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: March 2017

WATER Recommends: March 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.

Ahmed, Sara. LIVING A FEMINIST LIFE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017(312 pages, $26.95).

For anyone looking to understand contemporary feminist theory, this book is for you. Drawing mainly on the scholarship of feminists of color, Ahmed brings critical theory to life through practical examples and personal experience. This is an essential toolkit for building a feminist consciousness, practicing feminism, and surviving life as a “feminist killjoy.” bell hooks couldn’t put it down.

Ali, Kecia. HUMAN IN DEATH: MORALITY AND MORTALITY IN J.D. ROBB’S NOVELS. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017 (196 pages, $29.95).

World-class religion scholar Dr. Kecia Ali trains her critical skills on the futuristic novels of the In Death series by J.D. Robb, AKA Nora Roberts. She lays out ethical struggles that endure fifty years hence, providing a useful map through the material and life. As a scholar, Ali models how “Reading thoughtfully can serve as a precursor to and adjunct to living thoughtfully.” (p. 121)

Collins, Patricia Hill. ON INTELLECTUAL ACTIVISM. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2013 (254 pages, $26.95).

These essays and interviews by a distinguished sociologist and feminist theorist are just what the doctor ordered for current challenges. Read separately or as a whole, Dr. Collins’ work reflects the careful scrutiny and insightful analysis of a thoroughly engaged scholar, a deeply informed activist. As such, it is a signal text for conversation and study.

De Souza, Barbara Mosley. WHEN SLEEPING WOMEN AWAKE, MOUNTAINS WILL MOVE. St. Louis, MO: Lucas Park Books, 2017 (271 pages, $19.99).

Barbara tells her own story and that of so many women in Brasil whose lives touched hers and vice versa as she encouraged physical and spiritual health. She is a minister’s minister, one of the generation of women who found their way to church work because it provided a structure for supporting people in inhospitable times. This collective memoir is a chapter in church history.


Some Korean women are pushed to the margins of Korean churches. Lee advocates for empowerment and full inclusion of single women through postmodern pastoral care, creating impact beyond the women’s lives into the greater faith community and the world. Her work has useful implications for the inclusion of other marginalized groups through similar research, practical theology, and pastoral care.

Markey, Eileen: A RADICAL FAITH: THE ASSASSINATION OF SISTER MAURA. New York, NY: Nation Books, 2016 (336 pages, $26.99).

Eileen Markey’s gripping narrative of the 1980 assassination of Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke in El Salvador is a must read. It is not only a vivid portrayal of Maura Clarke’s compassion and dedication to her faith, but also a brilliant outline of the historical and political contexts that led to her untimely death. Maura’s story of courage, selflessness, and spiritual will in the face of violence is history, politics, and religion personified.

Orbeck-Nilssen, Constance, story. Akin Duzakin, illustrator. WHY AM I HERE? Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2016 (32 pages, $16).

Good luck with questions that these Norwegian author and illustrator raise so gently. Why some are immigrants, others survivors of war, some live in the forest, while others float on icebergs are complex matters. We simply don’t know finally, but children can learn to live as fully themselves with questions.

Rich, Adrienne. COLLECTED POEMS 1950-2012. Introduction by Claudia Rankine. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016 (1164 pages, $50).

Sixty years of poetry in a single volume is a gift worth savoring, dipping into, sharing, citing, savoring some more. Adrienne Rich is a chronicler, muse, spirit, experimenter, guide for contemporary feminism. She writes it all with verve. Also re-released separately is her first volume of poetry, A CHANGE OF WORLD (1951), which she wrote while in college. It is all still stunning.

Thistlethwaite, Susan Brooks. #OCCUPY THE BIBLE: WHAT JESUS REALLY SAID (AND DID) ABOUT MONEY AND POWER. Eugene, OR; Wipf & Stock, 2012 (132 pages, $16).

Worth reading to refresh on the basics and refute the ridiculous charges of the Ayn Rand types who miss the point. As times get tougher for the poor, resources like this provide ballast and balance.

Wacker, Eileen, story. Alan M. Low, illustrator. BLUE PENGUIN AND THE SENSATIONAL SURF. Honolulu, HI: ONCEKids, 2013 (40 pages, $10.99).

A fun way to share a bit of Japanese culture and a universal story of the importance of helping out others. Sweet pictures and an engaging flow to the tale that children and adults will enjoy.

WATER Recommends: January 2017

WATER Recommends: January 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.

Beavis, Mary Ann and HyeRan Kim-Cragg. HEBREWS: WISDOM COMMENTARY (Vol. 54). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015 (238 pages, $39.95).

The Wisdom Commentary series will eventually provide diverse feminist biblical interpretation of every book in the Bible. Through multi-lens collaboration, Beavis and Kim-Cragg reveal the undercurrent of Sophia throughout Hebrews helping to move beyond traditional interpretations of sacrifice. Of particular interest are poems by First Nations author Marie Annharte Baker. A welcome addition to any student or preacher’s library.

Chowdhury, Elora Halim and Philipose, Liz, Editors. DISSIDENT FRIENDSHIPS: FEMINISM, IMPERIALISM, AND TRANSNATIONAL SOLIDARITY. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2016 (272 pages, $30.00).

Given the fraught global political situation, strong transnational friendships among women are crucial for understanding our differences and standing in solidarity against unjust policies. Scholars from a range of backgrounds and fields draw on post-colonial theory to address important questions: what does effective solidarity among women look like? How do we build subversive friendships that aid resistance? This is a timely collection.

Crowder, Stephanie Buckhanon. WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS: THE BIBLE AND MOTHERHOOD FROM A WOMANIST PERSPECTIVE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (129 pages, $22.00).

Stephanie Crowder says, “Mothers, you rock!” Drawing on historical portrayals of African American mothers and womanist biblical interpretation, she develops “womanist maternal thought.” Biblical examples of motherhood, including Hagar and Bathsheba, provide jumping off points to reflect on contemporary contextual challenges to mothers, especially African Americans. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this book useful for any one looking to understand motherhood in new ways.


Elizabeth Edman offers part autobiography, part theological analysis. She digs deeply into the “inherent queerness” of Christianity–it’s resistance to order, the blurring of boundaries, and the rupturing of binaries. Queer Virtue is an engaging narrative that brings queer theory into conversation with Christian history. An important read on religion and queer issues.

Forcades, Teresa. FAITH AND FREEDOM. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 2017 (124 pages, $12.95).

The daily prayer schedule of her Benedictine community provides Theresa Forcades with a fitting framework for her insights. Medicine, politics, feminism, and spirituality are grounded in deep appreciation of human freedom and divine love. Courageous, relentless explorations of basic human experiences, especially forgiveness, destine this work to be a postmodern spiritual classic.

Long, Kimberly Bracken. FROM THIS DAY FORWARD: RETHINKING THE CHRISTIAN WEDDING. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (185 pages, $20.00).

Marriage is risky at best, but trying to minister to people who want to marry is trickier still. Kimberly Bracken Long offers a realistic, relatively egalitarian, and helpful guide for pastoral people who want to be useful at a liminal time in the lives of those making a legal, religious, and/or social leap.

Naegeli, Verna, Josée Ngalula, Ina Praetorius, Brigitte Rabarijaona, editors. NOUS AVONS UN DÉSIR/THERE IS SOMETHING WE LONG FOR. Kinshasa, DRC: MÉDIASPAUL, 2015 (223 pages, $20, tsenamalalaka.wordpress.com or contact coordination@malalaka.org).

Nineteen African and European women theologians share their deepest longings, their basic commitments in this multi-language volume. They model ways of engaging one another and letting differences emerge respectfully. They prove that there are no right answers in religion, but many provocative, helpful questions.

Rycenga, Jennifer and Linda Barufaldi, editors. MARY DALY READER. New York: NYU Press, 2017 (453 pages, $35.00).

Here it is—the best of Mary Daly for future generations to savor. Thanks to editors Jennifer Rycenga and Linda Barufaldi, Robin Morgan’s Preface and Mary E. Hunt’s Biographical Sketch, Mary Daly comes alive. With her wry smile, brilliant analysis, poetic unto mystical writing, she wields a mighty labrys of thought. From her earliest inklings to her last Summation, this is work to read, ponder, reject, discuss, savor, question, or write your own.

Stokes, Jeanette. JUST KEEP GOING: ADVICE ON WRITING AND LIFE. Durham, NC: The Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South, Inc., 2016 (110 pages, $20.00).

Many people write, but few people are writers. Jeanette Stokes is one of the few who does it well and has the generosity to share her method. Readers will find tips and practices that work and a host of lovely examples in this welcome resource. Also by Jeannette Stokes, 35 YEARS ON THE PATH. (Durham, NC: The Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South, Inc., 2012 (154 pages, $20.00), which follows 25 Years in the Garden, are occasional essays that show how a writer writes. Jeanette Stokes just gets better and better as a writer, organizer, artist, and human being. This series chronicles a process that is akin to the making of fine wine and the results are simply delicious!

WATER Recommends November 2016

WATER Recommends: November 2016

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.

Adams, Carol J., Editor. THE CAROL J. ADAMS READER: WRITINGS AND CONVERSATIONS 1995-2015. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016 (433 pages, $29.95).

Read this brilliant feminist vegan theorist whose incisive analysis and steadfast commitment to justice for all of creation compels action. Whether on meat-eating or abortion, care-giving or anti-speciesism, Carol invites the reader to share her worldview. To read her is to be open to life-changing practices, and to appreciate the power of words to transform the world.

THE CEB WOMEN’S BIBLE. Nashville, TN: Common English Bible, 2016 (1650 pages, $49.99).

Eighty editors and commentators from a dozen faith communities collaborated to produce this version of the Bible. Many are scriptures scholars, pastors, writers who dug into the texts to find hidden gems and to highlight interpretations that will be liberating. The short intros to chapters and the even shorter comments woven into the text offer basic insights and helpful data. Many preachers and study groups will find this a translation of choice.

Clark Moschella, Mary. CARING FOR JOY: NARRATIVE, THEOLOGY, AND PRACTICE. Leiden: Brill, 2016 (303 pages, $66.00).

In a welcome discussion, Clark Moschella suggests caregivers move away from concentration solely on suffering to a more holistic pastoral care that includes an emphasis on joy. She weaves together the theological and spiritual practices of joy through five narratives of diverse caregivers. Of interest are the narratives of Heidi Neumark and Pauli Murray.

Ganley, Rosemary. JAMAICA JOURNAL: THE STORY OF A GRASSROOTS CANADIAN AID ORGANIZATION. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada: Yellow Dragonfly Press, 2016 (296 pages, $21.95).

Rosemary Ganley is a gifted journalist, social justice worker extraordinaire, and treasured WATER colleague. The story of the NGO Jamaican Self-Help, its inspiration, productive work, and demise because of Canadian government funding cuts is also the story of Rosemary and her husband John Ganley (who passed away in 2013). They breathed life into JSH. With their family and friends they model solidarity work as a form of enjoyable, productive, and generous living. An inspiring and inspiriting read.

Hayes, Diana L. NO CRYSTAL STAIR: WOMANIST SPIRITUALITY. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016 (176 pages, $23.00).

In essays and prayers, Diana L. Hayes opens readers to the “creative spark” of womanist spirituality. She provides a fruitful overview of the history of womanism as it mirrors her own spiritual journey and intimacy with God. Her most profound spiritual moments—conversion to Catholicism, chronic illness, death of her mother—help anyone looking to deepen their understanding of womanism, intersectionality, and inclusion.

Kim, Grace Ji-Sun. MAKING PEACE WITH THE EARTH. Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches Publications, 2016 (274 pages, $25.00).

A roadmap that blends faith and climate activism, these essays by faith leaders, and environmental activists show how religious communities globally tackle climate change through action, advocacy, and theology. Sections on eco-theology and interfaith initiatives are particularly compelling. Jea Sophia Oh’s chapter, “A Korean Postcolonial Eco-Feminist Theology of Life,” and Fletcher Harper’s chapter on faith communities and fossil-fuel divestment offer unique faith-based perspectives on Creation and climate advocacy.

Reid, Barbara E. WISDOM’S FEAST: AN INVITATION TO FEMINIST INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016 (154 pages, $16.00).

The sometimes-daunting process of interpreting scriptures is made transparent in this useful volume. While postcolonial approaches remain to be integrated, this primer is a go-to text for those who want to learn the basics a la Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and apply them to commonly used texts.

Reid, Barbara E., General Editor. WISDOM COMMENTARY. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

WATER welcomes this new series that will eventually provide diverse feminist biblical interpretation of every book in the bible. In addition to comments on translation and context, each volume includes reflections by various feminist scholars. An important collection for scholars, pastors, teachers and students. Here are a few of the early ones:

Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015 (126 pages, $39.95).

Rather than shy away from the overt personification of a male God’s divine authority found in Haggai and Malachi, Davis meets the theme head on in her commentary. She provides the authors’ contexts as well as insight on masculinity and power today. Includes an insightful reflection from WATER former visiting scholar Rachel A.R. Bundang, PhD.

O’Brien, Julia M. MICAH: WISDOM COMMENTARY (Vol. 37). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015 (141 pages, $39.95).

O’Brien begins her commentary asking: “Does [justice] look the same for women as for men? Who gets to define justice?” She explores these questions and others with an eye towards creating justice in the future for all. Community reflections on various experiences and attempts at hope give this volume the well deserved gravitas.

Taylor, Marion Ann, Editor and Agnes Choi, Associate Editor. HANDBOOK OF WOMEN BIBLICAL INTERPRETERS: A HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerAcademic, 2012 (585 pages, $45.00).

Many women have taken on the task of biblical interpretation with such varied and rich results. Short bios of them show that many were activists, ministers, writers, etc. for whom the Hebrew and Christian scriptures were key to their analysis. This is a useful resource for scholars and students who seek an historical panorama of the many ways women handled these texts.

WATER Recommends September 2016

WATER Recommends: September 2016

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.

Brazal, Agnes M. and Maria Teresa Davila, Editors. LIVING WITH (OUT) BORDERS: CATHOLIC THEOLOGICAL ETHICS ON THE MIGRATIONS OF PEOPLES. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016 (260 pages, $42).

These essays help to shape an ethical foundation for immigration policy. Of special interest is the section on “Gendered and Embodied Borders” in which Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Alexandre Andrade Martins, and Christine F. Gudorf focus on sex trafficking, feminicide, health risks, and other specific problems for women and dependent children who are moving between homes.

Budwey, Stephanie A. SING OF MARY: GIVING VOICE TO MARIAN THEOLOGY AND DEVOTION. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press 2014 (322 pages, $29.95).

Marian hymnody throughout the ages may seem an obscure matter. But in this volume the author uses it as a frame for understanding changing views of Mary over time. She concludes with what may well prove to be an overly optimistic view of Pope Francis. The need for renewed lyrics and catchy tunes to convey a progressive Mariology remains.

Christ, Carol P. and Judith Plaskow. GODDESS AND GOD IN THE WORLD: CONVERSATIONS IN EMBODIED THEOLOGY. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016 (345 pages, $29).

The fruit of two courageous, creative, and committed theologians’ intellectual and spiritual work is a boon to the entire field. Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow infuse new life into theology. With sweeping historical synthesis, sustained analysis, and brilliant sparks of insight this compelling book marks a new moment in feminist work in religion. Great to use with classes, study groups, and among friends who can follow their lead in sharing perspectives on the divine.

Listen to our September 2016 WATERtalk with Judith Plaskow and Carol Christ to learn more about this volume.


Bertrice Bruteau was, according to this collection, a unique combination of a contemplative and teacher. Friends and colleagues bring her to life in vivid portraits of their own interactions with her. Well worth reading is Ursula King’s biographical essay in which she describes Bruteau as influenced by Teilhard de Chardin yet original, even feminist. In that regard she is like Beverly Lanzetta and Ursula King herself.

Harder, Emily, Elizabeth Hardt, Melissa Freito, Dana Tufariello, editors. WE CAME OUT OF THE WATER: A COLLECTION OF REMINISCENCES BY WATER PEOPLE. Silver Spring, MD: WATERworks Press, 2016, (30 pages, priceless).

A brilliant collection of insights, recollections, and appreciations from former WATER staff members, now all WATER friends. Stories are varied, but the common theme is how each one found the WATER experience deeply enriching and a strong springboard to committed, feminist, spiritually inspired social change work. One of a kind book that speaks volumes about the writers who are WATER’s pride and joy. {Editor’s note—Thanks!}

Hogan, Linda and A.E. Orobator, FEMINIST CATHOLIC THEOLOGICAL ETHICS. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014 (300 pages, $42).

These essays derive from meetings of the group Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church and span several continents. Notable are Sharon A. Bong on Asian women’s experiences of church, Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer on Latin American theology, Maria Teresa Forcades I Vila on Saint Gertrude of Helfta, and Stefanie Knauss’ analysis of women’s experience through films. Anne E. Patrick’s essay, “Getting Ready for Voice Lessons: Toward a Catholic Feminist Ethics of Spirituality” may be one of her last, and surely an intriguing proposal.


Succinct reporting, insightful analysis, and personal narrative weave together a tapestry of the changing face of American evangelical life. Lee showcases the progressive side of a tradition often associated with conservative politics, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Profiles of evangelicals from marginalized communities offer a window into the fight for a more just and equitable faith.

Long, Kimberly Bracken and David Maxwell. INCLUSIVE MARRIAGE SERVICES: A WEDDING SOURCEBOOK. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015 (140 pages, $22).

The editors write for a day when such a volume will not be necessary. But since it still is, this compilation makes a great gift to anyone contemplating marriage and/or to those who help in the preparation and conducting of such ceremonies. Sensitive to gender inclusion, this collection of celebrations, prayers, blessings, and the like is a welcome pastoral resource.

Ross, Susan A. ANTHROPOLOGY: SEEKING LIGHT AND BEAUTY. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012 (166 pages, $19.95).

Social scientific foundations are important for creating viable theologies. This focus on anthropology from a progressive feminist perspective is a welcome addition to conversations about building theologies for social change.

Schmidt, Kimberly D. with Jennifer A. Whiteman. MAGPIE’S BLANKET. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016 (172 pages, $19.95).

In this historical fiction, Schmidt and Whiteman bring the Sand Creek and Washita Massacres to life from the often ignored point of view of a young Cheyenne woman and her descendants. Redemptive and sometimes anger inducing, this story opens eyes to experiences of strong women and Native peoples never told in our history books or classrooms where the perspectives of white men usually hold sway.

Wexler, Celia Viggo. CATHOLIC WOMEN CONFRONT THEIR CHURCH: STORIES OF HURT AND HOPE. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 (207 pages, $34).

This well-reported story of smart, committed, progressive Catholics proves that women are church. In light of the corrupt, often-criminal institutional Roman Catholic Church, Frances Kissling, Diana Hayes, Theresa Delgado, Marianne Duddy-Burke, and others profiled model the best of the Catholic tradition—faith, primacy of conscience, social justice work, and dedication to equality. Ironically, these women who are variously mistreated and dismissed give Catholicism a good name.

Listen to our October 2016 WATERtalk with Celia Wexler to learn more about this volume.

WATER Recommends July 2016


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.

Askew, Emily and O. Wesley Allen Jr. BEYOND HETEROSEXISM IN THE PULPIT. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015 (149 pages, $21.00).

For those who are serious about using worship as a justice-seeking teaching and advocacy tool, this volume is a real help. Words matter. Choice of themes, scriptural passages, and ways of letting congregations know that ministers are not neutral add up to necessary techniques for being helpful not harmful, proactive not reactive, and above all, creating a safer, saner, more inclusive world.

Bowman, Donna. PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRIES AND WOMEN’S THEOLOGICAL IMAGINATIONS. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016 (353 pages, $110.00).

Spiritual practices that people actually engage in make great foundations for theology. This study of creating, using, and letting people know the importance of prayer shawls reflects pastoral theology done well. Surely there are other such practices that would benefit from this kind of elucidation.

Farley, Wendy. THE THIRST FOR GOD: CONTEMPLATING GOD’S LOVE WITH THREE WOMEN MYSTICS. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015 (169 pages, $18.28).

Mechtild of Magdeburg, Julian of Norwich and Marguerite Porte, medieval contemplatives who left deep impressions in the Western spiritual tradition, form the heart of this exploration. Dr. Farley excavates the lives and works of these three women in a church that hardly welcomed them, a world that showed a certain hostility, and yet a Spirit that seemingly called them forth.

Harrison, Kelby. SEXUAL DECEIT: THE ETHICS OF PASSING. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013 (219 ages, $39.99).

A useful study of the ever more complicated matters of passing, closeting, outing, and the like. As sex/gender issues evolve, these questions and the importance of how to approach them justly only increase. Specialized work that will evoke necessary discussion.

Hayes, Diana L. FORGED IN THE FURNACE: AFRICAN AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012 (228 pages, $17.17).

African American spirituality has many roots. Professor Hayes explores Christian ones, focusing her insightful study on particular thinkers, practitioners, and communities. She illustrates the enormous progress against equally large odds, and the generous contribution of African Americans to a nation that still actively resists their contributions.

Junior, Nyasha. AN INTRODUCTION TO WOMANIST BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015 (152 pages, $21.60).

Womanist scholarship is diverse and disputed in its many strong articulations. Professor Junior lays out the contours of the differences as they relate to biblical scholarship. Created as an introductory text, the nuances here are for a broad audience to ponder and understand.

Read along with it: Smith, Mitzi J. I FOUND GOD IN ME: A WOMANIST BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS READER. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015 (312 pages, $31.52).

This is a compilation of primary sources of womanist biblical scholarship. Some of the essays form the basis of Dr. Junior’s analysis.

Kaplan, Roberta and Lisa Dickey. THEN COMES MARRIAGE: UNITED STATES V. WINDSOR AND THE DEFEAT OF DOMA. NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015 (350 pages, $16.95).

It all started by recognizing the dignity of one couple. With Roberta Kaplan’s defeat of DOMA in the United States vs Windsor case, she, along with countless others, was able to help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide. Weaving her own personal tale of self acceptance in with the life of her client and the case itself, Then Comes Marriage offers a complete, authentic, compelling narrative of a truly remarkable moment in history.

Sabine, Maureen. VEILED DESIRES: INTIMATE PORTRAYALS OF NUNS IN POSTWAR ANGLO-AMERICAN FILM. New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2013 (320 pages, $35.00).

Taking an intimate look at the portrayal of nuns in films such as The Sound of Music, Black Narcissus, and Dead Man Walking, Maureen Sabine discusses topics ranging from the power struggle between nuns and priests to hidden sexuality in convents. An accessible and engaging read.

Stokes, Jeanette. FOLLOWING A FEMALE LINE. Durham, NC: Words & Spirit, 2015 (157 pages, $20.00).

Jeanette Stokes, founder of the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South, writes of her mission to trace the matrilineal line of her family to years before the Revolutionary War. What she finds is a long line of proud and adventurous Scots-Irish women of a strong Presbyterian faith that connects her to a larger pool of relatives in the South. Jeanette’s writing is warm, evocative, imaginative, and makes the reader feel as if they are part of the family. Absolutely running over with nostalgia and love, a great read for any fan of creative non-fiction.

Whitney, Ruth. THE HEART OF JESUS’ TEACHING: THE KEY TO TRANSFORMING CHRISTIANITY AND OUR WORLD. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2016 (265 pages, $19.95).

Love seems like a simple recipe in a complicated world. But Ruth Whitney lays out a solid and inviting case for it. By her lights, Christians would leave aside the small stuff that divides and unite on the big central message of many religious traditions. Well worth reading and discussing.

WATER Recommends: June 2016

WATER Recommends: June 2016

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.

Coleman, Monica A., Nancy R. Howell, and Helene Tallon Russell, editors. CREATING WOMEN’S THEOLOGY: A MOVEMENT ENGAGING PROCESS THOUGHT. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2011 (256 pages, $32.00).

This accessible and concise textbook offers a comprehensive start for those interested in the basics of feminist theology and process thought. Comprised of excerpts from the works of many scholars and theologians on a range of topics, each chapter is followed by a commentary by another contemporary author. Study questions addressing inclusivity and limitations, as well as personal reflections on the text, add to this book’s value as a teaching tool.

Gench, Frances Taylor. ENCOUNTERING GOD IN TYRANNICAL TEXTS: REFLECTIONS ON PAUL, WOMEN, AND THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015 (196 pages, $20.00).

As a minister frustrated by the Presbyterian tradition, Frances Taylor Gench penned a witty, in-depth yet still accessible guide to tackling Paul’s most problematic texts. Using her five recommendations for encountering the Bible as a living and mutable script, Gench comes at each “tyrannical” text from both academic and spiritual perspectives. She deconstructs traditional sexist interpretations of Paul and encourages readers to wrestle with Scripture as an act of faith. Plenty of discussion questions that round out each chapter make this apt for the classroom or Bible study.

Hogan, Kristen. THE FEMINIST BOOKSTORE MOVEMENT: LESBIAN ANTIRACISM AND FEMINISTS ACCOUNTABILITY. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 2016 (272 pages, $24.95).

Emphasizing relationships over profit, the feminist bookstore movement’s biggest success was creating a network of ‘bookwomen’ that cared for each other. Although not always easy or comfortable, the community was dedicated to distributing materials written and published by women of every race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. With thought and care Kristen Hogan tells the movement’s history as a way to lay a foundation of accountability and antiracism for future generations of feminists.

Johnson, Elizabeth A., Editor. THE STRENGTH OF HER WITNESS: JESUS CHRIST IN THE GLOBAL VOICES OF WOMEN. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016 (354 pages, $35.00).

In this anthology of insightful essays published by influential women scholars from around the world, editor Elizabeth Johnson shares their work in Christology, an often-challenging topic in feminist theology. Authors, including WATER colleagues Mercy Amba Oduyoye, María Pilar Aquino, and Judith Plaskow among others, bring a broad range of perspectives to the Christ figure. These thoughtful, discerning, contextual, and critical articles provide scholars and others with intersectional, feminist readings of Jesus and Christianity.

Lightsey, Pamela R. OUR LIVES MATTER: A WOMANIST QUEER THEOLOGY. Eugene, Oregon: WIPF & Stock, 2015 (104 pages, $16.00).

“Full inclusion is the womanist way. Exclusion and individualism separate us from one another and Divine Love.” With these words Pamela Lightsey encapsulates her perspective as a queer womanist Methodist minister. This book picks up the conversation started by Kelly Brown Douglas, Shawn Copeland, and others and takes it to Ferguson and beyond. Important to read and heed.

Randall, Margaret. HAYDÉE SANTAMARÍA, CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY: SHE LED BY TRANSGRESSION. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015 (231 pages, $23.95).

Margaret Randall paints an intimate portrait of Haydée Santamaría, one of the few women to have influence in the Cuban Revolution and founder of the cultural institution Casa de las Americas. By exploring the many challenges in Haydée’s life, this work examines the impact of oft-hidden trauma, particularly on women doing justice work. An informative and engaging biography that brings the important life of Haydée to light.

Schade, Leah D. CREATION-CRISIS PREACHING: ECOLOGY, THEOLOGY, AND THE PULPIT. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2015 (205 pages, $22.00).

Preaching can be a way to make social change. Eco-feminist preaching has even more potential to rock the hearts and minds of listeners and encourage action. This collection of theoretical materials and sermons is a good Lutheran model that can be adapted more broadly.

Schlumpf, Heidi. ELIZABETH JOHNSON: QUESTING FOR GOD. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016 (145 pages, $14.95).

This biography introduces readers to a Catholic feminist theologian of the most careful, moderate, tradition-respecting sort. That Vatican officials critiqued her roundly proves that no matter how circumspect feminists are, the least suggestion that the kyriarchs don’t have all the answers is met with fierce resistance. The quest continues.

Schmidt, Jalane D. CACHITA’S STREETS: THE VIRGIN OF CHARITY, RACE, AND REVOLUTION IN CUBA. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 2015. (376 pages, $26.95).

Cachita’s Streets provides a comprehensive look at the role of the Virgin of Charity throughout Cuban history. The author explores the influences of class, race, especially the complexities of African descent, and beauty ideals. Perceptions of the oppressed in Cuba in relation to the Virgin of Charity are among Jalane Schmidt’s insights. Debates on “La Cachita” still rage as Cuba undergoes continued transformation.

Tisdale, Sallie. WOMEN OF THE WAY: DISCOVERING 2,500 YEARS OF BUDDHIST WISDOM. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006 (299 pages, $13.62).

Women of the Way provides accessible, colorful narratives of women central to Buddhism and locates them within the lineage of legendary monks and masters. This early work by a Western practitioner who is now a famed writer, addresses the history and oppression of women within the religion, with special attention to Indian, Chinese, and Japanese women. Informative for a diverse audience.

Zagano, Phyllis, editor. WOMEN DEACONS? ESSAYS WITH ANSWERS. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016 (252 pages, $24.95).

Key documents in the newly re-ignited discussion on women deacons, these (mostly) translated essays provide scholarly substance. While consensus remains elusive, there is plenty of historical evidence to call Phoebe (Romans 16:1) a deacon and invite women to follow in her footsteps. Whether women becoming deacons is the best or even a feasible way forward remains to be discerned for which this book is a great help.

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.