“I love this project.” - Glennon Doyle
“The project deserves our support.” - Brian D. McLaren
“Very excited about the Holy Troublemakers book project.”- Rev. Broderick Greer
“This looks *awesome*” - Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
“I couldn’t back this fast enough.” - Nish Weiseth
“Y’all, I haven't been this excited about a children's book in a long time.” - Kaitlin B. Curtice
“This project is so exciting.” - Eliel Cruz
Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints is an illustrated children’s storybook featuring 50 stories and portraits of people of faith who worked for more love and justice in their corner of the world, even when that meant rocking the religious boat.
This book will be illustrated with a variety of artistic styles from diverse artists and will emphasize the stories of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, indigenous people, and others too often written out of religious narratives.
There’s a growing community of progressive families of faith as well as grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers who want better faith-based content for our kids.
These are the faith heroes we want on our children's bedside tables.
This book will feature 50 profiles (2-4 pages each) and be written for the 8-12 age range. Each profile will include commissioned portraits of modern and historical holy troublemakers and unconventional saints including:
1) Maryam Molkara, the pioneering trans rights’ advocate and Muslim woman from Iran we should all know about (she literally walked into Ayatollah Khomeini's office one day to ask for the right to live openly as a transgender woman).
2) Bayard Rustin, the lifelong Quaker and Civil Rights hero we should all know about but often don’t because he was also gay.
3) Alice Paul, also a Quaker, and the radical women’s rights organizer who transformed the women’s right to vote movement (because being “polite” wasn’t working).
4) Rabbi Regina Jonas, the first woman rabbi officially ordained anywhere in 1935 in Berlin, Germany.
5) Cindy Wang Brandt, a modern-day “unfundamentalist” parenting advocate and former evangelical missionary from Taiwan who was recently fired from her job for standing up for LGBT rights.
6) St. Francis of Assisi, the unconventional saint who was born to wealth but gave it all up to work on behalf of the poor (and animals, making him a favorite of Hufflepuffs everywhere).
A few of the other modern-day holy troublemakers and unconventional saints who have agreed to participate include:
- Kate Christensen-Martin, a progressive pastor who, among many things, writes curriculum for children that helps them connect with their own beautiful souls and honor each other.
- Danilo Cortez, an evangelical pastor who felt called to lead his church to become a “third-way” church where LGBT members were truly included, before he knew one of his children was gay.
- Eliel Cruz, LGBTQ activist and founder of the #FaithfullyLGBT campaign.
- Kaitlin B. Curtice, an indigenous rights advocate and author who focuses on the intersection spirituality and everyday life.
- Rachel Held Evans, a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, and popular social media commentator writing/teaching about faith, doubt, and life in the Bible Belt. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications.
- Leslie Foster, an experimental filmmaker and artist whose childhood growing up all over the world as a missionary kid probably led to his spiritually nomadic sensibilities now. His work focuses on sharing under-heard stories and expanding our sense of the Divine.
- Bishop Yvette Flunder, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who leads the City of Refuge UCC Church. She is also the Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a renewed preacher, and she also sings incredible Gospel music with groups such as Chanticleer.
- Rev. Canon Broderick Greer, a priest on staff at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver. He also lectures on theology as a tool for liberation and the interplay of religion, culture, and theology.
- Alicia Johnston, a blogger and former pastor of a conservative denomination who lost her job when she recently came out as bisexual.
- Valarie Kaur, a Sikh leader, TED speaker, and creator of the Revolutionary Love project.
- Reb Irwin Keller, a rabbi, teacher, and musician who performs both sacred music for Jewish rituals as well as part of a drag band he describes as “America's Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet”.
- Jennifer Knapp, Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter who lost her first career in the Christian music world when she came out as queer and has had to rebuild from the ground up.
- Deborah Jian Lee, journalist, podcaster, and author of Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians Are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.
- Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, a phenomenal preacher and the senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan, an inclusive, vibrant, arts-celebrating, bold church where she leads reconciliation and justice work.
- Mahdia Lynn, organizer of an LGBTQ-inclusive mosque in Chicago and a project to help incarcerated Muslims.
- Brian McLaren, one of the founders of the Wild Goose festival and author of many progressive Christian books.
- Herb Montgomery, a modern-day itinerant preacher and teacher of the radical teachings of Jesus, especially as they relate to the poor and systemically oppressed.
- Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer, the first transgender clergy person to be ordained in the Lutheran Church and author of a series of books for young children about diverse families.
- Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, an author, speaker, and popular social media commentator teaching about how spiritual can inform and transform everyone because whether it’s about parenting, feminism, sex, God, justice, or joy, it’s all connected. Voted one of the top 10 rabbis to watch by The Daily Beast.
- Samir Selmanović, an author and speaker whose own life experiences growing up in Croatia with both Muslim and Christian family, surrounded by both capitalism and communism, helped him see the Divine and the connectedness of all people in unique ways.
- Yiscah Smith, an educator at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies & the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and advocate for authentic living.
- And more (like J.K. Rowling, author of the most exquisitely hopeful--downright sacred in our household--series of books teaching us that Love ultimately wins).
Definitely will be looking to add to this list with your suggestions, dear backers!
And, here are a few of the historical holy troublemakers and unconventional saints. In addition to the glorious Maryam Molkara, Bayard Rustin, Rabbi Regina Jonas, Alice Paul, and St. Francis of Assisi featured above, this list will include a few known names but also people we don’t know much about, especially the faith aspects of their journey.
This list isn’t final, and as a backer, you’ll get to help decide on the final list. The possible list currently includes:
- Sojourner Truth
- Charles Darwin
- Lady Godiva
- Georgia Gilmore
- Florence Nightengale
- Jorge Bergoglio
- James Cone
- Dorothy Day
- Anne Hutchinson
- Frederick Douglass
- Mr. Rogers
- Madeline L’Engle
- Abdul Ghaffar Khan
- Muhammad’s Hudaybiya
- Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)
- Marcella Althaus-Reid
- Paulo Freire
- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
- Queen Liliʻuokalani
- And more—again, your input as a backer will help refine this list (and, just maybe we’ll start a list for a second volume ;)
1. The Hardcover Book
This is going to be a gorgeous book that is ethically produced by one of the finest printing companies in North America:
The books features include:
- 7 by 9 inches to perfectly fit young hands.
- Hardcover with a lovely, smooth, scuff-free lamination.
- Satin bookmark.
- Gorgeous, high-quality matte paper.
- Full color.
- Environmentally-friendly ink.
- Paper from sustainably-farmed sources.
- Printed at a press in North America that’s entirely employee-owned.
- Over 200 pages of stories and portraits of 50 incredible people who lived out their faith in ways that benefitted the common good and worked for more love and justice in their corner of the world.
2. Digital Edition
We don't want you to miss having Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints with you on the go, so we'll be making a digital version of the book (EPUB and PDF) that will work on popular reading devices.
3. Homeschool/Church Kit
Want to help the children in your life learn more about the holy troublemakers featured the book? The homeschool/church kit includes a comprehensive lesson plan to make it easy to incorporate these faith heroes into your curriculum.
4. Book Tour
We're a family that loves to travel and we'll be taking the book on a U.S./Canada tour when it's done and ready to share. We'd love to meet you along the way and add a stop in your hometown for a book reading and signing event, coffee, and lots of smiles.
5. Summer Family Retreat
Let's get away for a summer family retreat in 2019 together! Bring your whole family (up to 5 people) and we'll bring the speakers, lodging, food, and fellowship. We're keeping this one small and intimate so we can get to know each other, make new friends, get inspired, and spend quality time with other unconventional families. (Note: The location and final details will be based on backer feedback and availability.)
I’m Daneen Akers, the author and publisher of Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints. I’m a writer, producer, teacher, and mother who believes deeply in the power of stories. Books are beloved friends in our house, and the percentage of wall space in our (quite small) house taken up by bookshelves is significant.
Most of my past projects explore faith, identity, and belonging in some way. My past work includes the feature documentary, Seventh-Gay Adventists, which screened at numerous film festivals around the world, Enough Room at the Table, a companion outreach film for small groups with the goal of modeling respectful and mutual dialogue among people who have different theological perspectives around the intersection of faith, sexuality, and gender; and Outspoken, a series of seven short documentary films about LGBTQ people of faith who are living out their faith and who they are in unique and compelling ways.
My work has been featured in NBC News, TeenVogue, LGBTQ Nation, Spectrum, Frameline Film Festival, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, the Seattle LGBT Film Festival, and many more. I was a part-time resident in the San Francisco Film Society’s inaugural FilmHouse program and received the Pacific Pioneer Emerging Filmmaker Grant.
Most saliently for this project, I’m the mother of two daughters, Lily (9) and Lucy (2), both of whom are named after favorite literary characters (Lily is for Lily Potter, whose selfless act at the beginning of Harry Potter begins the theme that love is ultimately the most powerful force in the universe; and Lucy is for Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the siblings in The Chronicles of Narnia and the first to believe in the magic of Narnia).
I have a great personal need for a resource like Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints. I grew up in a conservative Christian denomination and have spent an enormous amount of time and energy as an adult wrestling with my own faith (and often lack thereof). I've deconstructed much and am still actively working to reconstruct something with roots and values that I want to pass on to my children, no matter where their own faith journeys take them.
I have removed a lot of faith-based materials from our home that no longer fit, but we haven't done a lot of replacing yet, mainly because the vast majority of available religious materials aimed at families and children are fundamentalist in worldview. But I feel the lack of options. I do want my girls 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.
As a storyteller, the clearest place for me to start adding something back to our deconstructed religious landscape are the stories of people of faith who have done much good, even if that meant rocking the religious boat.
I’m interested in my children learning about people of diverse faith backgrounds who have been troublemakers for the higher good, people like the ones Bayard Rustin called for when he said: “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” These are the faith heroes I want my children to grow up reading about and being inspired by. And I know I'm not alone in that desire.
We plan to use the funds from this campaign to print 2,000 copies of the book, purchase an ISBN number, commission the remaining artists to complete the illustrations, copyediting, design, and layout of the book. All of the funds for this $50,000 goal are for hard costs.
Our plan is the complete the book over the next few months and deliver it to backers by the end of March, 2019. We will keep you updated on our progress throughout the process.
In order to help international backers (outside the U.S.) save money, provide more shipping options, and keep costs as accurate to international locations as possible, we will be charging for international shipping and handling when the book is fulfilled rather than during the campaign.
U.S. backers will pay for shipping now.
Our promise to you:
- We will ship anywhere in the world at the most affordable rates available at the time of shipping.
- We will provide multiple shipping options so you can decide the speed and cost of the international shipping that you prefer.
- We will make it easy for you to provide your most current address so the books get sent to you and those you love more quickly and accurately.
- We will keep you informed along the way and make it simple for you to receive your amazing book when it's complete!
Thanks for being part of this publishing journey. I know I'm not the only spiritually unconventional parent who needs better faith-based books on my children's bedside tables.
Let's inspire our kids, our grandkids, our students, our church kids, and kids (and adults!) everywhere with faith heroes who did something for the common good.
Please share this in your circles of influence as it's going to take all of us to make this possible!
Graphic Design: Aphee Messer and Claudia Pech
Cover Design: Gillian Gamble
Illustrations by: Justine Lecouffe, Sr. X, Jared Wright, Gillian Gamble, Rebecca Solow, and Lore Obrejea
Cinematography and Editing: Stephen Eyer
Media Relations: Eliel Cruz
Risks and challenges
Every project comes with its own risks and challenges. Having successfully completed two Kickstarter campaigns to produce content in the past, my experience level is high. I know what it takes to bring a project from idea to completion, and I am utterly loyal to the community that helps make that possible.
I've been working on this project intensively for six months now and already have an extensive group of artists ready to hire as soon as this project is funded. And I'm working with one of the best printing presses in North America with a depth of experience creating gorgeous books just like this one.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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