Published by Beaming Books on March 8, 2022
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You know God the Father, but God is your Mother too.
With lyrical, rhyming text and exquisite illustrations, Mother God introduces readers to a dozen images of God inspired by feminine descriptions from Scripture. Children and adults alike will be in awe of the God who made them as they come to know her as a creative seamstress, generous baker, fierce mother bear, protective mother hen, strong woman in labor, nurturing nursing mother, wise grandmother, and comforting singer of lullabies.
This gorgeous picture book welcomes children into a fuller, more diverse understanding of what it means to be made in the image of God.
The prevailing cultural image of God in Western Christianity is that bequeathed to us by Michelangelo as displayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: an older, light-skinned man with a long, curly, white beard. There’s nothing at all in Scripture to support this conception and indeed many things in Scripture that speak against it. The prevailing cultural image of God’s relationship to humanity in Christianity is one that has a bit more biblical backing—that of Father. God as Father was a truly revolutionary and paradigm-shifting concept in the ancient world. From the Old Testament to the New, God reveals themselves using the metaphor of fatherhood to speak of their love for and relationship with humanity.
But that isn’t the only way God speaks of themselves. Mother God is a beautifully reverent exploration of the femininity of God and the way motherhood metaphors are used in Scripture. Author Teresa Kim Pecinovsky and illustrator Khoa Le invite readers into an exploration and celebration of a God who identifies themselves as Mother. Mother God identifies how God acts in ways that mothers do—through laboring to bring life into the world, in nurturing that life, in caring for it and loving it. The book also gets theological, speaking of God as Sophia Wisdom—sophia being the Greek word for “wisdom” and a feminine personification of the Divine in Scripture. It’s not just a celebration of the motherliness of God, it’s a reminder of how women and mothers live out God’s image within them through their femininity and motherhood.
As such, Mother God is also a less-than-subtle rebuke of Christianity-infused patriarchalism that denigrates women through its view of women. Pecinovsky reminds readers that God is not gendered and that while God is Father, She is Mother as well. Speaking to all, but perhaps to women specifically, she writes “You are made in Her image—She is making all things new.” This sort of language can be jolting and a bit subversive, calling readers out of their cultural expectations or ideas toward a God who is much, much bigger and greater than one gendered expression.
Khoa Le’s illustrations are beautiful and diverse. Every mother, every woman, will find themselves within these pages reflecting the reflection of God. Skin tone, body size, hair type—a lot of work went into ensuring that there was an intentional reflection of the diversity within motherhood. Mother God insists on showing that all women, not just those reflective of a majority cultural norm or a white, Western conception, are seen in the image of God.
This is an important book. For kids. For adults. For everyone in between. We can have theological conversations. We can parse the Hebrew and exegete the Greek. We can amass arguments and counter-arguments. And none of those are wrong to do. But the most powerful way to help others experience and understand God as Mother is to simply show them. That’s what Mother God does so perfectly well.