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.

Brazal, Agnes M. A THEOLOGY OF SOUTHEAST ASIA: LIBERATION-POSTCOLONIAL ETHICS IN THE PHILIPPINES. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019 (204 pages, $36).

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.

Copeland, M. Shawn. KNOWING CHRIST CRUCIFIED: THE WITNESS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018 (198 pages, $24).

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.

Klein, Linda. PURE: INSIDE THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT THAT SHAMED A GENERATION OF YOUNG WOMEN AND HOW I BROKE FREE. New York, NY: Touchstone, 2018 (341 pages, $26.00).

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.

Sanders, Annemarie, Editor. HOWEVER LONG THE NIGHT: MAKING MEANING IN A TIME OF CRISIS—THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS (LCWR). Silver Spring, MD: LCWR, 2018 (184 pages, $14.99).

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.

McGrow, Lauren.  MISSIONARY POSITIONS: A POSTCOLONIAL FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE ON SEX WORK AND FAITH-BASED OUTREACH IN AUSTRALIA.  Boston: Leiden Brill, 2017 (251 pages, $114).

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.

 

 

 

Vesely-Flad, Rima. RACIAL PURITY AND DANGEROUS BODIES: MORAL POLLUTION, BLACK LIVES, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017 (225 pages, $34).

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.”

Daggers, Jenny. POSTCOLONIAL THEOLOGY OF RELIGIONS: PARTICULARITY AND PLURALISM IN WORLD CHRISTIANITY. USA and Canada: Routledge, 2013 (256 pages, $47.95).

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, Marie R. MORAL COMBAT: HOW SEX DIVIDED AMERICAN CHRISTIANS & FRACTURED AMERICAN POLITICS. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2017 (416 pages, $32).

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!

Thomas, Gillian, BECAUSE OF SEX: ONE LAW, TEN CASES, AND FIFTY YEARS THAT CHANGED AMERICAN WOMEN’S LIVES AT WORK. New York, NY: Picador, 2016 (304 pages, $18).

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.

Ateek, Naim Stifan. A PALESTINIAN THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION: THE BIBLE, JUSTICE, AND THE PALESTINE-ISRAEL CONFLICT. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017 (192 pages, $12). 

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.

Cohick, Lynn and Hughes, Amy. CHRISTIAN WOMEN IN THE PATRISTIC WORLD: THER INFLUENCE, AUTHORITY, AND LEGACY IN THE SECOND THROUGH FIFTH CENTURY. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017 (336 pages, $ 34.99).

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.

Mary T. Malone. FOUR WOMEN DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH: HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, CATHERINE OF SIENA, THERESA OF ÁVILA, THÉRESA OF LISIEUX. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015 (128 pages, $16).

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: 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.

Kang, Namsoon. COSMOPOLITAN THEOLOGY: RECONSTITUTING PLANETARY HOSPITALITY, NEIGHBOR-LOVE, AND SOLIDARITY IN AN UNEVEN WORLD. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2013 (252 pages, $26.39).

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.