WATER Recommends: March 2019

Banet-Weiser, Sarah. EMPOWERED: POPULAR FEMINISM AND POPULAR MISOGYNY. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (240 pages, $24.95).

Sarah Banet-Weiser thoroughly addresses the relationship between feminism and misogyny in current media. By citing relevant examples in mass media, Sarah rightfully critiques the visibility of feminism in juxtaposition to the continual growth and power misogyny holds in US culture. Read this book if you are interested in how media plays a role in shaping social justice issues through an accessible and clear picture of a seemingly concealed issue.


Agnes Brazal offers a comprehensive overview of the current theological scene in the Philippines with attention to progressive movements. Her chapter on “Feminism in the Philippine Catholic Church” includes the pioneering work of Leonila Bermisa, MM, on violence against women that shaped the Philippines Catholic Church response to that injustice. The volume is a good model for other such national studies of theological work.

Domina, Lynn. DEVOTIONS FROM HERSTORY: 31 DAYS WITH WOMEN OF FAITH. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2019 (128 pages, $12.99).

Lynn Domina’s imaginative, elegantly written collection combines prayer and education. Carefully chosen and creatively combined scripture passages are paired with signal women in history whose lives illustrate the text and vice versa. Each entry includes a provocative question, a lovely prayer, and strategically directed action suggestions. Intended for March, Women’s History Month, these pieces are useful all year long. With luck, more months’ worth of these marvelous meditations is forthcoming.

Elkins, Kathleen Gallagher. MARY, MOTHER OF MARTYRS: HOW MOTHERHOOD BECAME SELF-SACRIFICE IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY. Indianapolis, IN: Feminist Studies in Religion Books, 2018 (143 pages, $18.95).

This is a strong case for the usefulness of feminist biblical scholarship to examine and transform patriarchal thinking about women. Kathleen Gallagher Elkins demonstrates how the tired tropes of women’s self-sacrifice and martyrdom reinforce oppression and sexist expectations yet can be expanded and refreshed realistically in light of contemporary women’s lives. She pairs four scriptural texts with four renowned women’s groups to show that all women’s self-sacrifice is not oppressive, and every form of oppression is not caused by women’s self-sacrifice.

Gafney, C. Wilda. WOMANIST MIDRASH: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WOMEN OF THE TORAH AND THE THRONE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017 (340 pages, $35).

Professor Wil Gafney offers womanist exegesis and midrash based on the Torah, exploring biblical women in new light. Jezebel, for example, is portrayed as a powerful leader even though she is cited in some contemporary settings as a vile woman that African-American women should avoid emulating. An academic volume with technical apparatus, this book is an invitation to creative, constructive rethinking of familiar figures.

Nutt, Maurice J. THEA BOWMAN: FAITHFUL AND FREE. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019 (142 pages, $16.95).

Maurice Nutt contributes a welcome biography of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, whose life and ministry as a prophetic African American woman enriched a church sorely in need of her spirit. An educator par excellence, a sensitive pastoral person who used her voice—both speaking and singing—to create change, Thea Bowman remains, years after her death, a vibrant presence. This introductory book paves the way for a fuller, more detailed biography as her fame deepens and endures.

Peters, Rebecca Todd and Kao, Grace Y. ed.. ENCOUNTERING THE SACRED: FEMINIST REFLECTIONS ON WOMEN’S LIVES. New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2019 (179 pages, $24.95).

This collection features personal essays from feminist scholars and religious leaders who explore the relationship between their faith and their intimate lives. The essays offer a combination of theology and reflection on their experiences of infertility, friendship, racism, and miscarriage, among other compelling themes. An accessible read that engages many and varied women both emotionally and intellectually.

Weddle, Kendra and Jann Aldredge-Canton. LETHA DAWSON SCANZONI AND FRIENDS: BUILDING BRIDGES. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018 (193 pages, $26).

Letha Dawson Scanzoni gives evangelical feminism vitality and integrity as an extension of her own. This vividly written biography, based on texts, interviews, and reflections by colleagues tells the story of a woman who, with her friends, created new spaces and new ideas that are still transforming an important sector of the Christian community. Their words have been read and heeded before, but now there is no excuse for not crossing the bridge to justice and equality.

Zenner, Christiana. JUST WATER: THEOLOGY, ETHICS, AND FRESH WATER CRISES, revised edition. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018 (264 pages, $30).

The water crises are deteriorating at such a rapid rate that a new version of this book was necessary. Special attention to the impact on women and children, as well as some new resources including Laudato Si, among other changes, bring it up to date. Readers can use it to plan strategies and anticipate the consequences of not acting now.