Charles Honey figures he wrote about 900 columns in his years as The Grand Rapids Press Religion editor. Between 1994 and 2009, when he left the Press, he covered religion wherever he found it whether in the high-steepled churches or on the corner stores of Grand Rapids.
Now he’s gathered about 80 of the best of his columns into a new book titled “Faith On First: Thoughts On God, Nature and Sacrifice Bunts” (Freeze Frame Publishing, $14.95).
“Over the years people would ask if I was collecting my columns,” said Honey. “Newspapers are so flimsy; the idea of some of the columns in one bound volume seems a little more permanent.”
Honey’s baseball theme—chapters are innings—is one he’s tracked with for years and a game he enjoyed with his father. “Baseball is a spiritual game, very calming and centering, and slows life down for about three hours. There are long spells of ordinary time, then peaks of excitement.”
Honey admits it took a long time to weed through the columns and decide which ones to include, with the book taking about three years to put together. His goal was to honor his parents, who died in 2011 and 2012, and to honor the people in the columns who he felt so privileged to write about.
“From Ed Dobson to Charley Jones to Ken Miedema, and lots of everyday people who lived great lives that people didn’t know about—I grew to respect the different ways people put their faith in action,” said Honey. “I was never as concerned about what they believed as how they acted it out. I met a lot of people who did brave and remarkable things because of their faith.”
Honey started at The Grand Rapids Press in 1985 as a general reporter, moving to Religion nine years later when Religion editor Ed Golder asked him about taking his place. “At first I asked why he thought I could do this. I felt really under-qualified, but there were two things I liked: the opportunity to write feature articles and the once-a-week column,” he said.
“Religion gave me a format and venue to write about life. I got questions I’ve never gotten on any other beat,” said Honey.
These days Honey is “just another former reporter putting together a new life,” he said with a laugh. He’s been an adjunct instructor at several area colleges and universities and is a reporter for School News Network (www.schoolnewsnetwork.org), among other places.