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Suggested Readings

Suggested Readings for the Conference

Book descriptions from Publishers

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation (Convergent Books, 2019)

Raw, intimate, and timely, Nadia Bolz-Weber’s latest book offers a full-blown overhaul of our harmful and antiquated ideas about sex, gender, and our bodies.

Christians are obsessed with sex. But not in a good way. For generations countless people have suffered pain, guilt, and judgment as a result of this toxic fixation on sex, the body, and physical pleasure. In the follow-up to her celebrated New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints, Bolz-Weber
unleashes her critical eye, her sharp pen, and her vulnerable but hopeful soul on the caustic, fear-riddled, and religiously inspired messages about sex that have fed our shame.
In turn, Bolz-Weber offers no simple amendments or polite compromises, because the stakes are too high—and our souls and our bodies are worth too much. Instead, this tattooed, swearing, modern-day pastor calls for a new reformation. She urges us to take antiquated, sexist ideas about sex,
gender, and our bodies and “burn them the f*ck down and start all over.”
This is a journey of holy resistance. Along the way, as antidotes to shame, heresy, and all-too-familiar injustice, Bolz-Weber dispenses grace, freedom, and courage. She shares stories, poetry, and scripture, cultivating resilient hope and audacious love rooted in good news that is “powerful enough,
transgressive enough, and beautiful enough to heal not only the ones who have been hurt but also those who have done the hurting.”
In Bolz-Weber’s most personal, bracingly honest book yet, she shares intimately about her life, with her trademark blend of vulnerability, humor, and candor. If you’ve been mistreated, confused, angered, and/or wounded by the shaming sexual messages so prevalent in religion, this one is for you.

Seth Dowland, Family Values and the Rise of the Christian Right (University of Pennsylvania, 2015)

During the last three decades of the twentieth century, evangelical leaders and conservative politicians developed a political agenda that thrust “family values” onto the nation’s consciousness. Ministers, legislators, and laypeople came together to fight abortion, gay rights, and major feminist objectives. They supported private Christian schools, home schooling, and a strong military. Family values leaders like Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Anita Bryant, and James Dobson became increasingly supportive of the Republican Party, which accommodated the language of family values in its platforms and campaigns. The family values agenda created a bond between evangelicalism and political conservatism.

Family Values and the Rise of the Christian Right chronicles how the family values agenda became so powerful in American political life and why it appealed to conservative evangelical Christians. Conservative evangelicals saw traditional gender norms as crucial in cultivating morality. They thought these gender norms would reaffirm the importance of clear lines of authority that the social revolutions of the 1960s had undermined. In the 1970s and 1980s, then, evangelicals founded Christian academies and developed homeschooling curricula that put conservative ideas about gender and authority front and center. Campaigns against abortion and feminism coalesced around a belief that God created women as wives and mothers—a belief that conservative evangelicals thought feminists and pro-choice advocates threatened. Likewise, Christian right leaders championed a particular vision of masculinity in their campaigns against gay rights and nuclear disarmament. Movements like the Promise Keepers called men to take responsibility for leading their families. Christian right political campaigns and pro-family organizations drew on conservative evangelical beliefs about men, women, children, and authority. These beliefs—known collectively as family values—became the most important religious agenda in late twentieth-century American politics.

Kelly Brown Douglas, Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (Orbis, 1999)

This book tackles the “taboo” subject of sexuality that has long been avoided by the Black church and community. Douglas argues that this view of Black sexuality has interfered with constructive responses to the AIDS crisis and teenage pregnancies, fostered intolerance of sexual diversity, frustrated healthy male/female relationships, and rendered Black and womanist theologians silent on sexual issues.

“If a diagnosis is indispensable for a cure, then the Black church and the Black community, as well as the church in general and White society, should take seriously this searingly honest yet sympathetic exposé and then perhaps they may be set on the road to healing their ills” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Marcella Althaus-Reid & Lisa Sherwood, Trans/formations: Controversies in Contextual Theology

Trans/formations is a new addition to “SCM’s Controversies in Contextual Theology” series. Like anything coming from Marcella Althaus-Reid and Lisa Isherwood, it is controversial and challenging as well as highly original. The book will: make visible a range of trans lived experience [transgendered and transsexual], offer theological reflection on these experiences, create challenging theology from this experiential base, and provide a resource for churches and theology students not to date available. It includes an excellent range of contributors, including Elizabeth Stuart and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. This is a valuable addition to reading lists of courses on religion, gender and the body.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent Books, 2016)

In Accidental Saints, New York Times best-selling au­thor Nadia Bolz-Weber invites readers into a surprising encounter with what she calls “a religious but not-so-spiritual life.” Tattooed, angry and profane, this former standup comic turned pastor stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. But God keeps showing up in the least likely of people—a church-loving agnostic, a drag queen, a felonious Bishop and a gun-toting member of the NRA.

As she lives and worships alongside these “ac­cidental saints,” Nadia is swept into first-hand en­counters with grace—a gift that feels to her less like being wrapped in a warm blanket and more like being hit with a blunt instrument. But by this grace, people are trans­formed in ways they couldn’t have been on their own.

In a time when many have rightly become dis­illusioned with Christianity, Accidental Saints dem­onstrates what happens when ordinary people share bread and wine, struggle with scripture together, and tell each other the truth about their real lives. This unforgettable account of their faltering steps toward wholeness will ring true for believer and skeptic alike.

Told in Nadia’s trademark confessional style, Accidental Saints is the stunning next work from one of today’s most important religious voices.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (Jericho Books, 2014)

Now a New York Times bestseller, Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the term “pastrix”(pronounced “pas-triks,” a term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize female pastors) in her messy, beautiful, prayer-and-profanity laden narrative about an unconventional life of faith.

Heavily tattooed and loud-mouthed, Nadia, a former stand-up comic, sure as hell didn’t consider herself to be religious leader material-until the day she ended up leading a friend’s funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club. Surrounded by fellow alcoholics, depressives, and cynics, she realized: These were her people. Maybe she was meant to be their pastor.

Using life stories-from living in a hopeful-but-haggard commune of slackers to surviving the wobbly chairs and war stories of a group for recovering alcoholics, from her unusual but undeniable spiritual calling to pastoring a notorious con artist-Nadia uses stunning narrative and poignant honesty to portray a woman who is both deeply faithful and deeply flawed, giving hope to the rest of us along the way.

Wildly entertaining and deeply resonant, this is the book for people who hunger for a bit of hope that doesn’t come from vapid consumerism or navel-gazing; for women who talk too loud, and guys who love chick flicks; for the gay man who loves Jesus, and won’t allow himself to be shunned by the church. In short, this book is for every thinking misfit suspicious of institutionalized religion, but who is still seeking transcendence and mystery