WATER Recommends: September 2017

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.

Casselberry, Judith. THE LABOR OF FAITH: GENDER AND POWER IN BLACK APOSTOLIC PENTECOSTALISM. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 2017 (232 Pages, $24.95).

Women’s largely unsung labor in the Black Pentecostal tradition is brought to light in this interdisciplinary ethnographic study. Casselberry’s compelling narrative style provides a glimpse into the lives of women of the Harlem-based Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc.–how they claim spiritual and structural authority in a church where women have no formal leadership. An excellent source for educators and students looking to deepen their understanding of black women’s religious power and expression.

Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler. CONGRESS OF WO/MEN: RELIGION, GENDER, AND KYRIARCHAL POWER. Cambridge, MA, Feminist Studies in Religion Books, 2017 (190 pages, $18.95).

Twenty first century global kyriarchy requires twenty-first century feminist analysis. Elisabeth and her students who contribute short reflections in a “Roundtable Metalogue” probe the necessary but often missing connections between feminist theory and critical feminist religious studies. Concepts of ekklesia and kosmopolis of Wo/men point toward feasible democratic practices grounded in friendship and community. Many groups will find useful strategies for moving forward. (Editor’s Note: This is the first book published by Feminist Studies in Religion Books. WATER congratulates FSR, Inc. on its new publishing program and looks forward to more volumes.)

Hunt, Swanee. RWANDAN WOMEN RISING. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017 (392 pages, $34.95).

Rwanda received international attention in 1994 when the nation was torn apart by genocide. However, few have documented the critical role of women in the nation’s rebuilding and reconciliation. Ambassador Swanee Hunt interviewed over seventy women who told stories of grassroots efforts around housing, healthcare, poverty, sexual violence, and education. They recount their struggles and victories in the face of unimaginable brutality. This book gives unwavering evidence of the necessity of women in peace building efforts, not to fill seats at the table, but as leaders of lasting change.

Lewis, Lillian. WISDOM IN THE WILD WOMAN: WAKING THE SACRED FEMININE. Limina Publishing, 2017 (180 pages, $14.99).

Lillian Lewis argues that a return to the sacred feminine would allow women to accept the wildness within themselves that has been long suppressed by patriarchal ideas of divinity. Analysis of Celtic mythology, Greek classics, and the work of depth psychologists provide an introductory overview of the historical significance of the female divine. Her own journey to the Wild Woman gives the book a unique personal touch.

Ross, Loretta J., Solinger, Rickie REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: AN INTRODUCTION. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2017 (360 pages, $27.95)

The voices of women of color have been largely marginalized in conversations about reproductive rights. This book presents a new framework of reproductive justice in which all voices can be heard. Ross and Solinger highlight how eugenics and racism have long influenced women’s ability to make reproductive decisions. This book is key to framing laws and policies that reflect human diversity and promote equity.

Ramshaw, Gail. PRAY, PRAISE, AND GIVE THANKS: A COLLECTION OF LITANIES, LAMENTS, AND THANKSGIVINGS AT FONT AND TABLE. Minneapolis, MN; Augsburg Fortress, 2017 (82 pages, $25) Includes CD-ROM.

This is a lovely collection of useful liturgical materials including a prayer of thanksgiving for drought and flood. Eucharistic prayers following Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, and Martin Luther add luster to this book which celebrants will want to consult often.

Spruill, Marjorie J., DIVIDED WE STAND: THE BATTLE OVER WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND FAMILY VALUES THAT POLARIZED AMERICAN POLITICS. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017 (448 pages, $29.70)

Think you know your feminist history? Pick up this book and find out. Marjorie Spruill paints a vivid picture of the 1977 National Women’s Conference, an event Gloria Steinem calls “the most important event nobody knows about.” Well researched, this volume details the schism between the women’s liberation and family values movements, a battle that would have a lasting effect on American political culture. A great book for anyone looking to understand how we got to where we are today.

Krall, Ruth Elizabeth and Schirch, Lisa. LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE EDGE: LETTERS TO A YOUNGER COLLEAGUE. Victoria, BC Canada: Friesen Press, 2017 (428 pages, $29.99)

Mennonite professors Ruth Elizabeth Krall and Lisa Schirch offer readers a unique chance to understand the contradiction between John Howard Yoder’s theology of peacemaking and his sexual abuse of many women. Through letters the two women exchanged, readers gain insight into the deeply ingrained sexism and other abuses of power rampant in Yoder’s sexual assault cases

Westfall, Cynthia. PAUL AND GENDER: RECLAIMING THE APOSTLE’S VISION FOR MEN AND WOMEN IN CHRIST. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016 (368 pages, $32.99).

Westfall presents a well-crafted rationale for an egalitarian understanding of Paul on gender. She places key passages about women alongside key passages about men in light of the context, culture, and language of Paul’s time. She offers challenging understandings of Paul’s theology regarding gender relations and roles of both women and men in the church and in the larger society. An important read for scholars, minsters, seminarians and others who wish to engage the contested question of gender in Paul’s writings.

Yarber, Angela and Lee, Elizabeth. HOLY WOMEN ICONS PROJECT: 7-DAY SELF-CARE RETREAT. (7 days, $30)

In need of some self care? This creative seven-day online retreat from the Holy Women’s Icon Project provides just that. Upon registration ($30), participants receive 20-minute daily retreats complete with readings, questions for contemplation, and ritual actions. Self-care practices emerge from a new holy woman icon for each day, from biblical figures such as Lilith to artist Frida Khalo and activist Sojourner Truth. Draw strength from these women while you pause, reflect, and learn the importance of caring for yourself as you go about caring for the world. Find more information about this retreat and more at www.holywomenicons.com.


This highly readable introduction to the four women named Doctors of the Church makes these magisterial teachers come alive. Each was very different, but they shared a common thread of strong intelligence and fearless following of their vocations. A great choice for general interest study groups.

Schneider, Laurel and Ray, Stephen. Editors, AWAKE TO THE MOMENT: AN INTRODUCTION TO THEOLOGY. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (252 pages, $35).

Many seminary students dread their theology course. This text, written collectively by the Workgroup on Constructive Theology, changes all that. It is a lucid, inviting overview of the Christian constructive theological processes, categories, and applications. Use it for an introductory seminar on how to do theology responsibly, collectively, and with plenty of space for differences.