Brief Reviews

Daneen Akers and Gillian Gamble – Dear Mama God [Review]

Dear Mama GodA Joyful Commitment to Equality
A Review of

Dear Mama God
Daneen Akers and Gillian Gamble (Illustrator)

Hardcover: Watchfire Media, 2023
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
 
Reviewed by Karen Altergott Roberts

 
There are multiple names for the Divine, and these names add to the poetry of our prayers and praise.  We are all in God’s image and all of us are loved by God.  What a wonderful way to introduce each child to that message!

May every generation and gender be able to see themselves in God and God in themselves and others!  Providing an assurance for each child that God is a nurturing and loving presence in their life, Akers addresses the feminine aspect of God. Whether you consider the Holy Spirit the feminine presence or whether the various images and metaphors for God throughout scripture have led you to accept the ever-present maleness and femaleness of the Divine, this author celebrates the all-inclusive love of God for each one of us – gay, straight, male, female, able and challenged, and every race and ethnicity. The author and illustrator perfectly mesh their talents in this delightful book.  Published by a non-profit, you can receive a curriculum that could be used for children’s classes from them.

Relying on a translation of Job 33:4 by a Hebrew scholar who takes a womanist approach to biblical texts, this book provides a double pleasure.  First, the text supports a joyful and egalitarian faith.  Second, illustrations portray children of the world amidst the blessings of the world God gave us.  Generativity of the earth and all living things, joy in the sunshine and rain, seeds mysteriously growing into plants and trees for birds and us, and nature that nurtures are reasons to be glad.  The human activities that bring us joy, the words that help us be brave and live in community, the things we produce for the good of all, the pleasure of making things for ourselves and others, the way we cooperate for the sake of the human community, and the comforts and safety in a universe that somehow and mysteriously works for us are all celebrated.  The very loving community that humankind can provide for itself under the umbrella of God’s love is beautifully illustrated.

It is not new or radical to use the feminine for the Divine – hardly controversial at all to any reader of the scripture, except those who proof-text to subjugate and denigrate women’s participation in the Divine.  I grew up in a time and in an enclave where men’s superiority to women in the eyes of God and the church was a reality.  May all children be freed from such a restrictive and all-too-human desire to be ‘better than’ another.  The larger point of the book is a joyful, multifaceted commitment to equality.

The core of this book is celebration.  We celebrate God’s love for us in all its forms.  Every page includes a reminder: joy and empathy with small creatures, happy adventure in the community of all, twofold blessings of both nature as it is provided for us and community as it is created by us.  There are so many things to celebrate.  I highly recommend Dear Mama God for even very young children, for all the positive and beautiful images.  The message of the text cannot be heard too early or too often: our God is a nurturing God who desires us to be in a loving community with all.
 


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Karen Altergott Roberts

Karen Altergott Roberts has been a faculty member at several midwestern universities, a pastor in Indiana, and a writer. She writes on social issues, teaches public speaking, and paints as a spiritual discipline.


 
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