News, VOLUME 12

Ten Theology Books to Watch For – October 2019

Here are some excellent theology books * that will be released in October 2019 :

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

[ Last Month’s Best New Theology Books ]

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Theology Books October 2019

Activist Faith 

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

Fortress Press

In this searing and personal book, intellectual activist and theologian Robyn Henderson-Espinoza bridges the gap between academia and activism, bringing the wisdom of the streets to the work of scholarship, all for the sake of political liberation and social change for marginalized communities. This is an invitation–a powerful and provocative call-to-action–to academic theologians to the work of social activism through movement building. Activist Theology summons all to take up radical acts of labor that uses scholarship and contemplation to build bridges with difference and make connections of solidarity, rooted in collective action. Featuring poetry by Brittini “Ree Belle” Gray, this rich and interdisciplinary work draws on continental philosophy, queer theology, and critical class theory in accessible and artful ways, using story, personal narratives, and sharp cultural analysis to bring clarity to the methods, sources, and objectives of activist theology. This is a key step forward in the contemporary conversation about theology and social action and will be essential reading for all those who want to see theology and ethics break new ground in the work of justice, hope, and liberation for all.


Theology Books October 2019

The Disabled Church: Human Difference and the Art of Communal Worship

Rebecca F. Spurrier

Fordham UP

How do communities consent to difference? How do they recognize and create the space and time necessary for the differences and disabilities of those who constitute them? Christian congregations often make assumptions about the shared abilities, practices, and experiences that are necessary for communal worship. The author of this provocative new book takes a hard look at these assumptions through a detailed ethnographic study of an unusual religious community where more than half the congregants live with diagnoses of mental illness, many coming to the church from personal care homes or independent living facilities. Here, people’s participation in worship disrupts and extends the formal orders of worship. Whenever one worships God at Sacred Family Church, there is someone who is doing it differently.

Here, the author argues, the central elements and the participation in the symbols of Christian worship raise questions rather than supply clear markers of unity, prompting the question, What do you need in order to have a church that assumes difference at its heart?

Based on three years of ethnographic research, The Disabled Church describes how the Sacred Family community, comprising people with very different mental abilities, backgrounds, and resources, sustains and embodies a common religious identity. It explores how an ethic of difference is both helped and hindered by a church’s embodied theology. Paying careful attention to how these congregants improvise forms of access to a common liturgy, this book offers a groundbreaking theology of worship that engages both the fragility and beauty revealed by difference within the church. As liturgy requires consent to difference rather than coercion, an aesthetic approach to differences within Christian liturgy provides a frame for congregations and Christian liturgists to pay attention to the differences and disabilities of worshippers. This book creates a distinctive conversation between critical disability studies, liturgical aesthetics, and ethnographic theology, offering an original perspective on the relationship between beauty and disability within Christian communities. Here is a transformational theological aesthetics of Christian liturgy that prioritizes human difference and argues for the importance of the Disabled Church.

*** Which of these October 2019 new theology books do you want to read first?

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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