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Box of Books for Francis--The Poll! UPDATED

A while back, I asked you to suggest books that might be sent to Pope Francis as helpful resources for his call for a "new theology of women." You made LOTS of excellent suggestions. I've turned them into a SurveyMonkey survey, and here's your chance to vote for the final 10. Vote for your favorite 5-10, and one vote per person, please. It's a long list, so read through before you vote!

I've done some editing on the list. For example, I assume that the Pope has a copy of Genesis laying around somewhere. Similarly, John Paul II's Theology of the Body must be there at the Vatican somewhere. I've taken a couple items off the list that cost lots of money (like $100 or more). I took out some books that looked excellent but only indirectly contribute to a new theology of women because they're of a different discipline. I added some additional references for your consideration, too. 

Things to think of while voting:

  • remember the topic is a "new" (my quotes--people have been doing this work for decades, arguably for centuries...sigh...) theology of women. Some books are closer to this topic than others. 
  • recent is good--if there are several options for an author (which is the case in a few instances,) more recent work is probably most what the writer would like to have represent him/her, assuming it's also the closest match to the topic. 
  • Think across disciplines, maybe aim for some systematics, some scripture, some ethics, some history. In my additions to the list, I've aimed for a wide range of perspectives, too. 
  • Availability matters, and a reasonably-priced edition should exist--like $15-30 new, if possible. This is especially important for older books. If I can't get it, I can't send it. 

Two people have offered to help with shipping costs, for which I'm very grateful.

I'll leave this survery up for a week or so, and will report back...

UPDATE: 90 responses so far! Keep 'em coming. I'll compile next week...

About the Author

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).



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Sorry to see that Eleanor Herman's Mistress of the Vatican" didn't make the list.  Oh, well.



Delighted to see that my three suggestions made the list:  Letters of St. Therese, Vol. I;  The Bone Gatherers:  The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women,  by Nicola Denzey; and Women Officeholders in Early Christianity:  Epigraphical and Literary Studies by  Ute Eisen. 

(I'll bet he's read them all.)

I'd like Pope Francis to read a new book, too, one I just read yesterday:  Monastic Springs, by Paula Howard, OSB.

It's the story of the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, from 1963-2013.  This is their sesquicentennial year.  For the centennial in 1963, Sr. Faith Schuster's book, The Meaning of the Mountain, was published. 

If Francis were to read both those books, he would understand how a community of women religious developed, contributed to the education of generations of Catholics, flourished, and withstood difficulties, including the "apostolic visitation".  For an interesting account of how the monastery dealt with the unprecedented visitation, see pages 477 - 483.  

Perhaps if the Pope were to read the book, he would insist that the women's congregations who were subjected to Cardinal Franc Rode's investigation be given the results.  Over three years have passed since the visitators met with the Atchison nuns.  "You may wait in hope for the final report," they told the Prioress as they left.  

However, "Results are still pending."

Kind of surprised to see worls by Alice von Hildebrand and Edith Stein on the list - I thought they were "theology-of-the-body" complimentarianists.


I went to Survey Monkey ready to endorse some titles when I realized that I hadn't ever read any of these works except for reveiws I read in some magazines along the way.  [Who hasn't if you still have a pulse not heard of folks like Chittister, Johnson, Stein, Kung, Curran?  There is even a volume on Therese of Lisieux on my office bookselves!]

How embarrassing!  Suffice it to say that maintaining a professional practice and raising teenage boys can divert one's attention from higher intellectual pursuits.

Please publish the list of titles that make the final cut for Il Papa.  My reading list needs updating ... 


Lisa: I understand that Pope Francis called for a "new theology of women."

But did he mean that he would undertake to develop a "new theology of women" in, say, an encyclical?

If this is what he meant, then it makes sense for you to send him some recommended reading.

However, if this is not what he meant, then it does not make sense for you to send him some recommended reading.

If this is not what he meant, perhaps you could undertake to write a book titled A NEW THEOLOGY OF WOMEN. Perhaps you could dedicate it to Pope Francis -- and send him a copy.


Jesus did not write at all. Somebody had to record what he did. Now they say he never said this or that. Paul wrote at least seven and they nailed him with another six. Origin really got the ball rolling. (I demand to know which books were written before and after his castration). Augustine really got sick with it by bringing idolatry into the written word so much so that thereafter people expected to be transformed by whatever book they were currently reading. (Don't miss it!) I blame my father for sacking me with the disease so strongly that I don't think there has ever been a day without a book in my hand. 

Stay tuned for the greatest book ever. No kidding this time. 

Realistically we might send Francis quotes rather than books. His time is limited and he certainly would resign if he were required to read the great Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza. Has anybody ever finished any of her books? If you were assigned one it does not count. But you do deserve some credit.  Here is a quote that i believe Francis would appreciate from the inimitable Mary Daly: 

                  “God's plan' is often a front for men's plans and a cover for inadequacy, ignorance, and evil.” 

― Mary Daly

I have to admit I haven't read any of the books on the list, though I've read some articles by some of the authors.  I'm not feeling very hopeful about the books changing Francis' mind about women, as he seems very invested in JPII's ideas about us.  Maybe we should save up to send a few of the authors on the list to Rome to speak to him one on one  :)

@Crystal: I'm a theologian, not a venture capitalist! :-) 

@Thomas: Not sure if he intends another encyclical. If so, count me skeptical even now--there's too much history of men defining women as "other" and informing them of their correct "place," generally well below that of men. Another man--however goodhearted--cannot correct this fundamental problem. Your book idea is a good one, but it would need to be an edited volume, with women of various perspectives, cultures, ages, disciplines, etc., collaborating. Publishers, take note! 

And for a model of what such a book might look like, I recommend Calling For Justice Throughout the World. Catholic Women Theologians on the HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Mary Jo Iozzio with Mary M. Doyle Roche and Elsie M. Miranda, eds. (New York: Continuum, 2008). 

@Lisa Fullam: "Another man --however goodhearted --cannot correct this fundamental problem"?  That seems pretty close to one of those overstated Mars-Venus dichotomies that Carol Tavris took so much care to dismantle years ago in The Mismeasure of Woman (I'd have recommended her book for the box if she'd shown the slightest interest in religion).  Not only do such dichotomies not stand up to scrutiny of the facts, as Tavris pointed out (we all belong to the same species, after all):  They also reinforce any tendency we may have to a despairing biology-is-destiny determinism.  And it's no accident that the planets used in that popular metaphor are named for Greco-Roman deities, capricious and sexually differentiated.

As far as I know, the human authors of Genesis 3:12 were males in a patriarchal culture, yet they preserved for us that delicious bit of dialogue in which Adam, by blaming Eve, manages simultaneously to blame God...

If a rich man can enter Heaven, then indeed all things are possible with God.  And Francis, whatever his limitations, has been working for a long time on overcoming the impediment of wealth.

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