WATER Recommends: July 2020

Ahmed, Sara. WHAT’S THE USE?: ON THE USES OF USE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. (296 pages, $26.95)

Sara Ahmed traces the word and idea of “use” through the ways it is used, and in the contexts of biology, education and the University. This thorough examination unveils important questions and considerations of accessibility, diversity, and power, while moving people towards an understanding of “queer use.” An engaging theoretical read for those seeking systemic change.

Bachman, Mercedes L. Garcia. JUDGES: WISDOM COMMENTARY SERIES, Vol. 7. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018, (273 pages, $ 40).

Intersectional feminist, womanist, mujerista biblical work invites new perspectives on the Book of Judges. Thomas Hanks, Renate Jost, Susanna Scholtz, among others, join the author in analyzing the many women in this book. Like their contemporary counterparts, the women of Judges fulfill myriad roles and multiple responsibilities. Readers can learn from them. In the same series, Wilda C.M. Gafney has written NAHUM, HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH: WISDOM COMMENTARY SERIES, Volume 38, 2017 (224 pages, $40), lifting up the horrors of the end times. The hope at the end of the book for “rebuilding and restoration” may encourage some readers today.


How helpful to notice that the diet industry depends largely on certain Christian teachings about sin and salvation. The diet industrial complex’s links with guilt/shame producing religious ideologies is a match made in the kitchen. The author offers healthy alternatives in the form of body-loving, women-respecting, food positive views. A provocative read that sheds light for pastoral counselling as well as theology.

Blain, Keisha N. SET THE WORLD ON FIRE: BLACK NATIONALIST WOWEN AND THE GLOBAL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018 (255 pages, $25).

The determination, skill, and commitment of Black Nationalist women is edifying. Confronted by white supremacy in the world and male supremacy in their movement, they found ways to lead. A well-told story that deserves a wide audience.

Callaghan, Tonya D. HOMOPHOBIA IN THE HALLWAYS: HETEROSEXISM AND TRANSPHOBIA IN CANADIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2018. (264 pages, $22.46)

Tonya D. Callaghan provides an important study on homophobia in public Canadian Catholic schools. Through interviews with teachers and students, an analysis of media accounts, and church documents, Callaghan highlights how systemic homophobia is maintained and how students resist it. An important read for educators, and those concerned with the ways that churches’ power can function in society.

Johnson, Emily Suanne. THIS IS OUR MESSAGE: WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN THE NEW CHRISTIAN RIGHT. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019 (224 pages, $29.95).

A well-documented, accessibly written study of major players among religious right women including Marabel Morgan, Anita Bryant, Sarah Palin, and others. Their role in the political shifts and the success of conservative movements is not trivial. Knowing more about them illuminates the complexities and sometime contradictory messages of their movement.

Ketchum, Katie and Jann Aldredge-Clanton. HERSAY: SONGS FOR HEALING AND EMPOWERMENT. http://jannaldredgeclanton.com/music/, 2020 (105 Pages, $14.95).

These original songs and music will refresh any worship service with images and symbols that include and invite. Taizé-style chants and simple melodies make these sing-able aids to justice-seeking liturgy. No longer do groups have to rely on the same old same old male-language lyrics and bellicose images when these songs are readily accessible.

Margolis, Maxine. L. WOMEN IN FUNDAMENTALISM: MODESTY, MARRIAGE, AND MOTHERHOOD. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020 (211 pages, $34).

Mormon polygamists, the Satmar Hasidim, and certain extremist forms of Islam share the unholy characteristic of control of women. Maxine Margolis lays out the contours, labels the gestalt as “a cesspool of misogyny,” and indicates what women and girls need to know about religious fundamentalism. A very useful study.

Nguyen, Thao. ASIAN CATHOLIC WOMEN: MOVEMENTS, MISSION AND VISION. London/Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020 (151 pages, $90, ebook $85.50).

Some of the most creative, courageous, and visionary voices in global Catholicism are those of Asian women. This study offers an inviting overview which will be best filled in by women’s own voices. The author highlights the need for women to be leaders, for their studies to be paid for, for their work with poor and marginalized people to be normative, and for their ways of being involved beyond the institutional church to be taken seriously. In short, these women are pointing the way forward for Catholics everywhere.

O’Donnell, Karen. BROKEN BODIES: THE EUCHARIST, MARY, AND THE BODY IN TRAUMA THEOLOGY. London: SCM Press, 2018 (224 pages, $29.99).

A challenging read about hard topics, Karen O’Donnell looks at miscarriage and other bodily experiences of traumatic loss. These experiences become a springboard for a deep dive into historical sources about Mary and the Eucharist.  The result is not the glorification of suffering, but a realistic picture of the complexity of being bodies.

Wilcox, Melissa. QUEER RELIGIOSITIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO QUEER AND TRANSGENDER STUDIES IN RELIGION. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2021.(252 pages, $32.00)

Written as an introductory textbook for undergraduate or graduate students, Melissa Wilcox provides an insightful, engaging and accessible overview of transgender and queer studies in religion. Wilcox investigates the connections between religious practices and queer identities through exploring stories and practices of communities, while highlighting the diversity of global views on sexuality and gender. The accompanying indices of films and books, and a thorough glossary make this a highly welcome resource for classrooms, and beyond.