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   Martha walks the plank after 38 days!
Martha and Julia

Day 38

Martha, Mary's hard-working sister in the Gospels, was ordered back to the kitchen, via the plank, by Arkophiles tonight – becoming the 9th virtual victim on Noah's daunting journey to Ararat.

And we can now reveal that Martha was played by Julia Dray, who lives just outside Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband, Paul, their two children, Robert and Mary Margaret, one cat (Bob), one snake (Jake) and one gerbil (Brownie). Unnamed and untamed wild animals, disguised as neighborhood children, also live at their house much of the time!

Julia, 38, is a professional pianist/keyboard musician and vocalist who performs solo as background music for cocktail parties and receptions. She writes much of the music she plays, although she'll take requests. "Oddly enough, a lot of the tunes John the Baptist 'plays' on the Ark are part of my repertoire," she says. "Just don't ask me to play 'Misty'. I hate that song!"

In addition, Julia works as a restaurant manager four days/nights a week and does research for Homiletics, a sermon resource publication for ministers. She is an elder of the Presbyterian Church USA and currently has charge of the Christian Education program at her church. In a nice tie-in to her Ark adventures, she is writing a six-week curriculum on Moses for the summer session!

"I have the advantage of having hung out with him on numerous occasions!" says Julia. "Or actually, HER. Either way, I'm going to work that in somehow."

The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Julia grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and finished her formative years in southern Florida, where her father accepted a call to the ministry.

"Too much sand, too many things that bite, and no possible way to have a snow-ball fight or jump in a pile of leaves," she says. "I had to get out of there."

After high school, she was accepted at St John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, where students study the great books of Western civilization, learning geometry from Euclid and learning Greek to translate the Gospel of John.

"It was basically an excuse to sit around, drink coffee and have pompous philosophical discussions," admits Julia, "but I enjoyed it." She's one of the few bartenders who use Euclid's Proposition 1, Book 1 as a bar challenge – "almost no one ever gets it!"

After two and a half years, she left St John's, and despite thinking seriously about finishing her degree, "has never quite gotten around to it."

In the past 15 years, she has worked as a bartender, technical writer, beta tester for a computer company, manager for a drive-through espresso stand, sales clerk, finishing carpenter, secretary, freelance writer and bookkeeper. Now that her children are older, she's trying to make music into a full-time career.

She is currently re-discovering childhood favorites by reading with her own kids. They are in the middle of Watership Down, after polishing off C.S. Lewis's Narnia series.

"The conversations we have about the books we read are absolutely great," she says. "Their ideas and conceptions about God and theology are endlessly fascinating, although the questions are staggering at times."

Teaching Sunday School is another way she gets to connect with what kids think and wonder about – and many of their ideas provide a lot of food for thought. "I'm trying desperately to lead an 'examined life', she admits, "to stay absorbed in what is really important. It is – as we all know – not at all easy."

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