The Atlantic Online
Our First Telephone
"Out here in the Alaskan bush we want it all: we want choice, we want privacy, and still we want to listen in."
WE got our first phone in 1989. It cost $5,000 and took a week to install. We had to do part of the work ourselves -- erect a fifty-foot aluminum pole with four guy wires, each a hundred feet long, tied into pilings that we sank and cemented into holes as deep as we could dig. It was a lot of work for something I didn't want. One of the great boons of living out on an island in the Gulf of Alaska had been having no telephone to answer. My obligations in the town of Kodiak, our winter home, could be shed the minute I climbed into the bush plane to get to that island -- where I go every summer to work in our family-owned commercial fishing operation. My friends all knew that the only way to communicate with me from June to September was by mail -- slow mail. (read more)
A Feast Fit for the King: Returning the growing fields and kitchen table to God.
It's Potluck Sunday. I stand near the end of a long line wondering what will be left by the time I get to the front, grateful that I'm not particularly hungry. I have some idea of what the offerings will be: hot dogs wrapped in white buns, cut in half for the more delicate appetites; buckets of drive-through fried chicken anchoring the table. Neon-orange cheese doodles will inevitably show up, somewhere near the salads. The greenest item will be several bowls of lime Jell-O with fruit suspended in it, which, I've decided, is to signal its inobvious function as food. (read)
The Gospel is More Than a Story: Rethinking Narrative and Testimony
I am halfway through a new version of the Bible, a much-hyped story version that's streamlined to highlight the overall plot: God's story of redemption. I'm so busy trying to follow the narrative, I hardly miss the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and all the non-narrative books that have been largely excised. But as a university teacher of narrative, I find the plot too slow and convoluted. (read)
People Of The Nook
A couple of Sundays ago, my husband, son, and I enacted a mini-drama from a script that has likely played out in every churchgoing family in America. Never mind that we live in Kodiak, Alaska, thousands of miles from the rest of the country. Electronics, we know, are borderless. (read)
The Case for Kids
A defense of the large family by a 'six-time' breeder.
I first heard of the word in my college classroom a few years ago. I was an assistant professor of English at a state university, and, not incidentally, the mother of five children at the time. We were doing the usual around-the-room introductions in this opening class, which served as my forecast and early warning system for the upcoming semester. Several of the women had listed their occupations, their passions, and then mentioned they were also mothers. Then it was Rosalyn's turn. "Hi, I'm Rosalyn, and I've been a truck driver and a commercial fisherman, and I'm not a breeder." Everyone looked at me, silent, eyes wide. I smiled out of reflex, but suddenly it hit my brain like a smart bomb: A breeder? So that's the term now! Like dogs or horses, purely animal-species survival. (read)
Image Journal: Art, Faith, Mystery
A Voice in the Wilderness
I write about the virtues of working in isolation because I must. In a few weeks, I will pack up house and children and make the flight out to our distant island. I will always long for community in this place, and in my winter island home as well, and will read journals and join conferences and workshops whenever possible, but I am reconciled to the boundaries set around me. I am learning not to fear isolation and need. Indeed, as a writer, I am fed by the tensions that define my life. Perhaps these are the same tensions that define the lives of believers everywhere-who stand every day with their two feet in oppositional worlds. (more)
The Myth of the Perfect Parent
My family and I were traveling in Guatemala a few years ago. We visited a man who had given his life to serving a poor congregation. We sat at the kitchen table with him, a man who had been bent into humility by the burdens of pastoring in a struggling nation while raising four children. Still in the muddy trenches of parenthood with our five sons and one daughter, we confessed to him our feelings of inadequacy. (read)
Image Journal: Art, Faith, Mystery
Finding Our Names: Learning to Love My Schizoid Father
It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters
Passing It On