Issue 24: Geography

In this issue of The Other Journal, we seek to further explore and understand this deeply woven connection between our locations and our lives, between our land and our souls. The essays, artwork, and poetry in this issue consider this primitive and intimate connection. From snuffling bears in the Northwest backcountry to the magic of twinkling lights on California palms, from the cathedrals of Wales to the hardwood forests of Shenandoah and the trash-covered banks of Corpus Christi Bay, from contemporary bioregional praxis and the practice of reinhabitation to Saint Justin Martyr and the kingdom of God, we investigate the many and multifaceted ways that geography gives shape and content to our lives. And we especially hope to illuminate the broken places, for as Andrew Arndt says, “wherever there is pain, wherever there is struggle, wherever there is brokenness and hurt, wherever there is conflict, wherever there is paradox, wherever there is contradiction and chaos, wherever the human struggle for integration and wholeness is present, those are the places God is present and calling us.”

Alissa Herbaly Coons

A Handful of Water

Alissa Herbaly Coons makes a new home with her young family in Australia.

A Handful of Water - Essay by Alissa Herbaly Coons
Ann Fitzmaurice

A Path and a Purpose

One woman’s adventure to camp across the United States with a tent and a sleeping bag and a purpose to be wide open.

A Path and a Purpose - Essay by Ann Fitzmaurice
Joel Kurz


A poem longing for the place of taste

Juice, A Poem by Joel Kurz
Taylor Brorby

Climbing Buttes

A man climbs buttes in western North Dakota, wondering if he’s a force of good or evil.

Climbing Buttes - Poem
Julie Canlis

Pilgrimage, Geography, and Mischievous Theology

As I learned while traveling across England and Wales, pilgrimage, by its very nature, takes time and place. Pilgrimage honors the fact that our bodies participate in our redemption.

Durham Cathedral - Pilgrimage
Alessandra Simmons


A non-native-Midwesterner wonders out loud about the fields.

Roger Feldman


A presentation of the stonework installation ekko by Seattle-based artist Roger Feldman, who created this site-specific work as a call-and-response piece to Freswick Castle in Scotland, the grounds upon which the piece exists.

Karen Swallow Prior

North and South

Karen Swallow Prior meditates on the slow marriage of North and South.

David Jacobsen

Until an End Is Made

Certain strands of friendship can cross distances, but others—regretfully—are broken.

Jonathan Hiskes

Holden Village Journal

Sunday We are on the boat, our family, barreling north into a sea of granite peaks. Before us spreads the gleaming surface of Lake Chelan, a fifty-one-mile gash cutting deep into the Cascade Mountains. To our right, the eastern foothills flow by, sun-browned in the August heat. They lie hulking like knuckles on a fist. […]

Jen Grabarczyk-Turner, Shelia Rogers

A Beguiling Aesthetic: Shelia Rogers and Her Oceans of Plastic

An exploration of the exhibit Oceans of Plastic by artist Shelia Rogers, who cleverly works with plastic and other found material she has collected over years of beachcombing in an effort to raise awareness of a challenging global situation.

John Schweiker Shelton, Kristopher Norris

Reclaiming Christian Marriage: What the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Needs to Learn from the Southern Baptists

On June 19, 2014, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow their pastors to perform “same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.”[1] As expected, this has caused no small hubbub among American Christians. While gay rights advocates and Christians on the left have lauded this progressive decision and praised the denomination for […]

Brett David Potter

Recycled Images, Relational Aesthetics, and the Sound of Music

As Bruce Ellis Benson’s recent book Liturgy as a Way of Life reminds us, “in making art, we always start with something.”[1] To be an artist is not to create ex nihilo but to creatively reinterpret and rework the preexisting forms of art, nature, and culture—including the stories and images that shape and direct our […]

Christine A. Scheller

No Sea in Heaven

I grew up in a mile-square beachfront town sixty miles south of New York City. From the time I was six years old, when my family left its North Jersey urban roots, every summer day was spent on the beach. When my sister and I were old enough, we peddled there on our bikes to […]

Brett McCracken

Between Two Trees: A Review of Peter Leithart’s Shining Glory

Peter J. Leithart. Shining Glory: Theological Reflections on Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013. It’s not your average big-budget, Brad Pitt–starring movie that receives a book response from a systematic theologian. But Peter Leithart is not your average systematic theologian. And Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is not […]

Matthew W. Humphrey

Reinhabiting Place: The Work of Bioregional Discipleship

Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are. —Ortega Y Gasset   Alan Durning, founder of the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, recounts the story of a trip he took to the Philippines. After interviewing several elders as part of the trip, he was introduced to a frail old […]

Oluwatomisin Oredein

Hospitality and Domesticity: Where Can These Black Women Live?

One’s neighbor is often not even the people next door but the people of one’s home, household, workplace and religious community. One’s neighbor is the person of the opposite gender. —Mercy Oduyoye, Beads and Strands   Flawless Execution Beyoncé Knowles has done myself, and many like me, a huge favor. Through the popularity of her […]

Jonathan McRay

The Transfigured Earth: Jubilee and the Transformation of Watersheds

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you. —Wendell Berry   The World and the Earth On a July evening, I sat in a hotel outside the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Mahmoud Abu Eid, a Palestinian Muslim and family friend, told his story to a group of American […]

Andrew Arndt

Immanuel: Finding Integration and Wholeness

In the incarnation, we discern a new way to find integration and wholeness, one that takes with full seriousness our human struggle as a pathway to the divine.

Amy Peterson

Wanderlust: A Personal History

Examining the frontier myth in American culture, Peterson traces her own life’s movement from wanderlust to stability.

Laura Turner

Los Angeles

The tangles of anxiety are knotted from generation to generation, rooted in place, and may just be the ties that bind.

TOJ Editors

Issue #24: Geography

Land is of central concern to the people of God. Indeed, the whole of the Hebrew scriptures would be nearly unintelligible were this theme removed. To inhabit a particular place and to identify with that place constitutes something of the basis of the Jewish way of life from which the Christian church emerged. Yet the […]