It’s Not You, It’s Me: Why I’m Leaving YAR

So I’ve been a contributor to YAR since early 2007 and have engaged in some interesting discussions with some of the collaborators and even met, discussed, and dined with some of the administrators here. Yet, for the past…oh, year and a half I suppose, I’ve pretty much only contributed book reviews. And in the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve only registered objections to some of the posts I’ve encountered.

I think it’s only fair, and correct, and in the interest of maintaining the fellowship here, that I step out from YAR. But, an explanation rather than a self-righteous “screw you guys, I’m going home!” is in order since explanations are so lacking in the blogosphere (and in my comments the last few months – Sorry Tim but I’ll send you an e-mail if I think I can answer your question about Marxism).

There are a number of things that led me in that direction, several of which I will enumerate here:

1) I’m not really a Mennonite anymore. Like, not even a little.

– The Mennonite church that shepherded me when I came to faith in 2006 closed its doors on Easter Sunday 2009. So I don’t attend there.

– I found that I don’t really have a “pacifist” position, in that if God were to order me to kill Amalekites, I would kill Amalekites (I say that knowing that I’ve said it quite bluntly, but believe me it’s not like I haven’t thought this over thoroughly).

– I don’t have a Mennonite last name (mine is Italian, and there aren’t many Italian Mennos out there). So I have no ties to Mennonite heritage.

– Mennonites tend to hold an Arminian soteriology, and I don’t. I’ve found that I’m much more Calvinist these days and becoming more so as the days go on.

– I don’t believe in that “pure church” stuff.

– I am becoming more paedobaptist than credobaptist. So that also takes me out of the Anabaptist category.

2) I have a much different political understanding than I did back in 2007.

– I don’t have a “non-violence” position.

– I don’t agree with the LGBTQ position taken by many here – though my objections are primarily theological and related to church matters.

3) I don’t have the same interests that many YAR folks have.

– The “emergent conversation” mostly bores me.

– various articulations of radical/re-defined Christianity do not interest me.

– Mennonite church issues do not interest me.

Some might think “oh boy, the fundies got to him!” or something like that. To do so would only demonstrate how little you know of me and my Christian walk thus far.

Some may want to ask questions about why I believe/don’t believe such and such. I understand wanting to do so, but I’m not interested in faceless conversations about my formative beliefs across the interweb, particularly with those who have never met me (despite what you may think, I don’t have an obligation to you).

So with all that said, I won’t be contributing to YAR anymore. Thank you to those who have welcomed me here and for the discussions we’ve had. I pray that fruitfulness comes of future discussions on this blog and that many are enriched by it.

Comments (13)

  1. Jonny

    Thanks for this clear and honest explanation, Folknotions. I’ll miss you around here (even though I’m only really a lurker myself anymore). All the best…

    Reply
  2. Shel Boese

    A quick response:

    (1)Not all Anabaptists conflate political liberalism with Biblical pacificism. They are two VERY different things. In fact in the US nearly 60% of Pentecostals were pacifist before WWII because of a robust Spirit-based Christology.

    (2) LGBTQ position of many of us is based on common humanity NOT buying into secular arguments with their shifting nature of orientation, sexuality, etc. From a pentecostal-Anabaptist perspective all sexuality is tainted by sin and is fulfilled in the life of the world to come. Those on the political left and right of the issue are elevating the issue FAR above Jesus clear teaching on it’s finite and brokenness.

    (3)Emerging what? Emergent? Yeah, it’s pretty much dead – BUT a 3rd way approach is not dead. If we are not making converts (in non-coercive ways) to Jesus then any movement that claims Jesus as the center will be boring and SHOULD die.

    (4) Calvinism – well there you lost me. Determinism that one cannot actually live in real life is bad theology. Moreover strangely enough on this issue Anabaptists are more inline with Eastern Orthodoxy and the RC church. Which is comforting in some ways.

    Reply
  3. Kyle

    I may only read on occasion and I think this may be the first time I’ve ever commented, but it makes me sad to see anybody leave, especially because of some of the reasons given.

    First, in a perfect world, being “Mennonite” shouldn’t matter. I mourn every time someone comes to a Mennonite event and does not feel welcome because they aren’t named Yoder, have never played Dutch blitz, don’t sing every song in four part harmony, and have never heard of, let alone been to Lancaster, PA.

    Second, I mourn that you think your opinions are not welcome. A difference in opinion is a healthy and necessary part of discernment. Disagreement forces a community to look at new issues from new perspectives. We can all offer our ideas as gifts. Again, I mourn if you’ve felt that your gifts have not been accepted.

    I guess I don’t really know what to say about your third reason, so I won’t say anything at all.

    I hope you find the enrichment you’ve wished on YAR readers, whether you find it here by stumbling back to the YAR site or in conversations elsewhere, online or in person.

    Blessings. And like Jonny said, thanks for being honest.

    Reply
  4. TimN

    Folknotions,

    Thanks for taking the time to write so thoroughly about your reasons for leaving YAR. Its quite refreshing to have someone come out clearly and state their differences when leaving. Everyone else who has stopped contributing over the years (aside from somasoul and Katie) has gone with the drifting-off-without-explanation option. I think its probably a Mennonite conflict avoidance things. Or apathy. Hard to tell.

    Thanks for the contributions you made to a lively debate here on YAR over the years. I haven’t always agreed with you, but I value the perspective your experience as a new (and now former) Mennonite gave you. You also engage strongly with theological issues in a way that shows you’ve done deep thinking and praying about them.

    I respect your wish not to have a debate with people you don’t know about a journey that is personal and deeply felt. I enjoyed the chance I did have to meet you and talk with you in 2007 and if you ever come through Chicago, I’d welcome the chance again.

    Sincerely,
    Tim

    Reply
  5. Caledonia

    Speaking as maybe one of the only Brethren voices out here related to the YAR blog, I will also miss you Folknotion. I’ve always believed more diversity=more understanding. Blessings to you!

    Reply
  6. RyanH

    Blessings on your journey.

    Reply
  7. Philipp

    Hi, I’m only reading here occassionally, but I wonder if you’d be open to tell us what church affiliation, if any, you lean to? Sounds like you’re wandering to where I’ve been coming from. I’d just be curious. And wish you well on the journey.

    Reply
  8. Josiah Garber

    Keep seeking the truth. I think you will find that the peace position is much larger than the Mennonite Church. Even the Baptist Church (until recently) embraced peace.

    A couple books you might find intereting.

    We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now

    Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

    The Law by Frederick Bastiat

    Reply
  9. TimN

    Josiah,

    Very interesting combination of books there. I’d heard of the first two, but not the third. I’m interested to hear more about what you found helpful in The Law.

    Reply
  10. SteveK

    It is truly sad to see you go, folknotions. I think your input has been fresh and interesting. I won’t bother suggesting books or whatnot for your spiritual journey, because God is probably already doing that. I hope we participated in your growth in a positive way.

    Reply
  11. folknotions (Post author)

    Thanks to everyone who has written such nice things about my contributions here and wishing me well on my future journeys. Particularly thank you to those who have been friends to me on this blog and outside of it.

    Kyle,

    Just so you know, I am not leaving because I have felt unwelcome here. In fact, even in my difference I have felt welcome here. However, there’s a difference between staying in a discussion to maintain diversity and beating dead horses in a place where everyone rides camels anyway. The metaphor is mixed, but the point is this: this blog is not for posting/commenting on the five points of Calvinism, making good cases for Augustinian just war theory, talking about why the Puritans were cool, or why I don’t like Brian McLaren’s books.

    I’m a kid who has found himself at a Dungeons & Dragons convention with my gnarly Magic: The Gathering goblin deck and no intention of rolling dice. I’m not going to go to every table, where everyone is happily playing D&D, and see who wants to play Magic. I’m going to go to a Magic convention.

    So I have been more than welcomed here by the administrators and contributors. But I think it’s time for me to find a different conversation.

    Phillip,

    Right now, I attend a Charismatic/Pentecostal church pastored by a man who was once a pastor in MC(USA) and is now a pastor in the Assemblies of God. It is composed mostly of refugees from Uganda, Burma, Ethiopia, and immigrants from Cuba and Puerto Rico. I share a home with the pastor, and the church is on my block, so for the spiritual vitality of my own neighborhood I attend there.

    As for where I lean denominationally and theologically, I would say Anglican, but Anglican in 1650. So, I’ll likely never find a church where I am totally comfortable, and I think that’s ok. Church doesn’t have to be comfortable to be a sanctuary.

    Reply
  12. Philipp

    Folknotions, thanks. I wish you well. I went to a Reformed seminary, many of my friends remained reformed, but have moved into congregations that are now part of, or close to, the new Anglican Church in North America. Might want to check it out. Travel safe!

    Reply
  13. Rusty

    Thanks for your honesty. Should you ever stumble by the site and see something that interests you, please feel free to comment. I think we all like healthy debate : )

    Reply

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