Last post we asked an important question: What images come to your mind and heart when you think of ‘God’?
Our answers to this question set the tone for so much of our lives: not only how we perceive our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, but how we see ourselves, our neighbors, and the world around us.
That’s why I’m so excited to share this conversation I just recorded with my dear friend Daneen Akers. She just finished writing a wonderful children’s book, Dear Mama God, so we sit down to talk about:
- Why we have permission, biblically and experientially, to address God as “Mama”
- Why it’s important to speak, think, and relate to God in feminine language as a potential complement to masculine and gender-neutral language for God
- Daneen’s own journey of faith composting (aka ‘deconstruction’) from hearing a hymn to God our mother to beginning praying this way with her kids
- How deconstructing parents can pass a healthier faith and practice to our children, grandchildren, and other kids we love
- How addressing God as ‘Mama’ bears the fruits of gratitude, beauty, and luminosity
- Recommended artwork and books exploring the Divine Feminine for adults and children of all ages
I hope you tune in here:
How you can support Dear Mama God:
Kickstarter is an online tool that empowers independent creators like Daneen to invite lovely humans like you to participate in the artistic creation process.
Because here’s the challenge and opportunity: Children’s books like this espousing emotionally-healthy, life-giving theology and spirituality are a rare breed. Many conventional Christian publishers won’t touch such titles for fear of backlash, and many mainstream publishers avoid these books for much the same reason, or because they simply don’t understand the genre. Daneen is a veteran grassroots publisher (getting her start with the beautiful crowd-funded Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints) who puts great care into ethically sourcing every element of publication with the highest quality inputs, from art to production.
You can help ensure that Dear Mama God actually gets published, and reserve your copy, by pledging the book’s Kickstarter, here. It’s nearly 60% funded as of this writing so the odds look good, but she has to reach her full goal in the next 21 days or it won’t happen. (You won’t be charged your pledge amount unless the full amount needed is raised.)
Here’s what you can do:
- Head on over to the Dear Mama God Kickstarter page.
- Watch the video with author, Daneen Akers.
- Read all about why Dear Mama God is so important.
- Choose your PLEDGE Level of Support
- Share the Kickstarter campaign with your friends and family!
God in Feminine Form — Daneen’s wonderful reflection on this theme
God Our Mother: Where can She be Found? — an early pandemic guest-message I brought to Land of the Sky United Church of Christ on Mother’s Day
“Biblical Proofs” for the Feminine Face of God in Scripture — a resource for skeptic and seeker alike
Acclaim for Dear Mama God
“This precious book takes us on a journey of prayer with the heart of a child. These prayers are the prayers of a child inviting us into a tender thankful relationship with Mama God. The heart of this richly illustrated world is the Tree of Life representing God, connecting in the book with those who hold and read and pray it.”
– The Rev. Wil Gafney, author of Womanist Midrash and A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church
“This book captivates me on so many levels. I will give it to each of my grandkids, and I expect they will read it to their children someday. I wish I could go back in time and give it to myself when I was very young and when nearly all depictions of God were male — and a little scary too. This is a masterpiece.”
– Brian D. McLaren, author of Do I Stay Christian? and Cory and the Seventh Story (with Gareth Higgins)
“This is one of the most beautiful children’s books I’ve ever encountered. Daneen Akers has given us a gift, one that not only helps us imagine a bigger, more complete picture of God but one that will bring hope and healing to many of its readers. And the illustrations are a masterpiece. With each spread, Gillian Gamble presents a new and breathtaking view of God. And y’all, She is awesome and holy and full of love and light.”
– Matthew Paul Turner, NYT-bestselling author of What is God Like? (with Rachel Held Evans), I Am God’s Dream, and When God Made You
“When God is woman, girls see the divine in themselves and boys embrace their feminine traits as holy. Mama God loves each kid as they are, and this book invites them into the safety of Her presence.”
– Cindy Wang Brandt, author of You Are Revolutionary and Parenting Forward
“I want my sons and daughter to grow up trusting in God’s motherly love for them. I want them to know this, not only intellectually, but in their hearts. Written with a simplicity and beauty that few prayer books for children manage and illustrated with breathtaking whimsy and beauty, Dear Mama God is an absolute treasure. It’ll be my go-to gift for new mothers and graduates alike. This book is manna for the journey.”
– Traci Smith, Author of Faithful Families
“Dear Mama God will shock and thrill you if, like me, you were brought up with highly masculinized Christian interpretations of God. There’s nothing scandalous here, though: the thrill comes from discovering the utter simplicity and naturalness of addressing the Eternal One as Mama. Daneen Akers’s warm, lilting prayer helps open our hearts to a Mama God who is tender, powerful, and very near. Gillian Gamble’s brilliant art shows children of varied races and abilities taking joy in the nonhuman creation and their own capacity to create and cultivate. My favorite image is the Tree that holds and shelters—a rich symbol of the Mother who is our home.”
– Ruth Goring, author-illustrator of Picturing God
“Dear Mama God is a gratitude-filled dance with a child in the form of a prayer. The lyrical text pairs perfectly with glowing illustrations. This book is a wondrous celebration of Mama God’s love for us.”
– Teresa Kim Pecinovsky, author of Mother God
“This is a book my soul needed. In addition to reminding me of God’s abundant, gender-full love, it reminded me how much in this world there is to celebrate and be grateful for. So many of the kids in my life will be getting copies of this.”
– Sandhya Jha, author of Liberating Love
This is classic eisegesis and egocentric hermenuetics. You can only point to metaphors and anthropomorphism (and mystics) to make your case for the motherhood of God. As a self-described believer in progressive revelation, you must admit the New Testament demonstrates a higher and more precise picture of God and His nature than the Old Testament in particular (which is the overwhelming focus of your proof texts),with Jesus Himself (a man, by the way) being the ultimate revelation.
So, how often did Christ’s New Testament followers speak to God as mother or any related term? Zero. How many times did Jesus refer to God as Father? Over 150 (and another 30 as our father). How many times did He refer to God as mother or any derivative? Goose-egg here too.
So, are you a follower of Christ and His example? Just curious.
In speaking of such things, one must take the long view. To begin with, in the pre-Abrahamic religions all the deities were feminine. In the Abrahamic traditions the view of God became entirely patriarchal, with theology having become almost entirely masculinized. Both perspectives are competing partial truths in keeping with the carnal mind’s tendency toward separation consciousness, dividing perspectives and all things in binary, either/or fashion. The redeemed view, proceeding from unitive consciousness, integrates both. Looking at both views of truth with a spiritual stereoscope until they melt into one (as they always have been in creation) brings a synthesis to consciousness and perception that make them more real and actual. Knowing “in part” and “through a glass darkly” is the province of the unredeemed carnal mind that divides thought and the perceptual field according to its whim and biased dictates. Human consciousness is still evolving, and religion wise, we’re still in the childhood of our species when it comes to clarity o perception and right views of divinity. And by the way, it is not true that there are no NT feminine images of God. In using parables from nature, Jesus attested to the organic link between the earth as fecund, pregnant with the divine presence as matrix (from L. ‘mater’ = mother) bearing fruit everywhere. And his grief and frustration over Israel not responding to his call and invite “as a hen gathers her brood” is distinctively maternal. Also, leaving John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” in charge of his mother, and who reclined at table on his breast, earmarked both himself and John as having the kind of endearing compassion distinctive primarily of maternal and “feminine” (integral) love, quite distinct from anything men were generally capable of, then and now. So let’s not get into binary carnal quibbling on the nature/gender of God, whose make-up, quite frankly, is a powerful triune blend of what we otherwise divide into the masculine, feminine, and childlike, best out pictured as one in the human family. At any rate, divinity is inclusive of ALL things, even evil and darkness as aspects of the created order and redemptive plan.
If I may, in taking up extra commentary space, point out that there are several corollaries of the disordered carnal (fallen) mind besides answering to the dictates of binary, gender-based perspectives on divinity that make theology the exclusive province of that fuzzy mind, as opposed to anything remotely offering clear views of the transcendent. Chief among them is the inability to recognize that the attributes, polarities, contradictions, and energies ascribed to and personified in gods or divinity are those of our own lives. They’re the energies and attributes of life itself that live in us all, not out there somewhere. Such are to be recognized, integrated, and transformed inwardly for wholeness, not worshipped in a shrine or personified (projected) onto deities. Rather, those deities are to be transparencies to those realities within. Such projections cause us to lose the locus, focus, and vocabulary of the spirit, and as personifications of same, why Jesus was careful to tell the disciples he “must go away,” lest their gaze became too fixed, as personification, on his outward form, instead of his presence within and all around them. Metaphors must point past themselves, not concretized as literal in space-time. God as solely male or female doesn’t, nor does God in Jerusalem or Rome, or any particular religion, or for that matter the historical Jesus. Rather, they are closed, fixed in time, space, place, and form. Whole religious traditions are based on these carnal mind misunderstandings. The very energies personified by the gods in ancient civilization and Scripture, including those ascribed to the devil, exist as un reconciled polarities in everyone’s life. Our ministry is in reconciling those polarities, first within, and then in others. Praying to an exterior god to see, understand, and reconcile them for you, is like praying to electricity to light your house.