WATER Recommends: July 2018

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.

Byron, Gay L. and Vanessa Lovelace. WOMANIST INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BIBLE: EXPANDING THE DISCOURSE. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2016 (387 pages, $45.55).

Starting with the editors’ introduction that overviews womanist biblical hermeneutics and ending with a summary chapter by Emilie Townes that outlines the roads traveled, this book is a must for students of scripture who seek a comprehensive look at the terrain. Wil Gafney on Delilah, Love L. Sechrest on Stereotypes, Cheryl B. Anderson on Song of Songs in a time of AIDS are just a few of the invaluable essays that flesh out the field.

Frank, Gillian, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White. DEVOTIONS AND DESIRES: HISTORIES OF SEXUALITY AND RELIGION IN THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY UNITED STATES. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2018 (320 pages, $32.95).

This distinct volume tells the interconnected history of sexuality and religion. It features scholarship that covers a variety of religious traditions as well as a range of sexual politics including same-sex desire, sexual purity, family planning, and LGBTQ religious leadership. This book will be of interest to both a scholarly and general audience involved in this crucial conversation.

Hinga, Teresia Mbari. AFRICAN, CHRISTIAN, FEMINIST: THE ENDURING SEARCH FOR WHAT MATTERS. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017 (244 pages, $45).

Teresa Hinga writes from within the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians to show the concrete impact of feminist work in religion. Her focus on HIV/AIDS, land and water issues, violence against women, and many related themes make this compendium a valuable teaching and learning tool for a broad and appreciative audience.

Iozzio, Mary Jo and Patricia Beattie Jung, Editors, SEX AND GENDER: CHRISTIAN ETHICAL REFLECTIONS. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2017 (257 pages, $29.95).

These essays, including work by Traci West and Karen Lebacqz, are “classics” in the field. The Introduction by the editors provides a valuable overview of the state of the art. The collection makes a wonderful textbook for a college or graduate level course that focuses on moving well beyond tradition strictures to imaginative and practical sexual ethics.

Johnson, Jessica. BIBLICAL PORN: AFFECT, LABOR, AND PASTOR MARK DRISCOLL’S EVANGELICAL EMPIRE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (248 pages, $24.95).

This fascinating ethnographic study of Mars Hill, a 13,000-member megachurch led by Mark Driscoll, provides a thorough explanation of how toxic masculinity and militarism were turned into tools for growing an evangelical empire. This chronicle of the abusive and porn-like nature of Mars Hill allows readers to better understand how the Bible and Christianity can be weaponized so easily. Fortunately, the whole thing imploded, but not without a lot of damage done. Buyers beware of Driscoll and his ilk.

Jung, Patricia Beattie, SEX ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN: A CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY OF DESIRE. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2017 (271 pages, $23.95).

Patricia Beattie Jung offers a substantive volume in moral theology. This is gracefully written with broadly based resources for deconstructing harmful ideas that undergird repressive theologies. Her work on reconstructing sexual desires in a post-modern, porn-driven world is helpful for making normative claims about healthy, holy sexuality.

McGuinness, Margaret M. CALLED TO SERVE: A HISTORY OF NUNS IN AMERICA. NYU Press, 2013 (269 pages, $25.00).

This history of Catholic sisters in the United States from the colonial period to the present is told through engaging narratives from a wide range of religious communities. McGuinness covers it all: healthcare, education, social justice, monasticism, spirituality, church politics, and more. The deep impact nuns have had on shaping the American Catholic Church and American life makes a great read for students, scholars, and anyone interested in U.S. Catholic history.

Watson, Kate. SCARLET A: THE ETHICS, LAW, & POLITICS OF ORDINARY ABORTION. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 (280 pages, $23.76).

An uncommon book on “ordinary abortions.” So often debates around the ethics of abortion center around dramatic scenarios. Watson breaks ground by defending abortion as a common medical procedure. How men benefit from abortion is also considered. This book is an important read for all who seek to move beyond the tired debate, especially for those who are on the fence about abortion as a vital component of reproductive justice.

Russaw, Kimberly D. DAUGHTERS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE. Lanham, MD: Fortress Press, 2018. (238 pages, $100.00).

Kimberly D. Russaw takes an unconventional look at women in ancient Israelite society by focusing on daughters rather than on the much observed mothers and wives. In so doing, she examines how unmarried women navigated systems of power that sought to control their bodies and restrict their actions.  This is a valuable volume for students of the Hebrew Bible wishing to better understand constructions of womanhood in ancient Israelite society. Have your library order it.

A Children’s Book We Recommend:

Tuttle, Sarah Grace and Amy Schimler-Safford, Illustrator. HIDDEN CITIES; POEMS OF URBAN WILDLIFE. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2018 (48 pages, $17).

Lovely poetry for children (and adults) to explore ecological themes. Think children’s sermons, religious education classes, and sermon illustrations for these simple, sweet offerings.