Tap into what we’re reading at WATER 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.
WATER Recommends: November 2020/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: November 2020
Arjana, Sophia Rose, with Kim Fox. VEILED SUPERHEROES: ISLAM, FEMINISM, AND POPULAR CULTURE. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018 (147 pages, $36.99).
This is a welcome look into the powerful and creative lives of Muslim women as depicted in a variety of media. “Female Muslim superheroes are often strongly political characters, challenging patriarchy on numerous fronts…the Muslimah superhero provides a way to counter both Islamic and Western misogyny” (p. xv).
Cooper-White, Pamela. GENDER, VIOLENCE, AND JUSTICE: COLLECTED ESSAYS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2019 (281 pages, $35).
Value added to the content of this book is the chronological sequence. Readers can see how the field emerged, what this well-respected author had to say along the way, and why it is that sexual and domestic violence remain such a huge issue today.
Chittister, Joan. ON WOMEN: FROM THE WRITINGS OF JOAN CHITTISTER. Erie, PA: Benetvision, 2020 (93 pages, $8.95).
Slip this gem into your backpack, purse, or pocket and pull it out when the need arises for intelligent, reinforcing, synthetic insights about women in all of our power. Joan Chittister’s signature wisdom coupled with LMNOPI’s haunting yet inviting artwork make an accessible book sure to challenge, inspire, and spur to action readers from many starting points. It makes a welcome gift at a troubled time.
Espín, Oliva M. WOMEN, SAINTHOOD, AND POWER: A FEMINIST PSYCHOLOGY OF CULTURAL CONSTRUCTIONS. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2020 (211 pages, $95).
Oliva Espín offers a highly readable, indeed compelling account of the construction of saints in their many and varied contexts. Her favorite, Joan of Arc, for example, influenced Thérèsa of Lisieux, while Edith Stein looked to Teresa of Avila as a role model. So, the lineage continues, making the theo-political sainthood process a matter of cultural concern. As Espín cautions: “Now, as ever, we women need to make meaning for ourselves on our own terms just as these women saints did.” Re-appropriating the ‘saint making’ business to ourselves is an integral feminist act.
Legath, Jenny Wiley. SANCTIFIED SISTERS: A HISTORY OF PROTESTANT DEACONESSES. New York: New York University Press, 2019 (253 pages, $35).
What a fascinating study of Protestant women, mostly not married to men, from the 19th century to the present who engage in the service work of their churches. While some clearly accepted diaconal ministry in lieu of ordination, once ordination opened up for women some still insisted that they did not want ordination. This lends credence to certain Catholic arguments that the two are quite separate routes to church work. Well worth pondering.
Melcher, Sarah J., Mikeal C. Parsons, Amos Yong, THE BIBLE AND DISABILITY: A COMMENTARY. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017 (498 pages, $ 59.95).
This volume is a useful introduction to the many ways in which disability is woven into biblical texts and interpretations. It opens many doors to far more accessibly-oriented ways of thinking and helps readers to avoid the damaging ways in which scripture has been used to exclude and marginalize.
Meyers, Debra and Mary Sue Barnett. CRISIS AND CHALLENGE IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: PERSPECTIVES ON DECLINE AND REFORMATION. Lanhan, MD: Lexington Books, 2020 (257 pages, $95).
The Roman Catholic Church is in a disheveled state given its misogyny, clericalism, sex abuse crimes and their coverups, financial irregularities, and the rest. These editors have gathered an array of writers, including Miriam Duignan, Mary E. Hunt, and themselves among others, to diagnose and offer creative solutions to the sorry mess. No magic formulae here, but serious, solid thinking about how, for the good of the world, this monarchy can be transformed into a community.
Russaw, Kimberly D. DAUGHTERS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books 2018 (225 pages, $39.99).
The author makes the important point that little attention is paid to the role of daughters in the Hebrew Bible, perhaps less in the Christian scripture. Wives, mothers, concubines, widows, and others are given more attention. Kimberly Russaw’s study opens that door to why there is such a lacuna in the scholarship and how it might be remedied.
Wilcox, Melissa M. QUEER NUNS: RELIGION, ACTIVISM, AND SERIOUS PARODY. New York: New York University Press, 2018 (288 ages, $39).
This community does not belong to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, but these contemporary “queer nuns” have raised a lot of important issues by their mere existence: sexual safety, supporting people living with HIV/AIDS, moving beyond the binary (calling ‘sister’ a third gender). They add sparkle and snap to every scene, letting parody carry their message of spiritual and social renewal. A challenging and rewarding read about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Williams, Natalie E. FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE: THE ETHICS OF DIVORCE AFTER MARRIAGE EQUALITY. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2020 (127 pages, $90)
Natalie E. Williams provides an important missing piece in the dynamic, fraught, theo-ethical conversation on marriage. Divorce, according to many religions and to the state, is seen as a shame-inducing decision that unleashes family catastrophes when in fact it can be a multifaceted, sometimes liberating relational choice. Queering the data reveals many creative relational options for those who are open to difference.
Wolfe, Lisa Michele. QOHELETH (ECCLESIASTES) WISDOM COMMENTARY. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2020 (203 pages, $39.95).
This is a good example of how feminist/womanist biblical scholarship creates new readings of texts many have long ago written off. The Afterword, “Qoheleth as a Model for Feminist Hermeneutics” is a stand-alone essay that could fruitfully be studied in classes. Readers will find that the section on women as makers of beer (Ecclesiastes 11:1) shatters a few more myths as craft makers prove today!
Worsham, Sandra. GOING TO WINGS: A MEMOIR. Hickory, NC: Third Lung Press, 2017 (348 pages, $17).
Enjoy this novel of a southern convert to Catholicism coming out as a lesbian and finding her way to a meaningful life of faith and love. She lives in Flannery O’Connor’s Milledgeville, GA where perhaps there is something in the water that sparks good writing. Anyone who ever had a mother, fell in love, or thought for themselves will find this a compelling read.
WATER recommends: September 2020/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: September 2020
Anderson, Joanne W. MOVING WITH THE MAGDALEN: LATE MEDIEVAL ART AND DEVOTION IN THE ALPS. NY: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019 (248 pages, $120).
Who knew that this deep devotion to Mary Magdalen was central to the faith of many Alpine communities in Switzerland, Austria, and Italy? Stunning artwork and fascinating development of liturgies/rituals make clear that like Latin American Marian worship, Magdalen worship was (perhaps still is) alive and well in small villages and towns. That the ‘official’ church did not dwell on it, much less tout it, indicates its power.
Bird, Jennifer. “Marriage in the Bible: A Discussion Among Friends.” See jennifergracebird.com, 2020 (12 videos, $50 to rent for six months, $120 to buy).
Jennifer Bird is a feminist biblical scholar who offers Ted-talk-like lectures on what the Bible says and doesn’t say about marriage. Her perspective is inclusive, her presentations user friendly. She encourages viewers to think for themselves about the texts, their contexts, and their impact on the social order. Group discussion is key, making these very useful for study groups and classes.
Casselberry, Judith and Elizabeth Pritchard, Editors. SPIRIT ON THE MOVE: BLACK WOMEN AND PENTECOSTALISM IN AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019 (248 pages, $24.95).
Given that women make up three quarters of the hundreds of millions of people who identify as Pentecostal, it is time for serious study of this growing religious sector. This volume offers a running start with essays that focus on Brasil, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, and elsewhere. Experiences vary widely across these enculturated groups, but women are shaping the movement much earlier in its history than in other Christian denominations. These essays alert scholars and interested readers about some trends and groups to watch.
Engh, Susan L. WOMEN’S WORK: THE TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF FAITH-BASED COMMUNITY ORGANIZING. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019 (157 pages, $95).
Community organizing as a form of ministry is raised to an art form by many women. Susan Engh makes this abundantly clear and equally inviting. So many organizations from social service to political lobbying benefit from the amazing energies, talents, and commitments of community organizers. May their numbers multiply.
Fredriksen, Paula and Jesper Svartvik. KRISTER AMONG JEWS AND GENTILES: ESSAYS IN APPRECIATION OF THE LIFE AND WORK OF KRISTER STENDAHL. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2018 (201 pages, $29.95).
Krister Stendahl distinguished himself among scholars (mostly men) of his generation by his early and consistent support of social change, especially the full inclusion of women in church and society. These essays, both biographical and thematic, provide insights into the person and his thinking. Readers will resonate with his struggles to find the right time and place for his ministry, and marvel at his incredible capacity to give the Bible a place in modern life without reverting to evangelical platitudes. His memory is a blessing on many levels.
Izzo, Amanda L. LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY AND WOMEN’S GLOBAL ACTIVISM: THE YMCA OF THE USA AND THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2018 (275 pages, $28.95).
Such an interesting book! The parallels and differences between the YMCA movement and the Maryknoll Sisters make for fascinating feminist history. Both organizations have had far wider and deeper impacts than their mere numbers would suggest. Both have shaped and empowered their members and the broader society. These groups incarnate justice and equality for women and BIPOC. This study captures their essences and displays their achievements in relief against formidable patriarchal odds.
Lanzetta, Beverly. THE MONK WITHIN: EMBRACING A SACRED WAY OF LIFE. Sebastopol, CA: Blue Sapphire Books, 2018 (400 pages, $19).
Beverly Lanzetta is a trusted voice on spirituality. Her approach to feminine wisdom (would that it were explicitly feminist) is wise and well grounded. She offers practical insights: “From the moment of birth, until death stills our breath, each human heart, each soul, recites a ceaseless prayer…Prayer is the language of the spirit. It is our first language.” Yes.
Miles, Margaret R. RECOLLECTION AND RECONSIDERATIONS. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2018 (159 pages, $23).
Few scholars are as humble or as self-aware to publish this kind of retrospective of their own work. Margaret R. Miles is both and more as she reprises her life’s work with critical assessments and appreciations. She concludes that abstractions will get us nowhere but concrete, body-based insights are hopeful paths for future Christians.
Peterfeso, Jill. WOMANPRIEST: TRADITION AND TRANSGRESSION IN THE CONTEMPORARY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. New York: Fordham University Press, 2020 (276 pages, $30).
This is a cultural history of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) organization and the larger movement of feminist ministry of which it is a part. The author lays out the contours of intra-feminist Catholic perspectives as well as the predictable opposition from the institutional Roman Catholic Church. It is a valuable contribution to a complicated set of issues, a welcome narrative about one segment of the movement that is in the process of transforming one of patriarchy’s last bulwarks.
Porter, Elisabeth. WOMEN-OF-FAITH PEACEBUILDERS. Independently published, 2018 (179 pages, $5).
A good intro to how women’s efforts are different and the difference they make. It is hard to imagine international peace work without the leadership and solidarity of so many women from a variety of religious traditions. It needs to be taken more seriously.
Thistlethwaite, Susan B. WHEN DEMONS FLOAT. Resource Publications, 2019 (262 pages, $23).
Susan Thistlethwaite’s third of a murder mystery trilogy is the best yet. Characters come into full bloom, the story is compelling, all too timely, full of twists and turns that make it a page turner. Stark resemblance to contemporary life sends an extra chill up the reader’s spine. No escapist fiction here. White racism, police corruption, and other fascist elements in a culture riven with hatred and marbled with the blood of innocents emerge in demonic relief.
Woolley, Alison. WOMEN CHOOSING SILENCE: RELATIONALITY AND TRANSFORMATION IN SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2019 (283 pages, $ 140).
Silence plays a pivotal role in many forms of feminist spirituality. This study introduces some of them with a nod to Nelle Morton who understood the difference between being silenced and choosing silence for health and insight. More needs to be said, but this is a good start.
WATER Recommends: July 2020/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: July 2020
Ahmed, Sara. WHAT’S THE USE?: ON THE USES OF USE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. (296 pages, $26.95)
Sara Ahmed traces the word and idea of “use” through the ways it is used, and in the contexts of biology, education and the University. This thorough examination unveils important questions and considerations of accessibility, diversity, and power, while moving people towards an understanding of “queer use.” An engaging theoretical read for those seeking systemic change.
Bachman, Mercedes L. Garcia. JUDGES: WISDOM COMMENTARY SERIES, Vol. 7. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018, (273 pages, $ 40).
Intersectional feminist, womanist, mujerista biblical work invites new perspectives on the Book of Judges. Thomas Hanks, Renate Jost, Susanna Scholtz, among others, join the author in analyzing the many women in this book. Like their contemporary counterparts, the women of Judges fulfill myriad roles and multiple responsibilities. Readers can learn from them. In the same series, Wilda C.M. Gafney has written NAHUM, HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH: WISDOM COMMENTARY SERIES, Volume 38, 2017 (224 pages, $40), lifting up the horrors of the end times. The hope at the end of the book for “rebuilding and restoration” may encourage some readers today.
Bacon, Hannah. FEMINIST THEOLOGY AND CONTEMPORARY DIETING CULTURE: SIN, SALVATION AND WOMEN’S WEIGHT LOSS NARRATIVES. London: T&T Clark, 2019 (346 pages, $39.95).
How helpful to notice that the diet industry depends largely on certain Christian teachings about sin and salvation. The diet industrial complex’s links with guilt/shame producing religious ideologies is a match made in the kitchen. The author offers healthy alternatives in the form of body-loving, women-respecting, food positive views. A provocative read that sheds light for pastoral counselling as well as theology.
Blain, Keisha N. SET THE WORLD ON FIRE: BLACK NATIONALIST WOWEN AND THE GLOBAL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018 (255 pages, $25).
The determination, skill, and commitment of Black Nationalist women is edifying. Confronted by white supremacy in the world and male supremacy in their movement, they found ways to lead. A well-told story that deserves a wide audience.
Callaghan, Tonya D. HOMOPHOBIA IN THE HALLWAYS: HETEROSEXISM AND TRANSPHOBIA IN CANADIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2018. (264 pages, $22.46)
Tonya D. Callaghan provides an important study on homophobia in public Canadian Catholic schools. Through interviews with teachers and students, an analysis of media accounts, and church documents, Callaghan highlights how systemic homophobia is maintained and how students resist it. An important read for educators, and those concerned with the ways that churches’ power can function in society.
Johnson, Emily Suanne. THIS IS OUR MESSAGE: WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN THE NEW CHRISTIAN RIGHT. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019 (224 pages, $29.95).
A well-documented, accessibly written study of major players among religious right women including Marabel Morgan, Anita Bryant, Sarah Palin, and others. Their role in the political shifts and the success of conservative movements is not trivial. Knowing more about them illuminates the complexities and sometime contradictory messages of their movement.
Ketchum, Katie and Jann Aldredge-Clanton. HERSAY: SONGS FOR HEALING AND EMPOWERMENT. http://jannaldredgeclanton.com/music/, 2020 (105 Pages, $14.95).
These original songs and music will refresh any worship service with images and symbols that include and invite. Taizé-style chants and simple melodies make these sing-able aids to justice-seeking liturgy. No longer do groups have to rely on the same old same old male-language lyrics and bellicose images when these songs are readily accessible.
Margolis, Maxine. L. WOMEN IN FUNDAMENTALISM: MODESTY, MARRIAGE, AND MOTHERHOOD. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020 (211 pages, $34).
Mormon polygamists, the Satmar Hasidim, and certain extremist forms of Islam share the unholy characteristic of control of women. Maxine Margolis lays out the contours, labels the gestalt as “a cesspool of misogyny,” and indicates what women and girls need to know about religious fundamentalism. A very useful study.
Nguyen, Thao. ASIAN CATHOLIC WOMEN: MOVEMENTS, MISSION AND VISION. London/Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020 (151 pages, $90, ebook $85.50).
Some of the most creative, courageous, and visionary voices in global Catholicism are those of Asian women. This study offers an inviting overview which will be best filled in by women’s own voices. The author highlights the need for women to be leaders, for their studies to be paid for, for their work with poor and marginalized people to be normative, and for their ways of being involved beyond the institutional church to be taken seriously. In short, these women are pointing the way forward for Catholics everywhere.
O’Donnell, Karen. BROKEN BODIES: THE EUCHARIST, MARY, AND THE BODY IN TRAUMA THEOLOGY. London: SCM Press, 2018 (224 pages, $29.99).
A challenging read about hard topics, Karen O’Donnell looks at miscarriage and other bodily experiences of traumatic loss. These experiences become a springboard for a deep dive into historical sources about Mary and the Eucharist. The result is not the glorification of suffering, but a realistic picture of the complexity of being bodies.
Wilcox, Melissa. QUEER RELIGIOSITIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO QUEER AND TRANSGENDER STUDIES IN RELIGION. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2021.(252 pages, $32.00)
Written as an introductory textbook for undergraduate or graduate students, Melissa Wilcox provides an insightful, engaging and accessible overview of transgender and queer studies in religion. Wilcox investigates the connections between religious practices and queer identities through exploring stories and practices of communities, while highlighting the diversity of global views on sexuality and gender. The accompanying indices of films and books, and a thorough glossary make this a highly welcome resource for classrooms, and beyond.
WATER Recommends: May 2020/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: May 2020
Brettschneider, Marla. JEWISH FEMINISM AND INTERSECTIONALITY.
Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2016 (195 pages, $23).
Intersectionality is complicated. How anti-Semitism, racism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression are interwoven are aspects that Marla Brettschneider tackles in this volume. The issues are thorny, but this is a place to start to try to unpack them.
Carter, Warren. WISDOM COMMENTARY: MARK Volume 42. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2019. (506 pages, $39.95).
Warren Carter’s commentary on Mark is part of the excellent series of Wisdom Commentaries. Contemporary feminist scholars of all genders raise hard questions about gender in a patriarchal historical text, with special attention to how power, authority, racism, etc. intersect. A focus on masculinity in all its contested complexity makes this volume unique. Recommended for general readers and theologians alike who wish to discover the political and social structures of gender and power in the biblical text, with hints for moving toward a more inclusive worldview.
Collins, Patricia Hill. INTERSECTIONALITY AS CRITICAL SOCIAL THEORY. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019 (360 pages, $28).
This is a major work by a renowned scholar. Dr. Collins, a leading Black feminist professor emerita, sets out the contours of intersectional theory and analysis. She lays out the strategic and political implications in unsparing, data-driven scholarship. A must-read for ongoing discussions of useful social scientific materials that illumine the way forward.
Copeland, Shawn M. ENFLESHING FREEDOM: BODY, RACE, AND BEING. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010. (186 pages, $24.00)
M. Shawn Copeland ties the suffering that African American women have endured with the suffering Christ experienced through historical research as well as references to postmodern racism, discrimination, sexism, bodily abuse, and the lasting effects of colonialism. Copeland writes, “If the cries of the victims are the voice of God, then the faces of the victims are the face of God, the bodies of the victims are the body of God.” (p.101) Readers will find the book illuminating as a womanist theological way to enflesh freedom.
Heras, Magda and Ignasi Fossas. EVEN THOUGH I WALK: ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY OF PRAYER IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2019. (152 pages, $19.95).
A Spanish cardiologist dealing with late stage cancer converses with a Benedictine physician who is a priest at the Benedictine Monastery at Montserrat about basic spiritual questions. Dr. Heras’ honest grappling with the inexplicable, and Dr. Fossas’ sincere effort to be helpful using biblical materials, especially the Psalms, make for an inspiring read. Death is inevitable but this story shows that we can midwife one another along the way.
Ladin, Joy. THE SOUL OF THE STRANGER: READING GOD AND TORAH FROM A TRANSGENDER PERSPECTIVE. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2019. (184 pages, $29.95)
In reading and interpreting the Torah through a transgender lens, Joy Ladin provides new insight into the ways the Torah engages questions of gender identity and of God who exists outside of gender binaries. The new questions that Ladin asks provide deep insight into how defying gender expectations and binaries is central to the stories of the Torah. This book has an important call for faith communities to embrace the soul of the stranger – a call to welcome both God who is wholly other, and those who, like God, exist outside prescribed roles and expectations.
Ross, Loretta J., Lynn Roberts, Erika Derkas, Whitney Peoples & Pamela Bridgewater Toure, editors. RADICAL REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: FOUNDATIONS, THEORY, PRACTICE, CRITIQUE. New York, NY: Feminist Press, 2017. (455 pages, $29.95)
This collection of essays center the voices and experiences of women of color in the United States in the work of reproductive justice. Reproductive justice engages questions beyond the pro-life/pro-choice debate. An RJ framework interrogates the right to have/not have children and the right to safely parent children, and the ways these rights are jeopardized in American institutions and politics. This is a must read that broadens the discussion on reproductive freedom and amplifies the voices of people who are at the forefront of reproductive justice struggles.
Sanchez, Melissa E. QUEER FAITH: READING PROMISCUITY AND RACE IN THE SECULAR LOVE TRADITION. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2019. (344 pages, $35.00)
Melissa E. Sanchez takes up questions of faith, desire, monogamy, and race in her readings of premodern Christian theology and poetry alongside contemporary philosophy and politics. Through her “promiscuous reading” of these texts, Sanchez encourages readers to see how Christian faith can counter oppressive narratives of race and sexuality. A dense read but worth the effort to understand the complexity of queerness as a new mode of being.
Schenk, Christine, CSJ TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE: A BIOGRAPHY OF THERESA KANE, RSM, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019. (320 pages, $25)
This is a riveting biography of an iconic figure. Theresa Kane, RSM, welcomed Pope John Paul II to the US with reference to women’s claim on full membership in their church. She led her community in struggles against Rome on tubal ligations in Mercy hospitals and the right of members of religious orders to serve in political office. Chris Schenk gives the reader a well written, richly resourced volume from which to learn about a great feminist and the many women and communities with which she continues to collaborate. Five stars!
Sokolove, Deborah. PERFORMING THE GOSPEL: EXPLORING THE BORDERLAND OF WORSHIP, ENTERTAINMENT AND THE ARTS. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2019. (206 pages, $20.00)
Deborah Sokolove interrogates the commonly asked questions at the intersection of Christian worship and entertainment and seeks to breakdown the distinctions between them. Through interviews with twenty-one scholars, dancers, actors and musicians, she highlights the ways in which performance can meaningfully enhance a worship experience. Recommended for those who seek ways to incorporate art into liturgy and worship.
Swinth, Kirsten. FEMINISM’S FORGOTTEN FIGHT: THE UNFINISHED STRUGGLE FOR WORK AND FAMILY. Cambridge, MA: London, England: Harvard University Press, 2018. (339 pages, $35).
Kirsten Swinth eloquently discusses feminist movements throughout history focusing on the second wave fights for equality in the 60s and 70s. Women of all races both at home and at work struggled for equality. Narratives of women of color belie the notion of feminist movements driving all women into workplaces. Even opponents of the movement contributed to its aspirations in that adherents were creative in their responses. This book is highly recommended for persons committed to the ongoing work of feminist social justice.
Zagano, Phyllis. WOMEN: ICONS OF CHRIST. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2020. (121 Pages, $14.95)
In plain, clear, unambiguous prose Phyllis Zagano puts to rest the bogus arguments against women being ordained as deacons and priests. Of course women image Christ as much as men do, and of course women are not tainted so as to have to be kept away from the sacred. Read the history. Teachings to the contrary are simply outmoded, outdated, wrong. Dr. Zagano advocates for the diaconate, but presbyterate supporters will finds lots here for their case. Both cases are now so embarrassingly obvious that this book should settle the question and let us move along to thinking about how best to meet pastoral needs.
WATER Recommends: February 2020/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: February 2020
Baard, Rachel Sophia. SEXISM AND SIN-TALK: FEMINIST CONVERSATIONS ON THE HUMAN CONDITION. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019. (178 pages, $35.00).
Rachel Sophia Baard utilizes rhetorical theory and theology to examine classical doctrines and feminist critiques of sin to build a constructive feminist understanding of sin-talk. Baard brings an important critical voice to both classical and feminist theology in her efforts to revive a life-affirming understanding of sin. By bringing a wide range of theologians into conversation, this book is well suited for academic readers who are conversant with her many sources.
Blazer, Annie. PLAYING FOR GOD: EVANGELICAL WOMEN AND THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF SPORTS MINISTRY. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2015. (193 pages, $30).
Blazer explores the unintended effects of evangelical sports ministries including redefining femininity, more acceptance of same-sex love, and changing expectations of marriage. While this book explores a very niche part of Christianity, Blazer explains its unique language and implications with clarity through storytelling. As the US women’s soccer team celebrates victory and demands equal pay, this conversation about gender and sports is keenly relevant in the public sphere. Good for evangelical women to be part of the mix.
Bowler, Kate. THE PREACHER’S WIFE: THE PRECARIOUS POWER OF EVANGELICAL CELEBRITIES. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019. (338 pages, $29.95).
Kate Bowler explores the various roles that American evangelical women fill to obtain celebrity and access certain forms of power, most of which are tied to a husband or patriarchal church structures. Through interviews with these celebrity women, Bowler aptly presents the roles they fill and the influence they have, while pointing to the systems that prevent women from accessing independent leadership. Recommended for those seeking a critical and sympathetic reading of evangelical women’s power in a both scholarly and accessible volume.
Cassidy, Lauren and Maureen H. O’Connell, editors. SHE WHO IMAGINES: FEMINIST THEOLOGICAL AESTHETICS. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012. (248 pages, $23.99).
In centering feminist theology and aesthetics, this anthology explores how women as objects, subjects, and creators of beauty pursue justice. Thoughtful reflections on representation and diverse images of the divine emerge from studying visual art, popular icons, and everyday performances of race and gender. This work invites readers to consider how beauty and struggle, depicted in art, are integral to feminist social ethics and action.
Lomax, Tamura. JEZEBEL UNHINGED: LOOSING THE BLACK FEMALE BODY IN RELIGION & CULTURE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. (262 pages, $26.95).
Tamura Lomax examines the ways in which language, religion, and popular culture produce a jezebel/lady dualism which stereotypes black womanhood, and perpetuates violence against black women and girls. Artfully maneuvering among black feminist theory, cultural criticism, and popular culture, Lomax raises pertinent questions for the black church. While theoretical, this would be a valuable read for those who are invested in the black church and the ways in which harmful tropes are produced, maintained, and affect the lives of black women and girls.
Muir, Elizabeth Gillian. A WOMEN’S HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF FEMALE LEADERSHIP. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2019. (415 pages, $20.96).
This general overview of women in church history focuses on women who developed and cultivated important parts of the Christian community. Illustrations, a glossary, and a list of sources provide the reader with direction for more in-depth study. Recommended for those who seek insight into innovative and creative women who are largely ignored and marginalized in patriarchal renderings of the Christian story.
Obama, Michelle. BECOMING. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2018. (426 pages, $32.00).
Michelle Obama’s autobiography covers the different stages of her life experience, specifically her childhood, her years as a lawyer, and of course her marriage to another well-known American leader. Their years in the global spotlight were a model for integrity, hard work, and significant accomplishments. This book will encourage and empower women of all walks of life.
Pagels, Elaine. WHY RELIGION?: A PERSONAL STORY. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2018 (256 pages, $27.99).
Elaine Pagels reveals her intriguing story as the daughter of a Darwinist botanist, a former evangelical teenager, and a world renowned scholar of religion known for her work on the Gnostic Gospels. Her interest in religion, despite the sexism at Harvard and of her relatives, stems from the simple question, “Who was Jesus?” Along the way, she sees religion not as a belief but as a way to bring forth what is hidden inside the human person. Many will resonate with her insights.
Sherwood, Yvonne. THE BIBLE AND FEMINISM: REMAPPING THE FIELD. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017. (736 pages, $130).
Taking into account the global disaster following the 2016 US presidential election and the welcome surge of “nasty women” feminism, Yvonne Sherwood seeks to rethink the field of feminist biblical studies. Contributors examine biblical texts and other religious writings alongside contemporary events and debates to develop new lenses for feminist biblical scholarship. These important essays, from an international, interreligious groups of contributors, are a welcome deepening of feminist biblical scholarship and a useful contribution to feminist social change work.
Spencer, F. Scott. SONG OF SONGS: WISDOM COMMENTARY VOL. 25, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017. (252 pages, $39.95).
All the hard questions of biblical interpretation are found in this volume, part of a valuable series of commentaries. Are any women’s voices heard in the text? Whose view of love is found here? How to find something deeply human about the experience of love and yet realize that it is still bound by social and religious conventions? The seven essay authors are experts who find their way and lead readers to discover their own insights.
Vecsey, Christopher, Editor. WOMEN AND RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY AND FEMINISM: THE COLGATE HERITAGE IN HONOR OF PROFESSORS MARILYN THIE AND WANDA WARREN BERRY. Hamilton, NY: Colgate University Press, 2019. (122 pages, $ 10).
Students and colleagues at Colgate University reap the harvest of two feminist professors, Wanda Warren Berry and Marilyn Thie, who unleashed countless women’s energies for diverse, progressive, and world-changing studies in religion. Their scholarship and pedagogy seeded the best of engaged, justice-focused education. These essays chronicle and celebrate their achievements.
Williams, Elizabeth A. BLACK WOMEN AND BREAST CANCER: A CULTURAL THEOLOGY. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019 (167 pages, $90.00).
Rare are the anthropologists who both participate in their studies and bring a sophisticated theological perspective to bear. Elizabeth Williams, a minister and medical anthropologist, is uniquely poised to see the ways in which womanist forms of hope are useful for women living with breast cancer. Readers will find that her insights are deeply grounded and realistic.
WATER Recommends: September 2019/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: September 2019
Chan-Malik, Sylvia. BEING MUSLIM: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN AMERICAN ISLAM. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2018 (275 pages, $29.00).
Sylvia Chan-Malik offers a skillfully nuanced and empowering history of Muslim women in the US,centering her historical narrative on Black American Muslim women. She argues that the concept of effective insurgency and racial-religious form are particularly relevant. She traces the relationships between Muslim women of color and American society from the Ahmadiyya Movement in the 1920s to the Civil Rights Movement and post-9/11 sentiment. Valuable to any reader interested in US history, culture, and Muslim feminisms.
Fuchs, Esther. FEMINIST THEORY AND THE BIBLE: INTERROGATING THE SOURCES. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016 (149 pages, $ 42.00).
Esther Fuchs writes, “Feminist biblical studies is at this point a hypothetical context for a dialogue between feminism and other discourses of oppression, a dialogue that has yet to take place” (p. 10). This book shows how such a conversation might fruitfully unfold. The challenge is to get it into the hands of readers across disciplines who can engage in it.
Hall, Amy Laura. LAUGHING AT THE DEVIL: SEEING THE WORLD WITH JULIAN OF NORWICH. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (124 pages, $18.95).
Christian Ethics professor, Amy Hall, writes an unconventional religious memoir, bringing her interpretive expertise of Julian of Norwich to personal grapples with evil and modern anxieties of mainstream American society. She finds profound inspiration in the words and life of this misinterpreted medieval visionary, for example, in Julian’s vision that salvation is a single point containing all of time. Recommended for readers seeking perspectives on pain and modernity, and who enjoy a bold, conversational voice.
Hens-Piazza, Gina. LAMENTATIONS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 30. Collegeville, MN: the Liturgical Press, 2017 (162 pages, $29.95).
Woman Zion suffers like her sisters. “Victimizing the Victim, Violating the Already Violated (Lam.1:18-22)” (p.16) makes Lamentations a hard biblical text to read. This thorough and thoughtful commentary includes powerful reflections from students and ministers in many contexts. The goal, to use a complicated biblical text to illuminate the complexity of suffering and strategies to alleviate it, is achieved with gracious style.
Kim, Grace Ji-Sun and Shaw, Susan M. INTERSECTIONAL THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018 (111 pages, $29).
How life experiences influence understandings of the divine is a critical question when using intersectionality as a theological method. The authors describe the origins of intersectionality and connect it to the wisdom of liberation theologians. They point out the important tension that comes with honoring multiple perspectives, leading readers to embrace nuance as crucial, humanity as complex, and the importance of social location in theological studies– not a simple task.
Myers, Alicia D. BLESSED AMONG WOMEN?: MOTHERS AND MOTHERHOOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017 (160 pages, $99).
Alicia D. Myers invites readers to examine their conception of motherhood through a careful study of maternal metaphors in Scripture. Using gender analysis and audience criticism, Myers critiques some Scripturally based interpretations of women’s roles and female bodies. She undermines ideas of salvation that are based on the outdated notion that the masculine represents perfection and lays a foundation to move beyond idealized images of womanhood.
Scaperlanda, Maria Ruiz. ROSEMARY NYIRUMBE: SEWING HOPE IN UGANDA. Collegeville, MN: the Liturgical Press, 2019 (168 pages, $14.95).
The story of this remarkable Ugandan sister is a chilling page-turner. Her work with children who were sex slaves and soldiers is a powerful example of women religious in service of the poorest of the poor, standing up to the most powerful forces (e.g. Idi Amin, et al). It is hard to read about the violence and to comprehend the horrors, but Rosemary Nyirumbe’s courage and that of her companions edifies and inspires.
Schenk, Christine. CRISPINA AND HER SISTERS: WOMEN AND AUTHORITY IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017 (480 pages, $29.00).
Schenk offers background into the hard lives of First Century women who persevered and found the Church to be one of the only places that saw them as people. Phoebe, Lydia, Junia, and Thecla remind that people just need to dig a little deeper to find the leaders of the Church who have always been there. A good intro for thinking about women’s leadership in historical perspective relying on archeology, especially funeral art, to confirm the active presence of Christian women from the beginning.
Smith, Mitzi J. WOMANIST SASS AND TALK BACK: SOCIAL (IN)JUSTICE, INTERSECTIONALITY, AND BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2018 (158 pages, $16.34).
Mitzi J. Smith addresses oppression with biblical interpretation from her perspective as an African American womanist biblical scholar and ordained minister. She brilliantly interlaces biblical text with current examples of injustice ranging from water as a human right to police brutality. A must read for anyone interested in learning about the agency of sass through a womanist lens.
Snodgrass, Jill L. WOMEN LEAVING PRISON. London, UK: Lexington Books, 2019 (229 pages, $95.00).
Jill Snodgrass provides an overview built of case studies on pastoral support for women as they leave prison, paying special attention to areas for much needed improvement. She addresses many socio-economic variables in her portrait of returning sisters by providing data and individual interviews. She concludes with an appreciative look at Project Sister Connect, which is designed to appropriately address the holistic, humanistic process of successful support for women leaving incarceration.
WATER Recommends: June 2019/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: June 2019
Bellis, Alice Ogden. PROVERBS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 23. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018 (289 pages, $39.95).
Careful Hebrew word study helps readers explore Proverbs more closely. The personification of Wisdom comes alive in these analyses which are a boon for preachers. She is a teacher, strong leader, welcoming all to her home sharing her Wisdom, as it were. Grateful readers gain new appreciation for and insight into this popular book in scripture.
Gillman, Florence M., Mary Ann Beavis, HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Linda Maloney. 1-2 THESSALONIANS, Wisdom Commentary Volume 52. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016 (210 pages, $39.95).
Thessalonians is a challenging text for feminist interpretation given the dearth of references to women and women’s well-being. But that is what makes this commentary so valuable as serious scholars excavate the text and lay bare its complexities. This is a good reference volume for anyone preaching on this Pauline material.
Kateusz, Ally. MARY AND EARLY CHRISTIAN WOMEN. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 (295 pages, $31).
Ally Kateusz uncovers the leadership of women through early Christian art. She shows how a pose of Mary raising her hands suggests that she and all women are priests. It underscores the value women add to the church through evangelization. The erasure of women priests is proof of the sexism that still exists in the Church, which this book reminds is held up and expanded by women.
Kilroe, Stephanie. ANNE HOPE: THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. London, UK: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2019 (176 pages, $17.99).
Anne Hope was a South African leader, an international president of the women’s community the Grail. With her colleague and partner Sally Timmel, she wrote the very influential Training For Transformation manuals, which continue to provide resources for deepening of critical consciousness in community organizations in over 61 countries. This biography captures an amazing person whose graciousness and insights were as genuine as her struggles. Anne Hope’s legacy lives in a free South Africa.
Lofton, Kathryn. CONSUMING RELIGION. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017 (352 pages, $29).
Kathryn Lofton brilliantly interweaves consumption and religion in approachable and entertaining essays. She uses pop culture examples and figures such as Britney Spears, the Kardashians, and Goldman Sachs as resources relating to neoliberal religion. A compelling read for anyone interested in how popular culture, consumption, and religion interconnect.
Malatino, Hilary. QUEER EMBODIMENT: MONSTROSITY, MEDICAL VIOLENCE, AND INTERSEX EXPERIENCE. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (264 pages, $45).
Intersex experience is largely unknown to many people. Malatino redefines the notion of intersex people as monstrous and embraces such ‘monstrosity’ as a strength. This careful study, including useful references to the emerging literature, is a compelling explanation especially for ministers, medical professionals, and counselors who need to know the state of the art in order to be helpful. Employing personal experience about autonomy over one’s own body, art, and medical records, Hilary Malatino concludes what the data show: humankind is a many splendored thing best left to individual choice, not social pressure, to thrive.
Martell-Otero, Loida I, Zaida Maldonado Pérez, and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier. LATINA EVANGÉLICAS: A THEOLOGICAL SURVEY FROM THE MARGINS. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013 (178 pages, $19).
A fantastic discourse from the theological viewpoint of Latina Evangélicas. This book presents three Latina voices expressing the theology and spirituality that flow from their “everyday” life. From comparing the Holy Spirit to the Wild Child of the Trinity, to changing structures with Latina ecclesiology, be prepared to learn something new. For anyone interested in Latina theology this is a must-read.
Ott, Kate. CHRISTIAN ETHICS FOR A DIGITAL SOCIETY. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc, 2019 (200 pages, $30).
Kate Ott rethinks Christian moral meaning in the still new technological age from a digitally woke place. She sketches how algorithms can be a blessing and a curse, how hacking can be a positive force, and how the unforgetting nature of the Internet can influence experiences of forgiving. Excursus leaven the text with personal, practical reflections on how power dynamics in this newly emerging reality can either connect or silo, enhance life for a few or, if developed responsibly, enhance for all.
Seitz, David K. A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE: CONTESTING CITIZENSHIP IN A QUEER CHURCH. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017 (281 pages, $27).
David Seitz dissects the liberally inclusive promise of the MCCT (Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto), a self-proclaimed “house of prayer for all people.” Seitz utilizes concepts of citizenship, liberal identity politics, and affect theory. He constructs an argument for what he terms “improper queer citizenship,” a framework that acknowledges complications of belonging and critiques (without wholly rejecting) liberal identity politics. Packed with conceptual terminology, this book assumes familiarity with contemporary scholarship, and is an insightful examination of inclusivity in any church setting.
Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. EZILI’S MIRRORS: IMAGINING BLACK QUEER GENDERS. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018 (247 pages, $26.95).
Omise’eke Tinsley’s black queer, post-colonial work of Vodou theology refuses to be easily categorized. A combination of social theory, black history, and highly poetic prose, her analysis deconstructs and reconstructs black queerness through “theoretical polyamory” (author’s term), which she uses to trace relationships with several Vodoun spirits of Ezili. For example, she interweaves the fiercely hardworking lesbian mother Ezili Danto, Haitian women labor organizers in the documentary Poto Mitan, and family and drugs in the lives of trans performers at the House of Xtravaganza. An unapologetically difficult and deeply rewarding read for those interested in any intersection of the above topics, and especially in decolonizing reality.
WATER Recommends: March 2019/in What We're Reading /by waterstaff
WATER Recommends: March 2019
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.