"Big Four" Highlights


He Works for Wisdom

President of Sophia Press says salvation is the mission

From Southern Baptist to Catholic convert living in Yankee country – that’s the shorthand version of Charlie McKinney’s journey. Yet there are a lot of questions, answers, philosophy, study and assent to truth to fill in the gaps. At age 34, McKinney is president of Sophia Institute Press, a Catholic publisher located in New Hampshire, which recently acquired Crisis Magazine (now only online) and the Catholic Exchange website.

He takes his job seriously and personally. All of Sophia’s enterprises are designed to communicate to others the same wisdom, truth and beauty that led him to enter the Catholic Church. His work is dedicated to the New Evangelization and, ultimately, the salvation of souls.

Charlie McKinney and his wife, Carolyn, have four young children.

Charlie McKinney and his wife, Carolyn, have four young children.

McKinney lives in Amherst, N.H., with his wife of nine years, Carolyn, and their four children. Fathers for Good reached him by e-mail for this informative Q & A.

Fathers for Good: What is the mission of Sophia?

Charlie McKinney: Our core purpose as a non-profit organization is to lead souls to heaven. Every book we publish through Sophia, and every article we publish on Crisis Magazine and Catholic Exchange, must pass this test: will it help the reader grow in holiness and come closer to reaching heaven?

You will find in our catalog books that offer a fuller understanding of the Catholic faith, help you overcome obstacles that prevent a fuller life in Christ, and help you grow in holiness by praying better, getting more out of Holy Communion, making better confessions, raising children in the faith, and so on.

At CrisisMagazine.com, our goal is give readers each day the arguments they need to fight key cultural battles, and at CatholicExchange.com we are helping Catholics integrate Church teachings into their daily lives all while offering spiritual and practical advice.

It is up to faithful Catholics to preserve our culture, and through Sophia Institute and its three apostolates, we seek to equip Catholics with the tools we need to restore all things in Christ.

FFG: Do people still read “hard copy” books?

McKinney: Believe it or not, many still do. We sell many more times the copies of physical books than we do eBooks. Electronic sales were skyrocketing month over month last year, but they seem to have reached a plateau this year and have found a balance with hard copies. Large secular publishing companies may experience different trends, but this is what we are seeing in the Catholic market.

Although I came of age during the period of rapid technological expansion, I still prefer reading a physical book. I tend to underline important sentences and write my reactions in the margins. When I re-read or review the book years later, it is humbling to see the comments I made at anther time in my life — comments that were often naïve. I am certain that one day I will chuckle at many of the comments written in those books I am reading today. This, to me, is the most significant benefit of hard copy, although I greatly appreciate the flexibility and size of e-readers.

As readers, we are fortunate to have devices that make accessing books easier. As a Catholic publisher, we are fortunate to have new ways to reach souls with the truths of the Catholic faith.

FFG: There’s talk today about the need to “evangelize the imagination” of the culture. Please comment.

McKinney: The Catholic imagination is an essential element of the New Evangelization. The best way to accomplish this is to expose young Catholics to the lives of the saints and to our great tradition of faith seeking understanding. This is an essential undercurrent of all that we are doing at Sophia.

On Crisis Magazine, we run a feature each week entitled “Standard Bearers of the King” where we explore the life of one Catholic (sometimes a saint, sometimes not) who exhibited extraordinary boldness in proclaiming the Truth. This is meant to inspire and remind us that men and women in previous eras have fought — and died — in their pursuit of the truth. We are no less responsible in our own day. Reclaiming the Catholic imagination and the Catholic way of life is absolutely essential to the development of new cultural warriors.

FFG: How did you get involved in Sophia?

McKinney: My first introduction to Sophia was a decade ago when I was a young Southern Baptist. I had discovered many “holes” in Baptist theology that were not sufficiently answered. I am truncating a rather long story here, but along the way I discovered that the Catholic Church had answers and so I began exploring Catholicism. Having been raised in a sola scriptura-believing Baptist Church, I needed to be convinced that Scripture confirmed that the Church is what it claims to be. Sophia had published a book that used Scripture to refute Protestant theology and confirm Catholic theology. This was an important step in my journey to the Church.

Following my conversion, I spent several years working as Vice President at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire. Sophia Institute Press was a half-hour drive north. Over the years I came to know Sophia’s founder, John Barger, and ultimately began working at both places simultaneously until I moved to Sophia full-time last year. Soon thereafter Sophia acquired Catholic Exchange and later Crisis Magazine (another apostolate that brought me closer to the Church).

FFG: Does your work fit well with your family life?

McKinney: It is very rewarding to work for a non-profit organization that is promoting the very culture we are trying to build in our own home. I value my relationships with authors and others who think critically about these issues and serve as examples in their own lives. I benefit greatly from their example and witness.

Balancing work and family life can be difficult at times. Running Sophia Institute requires a lot of work and a great deal of travel. But it’s important to set boundaries so that both work and family can flourish. As the president of Sophia, God has entrusted me with three influential apostolates. As a father, he has entrusted me with caring for my wife and raising four children.

In our home, we have created clear boundaries that enable me to focus on work during the day and my family in the evenings. Although it takes some time to master (and, admittedly, I fail from time to time), finding that balance is essential to ensuring that I am responding faithfully to what God has entrusted me with at home and at work.

For more information, visit sophiainstitute.com.