Four months of the year, Leslie Leyland Fields joins her family salmon fishing on a wilderness island in Alaska. The other eight she makes Kodiak Island her home base but she's on the road speaking and teaching people how to write.
Somewhere in the midst of this, Leyland Fields is also helping Christianity Today fulfill its mission of Beautiful Orthodoxy. She's authored four cover stories, frequently contributes to CT Women, and was the 2017 winner of Christianity Today's Christian Living / Discipleship book award.
Leyland Fields first became acquainted with CT as a Christian college student. When she began to wrestle with different theological issues, the magazine became a place she looked for guidance.
"I went to a college where we were really endeavoring to love Christ with our minds, yet the larger culture of evangelicalism there wasn't as much evidence of that going on," said Leyland Fields. "CT was a lifeline for me in that way. It was really modeled on loving God with your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. I was learning how to live this way and to have a publication out there illuminating and illustrating what this looked like was incredibly valuable."
After graduating from school, Leyland Fields began writing poetry.
"CT published several of my poems which was absolutely mind-blowing because CT was up on this pedestal and never ever did I think I'd get something published there just out of college," she said.
Poetry aside, most of Leyland Field's written contributions to CT have occurred in the past decade. One of her most important pieces was "The Myth of the Perfect Parent," a cover story with a message that resonated as far as The Wall Street Journal. "I was excited to see that a message and topic I addressed at CT spoke to the larger culture as well," she said.
A subscriber for more than two-thirds of the magazine's life, Leyland Fields and her husband Duncan have financially partnered with the nonprofit ministry for several years.
"I think of CT as a townhall for evangelicalism and Protestants" said Leyland Fields. "In a time when our ranks are increasingly diverse, CT unifies, educates, empowers and even commissions. It's always taken seriously the Great Commission—and this is one of the markers of evangelicalism, that we're a people committed to living out Jesus' final words to go into the world and make disciples. The magazine not only is fulfilling that mandate itself, but it's empowering all of its readers to do the same."
CT's call to Beautiful Orthodoxy inspired Leyland Fields to pen her own reflections on this idea:
Beautiful Orthodoxy may sound like an oxymoron to contemporary ears, but the gospel has always been this perfect amalgam of truth and beauty. Nowhere do we see this more clearly and more shockingly than the crucifixion itself. That the reality of God in his son Jesus with his arms splayed wide open, his body beaten beyond recognition, taking our punishment upon himself—this is the event that rescues humankind. This is the death that ends all death. Yes, it's hideous and gory, but it is life and love itself. And there's nothing more beautiful than that.
The paradox of this beauty gives us a voice and a place to stand in our culture. Our present culture is soaked in blood and violence, but there's also a great hunger for authenticity. People are not searching for truth as much as they are for authenticity—and we can respond to that. Our gospel is not an airy harp-strumming story: it's a flesh-and-blood story of a real man who walked our dusty roads and ended up strung out on a cross. Our hero dies.
Leyland Fields hopes that her financial contributions to CT encourage other people to support the ministry's mission.
"I could not be more excited or more supportive of Beautiful Orthodoxy," she said. "It's needed now more than ever."
Morgan Lee is associate digital media producer at Christianity Today.