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God is a mom, too, writes kids’s ebook writer Teresa Kim Pecinovsky

(RNS) — “You recognize God the Father, however God is your Mom too.”

That’s how Teresa Kim Pecinovsky’s kids’s ebook “Mother God” begins. The image ebook, with lovely, vibrant illustrations by artist Khoa Le, was printed in March by Beaming Books.

Female and maternal imagery for God within the Bible is one thing Pecinovsky says she — like many — didn’t encounter till she was an grownup, working towards her Grasp of Divinity diploma from Vanderbilt Divinity College.

The concept got here to Pecinovsky, a hospice chaplain and former elementary faculty trainer, throughout lockdowns early within the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable to see lots of her sufferers, she mentioned, she began writing letters and playing cards and dabbling in several sorts of artwork, together with watercolors and papercuts.


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When two of her photographs of feminine biblical figures — of midwives Shiphrah and Puah and of the daughters of Zelophehad, who efficiently argued for the suitable to inherit land — obtained reward on social media, she first considered writing a kids’s ebook about lesser-known girls within the Bible. When her editor steered her towards writing about female imagery for God, she was so excited — “I don’t like to make use of the phrase impressed,” she mentioned — she had a draft accomplished inside days.

The ebook not solely consists of photographs drawn from Scripture of God as a protecting mom hen and a fierce mama bear, but additionally consists of illustrations of individuals of all ethnicities, ages and talents, together with a nursing mom alongside a ebook about postpartum despair that reminds Pecinovsky of her first Moms’ Day as a mom.


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The way in which the church she attended described motherhood as “all flowers and rainbows” was removed from her expertise, she mentioned. It actually didn’t mirror her relationship together with her first mom as a world adoptee.

“I feel if we are able to see God represented in probably the most weak and susceptible moms of society, it actually enriches our non secular lives,” Pecinovsky mentioned.

The writer, who’s ordained within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), spoke to Faith Information Service about why it’s necessary for individuals of all ages to see God as a mom, too, and the way the story of Hagar and Ishmael, the servant and firstborn son of biblical patriarch Abraham, resonates together with her.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

Is it stunning to individuals to comprehend what number of female photographs there are of God within the Bible?

Actually, nearly all of individuals I hear from — women and men and nonbinary people — inform me, initially, that they cried once they learn the ebook as a result of they’ve by no means seen that sort of depiction of God, particularly in a kids’s ebook. Mother and father who’re studying it to their kids — and I’ve heard this again and again — get choked up studying it to their children.

It’s unhappy to me as a result of it shouldn’t take a lifetime of non-exposure earlier than you see it in a kids’s ebook to comprehend how a lot you have been lacking. And I’m actually, actually delighted to consider the kids who learn this ebook and develop up seeing God in female imagery simply as a pure a part of their non secular improvement, as a substitute of getting to attend till they’re in maturity and having to deconstruct and reconstruct.

Is {that a} controversial concept for some?

Most individuals simply see the duvet and make very emotional expressions based mostly on that — numerous, “God is father,” “Jesus by no means calls God ‘mom,’” “God chooses to name himself ‘he.’ How dare you depict God as a lady?” and several other extra honest questions on, “Are you saying that God is a lady?”

My reply is at all times no. I imagine God is past gender. However as a result of Scripture consists of so many alternative photographs of God, we want to have the ability to see all of them in masculine, female and nonbinary phrases to have the ability to recognize the best way that we’re created in imago dei.

Why is it necessary for kids — and other people of all ages — to see God as a mom?

For me, a lot of my theology about humanity is that we’re made in imago dei — within the picture of God — and so if we’re solely taught photographs about shepherds or kings or fathers, then there’s a complete smattering of the inhabitants that may solely see a part of themselves represented inside divinity.

I’ve been actually amazed at a few of the reactions from kids. That tells me how deeply embedded paternal photographs of God are inside society. For instance, one in all my mates is a really progressive (United Church of Christ) minister … and I do know she has raised her kids with very progressive views on theology. I used to be amazed when she instructed me she learn the ebook to her daughters, and her 4-year-old daughter turned to her and mentioned, “So God isn’t a boy, and ladies will be simply as robust?” You consider the implications of the inverse of that: If God is a boy, then ladies aren’t as robust and ladies are weak. Someplace alongside the best way, her 4-year-old had already internalized that.

It’s going to take greater than only one kids’s image ebook to shift that change. It’s even (going to take) greater than actually devoted mother and father who’re dedicated to displaying their kids expansive views of God. That is one thing that the child lit and training world has identified for many years now: Illustration continues to be necessary, not as a result of we’re making an attempt to be politically right, however due to the that means it holds for kids to see themselves represented.

Do you might have a favourite female picture of God within the ebook?

One among my favourite spreads is the one in all “she is the God who sees you” based mostly on Hagar and Ishmael. I didn’t need it to be a literal depiction of Hagar and Ishmael. I wished it to be related to trendy readers. Initially, it was a white mom (crying on the sofa together with her son), and I mentioned, “No, this needs to be a Black mom and son,” not solely as a result of it’s Hagar and Ishmael and so they have been Egyptian, but additionally as a result of, to me, it very a lot represents the Black and brown girls who grieve for his or her sons who’re unjustly focused for violence in our nation.

I’ve had a number of reactions from individuals who actually strongly resonate with that, not solely as a result of it’s so superbly illustrated and so emotive, but when you concentrate on again in 2020 and 2021, how many people have been mendacity on couches, crying, as a result of we’re so anxious and not sure about what was occurring in our world?

I see this in my job, too, as a hospice chaplain. So lots of my sufferers and relations and colleagues simply need to be seen. To be seen and to be validated is such a powerful human need and want, and so to think about a God who sees you and absolutely is aware of you is, I feel, very, very highly effective. I’ve had individuals from non-Christian and nonreligious backgrounds who have been particularly drawn in to that unfold, as properly, as a result of I feel it’s such a common theme.


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