As the Covid-19 crisis continues to grip the globe, a number of publishers are adjusting to meet the changing needs of readers. Demand is high for uplifting content and spiritual guidance due to the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Religion publishers are meeting these concerns by adding timely notes to existing titles and acquiring drop-in titles that directly address the novel coronavirus,God, and faith.
Katya Covrett, executive editor at Zondervan Reflective, says that the Christian publisher has been discussing how to speak to the crisis since the beginning of the outbreak. “In times of disaster or crisis, be it local or global, Christians have been notoriously prone to jumping to conclusions about the nature and character of God, what he might be doing or saying in all this, and who is at fault for these great and terrible events,” she says. “The current pandemic is no exception.”
In what Covrett calls a “perfect opportunity,” Zondervan Reflective is publishing God and the Pandemic: A Christian Response on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath by Bible scholar N. T. Wright (June, available in softcover, e-book, and audiobook formats). In it, Wright examines a range of Christian reactions to Covid-19, including some calling the virus a sign of the apocalypse and others blaming and condemning China, the government, and the World Health Organization. Dismissing those responses, Wright points readers toward teachings from Scripture and examples of prayer and thought taken from Jesus’s life that can be applied to today’s world.
“Looking at the examples of Jesus and the early Christians, [Wright] helps us to understand how we are to talk about God, how we are to live in the present pandemic, how we recover from it, and what is the church’s calling in the midst of it all,” Covrett notes.
Offering another biblical perspective of current events, Corona Crisis: Plagues, Pandemics, and the Coming Apocalypse by theology professor and pastor Mark Hitchcock (W, May 19) examines the similarities between the end-time biblical prophecies and the coronavirus, making a case that the pandemic is not a fulfillment of the apocalypse but a foreshadowing of what is to come.
W is also publishing Shelter in God: Your Refuge in Times of Trouble by Dr. David Jeremiah (June 2), which explores ways to worship in times of trouble, pray under pressure, and overcome other obstacles presented by the pandemic. Portions of the book were previously included in Jeremiah’s When Your World Falls Apart (2004).
Referring to the two books, Damon Reiss, v-p and publisher of W Publishing, notes: “As a Christian publisher, it’s more important than ever that we deliver messages of hope and Biblical insight to help bolster believers’ faith as well as provide direction to many who may not already believe but who are looking for answers.”
From IVP, Leadership for a Time of Pandemic: Practicing Resilience (May 15) addresses the suspension of in-person gatherings, financial hits, heightened anxiety and other issues that continue to impact church leaders due to the coronavirus. Author Tod Bolsinger, who is the v-p and chief of leadership formation and associate professor of leadership formation at Fuller Theological Seminary, provides tips for “adaptive leadership in uncharted territory,” according to the publisher.
SPCK, IVP’s U.K.-based publishing partner, just released an e-book entitled Healthy Faith and the Coronavirus Crisis, edited by Kristi Mair and Luke Cawley. In it, 20 Christian thinkers offer insight on how to overcome challenges related to work, singleness, loneliness, grief, death, and more.
Two more Evangelical publishers released coronavirus drop-in titles last month. Five Things to Pray in a Global Crisis by Rachel Jones (The Good Book Co.) features prayer prompts aimed at easing burdens of loneliness, anxiety, and frustration. From Crossway, Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper points to biblical reminders of God’s goodness and sovereignty. In a press release announcing the book, Piper cited the fragility of the world amid the number of deaths due to Covid-19, and the stability faith offers.
“The seemingly solid foundations are shaking,” Piper said in a statement. “The question we should be asking is, do we have a rock under our feet?”
Episcopal publisher Church (CPI) is offering two titles on the Covid-19 crisis. We Shall Be Changed: Questions for the Post-Pandemic Church (Sept.), edited by Mark D. W. Edington, explores how the church will gather after the isolation of the pandemic. A collection of brief essays by church leaders examine questions such as how is God calling us to embrace the energy and creativity of this moment—and the longing people have felt for a return to community. CPI is also publishing Building Resilience: When There’s No Going Back to the Way Things Were by Alice Updike Scannell (Oct.), which aims to help those struggling with emotional responses to the pandemic with activities designed to overcome feelings of helplessness.
Covid-19 Titles from Catholic Publishers
Catholic presses are also among those offering paths forward through the pandemic. On May 8, Sophia Press released Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest by Teresa Tomeo, which features quotes from Scripture and stories from the lives of saints and other “selfless souls,” such as healthcare workers, who have overcome frightening challenges.
Christ in the Storm: An Extraordinary Blessing for a Suffering World (Ave Maria, Oct. 2) is based on the Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi Blessing given on March 27, 2020. During the address, the pope drew on the gospel passage to demonstrate God’s blessing, forgiveness, and healing in the midst of the coronavirus. The book will feature color photos and text from the event, as well as an explanation of the symbolism of the message.
“We decided to publish Christ in the Storm because we felt the event was an important moment, not only for Catholics but also for all Christians,” Tom Grady, publisher of Ave Maria Press, tells PW. “The images and words were so powerful—Pope Francis walking alone in the rain in St. Peter’s Square, Mark’s gospel story of Jesus calming the storm, the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Miraculous Crucifix—and they were a reminder that Christ is always with us, even in the midst of a global pandemic. We want readers to be able to come back to this message of hope whenever they need it.”