The 95: a book worth making possible this Advent

The 95: a book worth making possible this Advent

At the start of this Advent season (whatever that word means to you), we wanted to introduce a new book in the making to you. We think it will be a very Greenbelt-y book. Here’s the story …

Working with the crowd-sourcing publisher Unbound (who also published the current hit The Good Immigrant, named ‘Book Of The Year’ last week), two longterm Greenbelters and writers – Malcolm Doney and Martin Wroe – are crowdfunding for a new book, to be published next year. They launched their campaign in October and have just passed the halfway mark. Which is great going.

Nearly 200 have backed the book so far – including lots of familiar Greenbelt contributors. (Click here for a list of all the supporters to date.)

So why are so many – Greenbelters and others – getting behind it?

Well, the book is a collection of fieldnotes on how to live this life well. A sort of bible for people who don’t do bibles. It’s the sort of book we need right now.

The idea is to find a different vocabulary for talking about some of the big questions that life throws at us, particularly in a time when fewer people engage with the traditional institutions of faith but haven’t closed the door on the mystery of the here and now … and are seeking a deeper life. 

Malcolm and Martin are trying to do this more poetically than theologically – without recourse to the usual cliches, instead drawing on wisdom from a long time ago as well as songwriters and poets from today. They’re calling it The 95 as a nod to Martin Luther, whose original 95 theses are 500 years old next autumn. 

Malcolm and Martin explain the idea here in a short film. And here’s what the book’s back cover says:

Life is beautiful . . . and baffling. Any new day may be lit up with beauty and wonder but the next overcast with pain and sadness.

Our time on earth is shot through with questions so vast that we can’t get our minds around them. Humans have always tried to find ways to respond to those questions. It’s usually called ‘wisdom’, and before writing was thought up, it was handed down in stories.

Some of this was bottled in religion and became congealed into creeds and regulations. That’s all right for some, but many of us don’t want to be told what to believe, we’re shy of certainty, suspicious of authority.

We still live with the questions though. Like how the big moments – the birth of a child or the death of a friend – can leave us wondering about how to live in the small moments. 

We’re excited about the book and hope you will be too. We wanted to share the idea and the crowdfunding campaign with you as we want to help Malcolm and Martin get over their fundraising target by Christmas and we have a hunch there will be many of you who might like to back the book.

You can make a pledge online here.


The authors

Martin Wroe studied theology before becoming a staff writer on The Independent and the Observer. He won a Sony Gold Radio Award for the Radio 1 series The Big Holy One, and co-authored, with Malcolm Doney, The Rough Guide to a Better World. The author of several poetry books that no-one has noticed, he also produces collections of stories about people in the north London community where he lives. He is a volunteer vicar in his local parish and a contributor to Thought for the Day on Radio 4. He keeps chickens.

Malcolm Doney trained as a fine artist at what Jarvis Cocker called St Martin’s College – now Central Saint Martin’s UAL – before pursuing a writing career in journalism, advertising and broadcasting. He has written ten books, including, with his wife Meryl, Who Made Me?, a sex guide for seven-year-olds. He is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought, and Radio 4’s Something Understood. He lives in the village of Blythburgh, Suffolk, where he is a volunteer priest in the parish church, sometimes joined by his horse, Neville. He and Meryl have been involved with the life of Greenbelt for decades.

The crowdfunding site for The 95.