WATER Recommends: September 2019

Chan-Malik, Sylvia. BEING MUSLIM: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN AMERICAN ISLAM. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2018 (275 pages, $29.00).  

Sylvia Chan-Malik offers a skillfully nuanced and empowering history of Muslim women in the US,centering her historical narrative on Black American Muslim women. She argues that the concept of effective insurgency and racial-religious form are particularly relevant. She traces the relationships between Muslim women of color and American society from the Ahmadiyya Movement in the 1920s to the Civil Rights Movement and post-9/11 sentiment. Valuable to any reader interested in US history, culture, and Muslim feminisms.

Fuchs, Esther. FEMINIST THEORY AND THE BIBLE: INTERROGATING THE SOURCES. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016 (149 pages, $ 42.00).

Esther Fuchs writes, “Feminist biblical studies is at this point a hypothetical context for a dialogue between feminism and other discourses of oppression, a dialogue that has yet to take place” (p. 10). This book shows how such a conversation might fruitfully unfold. The challenge is to get it into the hands of readers across disciplines who can engage in it.

Hall, Amy Laura. LAUGHING AT THE DEVIL: SEEING THE WORLD WITH JULIAN OF NORWICH. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (124 pages, $18.95). 

Christian Ethics professor, Amy Hall, writes an unconventional religious memoir, bringing her interpretive expertise of Julian of Norwich to personal grapples with evil and modern anxieties of mainstream American society. She finds profound inspiration in the words and life of this misinterpreted medieval visionary, for example, in Julian’s vision that salvation is a single point containing all of time. Recommended for readers seeking perspectives on pain and modernity, and who enjoy a bold, conversational voice.

Hens-Piazza, Gina. LAMENTATIONS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 30. Collegeville, MN: the Liturgical Press, 2017 (162 pages, $29.95).

Woman Zion suffers like her sisters. “Victimizing the Victim, Violating the Already Violated (Lam.1:18-22)” (p.16) makes Lamentations a hard biblical text to read. This thorough and thoughtful commentary includes powerful reflections from students and ministers in many contexts. The goal, to use a complicated biblical text to illuminate the complexity of suffering and strategies to alleviate it, is achieved with gracious style.

Kim, Grace Ji-Sun and Shaw, Susan M. INTERSECTIONAL THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018 (111 pages, $29).

How life experiences influence understandings of the divine is a critical question when using intersectionality as a theological method. The authors describe the origins of intersectionality and connect it to the wisdom of liberation theologians. They point out the important tension that comes with honoring multiple perspectives, leading readers to embrace nuance as crucial, humanity as complex, and the importance of social location in theological studies– not a simple task.

Myers, Alicia D. BLESSED AMONG WOMEN?: MOTHERS AND MOTHERHOOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017 (160 pages, $99). 

Alicia D. Myers invites readers to examine their conception of motherhood through a careful study of maternal metaphors in Scripture. Using gender analysis and audience criticism, Myers critiques some Scripturally based interpretations of women’s roles and female bodies. She undermines ideas of salvation that are based on the outdated notion that the masculine represents perfection and lays a foundation to move beyond idealized images of womanhood.

Scaperlanda, Maria Ruiz. ROSEMARY NYIRUMBE: SEWING HOPE IN UGANDA. Collegeville, MN: the Liturgical Press, 2019 (168 pages, $14.95).

The story of this remarkable Ugandan sister is a chilling page-turner. Her work with children who were sex slaves and soldiers is a powerful example of women religious in service of the poorest of the poor, standing up to the most powerful forces (e.g. Idi Amin, et al). It is hard to read about the violence and to comprehend the horrors, but Rosemary Nyirumbe’s courage and that of her companions edifies and inspires.

Schenk, Christine. CRISPINA AND HER SISTERS: WOMEN AND AUTHORITY IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017 (480 pages, $29.00).

Schenk offers background into the hard lives of First Century women who persevered and found the Church to be one of the only places that saw them as people. Phoebe, Lydia, Junia, and Thecla remind that people just need to dig a little deeper to find the leaders of the Church who have always been there. A good intro for thinking about women’s leadership in historical perspective relying on archeology, especially funeral art, to confirm the active presence of Christian women from the beginning.


Mitzi J. Smith addresses oppression with biblical interpretation from her perspective as an African American womanist biblical scholar and ordained minister. She brilliantly interlaces biblical text with current examples of injustice ranging from water as a human right to police brutality. A must read for anyone interested in learning about the agency of sass through a womanist lens.

Snodgrass, Jill L. WOMEN LEAVING PRISON. London, UK: Lexington Books, 2019 (229 pages, $95.00). 

Jill Snodgrass provides an overview built of case studies on pastoral support for women as they leave prison, paying special attention to areas for much needed improvement. She addresses many socio-economic variables in her portrait of returning sisters by providing data and individual interviews. She concludes with an appreciative look at Project Sister Connect, which is designed to appropriately address the holistic, humanistic process of successful support for women leaving incarceration.