I wanted to share a new children’s book project that we at RHM are very excited about. It’s called Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/daneenakers/holy-troublemakers-and-unconventional-saints), an illustrated storybook with profiles and portraits of 50 people of diverse faiths who have worked for more love and justice in their corner of the world.
The book is being written by Daneen Akers, one of the producers and directors of the Seventh-Gay Adventists (http://www.sgamovie.com), Enough Room at the Table (https://www.sgamovie.com/enough-room/), and Outspoken (http://www.sgamovie.com/outspoken) documentary films. She says she’s been complaining for years about the lack of good faith-based books for children.
“Most faith-based children’s books come from a very fundamentalist or morally simplistic perspective. I just can’t read those books to my children. I’ve decided to write a book about faith heroes I want my children to grow up inspired by. I want my children to know that faith isn’t all bad, and religious people can and do choose to do good, often motivated by a vision of a loving, just, and compassionate Divine.”`
Daneen is passionate about her girls learning about people of diverse faith backgrounds who have been troublemakers for the higher good, people like the ones Bayard Rustin (https://www.holytroublemakers.com/illustrations) called for when he said: “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” These are the stories she believes we need more than ever right now inspiring our kids, inspiring us all.
The book will emphasize the stories of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, indigenous people, and others too often excluded from religious narratives. It will be illustrated by a variety of artists with profiles that are 3-6 pages long and is aimed at the 8-12 age group.
Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints will feature past and present people of faith like Bayard Rustin, the lifelong Quaker and Civil Rights hero we all should know about but often don’t because he was also gay at a time when that was considered a major liability, so he had to stay in the background.
Others include Rabbi Regina Jonas (https://www.holytroublemakers.com/illustrations), the first woman ordained as a rabbi anywhere in the world in 1935 in Berlin, Germany, and Maryam Molkara (https://www.holytroublemakers.com/illustrations), a devout Muslim from Iran who was a transgender woman and literally walked into Ayatollah Khomeini’s office one day in 1987 to ask for permission to live openly as a trans woman. She got permission after sharing her story (and after his guards beat her up on her way in). To this day Iran has more rights for transgender people than other similar countries thanks to Maryam’s pioneering work.
Present day holy troublemakers and unconventional saints include people like Cindy Wang Brandt, a gentle parenting advocate who helps formerly fundamentalist parents know there are other ways to parent well. She also just got fired from her job at an evangelical college in Taiwan for her outspoken advocacy for LGBT rights. The final list of holy troublemakers to feature will be decided on with the input of project backers.
The book’s vision has resonated so far and just hit 50% of funding in the first 10 days. You can learn more about the book, see the incredible portraits that have already been completed, and back the project at www.holytroublemakers.com/kickstarter. (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/daneenakers/holy-troublemakers-and-unconventional-saints)
This is something I can get behind. And you can, too!
Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints is exactly the kind of book I wish Crystal and I would have been able to read to our children from day one. Helping children understand how to channel progressive faiths into the work of making our world a safe, compassionate, just home for us all; celebrating our differences as the varied, diverse and beautiful image of God that all of us are; inspiring them to become holy troublemakers themselves as they encounter injustice in our world, that is what these stories awaken. I can think of no other children’s book I have ever enjoyed sharing with my own children so much. The stories resonate so deeply. And the discussions we have after each person featured (so far) have been of immeasurable worth. I cannot say enough good things about this children’s book. In fact, it’s a book for everyone regardless of the reader’s age. I give Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints my highest praise and recommendation. It is a book for every child’s night stand. Another world is possible and this book will hold a definite place in the memory of our children in moving us closer toward it.
This is the storybook we’ve needed.