readers are guided through the practical steps of deciding to go to seminary and navigating theological education. Mellott challenges readers to think about issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, especially how privilege and supremacy “are embedded in our theological institutions and our theologies.” Finding Your Way offers both prospective seminarians and current students important insights and information about making the most of their time in graduate studies in religion.

Taylor, Marion Ann and Heather E. Weir, Editors. WOMEN IN THE STORY OF JESUS: THE GOSPELS THROUGH THE EYES OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY FEMALE BIBLICAL INTERPRETERS. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2016 (288 pages, $35.00).

Travel diaries, sermons, children’s lessons and commentaries tell the stories of Biblical women through the perspectives of nineteenth-century women writers, suffragists, poets, preachers, educators, and activists. Taylor and Weir thoughtfully weave together the narratives of Biblical women and the feminist interpretations of the texts. Study Questions encourage readers to dig deeper into the exegesis and find their own stories.

Yancy, George, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, and Susan Hadley, editors. OUR BLACK SONS MATTER: MOTHERS TALK ABOUT FEARS, SORROWS, AND HOPES. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 (227 pages, $34).

A poignant collection of thirty-two essays, poems, and letters from a diverse group of mothers raising black sons, biological and not. These women convey the fear, challenge, and joy of nurturing and loving children in a culture where violence against black bodies is normalized. Priority reading for understanding current forms of oppression because #BlackLivesMatter.