By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine
“What can I do *right now?*”
That’s a question we’ve heard from countless readers and writers since the first days of 2021 as we all seek ways to rebuild America’s shattered community.
Having seen this turbulence coming for a long time, the prophetic author Ken Whitt answers with the title affirmation, spread across the front cover of his book: God Is Just Love—Building Spiritual Resilience and Sustainable Communities for the Sake of Our Children and Creation.
For readers seeking very practical ideas they can pursue immediately, Ken closes his book with “100 Things Families Can Do to Find Hope and Be Love.”
And: Psst! Here’s a secret—If you count every item on that list, there actually are more than 100 things that you and your loved ones can do right now. So, c’mon! This idea is catchy! Jump over to Amazon right now and you’ll soon be equipped with all sorts of hopeful, loving ideas to share with family and friends.
In fact, this practical, urgent theme runs through a half dozen timely books our publishing house is producing in the first half of 2021. Last month, we reported on the launch of journalist Bill Tammeus’s book, Love, Loss & Endurance, A 9/11 Story of Resilience and Hope in an Age of Anxiety. In that cover story, we emphasized that Bill’s book closes with 16 pages describing specific ways we all can help to “unplug extremism.” Also early this year, we will publish David Livingston Edwards’ book What Belongs to God, which includes a detailed outline for organizing discussion groups with friends about “Choosing Peace.” Then, Mindy Corporon’s upcoming book Healing a Shattered Soul, once again, connects readers with lots of practical ideas and resources generated by Mindy’s nonprofit. In addition, our team is working on an expanded second edition of Brenda Rosenberg’s 2020 book, Reuniting the Children of Abraham, to add both some video resources for groups and some daily reminders of things we each can do as individuals. Also on the horizon is Howard Brown’s book, Shining Brightly, which will offer ideas at the close of each chapter for letting your light shine a little more brightly.
Excited? We certainly are.
“I’m just glad we’re all part of this effort reaching out in so many different directions,” Ken Whitt said in our interview this week.
‘OUR VOICES REALLY ARE COMING TOGETHER’
“As readers discover what these authors are writing, you’ll definitely see that our voices really are coming together,” Ken said. “There are so many hopeful connecting points between what all of us are writing and the ideas we’re giving to people.
“What unites us? We all see the urgency in helping people find the next best thing they can be doing right now. We all know that the challenges we are facing are larger than any one of us. We all need each other. We can’t do what needs to be done alone. That’s a major part of my book—how families and communities need to come together across all generations—from the youngest to the oldest—to prepare for the future. In my book, I’m talking about examples as practical—and as fun—as teaching kids to make topsoil to grow vegetables or to bake bread over a fire outdoors. I’ve done it. It’s fun and it gets us all going in the right direction.”
That’s why our publishing house devoted nine pages at the end of Ken’s book for that list of “100 Things Families Can Do.”
“I’m so glad we made the decision to include that list,” Ken said. “Everyone who hears about my new book asks about that ‘100 Things Families Can Do’ section. Because of all that’s happening in our world right now, and especially in this country since January 6, it’s clear to millions of people that we all need to take action.
“We need more than talk,” he continued. “Every day, I’m seeing news reports about what we all need to be doing to encourage peace, build stronger communities and work toward saving what we can of our planet’s future. And, people are responding to that.
“Our voices really are converging,” Ken said. “Just this week, I was so surprised to read what Pope Francis said from the Vatican—calling for a return to ‘lectio divina’ and coupling that call for prayerful reading of the Bible that really engages our relationship with God.” Then, the pope went on to make the connection between our need to be more loving and truthful people—with a warning against further dangers from extremists. Ken said, “I’m not Catholic and I have my own way of describing this, but when I read what the pope said, I thought right away: Hey, there’s a chapter in my book that’s very much like what the pope is saying.”
‘TORN FROM THE HEADLINES’
The core of Ken’s book is a loving adventure story about how he and his wife have tried to connect with several generations of their family—and other families—to encourage both faithful resilience and also courageous action to help save the earth’s resources. (And don’t miss this: At the end of this cover story there’s also an inspiring 1-minute video that captures the major themes of Ken’s book and his ongoing work as a speaker and teacher.)
Journalists like to refer to such timely books as “torn from the headlines” and Ken literally has a growing mountain of recent press clippings about the themes he explores in his book. Yes, one theme he addresses is how to “unplug extremism,” as Bill Tammeus describes that challenge. But that’s only one of Ken’s major themes. Even more important is saving our planet from the perils piling up with waste and global warming.
“In the past, I sometimes felt I was a voice crying in the wilderness,” Ken said, “but in this new year, not a day goes by that there isn’t another big headline.”
Among the recent headlines Ken recommends to readers are:
...First, here’s a direct link to Pope Francis’s January 27, 2021, message about lectio divina from the English section of the Vatican website. In Ken’s book, Chapter 5 is titled Reading Genesis Again—For the First Time and begins with Ken’s description of a prayerful reading of scripture similar to what the pope describes.
...Then, of all the headlines about our climate crisis in the past week, Ken recommends reading a New York Times overview by Roy Scranton, headlined, “I’ve Said Goodbye to ‘Normal.’ You should, too.” Ken said in our interview, “Roy’s piece is such a great overview of the issues we’re facing that I’m telling everyone I know to go read his piece.”
...Also for background, Ken recommends this summary story by Jonathan Ellis and and Douglas Alteen, headlined, “The Paris Climate Agreement: What You Need to Know.”
Why are these major news stories appearing almost daily now? Because after four years of official American indifference to the plight of our planet, a host of new leaders are arriving in Washington D.C. to kick start environmental efforts. In that regard, Ken highlights this Washington Post piece by Ben Adler, headlined, “Every Cabinet Job Is about Climate Change Now.”
Are you intrigued by these newsy, helpful links and ideas? Then, you’ll also want to connect directly with Ken and his nonprofit Traces of God Ministries. Ken’s group has been working on these issues for years, but in 2021, they’ve suddenly found a whole new level of interest in their work. The group’s website was completely redesigned—by our publishing house friend Michael Thompson at One Thompson Place—in preparation for the 2021 launch of Ken’s book. If you visit the website to meet Ken and his colleagues, you’ll discover there’s an ongoing flow of inspiring columns. On that page, there’s also a box where you can sign up for a free once-a-week email reminder of new headlines. And, don’t worry, you can sample Ken’s weekly email for a while, then you could cancel anytime, if you wish. Our thought is: You’ll get hooked on Ken’s weekly “Whittlings,” the name of that newsletter.