WATER Recommends: May 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.

Cannon, Katie Geneva REMEMBERING WHAT WE NEVER KNEW: THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF WOMANIST THEOLOGY. Richmond, VA: Center for Womanist Leadership Publishing, second edition, 2018 (54 pages).

This 2001 book, republished on the occasion of the inaugural conference of the Center for Womanist Leadership, is a synthetic treatment of a crucially important set of ideas. Katie Cannon is a founding scholar of womanist work in religion so her story and the insights she gleans from texts and stories ground her claim: “womanist theology equates knowing God as doing justice.” A sample graduate school class syllabus adds practical richness to the theoretical materials.

Dáil, Paula vW. and Wells,Betty L., Editors, WE RISE TO RESIST: VOICES FROM A NEW ERA IN WOMEN’S POLITICAL ACTION. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Company, Inc., 2018 (272 pages, $39.95).

The Women’s Marches in January 2017 ignited a spark of activism that has lit the torches of justice seekers young and old. These essays, including one by WATER co-director Mary E. Hunt, encompass health care, immigration, transgender issues, reproductive health, and anti-racism among the myriad concerns that call for national attention and structural change.  

Graham, Larry Kent. MORAL INJURY: RESTORING WOUNDED SOULS. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017 (177 pages, $19.99).

Pastoral theologian Larry Graham wrote on moral injury and trauma a la Rita Nakashima Brock, Shelley Rambo, and others. But it is as if he knew the Trump Presidency was coming in his prescient strategies for learning to talk with people with whom we disagree, finding “healing collaborations,” and rejecting easy, polarized answers in life’s moral dilemmas. This, his final volume, is a capstone to a distinguished career reflecting Larry’s wisdom and gentle but sure pastoral touch.

Japinga, Lynn. PREACHING THE WOMEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: WHO THEY WERE AND WHY THEY MATTER. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017 (232 pages, $20).

Concise descriptions of biblical stories, various translations, and historical commentaries of about forty different women in Hebrew Scripture make this a good starting point for preachers. They will get a bit of grounding in feminist approaches as they write their sermons.

Lewis, Karoline M. SHE: FIVE KEYS TO UNLOCK THE POWER OF WOMEN IN MINISTRY. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2016 (195 pages, $19.99).

A clear and concise discussion guide for women in ministry to kick off much-needed conversations. Getting women ordained is no guarantee that the job will be easy, the playing field level, or the church just. Continuing education about self-care, communal leadership, feminism, and many other relevant topics in this volume is just as important as updating in theology and scripture.


Most Christians think that prostitution is inherently harmful or oppressive, and view sex workers as victims in need of restoration. Lauren McGrow’s book offers a space for feminist liberation theologians and faith-based practitioners to think critically about questions of sex, morality, and identity. Readers of this book will find ways to think about sex work not as a problem to be solved but as an occasion for mutual engagement between pastoral practitioners and sex industry workers.

Peters, Rebecca Todd. TRUST WOMEN: A PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018 (248 pages, $27.95).

Rebecca Todd Peters, in a creative, elegant, and timely move, changes the Christian ethical question from the morality of abortion to the morality of choosing motherhood. She exchanges a justification model for one steeped in reproductive justice so women’s many choices can be respected. TRUST WOMEN is a worthy successor in the 21st century to Rebecca’s mentor Beverly Wildung Harrison’s landmark OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE.

Scott, Joan Wallach. SEX AND SECULARISM. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017 (256 pages, $27.95).

Scott argues that gender equality is not an inevitable result of secularization and that the association of gender equality with secularization did not appear until the 20th century.  She challenges the “clash of civilizations” thesis, which claims that ‘Muslim’ societies have not progressed as far as ‘Western’ society as evidenced by the continued presence of religion in the public sphere and subjugation of women. This erudite volume helps those interested in combating islamophobic political rhetoric and investigating the spaces women occupy as societies become more secular.

Tamez, Elsa, Cynthia Kittredge, Claire Colombo, and Alicia Batten WISDOM COMMENTARY: PHILIPPIANS, COLOSSIANS, AND PHILEMON. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017 (326 pages, $19.99).

Focusing on three letters from the Christian Scripture, this commentary features a unique social justice lens. Tamez uses inclusive language and the voices of modern day prisoners to transform readers’ understanding of the text. Kittredge and Colombo use the tension found in Colossians as a “blueprint. . .for Christian discourse.” The traditional “runaway slave” hypothesis used when reading Philemon is challenged by Batten in the final section of a volume necessary to any preacher or teacher of these texts.

Townsley, Gillian. THE STRAIGHT MIND IN CORINTH: QUEER READINGS ACROSS 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017 (366 pages, $43.95).

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has left biblical scholars and theologians struggling for exegetical and theological clarity. Rejecting a hierarchical model of gender and a heterosexual model of sexuality, Gillian Townsley offers a new reading of this infamous passage through the lens of queer theory, particularly Monique Wittig’s ‘Lesbian’ figure. Townsley’s fresh look opens the door to a plethora of creative and inclusive readings. Those seeking a new interpretation of this passage or interested in the intersection of queer theory and biblical studies will want to read this book.

Wenger, Tisa, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: THE CONTESTED HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN IDEAL. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017 (312 pages, $34.95).

Tisa Wenger complicates our understanding of religious freedom, and rightly so. Through interdisciplinary research and clear analysis, Wenger traces how this uniquely American ideal operates to privilege those in power. Historical case studies display how the language of religious freedom operates within systems of colonialism, white supremacy, sexism, etc. to advantage white Christians to the detriment of marginalized populations. An important lesson in context as a step toward a more just American politics and culture.

A Children’s Book We Recommend

Steinkuhler, Martina. PRAYERS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. Eerdmans William B. Publishing Company, 2018 (80 pages $15.69).

Children want to connect with God in prayer, but what language to use? Steinkuhler’s collection addresses this question by pairing children’s everyday situations with passages from the Bible. These prayers for many occasions will be an inspiration for children in their quest to connect with the Divine.