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Ringwald, Christopher D.

Ringwald, Christopher D.

PERSONAL:

Married Amy Biancolli (a writer and critic); children: three. Education: Georgetown University, B.S.; Columbia University, M.S.; St. Bernard's Institute, M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Sage Colleges, 140 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist, writer, and educator. Advocates for Human Potential, Inc., senior writer; Sage Colleges, Albany, NY, visiting scholar and director of the Faith & Society Project. Former reporter for the Times Union, Albany.

AWARDS, HONORS:

General Excellence Award, Hearst Newspapers, 1990; 2002 Albany Author of the Year; first-place award from the Catholic Press Association, 2003, 2006.

WRITINGS:

Faith in Words: Ten Writers Reflect on the Spirituality of Their Profession, ACTA Publications (Chicago, IL), 1997.

Jewish Farming Communities of Northeastern New York, Rathbone Gallery: Sage Colleges (Albany, NY), 1998.

The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Commonweal, Governing, and Christian Science Monitor.

SIDELIGHTS:

Christopher D. Ringwald has written on mental health, religion, books, law, social policy, and conflict and reconciliation in Iraq and Uganda. His books have primarily focused on various aspects of religion. For example, his 2002 book, The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions, explores the role that spirituality plays in different addiction treatment programs. The author discusses specific aspects of various programs' spiritual components, such as meditation and prayer, and also explores controversial issues associated with faith-based treatments. Much of the book is based on the author's numerous interviews with doctors, scientists, counselors, and addicts' family members. "This is an important book," wrote William A. Barry in a review in America. Commenting on the author's profiles of recovery addicts, Barry noted: "Many of these are moving tributes to the power of some kind of belief, even if it is only belief in the treatment group." Other reviewers also had praise for The Soul of Recovery. For example, Insight on the News contributor John Elvin called it "a very solid, thoroughly documented … book."

A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath is an examination of how the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths share the idea that a day should be set aside for rest and contemplation. The author explores each religion's view of the Sabbath and its importance and describes the specific customs associated with each religion's observance, as well as modern controversies surrounding these customs. The author also follows his own family's observance of the Sabbath and the observances of two other families. "For Ringwald … [and the other families] setting a day apart, helps them pace themselves in a world where we claim we can't find time for anything," wrote a contributor to the Albany Times Union. A Day Apart received widespread praise from critics. Anthony J. Elia, writing in the Library Journal, commented that this "splendid book is a welcome addition to the contemporary discussions of interreligious conversations." Booklist contributor Bryce Christensen noted the author's "careful scholarship."

Ringwald told CA: "When I was a student at Our Lady of Mercy grammar school, a teacher assigned me to write up a newspaper on school activities. The issue was cancelled. ‘Too negative,’ she said. She then had me report on Christmas activities in all the grades. That was cancelled as well. Again, too negative. And about Christmas! But thanks to that teacher, I fell in love with the exercise of going somewhere, talking to the people there, and reporting on them and their lives. I resumed journalism in college, notably with a series of columns examining Georgetown University's Catholic identity and fidelity thereto. Ever since, I have tended to ask people about their beliefs, why they hold these, and how these shape their lives. This combines with an interest in journalism that matters, that touches on the important issues of life. (I also enjoy writing on other topics, such as books and art, and lighter topics, such as quirky social trends and habits and idiosyncratic characters.) My interest in writing sharpened when I worked on an international human rights law project in Washington, DC. Though our targeted lobbying and educational work saved lives, I saw that journalists who informed the world about oppression could have a larger impact.

"I seek to make a difference and, like all good reporters, to inform, educate and entertain. At the same time, I took to heart Henry James' advice: ‘Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost.’ Nothing is too small or insignificant to bear some importance, perhaps unseen or yet unrealized. A great influence and potential dwells in many an overlooked aspect of people and life. One needs only to pay attention, think it through, and get it down on paper. I am particularly interested in publicizing the fate of oppressed people and exploring the role of faith in social reconciliation after war or conflict and in personal recovery from addictions, madness, and other troubles.

"I write to figure out what I think. I write as soon as possible in the process to begin making sense of the material I've collected and to see what's missing. While reporting, I take notes in shorthand using reporter pads. I also record thoughts and events in pocket notebooks, journals, and legal pads. More and more, I draft on paper with pen or pencil. My thoughts are more fluid and sensible than when drafting on the computer. Subsequent drafts are online. I print, edit endlessly, and have others read and suggest revisions.

"The biggest surprise is how much fun it can be to work incredibly hard in researching and writing anything, from an essay to a book. My last book, A Day Apart, offered many an hour of bliss. The production and promotion was less blissful. But I always remember that it is an honor to write a book and have it published, and then to have people read it and engage with the fruit of my long days and years of work and discovery. I am thankful that my wife, Amy Biancolli, a movie critic and musical biographer, supports these endeavors, and for the friends, colleagues, editors and agents who make the work possible.

"I have great affection for my first book, Faith in Words: Ten Writers Reflect on the Spirituality of Their Profession, since it was my first. The next one, The Soul of Recovery, was exhausting but continues to reverberate. The most recent was a joy. In each case, I wrote a book I would have wanted to read on the topic. I trust that each delights and helps some people. With all three, I hope people will better know and understand how and why belief or faith shapes and saves lives. I hope also to show the many ways that men and women find God or the many ways that God finds us."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, September 16, 2002, "Book Examines Spirituality in Addiction Treatment," p. 6.

America, October 7, 2002, William A. Barry, "Keep the Faith," p. 23.

Christian Century, August 7, 2002, James C. Howell, review of A Day Apart: How Jews, Christians, and Muslims Find Faith, Freedom, and Joy on the Sabbath, pp. 34-36.

Insight on the News, June 17, 2002, John Elvin, "Found: Faith-Based Cures for Drug Abusers," p. 35.

Library Journal, February 1, 2007, Anthony J. Elia, review of A Day Apart, p. 77.

Times Union (Albany, NY), February 18, 2007, "New Book Explores How Jews, Christians, Muslims Gain More from Taking a Day of Rest."

ONLINE

Sage Colleges Web site,http://www.sage.edu/ (August 28, 2007), faculty profile of author.

University at Albany Web site,http://www.albany.edu/ (October 12, 2007), faculty profile of author.

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