WATER Recommends: May 2020

WATER Recommends: May 2020

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.

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.

WATER Recommends: February 2020

WATER Recommends: February 2020

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.

Baard, Rachel Sophia. SEXISM AND SIN-TALK: FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS ON THE HUMAN CONDITION. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019. (178 pages, $35.00).

Rachel Sophia Baard utilizes rhetorical theory and theology to examine classical doctrines and feminist critiques of sin to build a constructive feminist understanding of sin-talk. Baard brings an important critical voice to both classical and feminist theology in her efforts to revive a life-affirming understanding of sin. By bringing a wide range of theologians into conversation, this book is well suited for academic readers who are conversant with her many sources.

Blazer, Annie. PLAYING FOR GOD: EVANGELICAL WOMEN AND THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF SPORTS MINISTRY. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2015. (193 pages, $30).

Blazer explores the unintended effects of evangelical sports ministries including redefining femininity, more acceptance of same-sex love, and changing expectations of marriage. While this book explores a very niche part of Christianity, Blazer explains its unique language and implications with clarity through storytelling. As the US women’s soccer team celebrates victory and demands equal pay, this conversation about gender and sports is keenly relevant in the public sphere. Good for evangelical women to be part of the mix.

Bowler, Kate. THE PREACHER’S WIFE: THE PRECARIOUS POWER OF EVANGELICAL CELEBRITIES. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019. (338 pages, $29.95).

Kate Bowler explores the various roles that American evangelical women fill to obtain celebrity and access certain forms of power, most of which are tied to a husband or patriarchal church structures. Through interviews with these celebrity women, Bowler aptly presents the roles they fill and the influence they have, while pointing to the systems that prevent women from accessing independent leadership. Recommended for those seeking a critical and sympathetic reading of evangelical women’s power in a both scholarly and accessible volume.

Cassidy, Lauren and Maureen H. O’Connell, editors. SHE WHO IMAGINES: FEMINIST THEOLOGICAL AESTHETICS. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012. (248 pages, $23.99).

In centering feminist theology and aesthetics, this anthology explores how women as objects, subjects, and creators of beauty pursue justice. Thoughtful reflections on representation and diverse images of the divine emerge from studying visual art, popular icons, and everyday performances of race and gender. This work invites readers to consider how beauty and struggle, depicted in art, are integral to feminist social ethics and action.

Lomax, Tamura. JEZEBEL UNHINGED: LOOSING THE BLACK FEMALE BODY IN RELIGION & CULTURE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. (262 pages, $26.95).

Tamura Lomax examines the ways in which language, religion, and popular culture produce a jezebel/lady dualism which stereotypes black womanhood, and perpetuates violence against black women and girls. Artfully maneuvering among black feminist theory, cultural criticism, and popular culture, Lomax raises pertinent questions for the black church. While theoretical, this would be a valuable read for those who are invested in the black church and the ways in which harmful tropes are produced, maintained, and affect the lives of black women and girls.

Muir, Elizabeth Gillian. A WOMEN’S HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2019. (415 pages, $20.96).

This general overview of women in church history focuses on women who developed and cultivated important parts of the Christian community. Illustrations, a glossary, and a list of sources provide the reader with direction for more in-depth study. Recommended for those who seek insight into innovative and creative women who are largely ignored and marginalized in patriarchal renderings of the Christian story.

Obama, Michelle. BECOMING. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2018. (426 pages, $32.00).

Michelle Obama’s autobiography covers the different stages of her life experience, specifically her childhood, her years as a lawyer, and of course her marriage to another well-known American leader. Their years in the global spotlight were a model for integrity, hard work, and significant accomplishments. This book will encourage and empower women of all walks of life.

Pagels, Elaine. WHY RELIGION?: A PERSONAL STORY. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2018 (256 pages, $27.99).

Elaine Pagels reveals her intriguing story as the daughter of a Darwinist botanist, a former evangelical teenager, and a world renowned scholar of religion known for her work on the Gnostic Gospels. Her interest in religion, despite the sexism at Harvard and of her relatives, stems from the simple question, “Who was Jesus?” Along the way, she sees religion not as a belief but as a way to bring forth what is hidden inside the human person. Many will resonate with her insights.

Sherwood, Yvonne. THE BIBLE AND FEMINISM: REMAPPING THE FIELD. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017. (736 pages, $130).

Taking into account the global disaster following the 2016 US presidential election and the welcome surge of “nasty women” feminism, Yvonne Sherwood seeks to rethink the field of feminist biblical studies. Contributors examine biblical texts and other religious writings alongside contemporary events and debates to develop new lenses for feminist biblical scholarship. These important essays, from an international, interreligious groups of contributors, are a welcome deepening of feminist biblical scholarship and a useful contribution to feminist social change work.

Spencer, F. Scott. SONG OF SONGS: WISDOM COMMENTARY VOL. 25, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017. (252 pages, $39.95).

All the hard questions of biblical interpretation are found in this volume, part of a valuable series of commentaries. Are any women’s voices heard in the text? Whose view of love is found here? How to find something deeply human about the experience of love and yet realize that it is still bound by social and religious conventions? The seven essay authors are experts who find their way and lead readers to discover their own insights.


Students and colleagues at Colgate University reap the harvest of two feminist professors, Wanda Warren Berry and Marilyn Thie, who unleashed countless women’s energies for diverse, progressive, and world-changing studies in religion. Their scholarship and pedagogy seeded the best of engaged, justice-focused education. These essays chronicle and celebrate their achievements.

Williams, Elizabeth A. BLACK WOMEN AND BREAST CANCER: A CULTURAL THEOLOGY. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019 (167 pages, $90.00).

Rare are the anthropologists who both participate in their studies and bring a sophisticated theological perspective to bear. Elizabeth Williams, a minister and medical anthropologist, is uniquely poised to see the ways in which womanist forms of hope are useful for women living with breast cancer. Readers will find that her insights are deeply grounded and realistic.

WATER Recommends: September 2019

WATER Recommends: September 2019

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.

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.

WATER Recommends: June 2019

WATER Recommends: June 2019

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.

Bellis, Alice Ogden. PROVERBS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 23. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018 (289 pages, $39.95).

Careful Hebrew word study helps readers explore Proverbs more closely. The personification of Wisdom comes alive in these analyses which are a boon for preachers. She is a teacher, strong leader, welcoming all to her home sharing her Wisdom, as it were. Grateful readers gain new appreciation for and insight into this popular book in scripture.

Gillman, Florence M., Mary Ann Beavis, HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Linda Maloney. 1-2 THESSALONIANS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 52. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016   (210 pages, $39.95).

Thessalonians is a challenging text for feminist interpretation given the dearth of references to women and women’s well-being. But that is what makes this commentary so valuable as serious scholars excavate the text and lay bare its complexities. This is a good reference volume for anyone preaching on this Pauline material.

Kateusz, Ally. MARY AND EARLY CHRISTIAN WOMEN. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 (295 pages, $31).

Ally Kateusz uncovers the leadership of women through early Christian art. She shows how a pose of Mary raising her hands suggests that she and all women are priests. It underscores the value women add to the church through evangelization. The erasure of women priests is proof of the sexism that still exists in the Church, which this book reminds is held up and expanded by women.

Kilroe, Stephanie. ANNE HOPE: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. London, UK: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2019 (176 pages, $17.99).

Anne Hope was a South African leader, an international president of the women’s community the Grail. With her colleague and partner Sally Timmel, she wrote the very influential Training For Transformation manuals, which continue to provide resources for deepening of critical consciousness in community organizations in over 61 countries. This biography captures an amazing person whose graciousness and insights were as genuine as her struggles. Anne Hope’s legacy lives in a free South Africa.

Lofton, Kathryn. CONSUMING RELIGION. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017 (352 pages, $29).

Kathryn Lofton brilliantly interweaves consumption and religion in approachable and entertaining essays. She uses pop culture examples and figures such as Britney Spears, the Kardashians, and Goldman Sachs as resources relating to neoliberal religion. A compelling read for anyone interested in how popular culture, consumption, and religion interconnect.

Malatino, Hilary. QUEER EMBODIMENT: MONSTROSITY, MEDICAL VIOLENCE, AND INTERSEX EXPERIENCE. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (264 pages, $45).

Intersex experience is largely unknown to many people. Malatino redefines the notion of intersex people as monstrous and embraces such ‘monstrosity’ as a strength. This careful study, including useful references to the emerging literature, is a compelling explanation especially for ministers, medical professionals, and counselors who need to know the state of the art in order to be helpful. Employing personal experience about autonomy over one’s own body, art, and medical records, Hilary Malatino concludes what the data show: humankind is a many splendored thing best left to individual choice, not social pressure, to thrive. 

Martell-Otero, Loida I, Zaida Maldonado Pérez, and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier. LATINA EVANGÉLICAS: A THEOLOGICAL SURVEY FROM THE MARGINS. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013 (178 pages, $19).

A fantastic discourse from the theological viewpoint of Latina Evangélicas. This book presents three Latina voices expressing the theology and spirituality that flow from their “everyday” life. From comparing the Holy Spirit to the Wild Child of the Trinity, to changing structures with Latina ecclesiology, be prepared to learn something new. For anyone interested in Latina theology this is a must-read.

Ott, Kate. CHRISTIAN ETHICS FOR A DIGITAL SOCIETY. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc, 2019 (200 pages, $30).

Kate Ott rethinks Christian moral meaning in the still new technological age from a digitally woke place. She sketches how algorithms can be a blessing and a curse, how hacking can be a positive force, and how the unforgetting nature of the Internet can influence experiences of forgiving. Excursus leaven the text with personal, practical reflections on how power dynamics in this newly emerging reality can either connect or silo, enhance life for a few or, if developed responsibly, enhance for all.

Seitz, David K. A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE: CONTESTING CITIZENSHIP IN A QUEER CHURCH. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017 (281 pages, $27).

David Seitz dissects the liberally inclusive promise of the MCCT (Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto), a self-proclaimed “house of prayer for all people.” Seitz utilizes concepts of citizenship, liberal identity politics, and affect theory. He constructs an argument for what he terms “improper queer citizenship,” a framework that acknowledges complications of belonging and critiques (without wholly rejecting) liberal identity politics. Packed with conceptual terminology, this book assumes familiarity with contemporary scholarship, and is an insightful examination of inclusivity in any church setting.

Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. EZILI’S MIRRORS: IMAGINING BLACK QUEER GENDERS. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (247 pages, $26.95).

Omise’eke Tinsley’s black queer, post-colonial work of Vodou theology refuses to be easily categorized. A combination of social theory, black history, and highly poetic prose, her analysis deconstructs and reconstructs black queerness through “theoretical polyamory” (author’s term), which she uses to trace relationships with several Vodoun spirits of Ezili. For example, she interweaves the fiercely hardworking lesbian mother Ezili Danto, Haitian women labor organizers in the documentary Poto Mitan, and family and drugs in the lives of trans performers at the House of Xtravaganza. An unapologetically difficult and deeply rewarding read for those interested in any intersection of the above topics, and especially in decolonizing reality.

WATER Recommends: March 2019

WATER Recommends: March 2019

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.

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.

WATER Recommends: January 2019

WATER Recommends: January 2019

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.

Aldredge-Clanton, Jann, with composer Larry E. Schultz. INCLUSIVE SONGS FOR RESISTANCE & SOCIAL ACTION.  Burnet, TX: Eakin Press, 2018 (130 pages, $19.95).

Movements for change are fueled by potlucks and music. This music–some new words to traditional tunes and other original compositions–is designed to nourish spirits in today’s women’s, anti-racism, and human rights movements. Use it in interfaith gatherings and in congregations that appreciate that the medium, in this case, the music, is the message.

Brandt, Cindy Wang. PARENTING FORWARD: HOW TO RAISE CHILDREN WITH JUSTICE, MERCY, AND KINDNESS.  Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2019 (181 pages, $17.99).

Evangelicals will have a hard time arguing with the values and practices that result in giving children a running start in a diverse and changing world. Many other people will see how compatible justice, mercy, and kindness are with the hope of a more inclusive, accepting, and welcoming culture. Taste and see here.


Highly esteemed Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland is more than a reliable witness. She is a skilled academic who knows how to weave the threads of oppression into the new fabric of justice, using historical, theological, musical, philosophical, and faith-filled resources. She honors both the legacy of African American slaves and the 21st century #BlackLivesMatter movement. In this clearly written, accessible book, the praxis of solidarity is the meaning of discipleship.

Delgado, Sharon. LOVE IN A TIME OF CLIMATE CHANGE: HONORING CREATION, ESTABLISHING JUSTICE. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press 2017 (226 pages, $29).

Sharon Delgado presents an informative and comprehensive look at the urgency of climate change and the need for the church to respond. Her arguments are written lovingly using work from John Wesley and scripture to compel readers into action. An accessible and timely read about a disastrous issue.

Dierks, Sheila Durkin. CALLED AND CHOSEN: TEN CATHOLIC WOMEN TELL THEIR STORIES OF INVITATION AND ORDINATION. Boulder, CO: WovenWord Press, 2018 (143 pages, $15).

These ten stories of women who exercise their ministerial vocations despite the institutional Roman Catholic Church’s inability to recognize their work represent the tip of a growing iceberg. Catholic women’s creativity and dedication, their commitment to education and training signal a new vibrancy for Catholicism shorn of its patriarchal trappings. May other stories follow as this new chapter in church history unfolds..

Morgan, Nicole J., FAT AND FAITHFUL: LEARNING TO LOVE OUR BODIES, OUR NEIGHBORS, AND OURSELVES. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2018 (246 pages, $17).

Morgan dissects the way in which evangelical Christians often see the fat body (her term) as sinful or gluttonous. Through personal experience and biblical research, Morgan illustrates that a thin body does not mean a holy body and that all bodies are holy. This theological approach to body image, complete with how-to resources and medical references, is useful for incorporating healthy body concepts into a life of faith.

Oliveto, Karen P. TOGETHER AT THE TABLE: DIVERSITY WITHOUT DIVISION IN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018 (181 pages, $16).

Good luck keeping people of this author’s quality out of ministry. It would be easier to close all the churches than exclude an obviously gifted and giving, insightful and spiritual leader like Karen Oliveto. Read her story as a template of so many LGBTIQ people’s lives given, if not always received, by churches that claim to be Christian.

Ress, Mary Judith. DIFFERENT GODS. Bloomington, IN: iUnverse, 2018 (345 page, $21).

Ecofeminist theologian Judy Ress joins Ivone Gebara and Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, among other colleagues in the field, writing novels as a way to articulate complex religious questions. This well written page-turner is the story of Mary Clare, a progressive nun like so many of her cohort, who runs a women’s shelter until repressive church officials insist on her ouster. Undaunted, her Reiki skills prove useful for a wounded former Franciscan priest in a tale of dueling cosmologies, murders, curanderos/as, Shining Light, forgiveness, and passion. Don’t miss it if you want to probe the complexity of life and fiction, truth and poetry!

Yee, Gale A., Editor. THE HEBREW BIBLE: FEMINIST AND INTERSECTIONAL PERSPECTIVES. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2018 (183 pages, $19).

The opening essay, “Introduction: Definitions, Explorations, and Intersections” by Gale Yee is a classic on interstructural approaches to biblical criticism. The essays by various scholars that follow take these foundational insights the next steps. This is a wonderful book for serious but accessible, inclusive study of Hebrew Scriptures.

Zuckerberg, Donna. NOT ALL DEAD WHITE MEN: CLASSICS AND MISOGYNY IN THE DIGITAL AGE. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018 (270 pages, $27.95).

Zuckerberg examines the online community of the Alt-Right or “manosphere,” an anti-feminist group of white men who use the classics to justify their belief that white men are oppressed. She argues for a feminist inclusive interpretation of the classics to combat the toxic  justifications. An accessible and insightful read for anyone– no background of Greek philosophy needed.

WATER Recommends: November 2018

WATER Recommends: November 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.

Chittister, Joan. A LITTLE RULE FOR BEGINNERS: INSIGHTS INTO BENEDICTINE SPIRITUALITY. Erie, PA: Benetvision, 2018 (160 pages, $9.95).

The 6th century original is a spiritual classic and this 21st century Tweetable version will have a long life as well. Joan Chittister takes bits of the Rule and riffs on them in artistic, poetic, some might say musical ways as the reader’s soul soaks up her wisdom and her openness to what is still to be explored. Buy, pocket, read, relish.

Dashu, Max. WITCHES AND PAGANS: WOMEN IN EUROPEAN FOLK RELIGION, 700-1100. Richmond, CA: Veleda Press, 2016 (388 pages, $24.99).

This compendium of research and analysis adds immeasurably to knowledge about an important if difficult period in women’s history. Max Dashu does bold and pioneering work that contextualizes and corrects some of the reigning ignorance about the times. Important for readers who want to reclaim pagan and Wiccan roots.


These stories offer a glimpse of the impact and scope of the purity movement on women’s lives. Linda Kay Klein interweaves her experiences in an evangelical church to provide an authentic insider perspective on this problematic movement. For anyone raised in purity culture this is a must read, and for those who are new to it this is an eye opener.

Knoll, R. Benjamin and Cammie Jo Bolin. SHE PREACHED THE WORD: WOMEN’S ORDINATION IN MODERN AMERICA. New York, NY: Oxford Press, 2018 (235 pages, $29.95).

This book provides up-to-date research on women’s ordination across various faith traditions with emphasis on Protestant churches. The charts, graphs, interviews, and comparison to modern day politics are thorough and concise. Includes the social implications of women’s ordination both for ordinands and especially for young women who see minister role models. Essential reading as ordination struggles ensue.

Ross, Rosetta E. and Amenga-Etego, Rose Mary, editors. UNRAVELING AND REWEAVING SACRED CANON IN AFRICANA WOMANHOOD. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015 (232 pages, $88.00).

The editors say that this collection is “continental and diasporan African women in conversation” using “the metaphor of women as weavers and transformers.” What a useful conversation it is, and how prescient of the editors to collect these papers for broad circulation. Add it to your syllabus for foundational thinking from Africana women.

Russell, Arthur Thomas. WOMEN LEADERS IN THE STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT 1880-1920. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017 (274 pages, $28.00).

Longtime World Student Christian Federation adherents will learn a great deal from this study about how women participated in much larger numbers than earlier research showed. Their many and varied contributions are only now being appreciated. This will inspire a new generation of ecumenical students and clarify how important it is to do inclusive historical research.


Thoughtful reflections by LCWR leaders on their lengthy involvement with Vatican officials known as the Doctrinal Assessment. The women demonstrate how to deal prayerfully and skillfully in a situation of unfair power advantage. Canon lawyer Sharon Holland offers a particularly cogent analysis. As events have unfolded, it is clear that the women should have been investigating the men and not the other way around. A compelling read.

Santana, Deborah, Editor. ALL THE WOMEN IN MY FAMILY SING: WOMEN WRITE THE WORLD – ESSAYS ON EQUALITY, JUSTICE, AND FREEDOM. San Francisco, CA: Nothing But The Truth Publishing, 2018 (365 pages, $16.95).

This book artfully captures of the voices of Women of Color in their struggles, joys, and diverse lives. The strength of women’s spirits through troubling times comes through clearly. For those willing to learn from others’ journeys and understand the commonality we all share this is a book to select.

White, Ethan Doyle. WICCA: HISTORY, BELIEF, AND COMMUNITY IN MODERN PAGAN WITCHCRAFT. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2016 (272 pages, $34.95).

This is a useful general introduction to Pagan Witchcraft. Information dispels prejudice and provides clarity about what Wicca is and is not. A good resource for religious professionals who want to broaden their horizons and include the many ways people believe and worship.

Children’s Books We Recommend: 

Ashman, Linda, Writer. Christoph, Jamey, illustrator. OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2018 (40 pages, $17.00).

In this lovely instructive tale each child has a unique angle on the world but they all go to bed under the same moon. The drawings of Morocco, Canada, Japan, Guatemala, and other sites introduce children to the diversity that shapes our world. This book starts the conversation on global variety at a young age.

Vecchini, Silvia, Writer. Sualzo, Illustrator. PHONE CALL WITH A FISH. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2018 (48 pages, $17.00).

Enjoy a poignant story of the power of friendship among children. One child “hears the other into speech” as pioneer feminist theologian Nelle Morton described liberatory communication. Share this delightful and beautifully illustrated book with the children you love.

WATER Recommends: September 2018

WATER Recommends: September 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.

Gaines-Cirelli, Ginger. SACRED RESISTANCE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO CHRISTIAN WITNESS AND DISSENT. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2018 (160, $14.99).

Avoiding polarities and Christian clichès, Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli provides a much needed resource for Christian congregations working towards social justice in 21st century America. She redefines ‘resistance’ through a liberationist lense, and offers advice for building a prophetic counter cultural ‘kin-dom’ today. This book is an invaluable resource for religious leaders seeking to engage with their communities in acts of sacred resistance.

Lee, Courtney Hall. BLACK MADONNA. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2017 (136 pages, $9.50).

Looking for a smart analysis and provocative theme to excite your class or book group? Courtney Hall Lee has written one in the form of a womanist Mariology. She cites biblical, theological, and social resources that provide a solid foundation in Black women’s experience for embracing Mary as mother, sister, and divine in her own way.

Castañeda-Liles, María Del Socorro. OUR LADY OF EVERYDAY LIFE: La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Catholic Imagination of Mexican Women in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 (282 pages, $28.15)

The author argues that “first-generation Mexican women of all ages develop a protean Catholic devotion, which allows them to transgress limiting notions of what a good Catholic woman should be while retaining the aspects of Catholicism they find life-giving.” Their touchstone is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Interviews with three groups of women, a look at the scholarly materials, and the author’s own discoveries make this an important book in the field of Latinx theology.

Zwissler, Laurel. RELIGIOUS, FEMINIST, ACTIVIST: COSMOLOGIES OF INTERCONNECTION. Anthropology of Contemporary North America: University of Nebraska Press, 2018 (336 pages, $30).

Laurel Zwissler centers her analysis around case studies of three women in Canada from the Catholic, United Church, and Pagan traditions. Both micro perspectives and macro investigation provide readers with insights into important differences among the subjects but equally important commonalities of spirit, politics, and action.

Morris, Catherine, and Hockley, Rujeko, et al. WE WANTED A REVOLUTION BLACK RADICAL WOMEN 1965-85: NEW PERSPECTIVES. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (160 pages, $24.95).

This book is the second published in conjunction with the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition of the same name. Curators and editors Catherine Morris and Rujeko Hockley, along with scholars and artists, reflect on the radical contributions black women have made to American art and feminism. Photographs and reprints from the collection bring intersectional feminist theory to life and highlight an oft neglected aspect of American history and culture. A wonderful companion to the now-traveling exhibition.

Rolf, Veronica Mary. JULIAN OF NORWICH. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2018 (223, pages, $14.22)

Julian speaks to many people in such diverse ways. This enthusiastic study, grounded in serious scholarship and written with verve for a popular audience, is useful way “in” to the life of a medieval Christian mystic whose pioneering work reverberates in every age.

Pak, Su Yon and Kim, Jung Ha. LEADING WISDOM: ASIAN AND ASIAN NORTH AMERICAN WOMEN LEADERS. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017 (255 pages, $22.97).

The ‘wisdom leadership’ of Asian and Asian North American women in fields as diverse as religion, the military, teaching, and social work forms a collective case study of how women from many backgrounds lead in challenging times.  Many of these writers, including WATER colleague Keun-Joo Christine Pae, are part of PANAAWTM, the Pacific, Asian and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry group, that has long provided leadership for leaders.

Amstutz, Anita. SOUL TENDING: JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF SABBATH. New York, NY: Turner Publishing, 2018. (200 pages, $16.99)

Anita Amstutz offers an accessible, relevant take on the centuries-old tradition of Sabbath that originates from religious roots but has been practiced by groups across the secular spectrum. This book, which includes guiding questions for a more thoughtful response, will serve both a well-seasoned Sabbath-keeper as well as a beginner to the practice. Talk about a read that nourishes your soul.

Klein, Naomi. NO IS NOT ENOUGH: RESISTING TRUMP’S SHOCK POLITICS AND WINNING THE WORLD WE NEED. Haymarket Books, 2017. (288 pages, $11.52)

Naomi Klein offers an incisive assessment of the political zeitgeist of our time – shock politics: what it is, what it means, and what we can do about its magnification under the Trump administration. It’s a real page-turner that importantly offers practical forward movements for substantive change.

Welborne, Bozena C., Aubrey L. Westfall, Ozge Celik Russel, & Sarah A. Tobin. THE POLITICS OF THE HEADSCARF IN THE UNITED STATES. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2018 (264 pages, $22.95).

Featuring interviews as well as quantitative data, this book is an excellent assessment of the experience of Muslim-American women who wear the hijab. Authors examine the role of covering as a marker of faith and belonging. They look at women’s experiences in a country ripe with Islamophobia, and how covering affects political participation. This is an important read for those interested in understanding the unique experiences of Muslim women in America today.

WATER Recommends: July 2018

WATER Recommends: July 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.

Byron, Gay L. and Vanessa Lovelace. WOMANIST INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BIBLE: EXPANDING THE DISCOURSE. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2016 (387 pages, $45.55).

Starting with the editors’ introduction that overviews womanist biblical hermeneutics and ending with a summary chapter by Emilie Townes that outlines the roads traveled, this book is a must for students of scripture who seek a comprehensive look at the terrain. Wil Gafney on Delilah, Love L. Sechrest on Stereotypes, Cheryl B. Anderson on Song of Songs in a time of AIDS are just a few of the invaluable essays that flesh out the field.

Frank, Gillian, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White. DEVOTIONS AND DESIRES: HISTORIES OF SEXUALITY AND RELIGION IN THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY UNITED STATES. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2018 (320 pages, $32.95).

This distinct volume tells the interconnected history of sexuality and religion. It features scholarship that covers a variety of religious traditions as well as a range of sexual politics including same-sex desire, sexual purity, family planning, and LGBTQ religious leadership. This book will be of interest to both a scholarly and general audience involved in this crucial conversation.

Hinga, Teresia Mbari. AFRICAN, CHRISTIAN, FEMINIST: THE ENDURING SEARCH FOR WHAT MATTERS. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017 (244 pages, $45).

Teresa Hinga writes from within the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians to show the concrete impact of feminist work in religion. Her focus on HIV/AIDS, land and water issues, violence against women, and many related themes make this compendium a valuable teaching and learning tool for a broad and appreciative audience.

Iozzio, Mary Jo and Patricia Beattie Jung, Editors, SEX AND GENDER: CHRISTIAN ETHICAL REFLECTIONS. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2017 (257 pages, $29.95).

These essays, including work by Traci West and Karen Lebacqz, are “classics” in the field. The Introduction by the editors provides a valuable overview of the state of the art. The collection makes a wonderful textbook for a college or graduate level course that focuses on moving well beyond tradition strictures to imaginative and practical sexual ethics.

Johnson, Jessica. BIBLICAL PORN: AFFECT, LABOR, AND PASTOR MARK DRISCOLL’S EVANGELICAL EMPIRE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (248 pages, $24.95).

This fascinating ethnographic study of Mars Hill, a 13,000-member megachurch led by Mark Driscoll, provides a thorough explanation of how toxic masculinity and militarism were turned into tools for growing an evangelical empire. This chronicle of the abusive and porn-like nature of Mars Hill allows readers to better understand how the Bible and Christianity can be weaponized so easily. Fortunately, the whole thing imploded, but not without a lot of damage done. Buyers beware of Driscoll and his ilk.

Jung, Patricia Beattie, SEX ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN: A CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY OF DESIRE. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2017 (271 pages, $23.95).

Patricia Beattie Jung offers a substantive volume in moral theology. This is gracefully written with broadly based resources for deconstructing harmful ideas that undergird repressive theologies. Her work on reconstructing sexual desires in a post-modern, porn-driven world is helpful for making normative claims about healthy, holy sexuality.

McGuinness, Margaret M. CALLED TO SERVE: A HISTORY OF NUNS IN AMERICA. NYU Press, 2013 (269 pages, $25.00).

This history of Catholic sisters in the United States from the colonial period to the present is told through engaging narratives from a wide range of religious communities. McGuinness covers it all: healthcare, education, social justice, monasticism, spirituality, church politics, and more. The deep impact nuns have had on shaping the American Catholic Church and American life makes a great read for students, scholars, and anyone interested in U.S. Catholic history.

Watson, Kate. SCARLET A: THE ETHICS, LAW, & POLITICS OF ORDINARY ABORTION. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 (280 pages, $23.76).

An uncommon book on “ordinary abortions.” So often debates around the ethics of abortion center around dramatic scenarios. Watson breaks ground by defending abortion as a common medical procedure. How men benefit from abortion is also considered. This book is an important read for all who seek to move beyond the tired debate, especially for those who are on the fence about abortion as a vital component of reproductive justice.

Russaw, Kimberly D. DAUGHTERS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE. Lanham, MD: Fortress Press, 2018. (238 pages, $100.00).

Kimberly D. Russaw takes an unconventional look at women in ancient Israelite society by focusing on daughters rather than on the much observed mothers and wives. In so doing, she examines how unmarried women navigated systems of power that sought to control their bodies and restrict their actions.  This is a valuable volume for students of the Hebrew Bible wishing to better understand constructions of womanhood in ancient Israelite society. Have your library order it.

A Children’s Book We Recommend:

Tuttle, Sarah Grace and Amy Schimler-Safford, Illustrator. HIDDEN CITIES; POEMS OF URBAN WILDLIFE. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2018 (48 pages, $17).

Lovely poetry for children (and adults) to explore ecological themes. Think children’s sermons, religious education classes, and sermon illustrations for these simple, sweet offerings. 

WATER Recommends: May 2018

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.

WATER Recommends: June 2015

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.

Chung, Meehyun. LIBERATION AND RECONCILIATION. Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches Publications, 2014 (142 pages, $7).

Korean feminist theology comes alive in these pages. Liberation and reconciliation are hallmarks of the divided peninsula. Meehyun writes accessibly for a broad audience contributing biblical as well as spiritual insights.

Gibson, Dawn-Marie and Karim, Jamillah. WOMEN OF THE NATION: BETWEEN BLACK PROTEST AND SUNNI ISLAM. New York: New York University Press, 2014 (263 pages, $23.40).

This book is a thorough history of American Muslim women’s experiences in the Nation of Islam from the strict and organized pre-1975 structure to the more inclusive and liberating modern-day structures. Gibson and Karim thoughtfully and critically draw out a study of black women’s accounts of the Nation of Islam with descriptive analyses of the race, gender, and class politics that shaped these women’s efforts to find a theology consistent with their own life experiences.

Graham, Elaine L., ed. GRACE JANTZEN: REDEEMING THE PRESENT. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009 (269 pages, $44.96).

An anthology by colleagues and students on the work and inspirations of feminist philosopher Grace Jantzen, this collection is a wide-ranging resource detailing her influence on gender, Western culture, and religion. Her vision for a society focused on life and natality is explored by a wide range of voices. This is an important work for newcomers to Jantzen’s thought and followers of her broad scholarship alike.

Grushcow, Rabbi Lisa J., ed. THE SACRED ENCOUNTER: JEWISH PERSPECTIVES ON SEXUALITY. New York: CCAR Press, 2014 (765 pages, $23.50).

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow has compiled a tome to be placed beside the holy books as a primary source on Judaism and sexuality.  She joins the important voices of Denise Eger, Laura Geller, and Jane Rachel Litman in the Jewish tradition of questioning and interpreting a lush field of topics, from the complications of marriage when  Alzheimer’s intrudes to the history of LGBTQ members in the Reform movement.  If you find yourself wondering about life and love in the Jewish body, have no fear, “The Sacred Encounter” is here.


A beautifully accessible proposal for cosmopolitan theology rooted in the embrace of global unity, radical compassion, and inclusion that goes beyond gender, race, religion, sexuality, and nationality. Dr. Kang outlines with depth and readability her strategies for a more connected and loving world. Academic precision and passionate activism are her hallmarks.

Kang, Namsoon. DIASPORIC FEMINIST THEOLOGY: ASIA AND THEOPOLITICAL IMAGINATION. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014 (378 pages, $39).

Dr. Kang shapes new, critical, and expansive feminist theological discourses through the lens of diaspora which transform and transcend current concepts of gender, identity, globalization, and postcolonialism. This important work has immense reverberations and will be refreshing to those seeking cutting edge ways of doing feminist theology.

McWeeny, Jennifer and Butnor, Ashby, eds. ASIAN AND FEMINIST PHILOSOPHIES IN DIALOGUE: LIBERATING TRADITIONS. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014 (318 pages, $31.50).

A wonderful introduction to feminist comparative philosophy and methodology, this diverse collection investigates ancient Asian philosophies through a feminist lens while guiding the reader along with detailed explanations and definitions. This modern exploration into traditional cultural constructions and concepts of the self will help novice and expert alike.

Messina-Dysert, Gina and Ruether, Rosemary Radford, eds. FEMINISM AND RELIGION IN THE 21ST CENTURY: TECHNOLOGY, DIALOGUE, AND EXPANDING BORDERS. New York: Routledge Press, 2015 (217 pages, $134.87).

A compelling exploration of technology’s effects on the field of feminism and religion through essays by a varied group of theologians. The collection makes a stunning case for how technology fosters expanded dialogue, spreads the feminist revolution, and shapes the future of the movement. Authors critique the downfalls of social networks as well as the problems of media elitism. Nonetheless, the remarkable pluses of technology for feminist religious studies shine forth.

Schatz, Kate and Stahl, Miriam Klein (illustrator). RAD AMERICAN WOMEN: A-Z. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 2015 (64 pages, $14.95).

With these wondrous women and Klein Stahl’s visionary visuals to match, Schatz rouses the reader’s own rad-ness. Technically a book for kids, this alphabetical anthology will cheer feminists and aspiring feminists of all ages. Important, intersectional, and influential.

Shepard, Florence Rose Krall. SOMETIMES CREEK: A WYOMING MEMOIR. Durango, Colorado: Raven’s Eye Press, 2012 (354 pages, $18).

A captivating story written with verve, this memoir is a rich reflection on a complex life. Flo Shepard explores seasons, sensations, scholarship in a delectable display of nature writing in all of its spiritual beauty.

Sokolove, Deborah. SANCTIFYING ART: INVITING CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN ARTISTS, THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CHURCH. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2013 (190 pages, $22).

Sokolove examines the complexity of our relationship to art, guiding us through cultural shifts and personal musings. She widens the spaces between those three small letters a-r-t until we float in that strange jumble of quotidian and sublime – art every bit as colorful, dynamic, and holy as laundry drying on a line. Sokolove’s contemplations are rich starting points for those considering the plentiful intersections of art, worship, selfhood, and society.