Moscow, Idaho Author Draws on Unitarian Beliefs; Publishes 4th Book
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News Story by Megan Guido | FāVS News
Moscow, Idaho, based author Ginger Rankin grew up listening to fundamentalist stories from the Old and New Testament and was taught that in order to be a good Christian, you must obey the Bible. By the time she was 9 years old, though, she was questioning these beliefs.
“How could folks tell me what we needed to say and do to get to heaven when I saw no reason to believe in heaven?” Rankin said.
Though she wrestled with her faith growing up, Rankin has maintained a heart for social justice issues, which shines through in her writings.
Ginger’s latest book is called “Mia’s Notebook” is about a young girl, Mia, who is born on an island and moves to New York City, where she gets swept up in a church cult.
“Mia’s Notebook explains the workings of a cult and how a vulnerable child’s life is forever destroyed by the patriarchy, misogyny, tending toward pedophilia and the way that precious souls are taken by arrogance, greed and men of no conscience,” Rankin said.
Rankin said she’s found influences in philosophers, leaders and writers, like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan B. Anthony, Louisa May Alcott, Julia Ward Howe and Emily Dickinson.
“I’ve tried to live by her (Emily Dickinson’s) words: ‘I dwell in possibility’ for my entire life,” she said.
Even as a youth, Rankin said she believed if people just followed the Golden Rule, everyone would lead a good life.
“And (to be able to do) that is a miracle in itself,” she said.
Rankin explained that the complexities and many interpretations of dogma have led people away from the simplicity of “showing mercy and walking humbly.”
The Unitarian belief in the worth and dignity of all human beings has been a major influence in her life, she said, and her professional pursuits as a wife, mother and activist.
“I believe everyone should develop their own personal theology in their never-ending search for truth,” she said. “Stand on the side of love is my method of decision-making and connecting with the world.”
Rankin came to the Unitarian faith in 1959, when she and her husband, David, first came to Moscow.
Back then, the Unitarian congregation started as a fellowship meeting in Pullman and eventually moved to Moscow, Idaho, to form a church.
“The seeds of Unitarianism were sown in us and he (David) became a Unitarian minister, later serving churches in Massachusetts, San Francisco, Atlanta and New Zealand and a large liberal church called Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan,” Rankin said.
In her 60 years attending Unitarian churches, she has tried to live out the beliefs of “providing (support) to others, and cultivating an open and free mind, all the while being a part of the challenging reality of this existence.”
There was another influence in Rankin’s many homes and travels — that of teaching and education. She taught school to children in nearly every place she and David went. She ended her career with a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching language arts to young teachers on the Island of Grenada.
The history of the island of Grenada, children and the tenants of the Unitarian Church informed her first three books that she wrote in her later life.
“My time to write came in the last 10 years as a gift of my longevity!” said the 86-year-old author.
Her love of Grenada is reflected in her first book titled “Spice Island,” a story of two young boys coming of age on the Caribbean Island.
“I carry on my love of Grenada whose history relates that the island now is made up of descendants of slaves from the sugar plantations started by the Europeans in the early 1700’s,” Rankin said.
Her second book “Grapefruit Parlor” is a novella about trafficking of young women.
One reviewer called it an important read, describing it as, “Beautifully descriptive and emotionally compelling, Ginger Rankin’s book deals with the subject of human trafficking and slavery in a way that will break your heart and keep you turning the pages long past bedtime.”
Her third book is titled “When the Animals Came to Moscow.” It’s a children’s story about some of the animals that have wandered into the town of Moscow, Idaho, where she and David are back making their home.