On the Narrow Road


A lot has happened since last we met. Kate and I are not moving to Chico. We decided a few weeks ago to let the lease on our apartment lapse at the end of September. We are going to spend much of the next year traveling around the country. The purpose of this grand adventure is to travel along the highways and byways of America, visiting churches, meeting people, learning about their faith, and trying to better understand our own spiritual heritage. We are chronicling our journey on a new blog: http://onthenarrowroad.com. I will be writing a series of articles about our trip for one or more publications (specifics coming soon), and I hope the journey culminates in a book. This is a project we’ve been contemplating for three years, but with Molly starting preschool soon, and our deepening desire to buy a little acreage somewhere and put down roots, we feel like it’s now or never.

I think the Contours of a Country blog will take on at least three main themes. First, I will use it as a commonplace book. Second, I want to write more about what I’m reading, including a series I want to do with Poor Old Dirt Farmer called “Thirteen Books that Changed John and Dave,” inspired by Jay Parini’s book. Third, I want to write more about biking. This is right in line with the title of this blog – something I haven’t explained before – which comes from a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best…”

I hope you’ll follow us at On the Narrow Road. Even better, maybe we can meet you somewhere along our journey.

For the first entry in my commonplace book, I point you toward the latest post on Poor Old Dirt Farmer. Like PODF, I have been watching the show “Northern Exposure” on DVD.  “Northern Exposure” was one of the few television shows my mom watched when I was growing up. My younger brother Dustin also liked the show, and he ended up marrying a girl who looks kind of like Maggie, the show’s female lead character. The setting for the show is the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. (The show was filmed in the town of Roslyn, Washington, which holds an annual Northern Exposure Festival called Moosefest. Kate and I will try to work that into next year’s itinerary.)

Also like PODF, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit in the character of Chris, an artist and morning DJ on the local radio station. Chris is an ex-con who has found a home on the Alaskan frontier. He taught himself physics, theoretical mathematics, psychotherapy, and literature. His guiding lights include Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Soren Kierkegaard, James Joyce, and Thomas Merton.

Anyway, PODF wrote a great post this morning that includes a clip from my favorite scene in the show – Chris at his best. I’ll go further and say it is one of the best scenes from any episode of any show. Read the post. Then Netflick the DVDs. “Northern Exposure” is a smart, funny program that you deserve to rediscover.

2 comments on “On the Narrow Road

  1. I like the idea of the festival…You’re on your way to Chris-likeness, embrace yourself.

  2. If you make it through Dallas…and based on the description of your journey, you need to…you have a place to stay for as long as you want, and depending on when you come, you have a tour guide and someone to introduce you to the religious figures of the area…Paige Patterson, Ed Young Jr, John Meador, TD Jakes….etc. Plus, there are, what, 6 or 7 seminaries here. It’s where I went on the next step of finding my religious heritage. The next step after this is England!

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