WATER Recommends: June 2019

Bellis, Alice Ogden. PROVERBS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 23. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018 (289 pages, $39.95).

Careful Hebrew word study helps readers explore Proverbs more closely. The personification of Wisdom comes alive in these analyses which are a boon for preachers. She is a teacher, strong leader, welcoming all to her home sharing her Wisdom, as it were. Grateful readers gain new appreciation for and insight into this popular book in scripture.

Gillman, Florence M., Mary Ann Beavis, HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Linda Maloney. 1-2 THESSALONIANS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 52. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016   (210 pages, $39.95).

Thessalonians is a challenging text for feminist interpretation given the dearth of references to women and women’s well-being. But that is what makes this commentary so valuable as serious scholars excavate the text and lay bare its complexities. This is a good reference volume for anyone preaching on this Pauline material.

Kateusz, Ally. MARY AND EARLY CHRISTIAN WOMEN. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 (295 pages, $31).

Ally Kateusz uncovers the leadership of women through early Christian art. She shows how a pose of Mary raising her hands suggests that she and all women are priests. It underscores the value women add to the church through evangelization. The erasure of women priests is proof of the sexism that still exists in the Church, which this book reminds is held up and expanded by women.

Kilroe, Stephanie. ANNE HOPE: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. London, UK: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2019 (176 pages, $17.99).

Anne Hope was a South African leader, an international president of the women’s community the Grail. With her colleague and partner Sally Timmel, she wrote the very influential Training For Transformation manuals, which continue to provide resources for deepening of critical consciousness in community organizations in over 61 countries. This biography captures an amazing person whose graciousness and insights were as genuine as her struggles. Anne Hope’s legacy lives in a free South Africa.

Lofton, Kathryn. CONSUMING RELIGION. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017 (352 pages, $29).

Kathryn Lofton brilliantly interweaves consumption and religion in approachable and entertaining essays. She uses pop culture examples and figures such as Britney Spears, the Kardashians, and Goldman Sachs as resources relating to neoliberal religion. A compelling read for anyone interested in how popular culture, consumption, and religion interconnect.

Malatino, Hilary. QUEER EMBODIMENT: MONSTROSITY, MEDICAL VIOLENCE, AND INTERSEX EXPERIENCE. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (264 pages, $45).

Intersex experience is largely unknown to many people. Malatino redefines the notion of intersex people as monstrous and embraces such ‘monstrosity’ as a strength. This careful study, including useful references to the emerging literature, is a compelling explanation especially for ministers, medical professionals, and counselors who need to know the state of the art in order to be helpful. Employing personal experience about autonomy over one’s own body, art, and medical records, Hilary Malatino concludes what the data show: humankind is a many splendored thing best left to individual choice, not social pressure, to thrive. 

Martell-Otero, Loida I, Zaida Maldonado Pérez, and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier. LATINA EVANGÉLICAS: A THEOLOGICAL SURVEY FROM THE MARGINS. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013 (178 pages, $19).

A fantastic discourse from the theological viewpoint of Latina Evangélicas. This book presents three Latina voices expressing the theology and spirituality that flow from their “everyday” life. From comparing the Holy Spirit to the Wild Child of the Trinity, to changing structures with Latina ecclesiology, be prepared to learn something new. For anyone interested in Latina theology this is a must-read.

Ott, Kate. CHRISTIAN ETHICS FOR A DIGITAL SOCIETY. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc, 2019 (200 pages, $30).

Kate Ott rethinks Christian moral meaning in the still new technological age from a digitally woke place. She sketches how algorithms can be a blessing and a curse, how hacking can be a positive force, and how the unforgetting nature of the Internet can influence experiences of forgiving. Excursus leaven the text with personal, practical reflections on how power dynamics in this newly emerging reality can either connect or silo, enhance life for a few or, if developed responsibly, enhance for all.

Seitz, David K. A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE: CONTESTING CITIZENSHIP IN A QUEER CHURCH. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017 (281 pages, $27).

David Seitz dissects the liberally inclusive promise of the MCCT (Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto), a self-proclaimed “house of prayer for all people.” Seitz utilizes concepts of citizenship, liberal identity politics, and affect theory. He constructs an argument for what he terms “improper queer citizenship,” a framework that acknowledges complications of belonging and critiques (without wholly rejecting) liberal identity politics. Packed with conceptual terminology, this book assumes familiarity with contemporary scholarship, and is an insightful examination of inclusivity in any church setting.

Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. EZILI’S MIRRORS: IMAGINING BLACK QUEER GENDERS. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (247 pages, $26.95).

Omise’eke Tinsley’s black queer, post-colonial work of Vodou theology refuses to be easily categorized. A combination of social theory, black history, and highly poetic prose, her analysis deconstructs and reconstructs black queerness through “theoretical polyamory” (author’s term), which she uses to trace relationships with several Vodoun spirits of Ezili. For example, she interweaves the fiercely hardworking lesbian mother Ezili Danto, Haitian women labor organizers in the documentary Poto Mitan, and family and drugs in the lives of trans performers at the House of Xtravaganza. An unapologetically difficult and deeply rewarding read for those interested in any intersection of the above topics, and especially in decolonizing reality.