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Meeting the Team: Lainey Cronk

Lainey Cronk consistently blesses the Spectrum community with stimulating book reviews. This week we get to know Lainey herself!
Question: How did you first get involved with Spectrum and what are your current responsibilities?
Answer: As a graduate of the English program at Pacific Union College, I was given a one-year gift subscription to Spectrum. I was also familiar with the Adventist Forums Sabbath School class that meets at PUC (which I now attend regularly). So when then-current reviews editor Daneen Akers asked me to write a couple reviews, I was glad to be a part of it. When Daneen devoted her energies to mommyhood, I took over the book reviews part of her responsibilities. I suggest titles, pull in reviewers, and edit and post their book reviews.
Question: Your bio on the “About Us” page at is fun to read linguistically. From where did you acquire your love of words? How have words shaped your life from childhood into adulthood?
Answer: Quite a few of my recent ancestors have an appreciation for words and possess vast vocabularies; several of them have written for or during their careers. Writing itself took me a little while to learn to love. My mother, who was my elementary school teacher, forced me to write a lot for probably two or three years before I fell in love with it and no more force was necessary. But words themselves, as units of meaning or non-meaning, have been intriguing to me as long as I can remember. Looking back, I imagine words in my childhood right along with the winter mud holes, the owl pellets, and the cul-de-sac –- all were pieces of the world to be explored and experienced. As I grew up, writing became my preferred method of expression and communication (I still hate the telephone passionately), and basically I can’t not write. My greatest frustration is having a story or idea and not having the time or energy to develop it on paper.
Question: How do you decide which books will be reviewed and who will review them? What have been some of your most enjoyable Spectrum assignments?
Answer: Book title and reviewer suggestions come from everywhere –- our editorial team, reviewers, and readers, as well as just encountering books at the library, in the bookstore, or in publications like Books & Culture. (I’m still trying to figure out a way to review the kid’s book The Chicken of the Family and have it fit in!) I think because Spectrum tends to feature so much in the area of thought and idea, some of my favorite book reviews have been those that balance the picture by pulling us into the realm of faith experience or expression. I loved the reviews of An Altar in the World and Acedia and Me.
Question: When you are not editing Spectum’s book review section, how do you spend your time? What kind of freelance writing do you do, and how did you get involved with the Boys and Girls Club?
Answer: I work part-time for Pacific Union College in the public relations office and part-time for a Boys & Girls Club. My freelance writing ranges from copyediting material for a plastic surgeon’s website to working on text for a Napa Valley event promotional. Since I’m marrying a graphic designer, the opportunities for collaboration are endless, both in a career sense and a purely creative sense.
Working for the Boys & Girls Club happened because I wanted to balance my office writing job with something more interactive and I love working with kids in non-classroom settings. While I feel deeply privileged to get paid to write every day, it’s my afternoons at the Club that give me crazy stories to tell –- and sometimes write –- every day, and also that keep me feeling exuberantly alive (and fairly thoroughly exhausted). I also have a distinct tendency to enjoy “kid” adventures such as the tradition I have with a group of friends (ages 20 to 60) of dressing up as pirates each summer and roasting our dinner over a beach fire.
Question: What authors have shaped you the most as a person and as an Adventist Christian?
Answer: I almost hesitate to mention C.S. Lewis, because his name is so widely and effervescently mentioned. But I suppose that’s because his work is so powerful in doing for many what it has done for me – opening up a new level of Christian thought and experience, almost like a step-ladder that hoists us up a couple feet to a place where we can then run about learning and gleaning from many other authors and thinkers and practitioners of the faith. Brian McLaren and Chris Blake gave me permission (for some reason, I thought I needed it) to think about my relationship with Adventism in a way that was freeing while still connected. Barbara Brown Taylor encourages me to experience God in the same depth, continuity and artistry with which I experience the physical world. Poets like Maria Rainer Rilke and Rumi keep my faith rich and liquid in a religious tradition that is sometimes morosely unartistic. Isaiah, the Psalmists, and John keep me in love with the Bible as a book.
Question: What is your favorite thing about working for Spectrum? What is your least favorite thing?
Answer: I love being in a veritable crowd of people who share two key passions: thinking about things, and being Adventist Christians. It’s inspiring how we have all these writers on the site who are actively and constructively engaged with today in a way that encompasses faith and Adventist heritage along with all the other elements of life in the 21st century U.S.
My least favorite thing is the cloud of gloom that settles over me when I get this constant stream of you-have-to-read-this-it’s-amazing book titles and realize that I would have to quit all my jobs to read them all…
Question: You’re an out-doorsy sort of person. Can you share one or two adventure stories from your life in the wilderness?
Answer: My life in the wilderness, oddly enough, is my life. I’m not a hard-core outdoorsman (my idea of the ideal backpacking trip is a mild three-mile walk). I simply love the natural world. I get about as much of a thrill standing on the playground with a couple of awe-struck third-graders watching the starlings travel in unearthly patches of living smoke as I do from paddling up two miles of a deserted granite-bound lake to camp on a ledge between water and stars. A favorite semi-outdoors experience from this past summer was staying in an old forest service lookout tower in Northern California, waking up to a sun-washed 360-degree view that included Mt. Shasta and the Castle Crags.

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