Many of you know that last year at this time I was cocooning in that blissful little corner of the world known as the Collegeville Institute, located on the campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Even though the trees were ablaze in every shade of orange and yellow and red, I did the best I could to keep my seat planted to the chair and finally get to work on a project called “Redeeming Power.”
The seeds of this project had already been germinating for several years, ever since a conversation with my editor at Ave Maria Press, Eileen. She is the one who helped to make possible Redeeming Administration and Redeeming Conflict (among many other interesting projects). Indeed she has been the genius behind just about everything I’ve written in recent years since her ear is always to the ground in the world of Catholic ministry and she has a good sense of the questions people are asking. We’d been batting around ideas for a third book in the Redeeming series. In my mind, I had always pictured Redeeming Administration as the first of three books for Catholic leaders, and I had always thought the third one would be Redeeming Time.
“How’s that thing on time coming?” Eileen would occasionally ask me.
“Not good,” I’d consistently reply. “I don’t have enough of it to write it.”
“I have another idea for you,” she said. “Power.”
And as soon as she said it, I knew this was what I was going to need to do. The reason I hadn’t been able to write a single paragraph about time was that all of my time was going to addressing questions related to power. Whenever I was giving a workshop on administration or conflict, more and more of the questions I was being asked had to do with the right use of power and power differentials and abuses of power. Many of these questions I did not have answers for, and I wanted answers—first just for myself, but then also to have something better to offer the many faith leaders I was working with.
With the gift of a fellowship at the Collegeville Institute, I was finally able to devote significant time to reflecting on the hard questions related to power that I was wrestling with. I knew I wanted to do some reading on the topic and I did. But mostly I knew that I wanted to talk with other faith leaders who were wrestling with these questions to see where their own prayer and reflection had taken them. I enjoyed over 40 wonderful hour long conversations with “People of Power” (my term, not their label of choice), many of which I was able to record. Afterwards as I went through the interview notes and tried to organize what I heard into themes, I strangely found myself thinking more and more about the stories of creation from Genesis. I had done a study of these stories the summer before when working the catechists and when packing for Collegeville and going through my own bookshelves considering what books I should bring with me, the Jewish scripture commentary Etz Hayim had whispered “Bring me.” These seemed like two very different things: Power and Genesis? Putting the Etz Hayim commentary on Genesis 1-3 alongside the interview notes though allowed a possible outline to emerge.
Wow, it took a while, but I am happy to finally share the cover of the new book due to hit the shelves in mid-February 2024. Authors are not much involved in designing their book covers so it is always a surprise to us also when we get to see what the design team came up with. I really love this one. It is similar to Redeeming Administration and Redeeming Conflict obviously, but with slightly different colors. Purple is a color I often associate with power. (You can read more about how it came to be associated with royal power in Chapter 10.) The red hints to me that there is always going to be tension in the exercise of power. The yellow suggest there is also the possibility of joy. That became super clear to me in doing many of the interviews—lots of tension and also lots of joy.
I am happy to say that leading up to the book launch there will also be a podcast series that captures highlights of the interviews I did. Starting next month, I’ll be releasing a twenty-ish minute podcast every 1-2 weeks to those who are part of this mailing list. If you know a leader from the church, business, or non-profit world who you think might be intrigued, please share this newsletter and invite them to subscribe at anngarrido.com. I’d love to get as many people as possible involved in this wider conversation about what holy and healthy use of power looks like!
If you are new to the newsletter this week – Welcome! So glad you are here! If you are not sure what you’ve gotten yourself into and want to see previous posts to catch up, they can be found under the News tab.
Thanks, All, for sharing the joy of the new cover with me!