Saturday, August 17, 2013

North American Interfaith Network Review of The Girl God

I am happy to provide a mini review of this delightful new children’s book. Like many fine children’s books, there is food for the soul of adults as well.

While my own personal conception of God is genderless, I realize that the predominance of male images of the Divine have been an obstruction to many women, especially young women, in their spiritual sense of identity.

“An uneasy reaction to the word Goddess is common among women. Thousands of years of repression, hostility, and conditioning against a Divine Mother have made a deep impression on us. We’ve been conditioned to shrink back from the Sacred Feminine, to fear it, to think of it as sinful, even to revile it. And it would take a while for me to deprogram that reaction, to unpack the word and realize that in the end, Goddess is just a word. It simply means the divine in female form.” ~Sue Monk Kidd

“The Girl God promotes a fresh look at our assumptions about the divine – recovering the lost part of our story for generations. The book was written with the girl-child in mind, however many women have found the book healing.

“The story was inspired by a conversation with my young daughter when she could not relate to the male image of God. As a mother, I tired of reading the same meaningless books to my children over and over.

“I wanted a book that would strengthen my daughter as she grew, but that would also be interesting for me to read – with beautiful art and inspiring quotes” ~from the press release.

This book, which was written by Trista Hendren, is, among other qualities, truly beautiful. The illustrations by Elisabeth Slettnes are stunning. The book has a place in this interfaith blog, in that it includes quotes from many faith traditions, as well as from noted feminists.

The story is about an interfaith family. Helani’s mommy is a Muslim and her daddy is a Christian. When the parents separate, Helani wishes her family was normal. She wonders if it is her fault that her mother appears sad. In spite of the great love that her mother expresses to her, she feels discomfort in either her daddy’s church or her mother’s mosque.

This very real dilemma of an interfaith family, not so uncommon these days, and the daughter’s confusion is treated with both realism and poetic expression. I think the book is a remarkable addition to interfaith literature for children and especially for young girls.

“I came to the conclusion long ago… that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu… But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.” -GANDHI

~Judy Lee Trautman, North American Interfaith Network

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