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About Daneen Akers
Daneen Akers is a writer, documentary filmmaker, teacher, and mother who believes deeply in the power of stories. Her latest project is "Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints", an illustrated middle-grade anthology featuring original portraits and profiles of people of faith who worked for love and justice in their corner of the world, even if that rocked the religious boat.
Daneen was a part-time resident in the San Francisco Film Society's inaugural FilmHouse program and received the Pacific Pioneer Emerging Filmmaker Grant. She co-produced and directed several documentary films that focused on identity, faith, and belonging, especially as related to LGBTQ members of the conservative denomination she grew up in. She's a former English teacher with a graduate degree from San Francisco State University.
Daneen found that most of the books she’d read as a child that had anything to do with faith were not compatible with the type of faith she now has as an adult and parent. She knew she needed better stories for her own children, stories that help us transcend fears, connect with each other, engage in justice, and model an expansive and fully inclusive view of the Divine. She'd removed a lot of faith-based materials from her home that no longer fit, but she realized there weren't a lot of options for replacing those resources. As a storyteller, the clearest place for her to start adding back to their bookshelves was to tell stories about people of faith who have been motivated by a vision of a loving, just, and compassionate Divine, people whose faith works for the common good of us all.
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Some of the people featured in this book are well known, like the beloved St. Francis of Assisi (a favorite of Hufflepuffs everywhere for his love of animals), who gave up a wealthy inheritance to serve the poor, Rumi, the Sufi poet, and Thich Nhat Hanh the beloved teacher who developed the concept of engaged Buddhism. Some are well known, but the deep faith motivating their work is lesser known, such as Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, and Mr. Rogers. Others are less known such as Bayard Rustin, an American Quaker whose role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s is often downplayed because he was a gay man; Maryam Molkara, an Iranian Muslim transgender rights advocate; and Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi to be ordained whose story was almost lost to history.
In particular, "Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints" emphasizes the stories of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, Indigenous people, and others who are too often written out of religious narratives. These stories move us towards more love and a faith that works for the common good of us all.
"Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints" is a middle-grade nonfiction (ages 8 and up) book.
Some Endorsements for "Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints":
“I love this project.” —Glennon Doyle, author of "Untamed" and "Love Warrior"
"This beautiful, inspiring, and inclusive book fills such a gap in our bookshelves." Sarah Bessey, author of "Jesus Feminist" and "Miracles and Other Reasonable Things"
“This book introduces kids to a wide array of spiritual leaders who believe in the power of revolutionary love. I'm thrilled my grandchildren will have a resource like this.” —Brian D. McLaren, author of "A New Kind of Christian" and "The Great Spiritual Migration"
“I haven’t been this excited about a children’s book in a long time.” —Kaitlin B. Curtice, author of "Native" and "Glory Happening"
"This book is so important. It would have helped me a lot growing up as a queer Christian kid if I'd had a book like at home." - Eliel Cruz, creator of #FaithfullyLGBT
This book is written by Daneen Akers, a writer, producer, teacher, and mother who believes deeply in the power of stories. Her past projects have explored faith, identity, and belonging. She is the mother of two girls who are the true inspiration for this book.