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What Falls From the Sky: How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds.

She evolves from someone desperate for the external validation of blog hits, YouTube views, and Facebook “likes” to someone who goes alone to a church that spiritually pulls her in from the street, to the back pew, to the baptismal font, to service in an impoverished village in Nicaragua. With a husband who’s an atheist and her own history of rejecting Christianity for its anti-feminist atrocities, Emery finds God in the silence left behind after the millions of chattering internet voices go quiet. Continue reading

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Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife

Tucker’s hermeneutics are thoughtful and thought provoking. She questions why a husband would beat and terrorize his wife, and answers, regarding her ex-husband, “his perspective on male supremacy and on female submission was front and center” (p. 22). She exegetes the most often referred to verses on headship from Ephesians 5, pointing out that the phrase, “‘wives, to your own husbands’ has no verb in the original Greek” and thus “cannot be read without the topic sentence of mutual submission” (p. 46). In fact, considering the number of words addressed to husbands, she suggests that the greater burden of submission is placed on the husband (p. 47). Continue reading

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When God Was a Little Girl

I was curious as to how such a unique story was received by the public, and I found that When God Was a Little Girl has garnered overwhelming praise and support from readers. The book was published with the assistance of a Kickstarter campaign that received nearly double the amount of pledges requested to publish the book. Reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are glowing, and the book received two prestigious book awards in 2014. Continue reading

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To Drink from the Silver Cup: From Faith Through Exile and Beyond

The memoir as a whole makes clear that Redsand has been deeply influenced by Judaism and humanism as she has journeyed toward “home.” I love her description of life’s purpose: however we find our own particular work in the world, the idea is to “remember the deep root of [our] being…and give [our] life to the one who already owns [our] breath and [our] moments” (p. 312). Continue reading

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An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation

Although Junior’s book offers a basic introduction to womanist biblical interpretation, it is extensive in the amount of material it covers. One aspect of the author’s intent is to show how feminist biblical interpretation relates to African American women’s interpretation. Womanist interpretation is often developed by including the experiences and writings of women who are not considered professionally trained, or who have come from a variety of disciplines other than biblical studies, as well as through the contributions of scholars specializing in biblical studies. Continue reading

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A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends: From Fear to Faith in Unsettled Times

I was nervous at first reading, as I am among those anxious Christians not worried about how our country is going to go forward. And I admit I was worried that I would have trouble with the conservative-sounding opening (conservative-sounding to me, at least – proving his point about polarization). However, he mostly comes out rather progressive in his view of various issues in light of the Scriptures, providing a nice balance that can be read by a broad spectrum of people. I actually agreed with much he wrote, and found his gentle, insightful style helpful. Continue reading

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Bridge to the Sacred: A Collection of Interfaith Prayers

Lisa has this to say about prayer: “Prayer provides a venue that gives voice to our concerns and sufferings . . . can reassure us, clear our minds, and reconnect us to a higher power. What a surprise it can be to sometimes find the words of prayer spoken in another faith might perfectly address our own longing or anguish.” Continue reading

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Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology

I think this book is of value for anyone, particularly women, struggling without or within their religious tradition and anyone interested in feminist theology. Younger people, especially, might benefit from the perspective of time it provides. From Christ’s and Plaskow’s examples, challenges clearly exist on any path, but they also present a hopeful model of continuing engagement, intellectual rigor, and self-empowerment. Continue reading

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Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community

As a theology professor, Gunning Francis approaches this subject through the framework of faith in action. That spoke strongly to me. I also saw, however, that what she wrote could be helpful to those who approach the work from a more secular stance. For example, in discussing the original meetings among the disparate parties active in the aftermath of the tragedy, she explains that the organizing clergy used meditation techniques to encourage a more peaceful atmosphere. Continue reading

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I Love to Tell the Story: 100+ Stories of Justice, Wisdom, and Hope

How would you like to own — or give to someone you love — a book that carries you along on its own joyful stream of stories? Yes? Then I have just the perfect book for you: the Reverend Dr. Nancy Wilson’s I Love To Tell the Story: 100+ Stories of Justice, Wisdom, and Hope. Continue reading

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The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics.

Her essays in this volume are thought provoking, the golden prize being her commencement address this past June at her alma mater. She offered three lessons for life: “be kind, be true, and pay attention.” In her essay “Miracle, Light and Considerable Magic” (p. 70), she refers to “the mysterious nature of the Sacred,” the Light that appears in daily moments. She finds the holy in the ordinary, like dishwater, frying eggs, a busy street, or familiar room; wherever she may find herself. In her essay, “Another Kind of Flying,” she locates her perspectives and priorities in the realm of gravity and morality, affirming that “our lives are created of suspended moments of glorious flight” (p. 79). Continue reading

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Personal Transformation and a New Creation

Teilhard de Chardin wrote that our age is suffering from an “unsatisfied theism.” So the rise of the feminine is an important movement “in the dark womb of the collective unconscious.” By shifting our concept of the universe as static to “an unfinished universe in the act of becoming,” we gain hope. We see a way forward “to an ultimate evolutionary convergeance of consciousness and love.”. Continue reading

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Encountering God in Tyrannical Texts: Reflections on Paul, Women, and the Authority of Scripture

“Gench describes each text in its own chapter, then places it in its literary, cultural, and political contexts. For example, the first five texts are all prescriptive, a man or men telling women what not to do, which indicates that women must have already been doing it. Most likely three, perhaps four, of the problem texts were written in Paul’s name decades after his death, as the Jesus Movement was morphing into a larger organization. Gench also critiques attempts to ‘whitewash’ a text, making it sound less bad than it really is.” Continue reading

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The Electronic Church in the Digital Age: Cultural Impacts of Evangelical Mass Media

“[This] two-volume set is organized according to the pragmatics of these audiences. The first book is inward-facing, examining the ways the conservative Christian culture is molded by evangelical television, radio, and online messages. The second book is outward-facing, offering studies of how these messages lead conservative Christians to make sense of and relate to the dominant “secular” American culture. Ward, who mentioned in a Christianity and Communication Studies Network webinar that he was raised a conservative evangelical and toured the country’s Baptist churches as a member of a gospel quartet, keeps the tone of the book largely respectful of Christians while holding space for scholarly critique.” Continue reading

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Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology

“Pamela Lightsey… correctly asserts that despite oppressive Sunday morning sermons, Black and queer Christians can nevertheless be confident that our wellbeing is “not dependent on human hands but the providential care of God our Creator” (p. 60). It follows then that any church (including Lightsey’s own United Methodist Church) that believes all persons have sacred worth “behaves disingenuously when it prohibits those very persons from living” fully human lives, including enacting their sexuality. Lightsey rightly labels those prohibitions as “evidence of a lack of faith and an example of the will to control” (p.85).” Continue reading

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Hagar Poems

Centering Hagar Poems on Hajar’s tale, a problematic moment in sacred narrative, the profusion of viewpoints contributes to Kahf’s nuanced approach. Looking at Hajar from her own point of view, as Sarah and Abraham see her, in anger, in forgiveness, as heroine, foremother, and exile, Kahf shows how the different sides of the story have much to say to one another. Continue reading

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Lady Midrash: Poems Reclaiming the Voices of Biblical Women

I am so thankful for the honor given to these biblical women by these poems. This collection, spoken through the voices of women in both testaments, puts flesh and energy into what have too often become stale stories from our early Sunday School days—if we heard them there at all. Continue reading

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A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism

Bushnell (1855–1946) was a stalwart advocate of women, a missionary, a doctor, a researcher, a writer, and a theologian, and an engaging speaker and an unrelenting advocate against human trafficking around the world. Du Mez skillfully reveals the influences of time and place that molded Bushnell into the socio-religious force she became. From her Methodist holiness roots to the Victorian ideals of female domesticity that shaped Bushnell’s upbringing, she was, in some ways, a product of her time; and in other ways, she was an advocate of rebellion against the readily accepted ideals of her time. She rebelled particularly against all ideals and socio-religious structures that dismissed women as the inferior sex. Continue reading

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Femmevangelical: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the Good News

Crumpton writes from a strong, progressive Christian perspective. She has coined a new word to describe the archetype she promotes, “femmevangelical,” a mash-up of “feminist” and “evangelical.” She brings an honest voice, one borne out of the experience of attending a conservative church that presented the Divine only in a male voice and with a male perspective. Her questions were not welcome. Her longing to serve in the Church beyond prescribed roles was not fulfilled. Continue reading

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Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity

“The most oppressive of human binaries is the one that differentiates between those who are in and those who are out. Just as Jesus “took on whatever stigma was applied to the people he was engaging: women, children, Samaritans, lepers” (p. 180), so must progressive Christians and progressive queers continue to disrupt the inside/outside binary. We could begin by handing Queer Virtue to anyone who is open to a joyously inclusive vision.” Continue reading

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I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship

Because some of these scholars began as fundamentalists, their growth beyond the inerrancy view of Scripture comes up repeatedly in these essays. ‘[W]ords like “inerrancy” are inadequate descriptions of what is going on in the Bible,’ writes Scot McKnight. ‘There is an inner dialogue at work’ among the various books of the Bible, he continues. Each text interacts with the others, ‘sometimes agreeing, sometimes even disagreeing, but often expanding and adjusting and renewing’ the previous texts.” Continue reading

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Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice

“Using as their starting point the troublesome idea that ‘Christian doctrines and global gender justice rarely appear together in the same sentence’ (p. 1), Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice delivers what its title suggests. Jenny Daggers, Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Liverpool Hope University, U.K., and Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion, U.S., extend the conversation they started with their first volume, ‘Reimagining with Christian Doctrines’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). The result is a highly engaging and informative attempt to sustain theological reflection in a systematic sequence while also honoring very different contexts, including those of the readers.” Continue reading

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Spiritual Sobriety: The Promise of Healthy Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad

“Can a person have a ‘persistent, compulsive dependence’ on religion? Elizabeth Esther makes a compelling case for religious addiction in her new book, Spiritual Sobriety. Drawing from personal experience, as well as the stories of others, Esther writes extensively about the characteristics of religious addiction and its impact on faith communities, specifically Christianity.” Continue reading

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Hebrews (Wisdom Commentary Series; Volume 54)

“As passionate and pastorally sensitive as it is erudite, one of the Wisdom Commentary’s first published volumes is this one on Hebrews by Mary Ann Beavis and HyeRan Kim-Cragg. The choice to tackle Hebrews early on may seem puzzling, since its subject matter is not widely regarded as providing fertile material for feminist theological reflection, especially in light of its extensive passages about blood sacrifices and apparent colonial triumphalism and denigration of Judaism. But in successfully engaging a more difficult text, this commentary demonstrates a powerful and persuasive methodology that will undoubtedly excite readers about the delightful insights that future volumes are certain to provide.” Continue reading

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Confronting Religious Denial of Gay Marriage: Christian Humanism and the Moral Imagination

“Wallace begins with a very important question: why is the Religious Right so upset by gay marriage rather than by child poverty, or handgun violence, or military spending? She then proceeds to build evidence for her thesis: while “Christianity slowly separated from its Jewish origins, sexual renunciation took the place of kosher dietary restrictions and purity rituals as a boundary maker for Christian community.” And “none of this goes back to Jesus… ” Continue reading

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Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty: The Memoir of a Romantic Feminist

Alida invites us to join her on her journey from romantic fantasy to romantic feminism. She offers no clues as to what part religion, scripture, or spirituality have played in the conclusions she reaches, and her telling of her story bounces around between chronological and topical presentations, which occasionally left me wondering exactly how or when various events unfolded. Continue reading

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Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, Family, and Church

As she unveils her “crazy in the blood” narrative, we become aware that the experience of her family is intricately interwoven with her experience of the Church. There are moments of deep grace, but also moments of rejection. The Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, seems to want nothing to do with stories like hers and her father’s and brother’s. Continue reading

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Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love

“Drawing from her personal story as a South Korean immigrant to Canada and then the United States, Kim deftly weaves together Asian American theology, feminist theologies, postcolonial theory, biblical interpretation, and pneumatology to speak prophetically of the transformative and connecting power of the Spirit-Chi, energizing faith communities toward justice and care.” Continue reading

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Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith

This book serves as a useful introduction to an important spiritual figure. It also works to deepen her readers’ perspectives on her life, and to whet the appetite for seeing how the octogenarian feminist religious leader and her cohort continue to shape the monastic tradition in postmodern relief. Continue reading

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Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship

This collection brings timeless melodies, made sacred by years of being sung in worship, and places them firmly in the present with words that make sense and relate to today’s issues. When the words make sense, the message easily rides on the breath right to the singer’s heart. Continue reading

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Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution

“So what is this revolution that’s happening before our eyes? It’s a movement away from top-down, pre-packaged religion toward a spirituality centered in an awareness of God’s presence as encountered in daily life—often in places and people where traditionally we have failed to recognize that holy presence. It’s a way of looking at spirituality as experiential, direct, mystical—calling forth a sense of awe and wonder as God breaks into our lives when we may least expect it. (Bass provides numerous examples of mystical experiences from her own life .)” Continue reading

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The Changing Face of Evangelicalism: Rescuing Jesus

Ever since 2007, an award-winning journalist and radio producer named Deborah Jian Lee has been researching contemporary evangelicalism. She has been impressed by a change occurring among evangelicals—a movement that “ditches the Religious Right,” supports working toward social justice rather than political theorizing, and calls itself “progressive evangelicalism.” Continue reading

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True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You

Susan’s theology is overwhelmingly inclusive and accepting. She trusts deeply in the love of God for all people, and it shows in every word. This loving, large, expansive God is contrasted with the “in a box” God as seen in many churches and leaders and theology. It’s a simple image but one that helps make a reality check as to the truth of a particular teaching or belief. Susan does not hesitate in demolishing toxic ideas about Christianity, such as God as a punishing judge, or teachings that you are somehow responsible for Jesus’s happiness, or threats of going to hell. Continue reading

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Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships

God bless Tim Otto for writing this book in the hope that each Christian will “go through the difficulty of relating to people who are not like us” (p. 118). But his failure to envision freedom, individualism, rights, and equality in the light of the Golden Rule tragically weakens the power of this book. Because forcing ourselves to subordinate our needs to everyone else’s has been the assigned role of women for centuries of Christian tradition, we feminists are quick to recognize the pitfalls of attempting such self-sacrifice. To paraphrase Rabbi Sofer, no person is required to build the world by destroying himself or herself. Continue reading

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Birth, Breath, & Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula

Glenn also articulates well the universality of birth. She sees it as participating in life’s creative energy, whether the endeavor is physical, intellectual, spiritual, or emotional. All bring us to the depths. She then suggests that the techniques that help birthing women are applicable in other labors, too; specifically, the practices of rhythm, ritual, and rest. Continue reading

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American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman who Defied the Puritans

As an evangelical feminist, I found fascinating the details of the religious controversies in which [Hutchinson] participated. Are believers “elect” from the beginning of time? Can we know whether we are one of the elect—or whether someone else is? Does sanctification (the outward appearance of grace) prove we are saved, or are outward appearances simply “works,” not evidence of a heart that is right with God? Continue reading

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A Different Route to the Divine Feminine — God Is Not Alone: Our Mother-the Holy Spirit

“Widmalm’s 450 pages are also worth struggling through (grammatical errors and all) because they give so many flashes of insight into so many related topics. Among them: the dating of various Gospels, canonical and otherwise; the textual sources for Shekinah as God’s female presence on earth; the Essene lifestyle; biblical ecology; Jesus as a Pharisee; the Sibylline Oracles; the concept of the divine Word in Judaism; women’s becoming men in the Gospels of Thomas and Philip; and how John’s Prologue differs from the rest of John’s Gospel.” Continue reading

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Reflective Faith: A Theological Toolbox for Women

Shaw practices what she advocates in both book and workbook. I especially enjoyed illustrations of these tools based on scriptures featuring women, and scriptures and theologies used against women. I loved the variety of feminist theologians brought in, including the voices of women from other races, cultures and social situations. As it teaches significant material, it isn’t a quick read, although it is accessible to women at any place on their journey. Continue reading

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Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life

Stevens is particularly adept at making profound connections between the natural world, scriptural images, and real-life experience. In an essay called “Grow Tree Roots,” whose accompanying verse refers to the tiny mustard seed that grows into the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, she shares a story about receiving a tiny twig of a chestnut tree to plant in their garden, when she was expecting a much larger sapling. But through care and tending, it flourished over several years into a real tree, and she finds it symbolic on several levels. Continue reading

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There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor

Rarely have I encountered as bittersweet a goodbye as when I turned to the final page in the collection of short narrative reflections of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, edited by the Reverend Martha Song. As a young woman hovering in the liminality between graduation and ordination, it was as though I had persons present with me in this wild and strange call that is ministry. With each word, I felt more embraced by an amazing community of women as they shared their responses to God’s call. Eventually, I grew to understand them as colleagues. Continue reading

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If Eve Only Knew: Freeing Yourself from Biblical Womanhood and Becoming All God Means for You to Be

The gender restrictions in Titus and in 1 Timothy reflect an expanding Christian movement that, after Paul’s death, accommodated to the patriarchal household codes of Greco-Roman society to survive. But some Christian communities continued to follow the way of Jesus and Paul, a way of mutual relationships and gender equality. Here and throughout the book, a careful reading of the Bible provides an antidote to evangelical gender constraints. Continue reading

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Women’s Bodies as Battlefield: Christian Theology and the Global War on Women

To reach her goal of disrupting the normalization of violence against women, Thistlethwaite moves the reader through a variety of historical understandings of both war and the perceptions of women. Delving into topics such as the religious, philosophical, and Christian roots of both war and the War on Women allows Thistlethwaite to educate the reader on the complexity of the historical indoctrination surrounding the topics of war and women, without entirely overwhelming those readers who may not yet be aware of the history surrounding these issues. Continue reading

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Making Space for Intersexuals — Megan DeFranza’s “Sex Differences in Christian Theology”

DeFranza builds her case for intersexual inclusion with a thorough description of various forms of intersexuality from a medical and sociological viewpoint. She provides an extensive and very helpful discussion of eunuchs in the Bible, especially Jesus’ remarks in Matthew 19:12. She also supplies an in-depth description of the way Catholic and Evangelical theologies have viewed the body, sex differences, and intersexuality through the ages, concluding with Jesus as the true image of humankind in this Christian era of “Already” and “Not Yet.” Continue reading

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Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows: Capable Women of Purpose and Persistence in Luke’s Gospel

“In addition to Spencer’s literary prowess and clever wordplays (why didn’t I think of an “ambushed Moses”?), his feminist intuitions are so spot-on we might call him an honorary female! His command of scholarly feminist literature is also remarkable—way beyond mine. In fact, quoting Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in his preface, Spencer considers himself an FBI agent—that is, a ‘diligent practitioner of Feminist Biblical Interpretation’!”
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Abounding in Kindness: Writings for the People of God

Elizabeth Johnson’s marvelous last chapter, “Peace over an Angry Sea,” is a sermon preached in 2002 for her colleagues at Fordham University who had recently lost family members. She quotes Dutch theologian Henri Nouwen, affirming that, just as a trapeze flyer does little while the trapeze catcher does all, so, too, when people die, Christian faith focuses us not simply on the letting go but on a divine catcher. Lovely, I say, and a nice coda to this theological volume. Continue reading

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The Lost Sutras of Jesus: Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks

A fascinating glimpse of this far Eastern Christianity is available in the little book The Lost Sutras of Jesus: Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks, edited by Ray Riegert and Thomas Moore. This book is divided into three sections: the historical story of the recovery of the Jesus Sutras, excerpts from the Sutras themselves, and, finally, reflections on the Jesus Sutras for today. Continue reading

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Faith & Feminism: Ecumenical Essays

The common connection is that each of the authors originally presented the content of these essays at the Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest University School of Divinity between 2003 and 2013. Another commonality is that they all identify themselves as feminists. Continue reading

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Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

Armstrong defines war as “a psychosis caused by the inability to see relationships, “ and describes the First Crusade as particularly psychotic. In Jerusalem the “half-crazed” First Crusaders slaughtered some thirty-thousand people in three days” (p. 214). Although many Muslims died in that massacre, the survivors made peace and coexisted for over fifty years with the crusaders who remained in the region. It was not until the Second Crusade that Muslims were galvanized to defend themselves in battle. Continue reading

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Immersion in the World of “Our Mother Saint Paul”

Central to all of Paul’s writings is his not only holding to the practical daily tasks of keeping a congregation faithful to Christ, but also seeing at the same time the cosmic and apocalyptic features that accompany the lives of such a community. Gentiles as well as Jews make up this new gathering of the believers in Jesus Christ, who lived with his people but was risen as a cosmic figure. Continue reading

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Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

Searching for Sunday describes Rachel’s struggles as a millennial (coming of age about 2000) to find a satisfactory community in the church. She organizes this churchly memoir around the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage. And she explains why she chose this sacramental approach: “the tangible, tactile nature of the sacraments invited me to touch, smell, taste, hear, and see God in the stuff of everyday life” (p. xvi). No body-denial for this author! Continue reading

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