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I endorsed a new book Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology edited by by Claire BischoffElizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, &  Annie Hardison-Moody.

It is a wonderful collection of parenting and theological reflections on what it means to parent.

From Back Cover

This volume investigates how mothers can understand parenting as spiritual practice, and what this practice means for theological scholarship. An intergenerational and intercultural group of mother-scholars explores these questions that arise at the intersection of motherhood studies, religious practice, pastoral care, and theology through engaging and accessible essays.  Essays include both narrative and theological elements, as authors draw on personal reflection, interviews, and/or sociological studies to write about the theological implications of parenting practice, rethink key concepts in theology, and contribute to a more robust account of parenting as spiritual practice from various theological perspectives. The volume both challenges oppressive, religious images of self-sacrificing motherhood and considers the spiritual dimensions of mothering that contribute to women’s empowerment and well-being.  It also deepens practical and systematic theologies to include concern for the embodied and everyday challenges and joys of motherhood as it is experienced and practiced in diverse contexts of privilege and marginalization.



“This is the book every theology class needs! Blending personal narrative with history, sociology, scripture and doctrine, this volume reveals the complexity of the divine call of creation and nurture. The authors give voice to experiences that are usually only whispered – the difficult conversations, anxieties, fears, quiet joys, and shifting spiritualities that compose the various modes in which mothering occurs.  This book invokes courage, grace, community and salvation in a way that will change not just how we understand mothering, but that will forever alter how we understand our faith.” (Monica A. Coleman, Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology, author of Making a Way Out of No Way: a Womanist Theology and Bipolar Faith: a Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith)

“Motherhood disrupts our lives and turns our worlds upside down and inside out. As it does, we experience the most powerful love, patience, kindness and goodness imaginable. And we come to realize that grace lies at the heart of the disruptions of mothering. The theological reflections on motherhood shared in this extraordinary book, Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology, shows us how grace enters into the midst of our lives and moves us into profound spaces that challenge, awaken and empower us.  This is a beautiful and important book which belongs in everyone’s library.” (Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion, author of many books, most recently, Mother Daughter Speak and Embracing the Other)

“Many of us are deeply aware of the complexity and richness of mothering. However being a mother has rarely been publicly acknowledged and understood in the wonderful ways this book does.  Without stereotyping or romanticizing motherhood,  Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology: Mothering Matters  offers multiple deeply insightful accounts of   the sacred, fallible, and sometimes tragic realities of being a mother.  Racial difference, mental health struggles, and varying sexual orientations, among other factors, are all explored with the underlying assumption that all mothers are created in the image of God. This book is wonderfully accessible and a crucial read for theology.” (Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School, author of Places of Redemtion and Changing the Subject)

“Taking on motherhood as propaganda promoted in church and society, and dwelling in a multiplicity of experiences of mothering, this emotionally complex and theoretically compelling volume exposes an entangled subjectivity that opens anew the fundamental theological question of what it means to be human. With a diversity of voices that draws out the multiplicity that is motherhood, the volume is unwilling to reduce the complexity, conflict, ambiguity, vulnerability, power, joy and terror of our being in the world in relation to others.  Each as provocative and profound as the next, their voices form a chorus of deep theological reflection from out of the embodied knowledge of particular human experiences.” (Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Professor of Theology, Fordham University, author of Motherhood as Metaphor: Engendering Interreligious Dialogue)

“In this substantial contribution to the literature that places bearing and raising children squarely in the public realm, Claire Bischoff, Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, and Annie Hardison-Moody have commissioned trenchant essays by both senior and junior scholars that paint a picture of mothering in contemporary society.  With brutal honesty, they describe the situations in which we actually form children―mental and physical illness, the violence of structural racism, myriad and no family structures―and distill from these formation practices gritty, robust visions of motherhood shot through with the honest ambivalence of real parenting.  Here are the spiritual practices that women create to accomplish the contradictory task of protecting children from a complex, often hostile world and equipping them to thrive in it.” (Cristina L.H. Traina, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern, author of Erotic Attunement: Parenthood and the Ethics of Sensuality Between Unequals)

About the Author

Claire Bischoff is Assistant Professor of Theology at St. Catherine University.  She has served previously as adjunct professor of religious education at Lexington Theological Seminary. She has blogged about the spiritual practice of parenting for Keeping Faith Today, a lectionary-based resource for small Christian communities, and is the co-editor of My Red Couch and Other Stories on Seeking a Feminist Faith.

Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo is the Edith B. and Arthur E. Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Her book, The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology, draws on women’s experiences of maternity and natality to construct a theology of suffering and redemption anchored in the reality of human vulnerability.

Annie Hardison-Moody is Assistant Professor of Religion and Health in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University.  Her work focuses on gender, reproductive health, foods and nutrition, and parenting. Her book, When Religion Matters: Practicing Healing in the Aftermath of the Liberian Civil War is forthcoming from Wipf & Stock Publishers.