WATER Recommends: May 2020

Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2016 (195 pages, $23).

Intersectionality is complicated. How anti-Semitism, racism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression are interwoven are aspects that Marla Brettschneider tackles in this volume. The issues are thorny, but this is a place to start to try to unpack them.

Carter, Warren. WISDOM COMMENTARY: MARK Volume 42. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2019. (506 pages, $39.95).

Warren Carter’s commentary on Mark is part of the excellent series of Wisdom Commentaries. Contemporary feminist scholars of all genders raise hard questions about gender in a patriarchal historical text, with special attention to how power, authority, racism, etc. intersect. A focus on masculinity in all its contested complexity makes this volume unique. Recommended for general readers and theologians alike who wish to discover the political and social structures of gender and power in the biblical text, with hints for moving toward a more inclusive worldview.

Collins, Patricia Hill. INTERSECTIONALITY AS CRITICAL SOCIAL THEORY. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019 (360 pages, $28).

This is a major work by a renowned scholar. Dr. Collins, a leading Black feminist professor emerita, sets out the contours of intersectional theory and analysis. She lays out the strategic and political implications in unsparing, data-driven scholarship. A must-read for ongoing discussions of useful social scientific materials that illumine the way forward.

Copeland, Shawn M. ENFLESHING FREEDOM: BODY, RACE, AND BEING. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010. (186 pages, $24.00)

M. Shawn Copeland ties the suffering that African American women have endured with the suffering Christ experienced through historical research as well as references to postmodern racism, discrimination, sexism, bodily abuse, and the lasting effects of colonialism. Copeland writes, “If the cries of the victims are the voice of God, then the faces of the victims are the face of God, the bodies of the victims are the body of God.” (p.101) Readers will find the book illuminating as a womanist theological way to enflesh freedom.

Heras, Magda and Ignasi Fossas. EVEN THOUGH I WALK: ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY OF PRAYER IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019. (152 pages, $19.95).

A Spanish cardiologist dealing with late stage cancer converses with a Benedictine physician who is a priest at the Benedictine Monastery at Montserrat about basic spiritual questions. Dr. Heras’ honest grappling with the inexplicable, and Dr. Fossas’ sincere effort to be helpful using biblical materials, especially the Psalms, make for an inspiring read. Death is inevitable but this story shows that we can midwife one another along the way.

Ladin, Joy. THE SOUL OF THE STRANGER: READING GOD AND TORAH FROM A TRANSGENDER PERSPECTIVE. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2019. (184 pages, $29.95)

In reading and interpreting the Torah through a transgender lens, Joy Ladin provides new insight into the ways the Torah engages questions of gender identity and of God who exists outside of gender binaries. The new questions that Ladin asks provide deep insight into how defying gender expectations and binaries is central to the stories of the Torah. This book has an important call for faith communities to embrace the soul of the stranger – a call to welcome both God who is wholly other, and those who, like God, exist outside prescribed roles and expectations.

Ross, Loretta J., Lynn Roberts, Erika Derkas, Whitney Peoples & Pamela Bridgewater Toure, editors. RADICAL REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: FOUNDATIONS, THEORY, PRACTICE, CRITIQUE. New York, NY: Feminist Press, 2017. (455 pages, $29.95)

This collection of essays center the voices and experiences of women of color in the United States in the work of reproductive justice. Reproductive justice engages questions beyond the pro-life/pro-choice debate. An RJ framework interrogates the right to have/not have children and the right to safely parent children, and the ways these rights are jeopardized in American institutions and politics. This is a must read that broadens the discussion on reproductive freedom and amplifies the voices of people who are at the forefront of reproductive justice struggles.

Sanchez, Melissa E. QUEER FAITH: READING PROMISCUITY AND RACE IN THE SECULAR LOVE TRADITION. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2019. (344 pages, $35.00)

Melissa E. Sanchez takes up questions of faith, desire, monogamy, and race in her readings of premodern Christian theology and poetry alongside contemporary philosophy and politics. Through her “promiscuous reading” of these texts, Sanchez encourages readers to see how Christian faith can counter oppressive narratives of race and sexuality. A dense read but worth the effort to understand the complexity of queerness as a new mode of being.

Schenk, Christine, CSJ TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE: A BIOGRAPHY OF THERESA KANE, RSM, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019. (320 pages, $25)

This is a riveting biography of an iconic figure. Theresa Kane, RSM, welcomed Pope John Paul II to the US with reference to women’s claim on full membership in their church. She led her community in struggles against Rome on tubal ligations in Mercy hospitals and the right of members of religious orders to serve in political office. Chris Schenk gives the reader a well written, richly resourced volume from which to learn about a great feminist and the many women and communities with which she continues to collaborate. Five stars!


Deborah Sokolove interrogates the commonly asked questions at the intersection of Christian worship and entertainment and seeks to breakdown the distinctions between them. Through interviews with twenty-one scholars, dancers, actors and musicians, she highlights the ways in which performance can meaningfully enhance a worship experience. Recommended for those who seek ways to incorporate art into liturgy and worship.

Swinth, Kirsten. FEMINISM’S FORGOTTEN FIGHT: THE UNFINISHED STRUGGLE FOR WORK AND FAMILY. Cambridge, MA: London, England: Harvard University Press, 2018. (339 pages, $35).

Kirsten Swinth eloquently discusses feminist movements throughout history focusing on the second wave fights for equality in the 60s and 70s. Women of all races both at home and at work struggled for equality. Narratives of women of color belie the notion of feminist movements driving all women into workplaces. Even opponents of the movement contributed to its aspirations in that adherents were creative in their responses. This book is highly recommended for persons committed to the ongoing work of feminist social justice.

Zagano, Phyllis. WOMEN: ICONS OF CHRIST. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2020. (121 Pages, $14.95)

In plain, clear, unambiguous prose Phyllis Zagano puts to rest the bogus arguments against women being ordained as deacons and priests. Of course women image Christ as much as men do, and of course women are not tainted so as to have to be kept away from the sacred. Read the history. Teachings to the contrary are simply outmoded, outdated, wrong. Dr. Zagano advocates for the diaconate, but presbyterate supporters will finds lots here for their case. Both cases are now so embarrassingly obvious that this book should settle the question and let us move along to thinking about how best to meet pastoral needs.