McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding co-wrote Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible. Here they answer a few questions about the book and how they hope to inspire readers.
What inspired you to write Girls Who Choose God?
Krishna: When Bethany’s three-year-old asked, “Mom, where are the girls?” as she was reading her cartoon scripture book of prophets, warriors, and heroes, Bethany got motivated. She looked everywhere—there wasn’t a single suitable children’s book focused on women in the scriptures. For many people, that would have been the end of the road, but Bethany is a force of nature. She was living in Mumbai, India, at the time. Knowing I was on my annual brain-scrubbing India trip, she dropped me an email asking me to come on by. Over dosa and idlis, we chatted, schemed, and finally looked at each other—could we do this?
Yes. But it took four years. In between Bethany moving back to the States, me leaving my business, Bethany giving birth, me moving to India—we Skyped our way through the Bible. We debated everything: which women we wanted [in the book], what those stories meant to each of us, how that meaning was different, what we thought were the core teachings, were those lessons ones we wanted to highlight for our girls, which words had the truest meaning for the ideas we wanted to convey—everything.
How has writing this book enhanced your own faith in God?
Krishna: Living in rural India, I am geographically far from being able to worship in the model that I grew up in. Church is a plane ride away. While we obviously always need God in our life, with this situation I have needed (more than ever) to be intentional about cultivating my relationship with my Father in Heaven. This book demanded I actively seek guidance, inspiration, and comfort. I truly think God wanted this book to be.
Why do you think a book like this is needed today?
We know that God respects women and men equally. We also know that this not how our own western society, as well as other societies around the world, are always structured. As the LDS Church grows ever more worldwide in its reach, I think it is vital that we reflect the best of our revealed doctrine.
Before this book, we had no LDS children's books focused on women in the scriptures. In fact, many children scripture books had no women at all. For our young girls to have role models and for young boys to grow up seeing women as spiritual peers, we need to educate from a young age about the contribution that both women and men make. We have room for improvement on this. For example, women are underrepresented in quotes and stories in much of our curriculum. Our Primary children, teenagers, and even adults need examples of bold, righteous women.
We need to understand there are wide and varied ways that women contribute to God's work—there is room for all the talents in the kingdom. This book illustrates a number of those ways—and there are many more within the pages of the scriptures!
What do you hope readers will feel as they read it?
Krishna: I want girls and boys to be inspired to courageously choose God themselves.
Spalding: When we wrote the questions at the end of each story, we wanted to emphasize that the readers could also make these same choices. Serving God is within all of our abilities.
Who is the most influential woman of faith to you?
Krishna: My mother, Stephanie Soper, and Chieko Okazaki. My mother for her unfailing trust in God, Stephanie for her communication style of prayer—talking to her real divine Father, and Chieko Okazaki for embracing the kaleidoscope this God-made world offers.
Spalding: Eve has always been my exemplar. I feel so empowered by her courageous choice that I wanted that same framework for our book—the power of choice. Eve's choice was first and formative for all of humanity, but each of us is called to daily choose God in our spheres as well.