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  Martha | Questionnaire
Who's going to wash the socks onboard the Ark? Hoover up the olive pits? Suggest a rousing chorus of "For those in peril on the sea" around the piano? Wait for the party to finish so she can clear away the empties? Allow us to introduce you to Martha.
Full name:

Like to be known as:
Martha (didn't I just answer this?).

Oh no, I don't think so.

What are three essential aspects of your perfect day?
I like to wake up early enough to have some quiet time for myself, prayer and a cup of tea before anyone else is stirring. I give myself an extra half an hour in the morning for this – it's the time I think about, prepare for, and plan my day. Once my tea is finished, so is "my" time; the rest of it is "our" time – meeting the needs of the rest of my household – which includes my brother and my sister, as well as all the laborers who work on our lands. On a perfect day, I would be ready to meet everyone with a smile and a solution for their problems, which range from "I need more grain" to "I need someone to set my broken arm." I'm not happy unless I can be helpful and useful; work is prayer.

What are your favorite topics of conversation?
I like talking about religion, but I'm very practical. A lot of theological discussion is just hot air – a reiteration of what someone else said, or a rarified refinement of some point that makes some obscure distinction between something A and something B. I don't have time for that, generally. When someone is in pain, do you ask if they think they deserve to be in pain or do you try to stop the hurting? I just think we should do the simple, basic things and the rest of it will get sorted out in the wash. I like to talk about the best ways to wash linen or to remove the stains from a wool cloak or if the cow is going to have enough milk for her calf. Everyday life is important. It's what teaches us about the details.

What books would you bring into the Ark?
I like to read biographies and histories – stories about what people actually said and did and what happened next. My sister likes those existential novels where everyone is miserable until something happens that makes them realize they don't know what misery is. I like books that teach me about real people and real life. I'm reading a wonderful biography of Winston Churchill's early years right now.

How about music?
I don't listen to too much recorded music. I like to sing as I sweep or wash or sew, and it's wonderful when it's time for communal tasks because then we all sing as we thresh wheat or when the looms are thrumming and humming. We sing silly songs, about silly things, to make us laugh, and we all join in the choruses. We sing harvest songs, or sowing songs, or psalms of praise... music is something I associate with being in a group, not being in a chair, just listening. I like songs where I know all the words! So, if I had to pick, I suppose some recording of the Psalms of David, or maybe even a tasteful version of "The Song of Solomon"; I'm not closed minded, I know the song is about more than sex.

What extra items are you trying to smuggle into your Ark suitcase?
Extra items? I don't need much. Just practical clothing that'll wear well and some extra warm socks. It might be nice to have some nice soap or some soothing lotion. I like feeling and smelling clean, and I suppose that in a ship... for forty days... maybe I should bring extra for my shipmates.

What are your best qualities?
That's so hard to say... I know that I am honest and faithful and hardworking and that I can keep my own counsel and not give way to loose talk or gossip. I take pride in my home, I take pride in my family and community... I don't know, perhaps my best qualities are that I love being part of a larger community, that I look to find ways to be a part of it, helping out.

And your worst habits?
Everyone will tell you that I'm a bit of a nag. I like for my house to be immaculate, and that makes me a bit snippy with my family and friends at times, because they seem to be perfectly content to sit around spitting olive pits into their hands and dropping them onto the floor. Slovenly habits aggravate me and I have a very bitter tongue at times.

List your favorite books in the Bible.
Psalms and Proverbs. I like how they are so accessible to my needs and to my moods. Depending upon how you read them, they are comfort or a goad for change. I find that very practical. I also like Deuteronomy.

Share with us your top tips for living.
Be thorough in everything you do. Be honest with yourself and God and others. Never leave the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes.

And finally – which do you prefer: cats or dogs?
I have no preference. I find cats delightful because of their self-sufficiency and their usefulness (without them, the mice would eat everything!) and their purr when they accept love and attention from you. I adore dogs because they are so non-judgmental and so hard-working; and their love is unconditional. Those are all qualities I can respect and admire.

The Ark © 2003
*Samson not drawn to scale