Feature

The IPPY Effect II

Outstanding Book of the Year Winner SKYLIGHT PATHS: Awards Recognize Books that Explore Spirituality and Inspire Youth
Skylight Paths was created in 1999 as an imprint of Jewish Lights Publishing of Woodstock, VT. Known as “the Ben & Jerry’s of book publishing,” Jewish Lights established the new line in response to the national movement away from organized religion and toward a more personal approach to spirituality.

“We feel that religion today is increasingly a part of people’s lives, rather than apart from them,” says Jon M. Sweeny, Associate Publisher at SkyLight Paths. “We hope to interest seekers by looking at religion in new ways, and we will create ways for those committed to a specific faith to learn from the spirituality of other traditions.”

In a recent review of their 2002 title, Spiritual Innovators: Seventy-Five Extraordinary People Who Changed the World in the Past Century, Spirituality & Health magazine said, “We can rejoice that Skylight Paths has again done pioneering work in helping us map the cutting edge territories of spirituality in our times.”

The 2001 copyright title, Where Does God Live?

How can we "see" God? Using simple, everyday examples that children can relate to, this colorful book helps young readers develop a direct and personal understanding of God. Where Does God Live? playfully guides children down their own path of spiritual discovery...and reminds us all that this world is full of wonder.

God lives in the sun
and the black sky of night,
God lives in the dark,
God lives in the light.
God lives in the flowers,
the oceans and streams,
God lives in the treetops
God lives in your dreams.

The authors: Rev. August Gold, a renowned spiritual educator and founder and senior minister of the Sacred Center for Spiritual Living, committed to celebrating the teachings of the Unity and Religious Science movements.  She is also creator of the inspirational cable television series Set Yourself Free.

Rev. Matthew J. Perlman blends spiritual questioning and imagination in his work as an Interfaith Minister. He is a graduate of the New Seminary in New York. Before becoming a stay-at-home dad he was a human resources consultant and employment counselor helping people find a spiritual peace with career choices. His photography has helped him and others realize that the Divine can be found everywhere you look.

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We spoke with Jon Sweeney about his company’s IPPY Award-winning book, and how Skylight Paths will respond to the spiritually challenging times ahead.

IP: Why has Where Does God Live? been so successful?

JS: It is a very special book that shows parents, regardless of religious affiliation or background, how to open discussions about God with their children. The beauty of the book is that it appeals as strongly to people of religious faith (Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Religious Science, Unitarian Universalist, even Buddhist) as it does to people who do not care for organized religion, but who want to raise their children with spiritual understanding.

IP: How has the current world political situation affected your publishing mission?

JS: We are focusing more on books that explore issues, opinions, and action. It is important for spiritual seekers to realize that spirituality is not just about ourselves--it is about what we do in the world. We have just launched the "Spiritual Perspectives" series in order to explore the issues that inform our actions in the world. The first book in the series: Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization, by Ira Rifkin, was just published, and we are about to publish the very timely second book: Spiritual Perspectives on America's Role as Superpower (April '03). Contributors to the latter include Lama Surya Das, Tony Campolo, Matthew Fox, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Kabir Helminski, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rev. Forrest Church, Rosemary Ruether, and others.

IP: The 80s & 90s are considered to have been rather selfish, materialistic decades of human behavior. Are changes in attitudes occurring? Is the new millennium a time for spiritual development?

JS: I sure hope so. Perhaps we needed an economic downturn in order to realign our focus on what is most important. I believe that what will be published in spirituality in the next few years will be much more lasting than the books that were published in the last few years of the 90s.

IP: Your press epitomizes understanding and cooperation between different faiths, much the way our society has become an integrated mix of faiths and cultures. Can this cooperation bring peace to the world?

JS: Again, I hope so, but we who are interested in fostering understanding between the religions need to move to the next level. Many of us do a good job of being respectful to differences and listening to each others' stories, but we need to more actively engage with each other. Muslims need to invite Catholics to prayer. Protestants and Buddhists need to eat and study together. Sometimes I feel that our growing multi-faith world only ghettoizes us more. We see the other, we may read about her/him, but we don't actually engage. We learn more in order to more clearly identify our differences. SkyLight Paths is trying to create books that actually bring people of different faiths and backgrounds together.

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IPPY Winner to be Published by Hot British Indie

Canongate Books, the Scottish indie publisher named 2002 Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards, may be the smallest publisher ever to win the award. “It just shows that the little guy with the slingshot really can take out the giants," said an awards spokesman.

The sixteen-employee, Edinburgh-based publisher won the Booker Award for Life of Pi last October; the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for best first thriller of the year for Louise Welsh’s The Cutting Room; and Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White was one of the most celebrated books of 2002 on both sides of the Atlantic.

Current hot prospects are Dan Rhodes, who appeared on the list of 20 best young British novelists and will be published this spring, and Steven Sherrill’s The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, which Canongate head Jamie Byng predicts will be “this year’s Life of Pi.Minotour won an IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction when it was first published in the US by John F. Blair.


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