"The gifts of the Spirit?"
"The gifts of the Spirit -- exactly. So things such as speaking in tongues and faith healing, those are the things that fundamentalists don't do but the Pentecostalists do. I think the big difference is that fundamentalists are the most strict about the Word, the text, the King James Version of the bible is the literal word of God, and so it must be taken as such. Whereas, I think both with Pentecostalists and with Evangelicals there's more flexibility on that."
"From what arm of the larger Protestant church did fundamentalists come?"
"In the early 20th Century, they came from several different traditions. Our school was linked most closely to the Southern Baptist tradition. So that would be the denomination that we were closest to."
"How did your parents decide that that's how they would school you?"
"They felt that the public school option for us, the school that we were zoned for, was not a good option. It was in a dangerous part of town, it was not well ranked, there were a lot of problems. So, they started to look for alternatives. There weren't that many choices. There were Catholic schools, and since we weren't Catholic, that was off the list. We were vaguely Protestant so they looked at some of the Protestant schools and Keswick Christian School to them I think was the most appealing because it had the most rigorous academic curriculum. There was a non-Christian, secular private school in town. It was a little more expensive than Keswick and they were less strict on the behavioral stuff; there were kids there who caused trouble often and they just felt that it wasn't quite as safe an environment for three girls as Keswick would be.
"My parents attended a nondenominational church off and on. But they were certainly not fundamentalists. They were, I would say, 'mildly Protestant,' but not necessarily practicing Protestant."
Keswick, I said, gave Ms. Rosen a good, basic 3Rs education.
"True. Especially when I think back to the foundational things that you learn as a kid in elementary school. How to write, how to read, how to spell, how to appreciate music and literature. All of those were things that I learned at Keswick. I had excellent teachers there. Devoted teachers. We had small classroom sizes so we were able to get a lot of hands-on instruction from our teachers. These were teachers that were making less money than they would have been had they taught in public school. So, most were there because they were dedicated to Christian education."
"Have any of the Keswick people seen your book?"
"I'm not sure if they've read it yet. I'm in touch with the current headmaster of the school, and I'm sending him a copy of the book. I did, while I was writing the book, go back to the school and talk to some of the teachers, some of whom had been my teachers, and then some new teachers who are there now and some of the current administrators."
"Are you still a churchgoer?"
"No, I'm not. I'm not. I'm entirely secular now. My husband is Jewish and so we celebrate Christmas and Passover every year. But I don't go to church. In part, because I have not found a church that I'm comfortable in. I read my Bible often and study it. But as to churches I find that either there's too much fundamentalist in me for the evangelical churches and they do things with the Bible that I think are taking too many liberties, and yet since I'm no longer a fundamentalist, there are other churches that are stricter that have views about women, for example, that I can't stomach either. So, it's difficult to find a home."
As a child, said Ms. Rosen, "I took it personally. I felt I knew Jesus personally. And that feeling doesn't necessarily leave. One thing that education gave me was a confidence in knowing that I can always turn to the bible if I need it, and I can always read the bible and study it. I don't need necessarily to do that in a church. Also, I would be going by myself. My husband is not a Christian. So, that challenge is another reason why my faith has become a pretty personal thing and not something that I practice at a church."
"What happens that causes you to turn to your Bible?"
"It's like picking up one of your favorite stories from childhood. It's comforting, in the way that only childhood talismans can be. I still have the same Bible that I used as a child. Every time I pick it up it's just a rush of memory and good feelings about how I was brought up and the education I received.
"I just read it, portions here and there. I wish more people read the bible just simply as a document of civilization. Biblical literacy is in steep decline these days; that's unfortunate because, like Shakespeare, you cannot understand Western culture without a knowledge of the bible.
"The King James Version bible is gorgeously written. It's wonderful language. I think it's a shame that too few people read it in the original King James Version. That was the version that we always used and never questioned why that was the version. It simply was the version."
"Your school was supportive of missionaries."
"Missionaries had an elevated social status. They were treated with great respect and often brought before us as examples of the finest kind of Christian you could be. These were people who sacrificed their lives and comforts and went to dangerous places to bring Christianity and the Bible to the unsaved. The great thing about how we were presented with missionary work, though, was that it was always an adventure. It was considered appealing, especially when you're young -- the idea of going to Africa and saving masses of unbelievers was just dramatically exciting.
"Missionaries came every year and talked to us about their work. Now they often were far less dramatic and romantic in real life than we had read they would be in our books, but many of us, and myself in particular, had quite an obsession with missionaries for a while and the idea of becoming one was a hope that I nurtured for some time. It was my dream.