Summer Reads, vol. 8: Joel LeMon

For our penultimate blog in this summer reading series, we spoke with Dr. Joel LeMon, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Associate Director of Emory’s the Graduate Division of Religion! Dr. LeMon is well known for his mentorship of doctoral students in Hebrew Bible and for his passionate teaching of Candler’s required Old Testament introductory course. He is also known for his sartorial choices (every day is a bow-tie day!).

Dr. LeMon’s recommendation follows in the footsteps of last week’s recommenders and takes the form of a podcast! On Script is a monthly podcast that addresses a wide array of current topics in biblical studies, featuring interviews with prominent scholars in the fields of Old and New Testament.

The podcast is hosted by four biblical studies scholars, including Matthew Lynch, a graduate of Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion and currently Dean of Studies at Westminster Theological Centre. You might particularly be interested in a recent interview the podcast team conducted with Candler’s own Carol Newsom, on the topic of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and ecology, and even glass beads!

Dr. LeMon is too modest to recommend one of his own texts, but we would be remiss if we did not draw your attention to his 2015 edited volume Image, Text, Exegesis: Iconographic Interpretation and the Hebrew Bible. Much of Dr. LeMon’s work (here and elsewhere) argues for the value of using Ancient Near Eastern iconography as an aid to interpreting biblical texts, a methodology that continues to inform new generations of graduate students at Emory and Candler!

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Summer Reads, vol. 7: Deanna Ferree Womack

This week we spoke to Deanna Ferree Womack, Assistant Professor of History of Religions and Multifaith Relations at Candler. Dr. Womack teaches courses on Christian-Muslim dialogue and has a book that will appear soon entitled “Protestants, Gender, and the Arab Renaissance in Late Ottoman Syria”!

Dr. Womack’s summer reading recommendation is a brand new memoir by Daisy Khan, called Born with Wings: The Spiritual Journey of a Modern Muslim Woman. Khan is the founder and executive director of a the Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equality (WISE), a New York based non-profit that coordinates and connects Muslim women leaders around the globe. Khan was born in Kashmir, and that experience informed her work as an activist in New York, inspiring her to advocate and educate!

This work is particularly inspirational to Dr. Womack and her own educational efforts in the field of interreligious dialogue, both in her teaching and as Director of the Leadership and Multifaith Program (LAMP), a collaboration between Candler and Georgia Tech. This program offers symposia on a variety of topics for students at both institutions, and provides a space for considering global leadership, religious diversity, and multifaith understanding.


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Summer Reads, vol. 6: Armin Siedlecki and Jenny Vitti

This week, we spoke to two staff members at Pitts who work behind the scenes to ensure that you can find the books you need: both in our online catalogue and on the shelves! You may know that our first recommender, Armin Siedlecki, Head of Cataloguing, is an expert in reformation material—he’s curated the past several reformation-themed exhibitions and is responsible for cataloging countless rare book materials over his many years at Pitts.

Armin has just finished listening a series of lectures by Ken Albala, a professor of history at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, who teaches courses on the Renaissance and Reformation, Food History, and the History of Medicine. This particular lecture series is on the cultural history of food, and Armin says it “was absolutely fascinating”! The series is part of the Great Courses program, but is also available for free as a podcast. Armin highly recommends this enlightening and tasty listening experience!

You’ve probably seen our second recommender at the circulation desk or moving rapidly around the building! Jenny Vitti, Reserves and Stacks Specialist, is responsible for making sure all your required class readings are where they should be and for making our stacks pristine.

This summer, Jenny is taking Emory Scholarly Communications Librarian Melanie Kowalski’s pilot course on Copyright Support for library staff. The group is reading two chapters from Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property by Susan M. Bielstein. Jenny says Bielstien’s work “is fun and witty and engaging,” so she’s reading the entire book (which is quite slim)! Jenny says “it’s a great book to read for anyone who intends to use other people’s art in their own scholarly work.”

Jenny’s summer “to read” list also includes Death in the Choir by Lorraine V. Murray. Lorraine worked at Pitts Theology Library for years and is nowpart of our volunteer program. The book is the first of three murder mysteries – set in a Catholic church! – in the Francesca Bibbo series by Lorraine.


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Summer Reads, vol. 5: Helen Jin Kim

This week we spoke to one of Candler’s newest faculty members: Assistant Professor of American Religious History, Dr. Helen Jin Kim! Dr. Kim specializes in the history and global impact of American evangelicalism as well as Transpacific and world Christianity. Her summer reading suggestions reflect her research interests and indicate the incredible relevance of that research in current religious and political discussions!

Up first, Dr. Kim suggests Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics written by R. Marie Griffith, director of the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Griffith looks to early 20th century American Christian arguments on morality and sexuality as the origin of the contemporary debates (like those around birth control and gender roles).

Also on Dr. Kim’s shelf is David Hollinger’s Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America. Hollinger, an emeritus faculty member at UC Berkley, explores the 20th c. American Protestant mission field and the impact that those generations of missionaries had on their own country’s changing landscape.

Last, but certainly not least given the past week’s news cycle, Dr. Kim highly recommends Janelle S. Wong’s brand new release: Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change. As a faculty member at the University of Maryland, Wong has studied race, immigration, and political mobilization—this new work looks at immigrant political participation, particularly the role of Asian American and Latinx evangelical Christians in the conservative Christion movement.


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Summer Reads, vol. 4: Callie Tabor and Brady Beard

This week we spoke to our two Graduate Reference Assistants: Callie Tabor, a doctoral student in Theology, and Brady Beard, a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Callie and Brady are familiar faces at the reference desk, supporting student and faculty research in a variety of areas. They have also been instrumental in the reference weeding project and in planning future instructional offerings.

Callie kicks off this week’s suggestion with Zadie Smith’s 2005 novel, On Beauty. As Callie describes it, this novel is “set on both sides of the Atlantic and is full of witty insights about humans and our foibles – think Jane Austen or E.M. Forster with an eye to our current cultural strife between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives.’”  The novel revolves around the families of two art history professors, and via this cast of characters, Callie says “Smith takes on questions of family life, taste, love, race, and education.”

If you enjoy Smith’s novel, Callie would also recommend Elaine Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just, from which Smith takes the title of her novel. Based on a series of lectures, Callie describes this book as “an eloquent defense of beauty and its importance in inspiring us towards work for justice: each time I read this book, I find it inspires both my intellectual life and my interaction with the world around me.”

Brady continues the week’s literary theme by recommending a book he returns to “time and time again,” namely Mark Doty’s Deep Lane. According to Brady, this collection of poems “explores the earth, life and death, love, joy, grief, and despair.” His favorite parts of the collection are the eight poems entitled “Deep Lane” and the poem “Spent.”

Brady also has a recommendation for readers seeking a book in the field of biblical studies, specifically John Barton’s The Nature of Biblical Criticism. According to Brady, Barton’s book “captures the core of biblical studies.” Indeed, Brady reports that “Barton’s main claim is that biblical criticism is concerned with the ‘plain sense of the text,’ which suggests that biblical criticism is first and foremost a literary and linguistic, rather than a singularly historical-critical, endeavor.” Brady highly recommends Barton’s book as a readable (re)introduction to anyone working in or around the Bible.

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Summer Reads, vol. 3: Kwok Pui Lan

This week, we spoke to Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology Dr. Kwok Pui Lan! Dr. Kwok received the “Faculty Person of the Year” award, bestowed by Candler students on the professor who has most impacted them in the past year. She specializes in feminist and post-colonial theology, but her suggestions for your summer reading demonstrate the breadth of her interests!

Dr. Kwok first recommends Dr. Damon Tweedy’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. The book describes Dr. Tweedy’s time as a medical student, resident, and practicing doctor in the VA system—exploring the role of racial prejudice in all areas of medicine.

Dr. Kwok’s summer reading also includes the newest New York Times best-seller from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game? Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life. Taleb asks readers to consider when, where,and how we take risks, or have “skin in the game”!

The final item on Dr. Kwok’s list joins economics with ethics: Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor Raj Sisodia. Together, they argue that moral and ethical tenets can help guide economic decision making, resulting in a positive environment.

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Summer Reading, vol. 2: Myron McGhee

This week, we spoke with Circulation Specialist Myron McGhee (’95T)! Myron was this year’s recipient of the Candler Black Student Caucus Award for Excellence for a staff member, and has been a vital part of the Pitts staff for many years. As a Candler MDiv graduate himself, Myron has been a source of inspiration and support for generations of Candler students. His duties at Pitts range from managing students at the circulation desk to ensuring fines get paid. Thanks to his tireless work in this area (along with the proceeds from the book sale), Pitts has been able to purchase a new scanner that has been installed in the scanning room!

You may not know that Myron is a musician and  music lover; his office is often filled with the sounds of jazz, classical, gospel, and rock. So, believe me when I say his suggestion for summer listening are sure to live in your headphones for years to come. Although perhaps best known for his time with the Doobie Brothers, Myron suggests that you revisit the work of Grammy award winning Michael McDonald, whose 2017 album Wide Open is his first solo release in two decades.

Myron says that McDonald has “written a number of songs which on one level just seem like some soft rock cliché stuff, but it is clear that he’s writing Gospel songs and songs exploring his faith.” Perhaps more significantly, Myron suggests that “an MLK theme emerges in several songs – all rooted in a paper his older sister wrote about King when they were in high school.”

Myron had the opportunity to meet McDonald after a show once, and the singer commented that he was “simply trying to be about the work of Jesus with music.” McDonald’s deep faith also appears, as Myron notes, in several songs that “were written as prayers” during his wife’s battle with breast cancer.

From the 2017 Wide Open, Myron particularly suggests you take a listen to “Honest Emotion,” which grew out of McDonald’s desire to encounter life more authentically. Myron “hasn’t been able to stop listening” to this song, which he says is just one more instance of “the Good News that emerges” from McDonald’s music.

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Summer Reading, vol. 1: Tony Alonso

Despite what the calendar may say, it is most definitely summer here in Atlanta—this means curling up at the pool (or in the A/C) with some summer reading! Over the course of the next few weeks, this blog will introduce you to a diverse array of recommendations for your bookshelf and iPhone from staff members at Pitts and faculty members at the Candler school of Theology.

Our first recommendations come from Dr. Tony Alonso, recent graduate of Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion and Director of the Catholic Studies Program at Candler. Dr. Alonso is an internationally renowned composer in addition to his scholarly work on worship and ritual practices!

Dr. Alonso proudly displays what he terms his “nerdiness” and first recommends a new (and “totally nerdy”) podcast about beloved Catholic liturgical music called “Open Your Hymnal”: You can enliven your daily commute or summer road trip with a foray into Catholic hymnody, since each episode features an interview with a composer about a particular hymn!

If you are a history buff interested in church councils, Dr. Alonso recommends owning the full trilogy of John O’Malley books on major councils, particular his newest new book on Vatican I: Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church.

If you’re in the mood for an inspirational read, Dr. Alonso believes you could do no better than the work of American Jesuit Greg Boyle, who has just put out a sequel to his wildly popular Tattoos on the Heart, entitled Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship. Both texts grew out of Boyle’s work combatting violence in Los Angeles. According to Dr. Alonso, this new book is “heartwarming and perfect for light summer reading”!

If you happen to be in Atlanta in 2019, Dr. Alonso also recommends reading anything by Elizabeth Johnson, who just retired from Fordham and who will be giving a Catholic Studies lecture next spring at Candler. Make sure you visit this blog next week for more summer reading suggestions!

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Library Summer Break Hours

Beginning on Wednesday, May 9th, Pitts will be on summer break hours. The library will be open Monday-Friday, 7:30am-5:00pm, and we will be closed all weekends. For a full listing of hours, including summer holidays, visit

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Pitts is in Finals-Mode

As we approach the end of the Spring Semester, the staff of Pitts Theology Library wishes you well on your upcoming work and invites you to rely on the spaces and the resources of the library to help you do your best. As we move into the Finals period, there are a few changes to our practices and policies, designed to help you succeed. Please be aware of the following, and please contact us ( if you have any questions. Good luck with your work!

  • Extended Hours: From Monday 4/30 through Tuesday 5/8, the library will extend its hours. Opening hours will stay the same, but the library will stay open additional hours at night. For full hours, please visit Please note that the building locks soon after the library closes, so all students will need to leave the Candler School of Theology building complex when the library closes. There are 24-hour study spaces on campus, particularly the Woodruff Library (
  • Silent Study Space: From Monday 4/30 through Tuesday 5/8, the library will be a silent study space. We ask that all patrons respect their colleagues and go outside the library for any conversations.
  • Pitts Hospitality: During Finals, the library becomes a popular study place for all members of the Emory community. As a part of the Emory community, the library is open to all Emory faculty, students, and staff, and during Finals we often welcome many new patrons to the library. We encourage all to extend hospitality to one another, sharing tables and assistance in the space, while alerting the library staff to any problematic behavior. For our building use policies, please visit
  • Snacks Only: Due to higher library use, we make extra efforts to keep the space clean for our patrons and safe for our books. Please remember our food and drink policy, which allows only small snacks that don’t create a mess or odors and only drinks in spill-proof containers. In addition, we ask that you clean up after yourself and alert staff to any spills or clutter needing attention. Please also be aware of how you are disposing of your waste, using the proper recycling and compost receptacles.
  • Extra Study Space: The library is happy to open extra study space for students during this busy time. The 3rd Floor Lecture Hall (Room 360) and the 3rd Floor Large Group Study Rooms (Rooms 368 and 369) will be open as a study space from Monday 4/30 through Tuesday 5/8. If you would like to learn about study space at Pitts, visit
  • Advanced Booking for Small Group Study Rooms: The 7 small group study rooms are popular during Finals, and so we encourage Candler students to book them early. For Finals, we have extended the advance booking time to 14 days so that you can book now for any day of the Finals period. You can read the room policies and make reservations online at
  • Let us Know How We’re Doing: Each year the library staff works hard to adjust policies and practices to make the library a welcoming space for good work. If you like what you see or notice something that you think we could do better, please let us know.
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