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Brenton D Dickieson

Charlottetown, PE
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Joy audiobook cover art

Gripping Biography, Engaging Reader

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-23-19

Gripping Biography, Engaging Reader: this really is one of the strongest biographies I have ever read, and a pretty good reader to help me reread this book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Butchering Art audiobook cover art

A fun book on a topic I know little about,

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-22-19

A fun book on a topic I know little about, but part of my learning in Victorian history. I listened to this on audio with a strong performance.

Finding Me audiobook cover art

Terrible Book, Interesting Story, Doubtful Degrees

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-17-18

I read this book because I am curious about how Christian women rebuild their sense of self as women and Christians once they have faced the challenge of women’s experience in Christian history and theology. I was also curious because Rev. Dr. A'Shellarien Anthony is a woman of colour and her C.V. suggests education in Womanist Theology (i.e., feminist theologies of African-American women). She is also a practicing chaplain, so I was curious what distinctives she would bring at the intersection between African-American culture, pastoral theology, and her experience as a woman.
Unfortunately, this was a terribly disappointing book.
Though many of the conversation partners were good, there was no depth given to any topic and the bibliography is not very large. Anthony tended to rely on a small circle of thinkers. Although some of them were strong, I never got the sense, for example, that we were seeing the whole thought of Carol Christ, Letty Russell, or Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. While over and over again she assures the full partnership and humanity of both women and men, Anthony never deals with the really hard challenges from feminist theology about history, violence, and patriarchal language. I appreciate the worlds she is trying to hold together, but I would have like to see more of that struggle. The biblical exegesis was highly selective and there was no critical hermeneutic for the book—no particular, single way to work through the issues.
There were some strengths, such as the section on liturgy. But there were other parts that were very puzzling, such as a list of programs that Anthony would like to implement. Bringing programming and pastoral experience into the text would have been welcome, but the lists of programs and topic headings for potential bible studies were just that—potential. She shared none of the experience of actually doing those programs, how they worked, and how the programs on the ground helped her to apply her feminist questions to intimate aspects of life in community. This would be a great future book, given her experience.
Beyond these weaknesses, the writing is uneven and repetitive. The movement between topics was awkward and difficult to trace. I had trouble understanding the organization of the book, as it seems that Anthony moves back and forth between topics. There is the central image of the “wrestling women” moving throughout the book, which I think is a creative and (to me, at least) new way of approaching the question in feminist theology. The leitmotif of “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) was a nice touch in feminist theology. But as a whole this was a poor book. My guess is that it is a series of master’s-level papers that were put together for a single book project.
A strength in a book like this would typically be the author’s story. I appreciated how she spoke of being marginalized growing up. The last couple of pages was the best of the whole book. I was disappointed there was not more about her approach in womanist theology, which is mostly part of the list of potential programs for girls and Bible studies. Even if the whole book was weak, at least we have the story—a story of liberation and hope. A couple of things disturbed me on this front, however.
First, Anthony comes from the intriguing collections of backgrounds that include Judaism, African American culture, and Christian fundamentalism. I don’t have a full picture of how that entire story plays out, but is her experience of being a woman non-human in synagogue a typical American Jewish experience? I’m just offering a caution that her experience may not have been normative (but still her own story).
Second, I came to have some doubts about whether I was being presented Anthony’s story as a real one.
When I began the book and was puzzled about how it was written, I decided to look up her credentials. She has graduate degrees in theology from a reputable urban seminary, but the “Dr” in her name on the book cover was a bit concerning. She claims in her Amazon biography to have a Doctorate of Theology in Biblical Theology from Almeda University. Any ThD or PhD should have a strong, full-length, research-based project well-rooted in theory. In LinkedIn she claims to have been doing her PhD from 2009-2011, three years following her master’s program at Lutheran Theological Seminary. While she was writing that PhD she also worked as a professor, chaplain, teacher, and business owner.
This would be a profound example of genius, except Almeda University is a fake degree program. Now closed, the CBC was able to purchase three advanced degrees from Almeda with no course work, including a PhD in Biblical Counselling. See here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marketplace-diploma-mills-degrees-professor-1.4291437. These fake degrees—purchased the same year that Anthony graduated—cost $1550 and are part of the reason that Almeda was rejected from several states before closing. Of Almeda, one expert said, “Almeda has never been real, it's never been legitimately ... accredited by a recognized entity in its life, period.”
That Rev. Anthony uses Almeda University as a credential is disturbing. If Almeda decided to make Anthony do work in her doctoral program and this book is the result of her ThD “research,” then it is further demonstration that it is a fake degree. Though interesting at parts, and showing good potential, this book is not research quality. This review would have received two stars, but a lack of integrity in one’s leading credentials is cause for grave concern. It made the title of the book, “Finding Me,” somewhat doubtful for those of us invited to read her life.
Fortunately, Anthony’s influence is not great at this stage. The only other Goodreads review at the time of writing is by the author under a different last name (which, of course, might be an accident and not dishonesty, but there are concerns with profile).
Do not spend money on this book. There are dozens of better feminist theology books, including ones I have recently read by Sarah Bessey, Anna Fisk, and Sallie McFague. I should note that I am entirely in sympathy with Rev. Anthony’s views. I agree with her theological perspective almost entirely. There are a host of women who have made coherent books on feminist theology, but this is not one of them.

Jane Eyre audiobook cover art

The Best of Both

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-18

this is the best combination of beautiful literature and spectacular performance that I have ever experienced

The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality audiobook cover art

Very Poor Reading of a Strong Academic Book

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-17

Would you try another book from Arthur Holder and/or Jason Huggins and Marcella Rose Sciotto ?

The Blackwell Companion series, while not even, is often a very helpful one--both for its breadth of coverage and because there is often an ebook or PDF available online or through libraries.

What did you like best about this story?

The academic essays themselves are generally fairly strong. The history section is particularly well laid out, covering a large swath of material. Like a spearhead, the book comes to finer points in the final section, allowing the skill and background of individual scholars to come to the front of the discussion. There is much that is available for a professor to use in selecting material for a class, or for an emerging academic to use to orient him or herself to the field. There are a couple of essays that capitalize on obscure language and are overly technical for the volume.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jason Huggins and Marcella Rose Sciotto ?

As far as narration goes, this was a terrible, terrible team. While it is admirable that a male and female were chosen for a long work of many voices, neither of them are trained to read academic work. Neither took the time to look up the technical words in the titles of the articles, let alone the entire chapter they were responsible for. While Huggins generally read well, missing only the technical words, it was a disaster for Sciotto. This narrator not only messed up the technical words, but cannot even pronounce basic university-level vocabulary. A nice voice does not make a good reader, and in the more complex pieces they were incomprehensible with Sciotto read them.
To be most blunt, Sciotto read half a book on Christian spirituality and did not know how even to pronounce some of the Bible books references, let along theological terms, and names. "Incarnational" rhymed with "national"!
I get that the technical language can be tough, but that basic words were misread by both authors means they were not up to the task.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful