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.

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.

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: March 2018

WATER Recommends: March 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.


Bennett, Marilyn, Director. FROM SELMA TO STONEWALL: ARE WE THERE YET? Watch on Amazon Prime or Vimeo, 2016.

This documentary follows the rare friendship of Rev. Gil Caldwell, a black, heterosexual preacher and Marilyn Bennett, a white, lesbian activist. Through interviews with Civil Rights and Stonewall era activists as well as young LGBTIQ and black activists, a story of struggle and progress emerges at the intersection of these two movements. Both candid and hopeful, this honest, well-produced film highlights the struggle for acceptance within each movement and the slow push toward collective liberation. Great for use with community groups and classes to ignite activism.



Bowler, Kate. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON: AND OTHER LIES I’VE LOVED. New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2018 (208 pages, $26).

An expert on the prosperity gospel, Kate Bowler discovers just how deep the American prosperity mindset runs when she is suddenly diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. In this witty and heart-rending memoir, Kate takes us on her journey. This is a great read and especially useful for those who are in a similar situation, their caregivers, and loved ones.





Kugle, Scott Siraj al-Haqq. LIVING OUT ISLAM: VOICES OF GAY, LESBIAN, AND TRANSGENDER MUSLIMS. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2014 (275 pages, $27).

This collection of interviews profiles the activism and struggles of LGBTIQ Muslims in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and South Africa. Their stories illustrate how they navigate faith, family, community, and society to advocate for change and live out their Islam. An important contribution to scholarship on Islam, gender, and sexuality based on careful qualitative analysis, this is an excellent example for students, scholars, and oral history enthusiasts of how critical scholarship can be a strategic tool.



Laffey, Alice L. and Leonard-Fleckman, Mahri. WISDOM COMMENTARY: RUTH. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017 (294 pages, $39.95).

These two authors bring a model of intergenerational feminist scholarship to an intergenerational biblical pair, Ruth and Naomi. Postcolonial analysis and global feminist theological insights provide rich food for thought. Reading the text through these lenses means that neither the casual reader, the preacher, nor the scholar can rely on stereotypic, saccharine notions of women’s relationships using Ruth and Naomi as unwitting models.





Moore, Rebecca. WOMEN IN CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2015 (224 pages, $7.00)

Beginning with Eve (though omitting remaining matriarchs in the Hebrew Bible) Rebecca Moore eloquently recounts major epochs of Christian history through the stories of women who lived through and influenced them. Whether martyrs or reformers, nuns or bishops, teachers or scholars, those who refused to let patriarchal lines be drawn around their sexuality and rejected assigned gender roles made the difference. Their stories provide both inspiration and hope to those who push for gender equality in their churches.




Scheidt, Michelle A. and Maureen R. Connors, FINDING LIFE AFTER TRAUMA: A GUIDE FOR MISSIONERS AND VOLUNTEERS AND THOSE WHO CARE FOR THEM. Longmont, CO: From Mission to Mission, 2017 (70 pages, $27.95).

Working in another culture can be a deeply rewarding experience, but it can also be deeply wounding if terrible things happen. These authors recognize the complexity and offer a clear, straightforward way of facing re-entry issues including coping with sexual assault, natural disasters, loss of a close friend or family member while away, or any of a number of traumatizing experiences. Concrete strategies, helpful resources, and permission just to take time to grieve make this book an indispensable tool for the voluntary sector, ministry professionals, and those who live between and among various cultures.


Schlesinger, Kira. PRO-CHOICE AND CHRISTIAN: RECONCILING FAITH, POLITICS, AND JUSTICE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017 (136 pages, $14).

This book serves as a simple introduction to the complexities of reproductive justice. Schlesinger gives a succinct explanation as to how abortion rights can fit into a Christian “pro life” position. Many will critique her from both sides–not sufficiently pro-woman, not sufficiently pro-fetus. Nonetheless, this book can be a useful conversation starter in congregational settings where honest, hard conversation is difficult to achieve on abortion.




Taylor, Ula Yvette. THE PROMISE OF PATRIARCHY: WOMEN AND THE NATION OF ISLAM. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017 (288 pages, $29.95).

All too often women are written out of history. According to Ula Yvette Taylor, nowhere is this more present than in scholarship on the Nation of Islam. Taylor’s vast historical analysis takes the reader inside the lives of women of the NOI and how they wrestled with the promise of racial liberation within a patriarchal structure. The result is a well written, complex narrative that sits at the intersection of race, religion, culture, and gender.





The racialization of white and black as purity and pollution form the backdrop for policing and the U.S. penal system. In this accessible and informative study, resources of Christian ethics are brought to the vexing problem of white racism. This is an important volume for widespread discussion before more bodies are strewn in the streets, more injustice committed, more families torn asunder. Check out WATER’s teleconference at http://www.waterwomensalliance.org/watertalk-notes-rima-vesely-flad/ —-with Rima Vesley-Flad in her own words.



Wilson, Nancy. I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY: 100+ STORIES OF JUSTICE, INCLUSION, AND HOPE. PARKER, CO: BOOKS TO BELIEVE IN (www.MCCchurch.org), 2016 (218 pages, $19.95).

Nancy Wilson stands out among church leaders for her compassion as a person, her skill as a minister, her insight as a pastor, her integrity that shines like a candelabra. This book of stories is just the tip of a large iceberg that is her impact on the world. Learn how the Metropolitan Community Church grew one welcomed person at a time, how a pastor is also a person, and what it means to love without judgment. Should be required reading for every ministry professional. A great gift to give to your religious leader written by one the world’s best.

WATER Recommends: January 2018

WATER Recommends: January 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.

Alvizo, Xochitl and Gina Messina editors, WOMEN RELIGION REVOLUTION. Cambridge, MA: Feminist Studies in Religion Books, 2017 (162 pages, $18.95).

Personal essays which tie together revolutionary change, motivating faith, and a new sense of the connectedness among women make this volume a compelling read. The content and depth of each individual essay from writers including Xochiti Alvizo, Grace Kao, and Kate McElwee inform, inspire, and encourage. Revolutions in religious feminism and global change are on the horizon. As Carol Adams writes in the Foreword, “Good, let us, together, go forward.”


Jenny Daggers traces the development of Christian theological attitudes from a postcolonial feminist perspective allowing other faith traditions to inform her own Trinitarian Theology of Religions without overlooking Christian particularity. A meticulously researched proposal, Daggers outlines a way forward for interreligious engagement free of colonial impulses and instead reliant on Asian and feminist work. A good resource for students of postcolonial Christian thought.

Farley, Margaret. CHANGING THE QUESTIONS: EXPLORATIONS IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015 (376 pages, $30).

Ethicist Margaret Farley demonstrates through this collection that protracted injustice will only be eroded when good people think differently about foundational issues. Human, indeed planetary, suffering is reason enough to rethink many basics from celibacy to stem cells, from ecclesiology to HIV/AIDS. Margaret’s feminist Holy Week sermons will inspire readers to follow her lead toward careful ethical reflection with spirited yet modest faith claims. Jamie L. Manson’s contextualizing introduction is an added bonus.


Griffith explains how debates over sex became the center of American politics and a dividing line for many American Christians. She highlights hot button topics—access to birth control, abortion, sexual harassment, and same-sex marriage—that affected the most recent presidential election. A must-read for those wishing to understand America’s current political climate in light of religious debates.

Joy, Morny, Editor. WOMEN, RELIGION, AND THE GIFT: AN ABUNDANCE OF RICHES. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2017 (228 pages, $99.99).

Interdisciplinary essays from many religious and social starting points focus on gifts women bring to world religions. For example, Sylvia Marcos’ decolonial approach to indigenous women’s “cosmovisions,” Kathleen McPhillips’ deconstruction of hagiography focused on women’s religious order founder Mary McKillop, and Suwanna Satha-Anand’s Buddhist analysis of giving offer insights into a simple concept played out in myriad ways. Price makes this prohibitive for the casual reader, but libraries will do a service to include it in their holdings.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade and Carty, Linda. FEMINIST FREEDOM WARRIORS: GENEALOGIES, JUSTICE, POLITICS, AND HOPE. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2018 (240 pages, $18).

Women of color from the Global South and the North tell their stories of activism and solidarity then discuss the future of feminist organizing. This book is a companion to the larger digital archives project (http://feministfreedomwarriors.org) which includes interviews with Angela Y. Davis, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Aída Hernández Castillo, and Margo Okazawa-Rey who employ principles of decolonial, anticapitalist, and antiracist resistance. Learn from this clearly written volume how our foremothers navigated oppressive systems, connected across difference, and sustained their ongoing struggles for justice. Available for preorder; will be published June 12, 2018.

Moultrie, Monique. PASSIONATE AND PIOUS: RELIGIOUS MEDIA AND BLACK WOMEN’S SEXUALITY. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2017 (187 pages, $24).

This insightful book conveys data on black women’s sexual attitudes and experiences as influenced by faith-rooted, heteronormative ministries, especially televangelists. Monique Moultrie explains, deconstructs, and suggests replacements from a womanist ethical perspective. She seeks to help all women become “reflective and healthy sexual agents” (p. 151). This book deserves a wide readership for its methodological sophistication, crystal clarity, and explicit commitment to women’s well being rooted in black women’s choices.

Nugent, Patricia A., Editor. BEFORE THEY WERE OUR MOTHERS; VOICES OF WOMEN BORN BEFORE ROSIE STARTED RIVETING. Saratoga Springs, NY: Journal Arts Press, 2017 (114 pages, $11).

Read timeless accounts of early 20th century women’s lives recounted by their daughters in the mothers’ own voices. Immigration, education, religious oppression, racism, love, and loss are chronicled in fifteen chapters about remarkable women who persisted. Their stories empower daughters and granddaughters to persist today. Of special interest to WATER readers is the chapter “Anything is Possible” by Joyce Hunt Bouyea, the story of Joyce and Mary E. Hunt’s mother, Elizabeth Campbell, and her mother who challenged many conventions.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. WISDOM COMMENTARY: EPHESIANS (Vol. 50). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017 (232 pages, $39.95).

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza provides a profound understanding of Ephesians centered on an analysis of power. The androcentric language of the letter reveals how power dynamics shaped both the household and the early church (ekklesia), with lasting impact on today’s communities. She makes clear that this letter is either for men only or for everyone. If it is for everyone, then claims for the subordination of those who are not free men must be rejected. Readers of this commentary will preach new messages when Ephesians appears in the lectionary!


This expertly crafted book describes the impacts of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, from helping women gain previously male-only jobs to laying the groundwork for a push against sexual harassment in the workplace. Thomas raises up the stories of many women heroes who inspire today’s resisters. She proves how much change can take place in fifty years.

WATER Recommends: November 2017

WATER Recommends: November 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.


Some readings of the Bible and some theologies have been used to justify the oppression of Palestinians. Naim Ateek brings a new view on the conflict through the lens of Palestinian liberation theology. According to his reading of Hebrew Scripture, there is no justification for the ousting of Palestinians. Instead, his reading of Christian Scripture centers Jesus’ teaching on calling for justice.

brown, adrienne maree. EMERGENT STRATEGY: SHAPING CHANGE, CHANGING WORLDS. Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017, (280 pages, $16).

Writer and activist adrienne maree brown lays out a philosophy of social change based in emergence theory. Focusing specifically on how we connect with one another, brown lays out ways to build lasting systemic change through small-scale community relationships. Drawing on spirituality, literature, biology, the natural world, and more, this is a useful toolkit for activists thinking ‘bigger picture’ about movement strategy.

Bucar, Elizabeth PIOUS FASHION: HOW MUSLIM WOMEN DRESS Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017 (248 pages, $29.95).

 Muslim women’s fashion is often seen in the western world as a key example of Islam oppressing women. Bucar studied pious fashion in Iran, Turkey, and Indonesia examining how clothing choices relate to women’s rights. She argues in this fascinating read that pious fashion is much more than modest dress standards imposed on women. It is a way that Muslim women claim their identity and express their faith in a world that is rapidly westernizing. Read it to be well informed in discussions.


Historians and theologians have misrepresented the status and role of women in the early Christian world. This welcome book breaks through that culture to bring to light the social and theological contributions of early Christian women including Thecla, Perpetua and Felicitas, Helena Augusta, and others. Their courage, devotion, authority, faith and teachings shaped early Christian beliefs and practices and continue to shape thinking today. A scholarly work for those concerned with the role and status of women in the church based on a clearer understanding of the early Christian movement.

Duriga, Joyce., HELEN PREJEAN: DEATH ROWS NUN Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017 (112 pages, $11.99).

This short biography unpacks the life of a woman with conviction: Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, one of America’s leading anti-death penalty advocates. Joyce Duriga traces Prejean’s upbringing, activism, prison ministry, and relationships with death row inmates that led to her best-selling book Dead Man Walking and its subsequent film adaptation. A synthetic, accessible behind-the-scenes look at Prejean’s role in shaping conversations around the death penalty.

Hayward, Susan and Katherine Marshall, Editors. WOMEN, RELIGION, AND PEACEBUILDING: ILLUMINATING THE UNSEEN. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2015, (365 pages, $24.95).

The stories of women from a wide range of religious traditions, countries, and conflicts are sadly similar yet consistently powerful. Despite barriers to their official leadership, many women bring spirituality-grounded commitments to effective negotiations and peace efforts. This collection sparks two unspoken questions for considered discussion: how patriarchal religious practices can be barriers to peace, and just how much more peaceful the world could be if feminist religious energies were valued and implemented. We can but hope.

Kalmanofsky, Amy., SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND SACRED TEXTS. Cambridge, MA: Feminist Studies in Religion Books: 2017 (156 Pages, $18.95).

Amy Kalmonosky claims that a deep and faithful engagement with Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scriptures can yield a rich understanding of the roots of sexual violence. These essays animate a process of healing and liberation from sexual abuse toward women and girls perpetrated by sacred texts. This book offers helpful language to voice experiences as well as practical ways to bring about social change. A great choice for group discussions and adult education.

Patrick, Anne E., Susan Perry, Editor, ON BEING UNFINISHED: COLLECTIVE WRITINGS, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017, (309 pages, $32).

Anne E. Patrick was a feminist Catholic moral theologian whose work focused on conscience, church, and social change. The unfinished, the imperfect, the partial she wrote is often enough. She shaped this posthumously published capstone, which includes an appreciative foreword by her friend ethicist Charles Curran. Anne was a WATER friend and neighbor who gave one of her last public lectures as WATER teleconferences here. This book brings her alive again in a new way for future generations to encounter.

Rosenberg, Rosalind. JANE CROW: THE LIFE OF PAULI MURRAY. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017, (512 pages, $29.95).

Dive into the stunning life of labor activist turned legal advocate turned Episcopal priest, Pauli Murray. Rosenberg’s well-researched, enticing profile pays close attention to the ways Murray navigated the boundaries of race, class, gender, and sexuality to become one of the twentieth century’s most prolific advocates for social change. This volume raises the bar on feminist biography and brings to light new aspects of an important woman.

Sanders, Cody J. A BRIEF GUIDE TO MINISTRY WITH LGBTQIA YOUTH. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017, (106 pages, $16).

This primer for those working with LGBTQIA youth is a valuable resource for all who want to be current on terminology and informed about young people’s experiences in order to be helpful. The shelf life of this book is limited because the field is changing quickly. So read it now and stay tuned for the sequel. Young people’s lives are in the balance.

WATER Recommends: September 2017

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.

WATER Recommends: July 2017

WATER Recommends: July 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.

Berry, Selisse. OUT AND EQUAL AT WORK: FROM CLOSET TO CORNER OFFICE, 20th Anniversary Edition. San Francisco, CA: Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, 2016 (207 pages).

What happens when a theologically trained, deeply committed woman is denied ordination because of her sexuality yet feels called to make justice? Out and Equal is celebrating twenty years as the go-to organization for LGBTIQ+ work place equality because the Presbyterian Church missed the chance to put Selisse Berry’s powerful skills to work. Now 95% of Fortune 500 companies have such policies. Let the rest of the world, including religions, catch up and act accordingly. Ad multos annos, Selisse.

Freeman, Judith, THE LATTER DAYS: A MEMOIR. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2016 (336 pages, $11.29).

The Latter Days is a gripping memoir about a girl growing up in a patriarchal world. Freeman’s account of the joys and pain of her Mormon upbringing and journey to a new consciousness will surely resonate with women’s experiences across the religious spectrum. A well-written and honest portrayal of the challenges of self-discovery, a must read. Listen to our May WATERtalk with Judith Freeman here.

Freyne, Gail Grossman. THE CURIOUS CASE OF INEQUALITY: A JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE WITH DOROTHY L. SAYERS. Hindmarsh, South Australia: 2017 (153 PAGES, $29.49).

Would that it weren’t so, but gender binaries are all too present with males still holding the upper hand in just about every situation. Between Dorothy Sayers’ insights and Gail Freyne’s wisdom there are ways to cope, indeed to transform this pernicious reality. Consider the case: “Is any husband better than none at all? Of course not. It is for this reason that I advocate the single life—married or not.” A book to launch a thousand discussions.

Gordon-Lennox, Jeltje. CRAFTING SECULAR RITUAL: A PRACTICAL GUIDE. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017 (175 pages, $15.94).

Jeltje Gordon-Lennox explores the enduring tradition of ritual throughout human history and makes a convincing argument for the importance of ritual, religious or not, in daily life. Weaving theoretical with practical, she provides tools, checklists, and guidelines for creating meaningful, secular rituals. An informative and clear guide for anyone who wants to celebrate life’s key moments outside the traditional or institutional. 

Gross, Nancy Lammers. WOMEN’S VOICES AND THE PRACTICE OF PREACHING. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2017 (182 pages, $20).

Ever been told your voice is too soft? This study of the physical (and emotional) aspects of how women use our voices enlightens as it instructs. Creating our “full-body” voices is not an easy task. Given the many challenges women face: eating disorders, abuse, destruction of self-confidence, racism, ableism, and impossible physical standards it is a wonder that any come to full voice ever. And yet readers/preachers persist thanks to books like this. 

Lassiter, Katharine E. RECOGNIZING OTHER SUBJECTS: FEMINIST PASTORAL THEOLOGY AND THE CHALLENGE OF IDENTITY. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2015 (200 pages, $25). 

Looking at theories of recognition from a feminist perspective, Lassiter suggests that recognition, misrecognition, or the negation of recognition are at the heart of justice work in pastoral care. She claims that, “pastoral theologians are called to account for the power that they hold through social identities or locations.” Relying on Judith Butler, Marcella Althaus Reid, and some feminist pastoral theologians she addresses identity formation on both individual and systemic levels. An approachable and necessary read for those interested in understanding the interconnectedness of identity formation, theology, and injustice.

Lipsett, B. Diane and Phyllis Trible, editors. FAITH + FEMINISM: ECUMENICAL ESSAYS. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014 (288 pages, $35). 

Essays from the Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest School of Divinity feature a variety of international feminist voices. They are found in three sections: Biblical Studies; Interreligious Ventures; Theology and Ethics. Through thoughtful editing, Trible and Lispsett invite readers into dialogue and challenge all who pick up this book to talk with one another across differences.

Mellott, David M., FINDING YOUR WAY IN SEMINARY: WHAT TO EXPECT, HOW TO THRIVE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (196 pages, $22.00).

Readers are guided through the practical steps of deciding to go to seminary and navigating theological education. Mellott challenges readers to think about issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, especially how privilege and supremacy “are embedded in our theological institutions and our theologies.” Finding Your Way offers both prospective seminarians and current students important insights and information about making the most of their time in graduate studies in religion.

Taylor, Marion Ann and Heather E. Weir, Editors. WOMEN IN THE STORY OF JESUS: THE GOSPELS THROUGH THE EYES OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY FEMALE BIBLICAL INTERPRETERS. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2016 (288 pages, $35.00).

Travel diaries, sermons, children’s lessons and commentaries tell the stories of Biblical women through the perspectives of nineteenth-century women writers, suffragists, poets, preachers, educators, and activists. Taylor and Weir thoughtfully weave together the narratives of Biblical women and the feminist interpretations of the texts. Study Questions encourage readers to dig deeper into the exegesis and find their own stories.

Yancy, George, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, and Susan Hadley, editors. OUR BLACK SONS MATTER: MOTHERS TALK ABOUT FEARS, SORROWS, AND HOPES. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 (227 pages, $34).

A poignant collection of thirty-two essays, poems, and letters from a diverse group of mothers raising black sons, biological and not. These women convey the fear, challenge, and joy of nurturing and loving children in a culture where violence against black bodies is normalized. Priority reading for understanding current forms of oppression because #BlackLivesMatter.

WATER Recommends: May 2017

WATER Recommends: May 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.

Baccelliere, Anna. I LIKE, I DON’T LIKE. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017 (28 pages, $16.00).

What a simple, effective way to teach children about privilege and oppression, the haves and the have not’s, the rich and the poor. Endless lessons in diversity, human rights, and kindness in this wonderfully illustrated (by Ale and Ale) book.

Chaudhry, Ayesha S. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE ISLAMIC TRADITION. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013 (288 pages, $58.00).       

Qur’anic text Ch. 4, Verse 34 (Q. 4:34) that refers to wife beating is a window into the complexity of Islamic thinking. Dr. Chaudhry offers both an historical account of how the text has been interpreted, as well as contemporary insight into contextual and performative religious approaches. A model feminist volume that shows that all religious ideas are subject to analysis, dynamic in their meanings, and open to change. Listen to our April 2017 WATERtalk with Ayesha S. Chaudhry here.

Harroun, Teri. A WOMAN CALLED FATHER: REFLECTIONS OF PRIESTHOOD IN A WOMAN’S BODY. Newburgh, NY: Five Oaks Press, 2017 (34 pages, $12.99).

It is hard to imagine a Catholic seminary anywhere in the world teaching a unit on “Priest in Menopause.” But the poem by the same name opens the imagination to the reality of women’s ministry whether the kyriarchal church wants it or not. Consider a discussion group around this volume.

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, editor, COLOR OF VIOLENCE: THE INCITE! ANTHOLOGY. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016 (336 pages, $24.95).

This collection of essays placing women of color at the center of a new anti-violence paradigm focuses on eliminating both personal and state violence. Issues and analyses cover many bases: racism, sexism, classism, ableism, military violence, colonialism, heterosexism, and more. A powerful guide for activists, educators, community organizers, and anyone asking the question, “What would it take to end violence against women of color?”

Kim, Grace Ji-Sun and Jann Aldredge-Clanton, editors, INTERCULTURAL MINISTRY: HOPE FOR A CHANGING WORLD. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2017 (240 pages, $19.99).

Ministers who wrote these chapters are intent on building intercultural communities that embody new forms of church and society. Sharing a common faith does not guarantee anything about common life, common worship, or common action. But with the creative, concerted, compassionate efforts reported here, there are ways forward that work. This is a compelling resource for forward-looking congregations and students of ministry.

Miles, Margaret, THE LONG GOODBYE: DEMENTIA DIARIES. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2017 (104 pages, $14.00).

A stirring account of the descent into dementia and how a sensitive, insightful, imaginative, stalwart companion copes with the changes. At times theological, at others simply raw emotion, this powerful read leaves an indelible imprint—of things that can’t be known, of lives that circle back on themselves, of love that changes yet endures, of questions for which there are simply no answers, easy or otherwise. Read it. Read it again.

Paterson, Gillian and Callie Long, DIGNITY, FREEDOM, AND GRACE: CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON HIV, AIDS, AND HUMAN RIGHTS. Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 2016 (168 pages, $20.00).

While diseases know no religious boundaries, the treatment of people with diseases can be tempered by theology. Judgment, blame, anything less than full acceptance and embracing are simple wrong. Authors of these essays from around the world point to best practices in many fronts.

Ronan, Marian and O’Brien, Mary. WOMEN OF VISION SIXTEEN FOUNDERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL GRAIL MOVEMENT. Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press, 2017 (424 pages, $19.82).

How visionary of Marian Ronan and Mary O’Brien to bring Grail Movement founders to life in delightful summaries of their amazing lives. Longtime Grail folks as well as those new to the movement will be fascinated by the ways of creative women then and now. The Grail continues to focus spiritual search and social justice through women’s commitments.

Shore-Goss, Robert R. GOD IS GREEN: AN ECO-SPIRITUALITY OF INCARNATE COMPASSION. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016 (300 pages, $36.00).

A trusted queer theologian takes on the whole nine yards of creation. Robert Shore-Goss finds ways through the pollution and exhaust fumes of injustice to glimpse and reveal the beauty and integrity. Mystics of old and contemporary New Age folks alike have attested to the universe’s wonders, but this Christian pastor lets his Buddhist studies guide toward light.

Wacker, Marie-Theres. BARUCH AND THE LETTER OF JEREMIAH: WISDOM COMMENTARY (Vol. 31). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016 (157 pages, $39.95).

The Wisdom Commentary series will eventually provide diverse feminist biblical interpretation of every book in the Bible. This volume provides helpful translation, context, and commentary for these two less well-known books. Of interest is a series of reflections on the parallels between the “guilt of the fathers” in Baruch and the guilt of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in its role to cover up sexual abuse by priests. Wacker shows how these ancient books are still applicable today.

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.