Monthly Archive: January 2008

Zeitgeitsts

Future generations always demonize the ethical blinds of the past. It is easy for us to demonize the choices of Columbus or Andrew Jackson, because their culture treated other races as less than human. I am not excusing them, for there were others of their culture who did not accept those cultural blinds, but were able to accept all people as equal. Perhaps Stowe or Wilberforce had their own limitations, and were not as enlightened as, say, Archbishop Tutu or MLK Jr., but without the message and sacrifices of these, the latter would never have had the opportunity to speak.

All I am trying to say is that every age has their own cultural blinders that limit them from, what looks to outsiders, obvious moral choices. The ethical choices are always there, always a possibility, but the zeitgeist of each era causes a fog to appear, and only those who choose to clear the fog from their own minds are able to see it.

It would be easy, and probably profitable, to look back on history to see the zeitgeists of eons past to see how these limitations limit people’s obvious moral choices. What is more difficult is to apply this principle to our own age, to our own lives. What are our own cultural blinders that limit us to obvious moral choices? (more…)

What if ‘going home’ was our calling?

In the past few months I’ve been noticing a startling trend. Some of the most passionate people of my generation are returning to their home communities. After college, after working overseas, a surprising number of my peers are deciding – when they could go almost anywhere – to move back to the places they grew up.

Now, you might say that I’m biased – having just moved to back Elkhart, IN for Mennonite Voluntary Service when I grew up one town away in Goshen. And I am certainly excited about how our unit is flourishing in its first year — serving as a means for a number of us young people to re-commit to an area where we’ve already had ties.

But it’s not just us. A woman raised in central plains has returned to commit herself to finding ways to live sustainably. After two years with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, a seminarian returns to intern at a congregation of farmers and businessfolk. A group of recent graduates from Goshen College decide to travel among the Central States conference for a summer of learning about how people in their home region approach peacemaking. (more…)

Nonconformity to the Powers

In response to my earlier post Transformationist Anabaptists?, Folknotions, asked me to explain why I would put myself in the Transformationist Anabaptist category. I started to write a comment, but realized it was quickly growing to post length. I suppose it’s because for me, this question cuts to the core of my convictions as a Christian. ST’s post on the lure of the dominant culture reminded me how the transformationist Anabaptist stream is so important for me as an alternative and challenge to the constant tug of “produce and provide”.

I see non-conformity to the political and social powers of this world as an act of faith and discipleship, not of politics. Rather then try to make any kind of systematic theological argument for this point. I’ll just describe a few of the influences in my life that have led me to this stream. One of the transformationist touchstones for me was when I first read Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. There’s lots of very profound things in that book, but at the time, the revelation that had the biggest impact on my life was Yoder’s reading of Jesus’ invitation to “Take up your cross and follow me”. (more…)

Sexuality and the young Christian

I’m lifting a sub-thread from ST’s post inspirational lunch which has the potential for an interesting discussion of its own – we’ve certainly talked about sex before on YAR (check out sex outside of marriage, or is it really a sin? for all the talk about gayness you could care for.) Clearly sexuality is a central issue for all young people, and I think it’s one of the essential tasks for everyone, especially people in the typical YARer’s age range (thinking late teens to early thirties), to figure out how one’s sexual nature can be integrated & expressed in one’s life. But, getting ahead of myself, that already might be language that we’re not all comfortable with. So, here’s the conversation so far: (more…)

Inspirational Lunch

I had a great lunch conversation with two young white men today who are feeling the pressure to “produce and provide” and are looking for alternatives to succumbing to this stereotype and just joining the corporate project. After lunch, I wrote this:

As I think about our conversation more in the understanding of my daily work at a social services agency in town, I am reminded on the necessity to invite anyone and everyone with whatever ethnicity or background (age, sexuality, religion, political persuasion) to participate in the work of healing (and radical positive social change and happiness creation) in our society. There is enough pain to go around. Everyone can have a hand in creating peace. I think a place like where I work, is where push comes to shove, and the realization that we can’t find enough people (of ANY race, class or gender) to facilitate the creation of a new society, and not enough people to persuade others to stop beating each other in inter familial violence). It feels desperate.

There were some black people back during the time of emancipation, who didn’t want to participate in the mainstream US society, and they opted to farm somewhere and live in peace with their indigenous neighbors. Just a random thought about what it would look like if instead of clamoring to be just like white people (when I say white here, i mean the white people that southern black folks encountered…rich, conservative, separatist, tea parties, cult of true womanhood, Victorian, etc) and be accepted into their culture and politics, we searched the alternatives that our indigenous (to Africa) pasts gave us. but we didn’t for the most part. (more…)

Transformationist Anabaptist?

In a number of posts in the last few months it has been quite clear that some of us have very different visions of what Anabaptism is than others. I wrote about this phenomenom two months ago on my blog on the Mennonite in a post on the four streams of Anabaptism. I thought that YAR folks might be interested the table I posted based on an article by Rodney Sawatsky (see the post above for more)

Streams of Anabaptism

Anabaptist Stream
Emphasis
16th Century Corollary
Separationist
Social/cultural non-comformity to the world
Swiss Brethren with Schleitheim Confession
Establishment
Biblical nonresistance/personal holiness
Menno Simons
Reformist
Discipleship of Christ/service to the world
Pilgram Marpeck
Transformationist
Political/ideological nonconformity to the political powers
Hans Hut and apocalyptic Anabaptists

(more…)

In the Shadow of Classist Ethnocentrism: Prophetic Voices Against “The Status Quo”

This is taking a new thread of thought from somasoul’s comments in the “Christarchy!” post Lora wrote (thanks Lora)
I find often on this blog a tendency to attack what is seen as the “Christian” status quo, readily identified as the following:

1) Rich

2) Sheltered

3) Spiteful of “sinners”

I will, of course, say “Amen”, “Amen” and “Amen”, provided the caveat that this refers mostly to North American suburban Christians – and, in the global scheme of Christendom, this is a small portion of the body of Christ.

I mention this because I sometimes wonder when we take on a prophetic voice to critique Christians for the above errors, if not this critique itself issues forth from a privileged and ethnocentric perspective. (more…)

Introduction… a great place to start!

Well, to start off I actually only found this sight a couple days ago. My father said someone recommended it to him, and being the online blog/facebook person I am, he told me about it. So here I am.

Currently I am 17 (birthday was yesterday actually!), and am an MK (missionary kid) which I absolutely LOVE! Two years after I was born our family moved to Swaziland, Southern Africa for a 6 year term with MCC. At the end of that term we lived in Harrisonburg VA for 2 years while my parents went through seminary and then headed off on another 6 year term with MCC, this time to Philippines. I feel I have been really blessed by God for this experience to live and travel in other countries. It has given me a large world view, one that has really helped me see things in perspective. I really love getting into discussions with others who have had similar experiences as I, and just sharing the knowledge and culture I have attained as well as always learning new things. (more…)

Christarchy: Support groups for the Jesus revolution

A friend who is a Mennonite pastor in Minneapolis sent me a link to Christarchy!, and I thought some of you might be interested. From the web site:

Christarchy! is a growing network of people who want to put the teachings of Jesus into practice (living simply, caring for the poor, practicing hospitality, making peace, etc.) Jesus calls us to a revolutionary, transformational way of living life. He challenges the economic, political, social, and religious status quo. And we want to follow in his footsteps.

(more…)

Missional and Incarnational

All of our work for Christ should be both missional– declaring the gospel– and incarnational– living and working among the lowest. We do this as people who are of the ministry OF Jesus, as well as working FOR Jesus.

Are we really following Jesus if we do not proclaim His kingdom, as he commanded us? Are we really following Jesus unless we are serving the lowest among us, as he commanded us? Are we really following Jesus unless we are living out the example he gave for us to live among the lowest, to serve them and to share the gospel?

Check out the Micah Declaration for Integral Mission:

http://www.micahchallenge.org/english/think/aim1/declaration/

Steve K