Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access feature articles from our print edition. To view, subscribe or log in.
Site license users can log in here.

Get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to Publishers Weekly for only $15/month.

Instant access includes exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: PWHelp@omeda.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (outside US/Canada, call +1-847-513-6135) 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday (Central).

The Souls of Womenfolk: The Religious Cultures of Enslaved Women in the Lower South

Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh. Univ. of North Carolina, $24.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4696-6360-9

Historian Wells-Oghoghomeh debuts with an astute unpacking of the experiences of enslaved African American women, propsing a framework of dismemberment (the psychic and physical traumas of slavery) and “re/membrance” (activities that drew on and built communal history to cope). “Dismembering” experiences include gender imbalances and the shuffling of roles both in West Africa and the United States, geographic dislocation, and the complicated feelings around pregnancy when the children of enslaved women would only serve to benefit white slave owners. Women took back a measure of reproductive control through abortion and infanticide, which Wells-Oghoghomeh explains as shocking but understandable reactions to their painful lives. Discussions of rituals—such as chants at childbirth, use of magical objects to ease pain, or a baptism repurposed as a way to wash away the pain of sexual assault—and mournful hymns show how women have harnessed a variety of “re/membrances.” Wells-Oghoghomeh’s exploration of prayer meetings and religious practices shows how African Americans focused on aspects of the Christian faith’s power—especially the promise of an avenging God. Throughout, the insightful excavation of historical records and bold theorizing create a convincing image of enslaved women’s lives and concerns. This important work will expand academics’ understanding of race and religion in the South. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Yemaya: Orisha, Goddess, and Queen of the Sea

Raven Morgaine. Weiser, $18.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-57863-743-0

In this coy debut, artist and self-proclaimed psychic Morgaine offers a primer on Yemaya, a river goddess of the Yoruba of Nigeria. According to legend, Yemaya was taken along with enslaved persons to the Americas, and vestiges of her can be found today in Cuban Santería, Haitian Vodou, Christianity, and neo-paganism. Morgaine reveals ways readers can integrate Yemaya’s power into their daily lives and provides incantations, altar preparations, and rituals directed toward the “mother of all life” for greater protection, peace, luck, and love. Morgaine counsels that Yemaya is no “dial-a-deity”; she is mother and lover, but also a warrior who can punish those who cross her. The instructive explanations of rituals and Yemaya’s historical roots make this a perfect introduction to a lesser-known deity. This will appeal to anyone interested in the spiritual traditions of West Africa. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Tarot: A Collection of Secret Wisdom from Tarot’s Mystical Origins

Arthur Edward Waite, et al. St. Martin’s Essentials, $45 (800p) ISBN 978-1-250-62290-7

This massive, informative compilation pieces together ancient elements of divination, history, numerology, astrology, Christian prophecy, and even etymology from across the 19th and 20th centuries to demonstrate the power of the Tarot. The book is primarily based on the work of Waite, cocreator of the standardized Rider Waite-Smith Tarot deck, who sourced material from a variety of spiritual traditions, including Rosicrucianism, Hermetics, Theosophism, and Christianity. Despite representing a variety of traditions, each of the eight authors claim Tarot as the singular method to sway the human mind. This is not an introductory reference, and readers without knowledge of occultism, Kabbalistic study, ritualistic magic, and turn-of-the-century spiritualism will have difficulty understanding the densely theoretical language the authors employ as they explore the occultist traditions that spawned the modern Tarot. However, those who are already well-versed in Tarot will love this sweeping collection. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hope and Witness in Dangerous Times: Lessons from the Quakers on Blending Faith, Daily Life, and Activism

J. Brent Bill. Christian Alternative, $10.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-78904-619-9

In this instructive volume, Quaker minister and conservationist Bill (Holy Silence) lays out strategies for using prayer and direct action to create change. The hallmark of Quaker faith, Bill explains, is the belief that, after tragedy strikes, “thoughts and prayers” should work hand in hand with activism to accomplish meaningful change. After a brief introduction to the Quakers’ history of fighting injustices such as slavery and gender inequality, Bill presents methods for achieving social and political change. For example, one’s activism should be framed in terms of what one is for, as opposed to what one is against. Also, rather than trying to tackle all the world’s problems, it’s better to narrow one’s scope to a specific issue by considering the question, What am I called to do? Ultimately, the Quaker worldview teaches that, as people do good acts, they must maintain pure spiritual intention: “We are invited to work with God in the redemption of the world in ways that feed our souls while caring for others.” Bill’s short, practical lessons on incorporating spiritual wisdom with activism will inspire socially conscious spiritualists of any stripe. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Secularizing Buddhism: New Perspectives on a Dynamic Tradition

Edited by Richard K. Payne. Shambhala, $16.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-61180-889-6

In this sweeping collection, scholars of Buddhism offer insights on secularizing processes within the tradition. Payne, a professor of Japanese Buddhist studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, argues that the pieces here aim to unlink the consonance between “secular” and “modern” and to investigate the relationship between the so-called “religious” and “secular” spheres in Buddhist contexts. Funie Hsu, a professor of transdisciplinary American studies at San Jose University, explores the racialization and secularization of mindfulness in American schools and posits the trends are “a reflection of the United States’ long-standing Orientalizing and exclusionary history.” Kate Crosby, Buddhist studies professor at King’s College, catalogs pro- and anti-secular responses to Western colonial hegemony in Theravada Buddhism. The strengths and weaknesses of the work of secular Buddhist teacher Stephen Batchelor are dissected by scholars Philippe Turenne and Roger R. Jackson, who suggest Batchelor’s claim to be both “presenting an interpretation of Buddhist praxis that is accessible” as well as teaching the “pure teachings” of Buddha is contradictory. Overall, the analysis casts doubt on many commonsense assumptions about Buddhism and effectively dispel the notion that Buddhism is distanced from the realm of the supernatural and naturally aligned with modern secularity, science, and rationality. This thorough work serves as a dense but nonetheless accessible introduction for readers interested in the history and culture of contemporary Western Buddhism. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Where the Light Fell

Philip Yancey. Convergent, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-23850-9

Christian writer Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace?) excavates his roots in the fundamentalist South in the 1950s and ’60s in this gripping memoir. Yancey was a year old when his preacher father died of polio after asking to be removed from treatment, expecting faith would heal him. Left alone with two toddlers, Yancey’s mother made her way as a Bible teacher who was well-regarded by her students but increasingly feared by her two young sons for her temper and her punishments. As Yancey entered his teens he saw himself as “born and bred a racist” and began to slowly unlearn the “Lost Cause myth” while questioning his fundamentalist church community: “A growing part of me resists the image of a red-neck fundamentalist.” During the social and political tumult of the ’60s, Yancey’s older brother, Marshall, became a hippie and was estranged from their mother, forcing Yancey to confront his growing inner turmoil. He goes on to describe a religious awakening at Bible college, where he also met the woman who would become his wife. Yancey’s eloquent descriptions of coming to faith and his exacting self-examination make this a standout. Exploring the corrosive role of fear in faith, Yancey’s piercing and painful account invites comparison to Hillbilly Elegy. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/02/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Kitchen Witchery: Unlocking the Magick in Everyday Ingredients

Laurel Woodward. Llewellyn, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7387-6784-0

Witch and tarot reader Woodward debuts with an accessible cookbook that blends healthy, sustainable eating with the magic found in the natural world. Aiming to create a “nature-centric practice” that “transforms chore into ritual,” Woodward turns to the magical aspects of plants to help readers infuse intention into everyday activities like gardening, shopping, preparing meals, and eating. For instance, black-eyed peas are good for fortune and prosperity, banana bread attracts love and abundance, fruit salads enhance health and beauty, and garlic can protect against evil. Woodard also charts the different moon phases and suggests corresponding days of the week that are considered optimal for certain recipes. Many delightful recipes and thumbnail histories of ingredients’ spiritual usages (such as of the seven sacred grains of Europe) make this stand out from similar fare. Woodward’s eclectic guide will appeal to witches, home cooks, and those interested in building a deeper relationship with food. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/25/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
From Plato to Christ: How Platonic Thought Shaped the Christian Faith

Louis Markos. IVP Academic, $28 (254p) ISBN 978-0-83085-304-5

Markos (The Myth Made Fact), a professor of English at Houston Baptist University, delivers an illuminating explication of the relationship between Platonic philosophy and Christian apologetics. His premise is simple: the works of Plato were “inspired writings used by the God of the Bible to prepare the ancient world for the coming of Christ and the New Testament.” After exploring the cultural contexts of ancient Athens, pre-Socratic philosophers, and Plato’s early dialogues, Markos engages in a detailed study of Plato’s writings, among them The Republic, Laws, and Timaeus. To demonstrate the presence of Hellenic philosophy within Christian evangelism, Markos reveals parallels between Plato’s Timaeus and the creation narrative in Genesis, connects Platonic ideals to the the earthly and corrupted “World of Becoming” and the heavenly “World of Being” in the work of C.S. Lewis, and contends Plato’s argument for the preexistence of the soul was a precursor to Christian conceptions of the Holy Spirit. Those interested in philosophical questions of what is true, good, or beautiful will find much to ponder. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/25/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Fractured Faith: Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction

Lina Abujamra. Moody, $14.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-8024-2269-9

In this stirring memoir, pediatric ER doctor Abujamra (Living with Power) bares her soul as she chronicles a crisis of faith. After having been a loyal member of a megachurch outside Chicago for nearly a decade, Abujamra left the church after allegations of abuse of power led a number of church elders to resign. The subsequent disillusionment led Abujamra to question her faith, and she writes that she now believes God used the experience to rebuild her faith: “It was the deconstruction of my faith that gave me a taste of His unconditional love and never-ending grace.” Abujamra identifies the five things—justice, suffering, surrender, rejection, and expectation—that began her unraveling, and explains common reasons for disillusionment (such as believing innocent people suffer or justice hasn’t been handled evenly), explores ways to reframe them (God’s plan often transcends human understanding), and encourages Christians to confront doubts about one’s faith and questions about God. Providing examples from the Bible, she reminds Christians who feel they have hit bottom that God gives second chances. The author’s determination and humility in the face of disappointment set this apart from similar fare. Abujamra’s optimistic guidance will be of help to Christians at a faith crossroads. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/25/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Mary Magdalene: Women, the Church, and the Great Deception

Adriana Valerio, trans. from the Italian by Wendy Wheatley. Europa, $18 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60945-705-1

Italian scholar Valerio (Maria Montessori) reveals a “great deception” at the heart of Mary Magdalene’s legacy in this persuasive analysis. Contending that basic facts of Mary’s life—she was a close companion of Jesus and the first to see him after the Resurrection—have been replaced by interpretations rooted in misogyny—she was a sinner and prostitute—Valerio explains how, for centuries, Christian women have sought to claim Mary as more than the “companion” of Christ and an early symbol of female authority. Valerio argues that Mary became a contested figure in the fight for authority in the early church and was revered by Gnostics but sidelined in the writings of St. Paul that eventually shaped the structures of the church. Even as medieval church leaders recognized Mary as an “apostle of the apostles,” they held her up as a model of the penitent sinner for women, who they believed needed grace more than men because of Eve’s sinfulness. Valerio’s grasp on early Christian literature is strong, and it’s assumed readers will come to this with a solid grounding in the topic, as there is little in the way of context or discussion. Academics working in Christianity should get much from this well-argued study. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 06/25/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: PWHelp@omeda.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email PWHelp@omeda.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (outside US/Canada, call +1-847-513-6135) 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday (Central).

Not Registered? Click here.