Beware the Amish pirates

Election Day!

November 4th, 2008 by JeremyY

It’s Election Day! Say hello to a new President and goodbye to Joe the Plummer.

Regardless whether one votes or not, please pray today.

How Would You Spend 3 Trillion Dollars?

May 2nd, 2008 by JeremyY

According to some estimates, the War in Iraq will cost $3 Trillion — money that could be spent better elsewhere. Here’s your chance — the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree gives people the chance to try to blow through $3 Trillion. Some of the alternatives to Iraq are though provoking — I was able to cure 17 Deadly Diseases and Buy Mosquito Nets for Everyone in Africa. Others are silly — I was also able to buy my own secret island base and a private 747.

One of things that surprised me is how hard it is to spend $3 Trillion. I pooped out at $2,999,836,227,804.90. That last Trillion was hard to get through!

How would you spend 3 Trillion Dollars? Universal Health Care? Fund Amtrak? Fight AIDS? Buy more bags of Gummi Bears than you could ever hope to eat in a lifetime?

MLK and the Mountaintop

April 5th, 2008 by JeremyY

Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King and I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to the media coverage. To commemorate the event, I read his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech delivered April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis, the night before his assassination. It’s a speech that in hindsight is not only prescient about MLK’s fate, but also prophetic–

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

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Mennonite Narratives on Heterosexual Privilege

March 31st, 2008 by JeremyY

Last Thursday, I had a conversation with a professor and a fellow student that gave me a window on the Mennonite narratives on heterosexual privilege. We had discussed Obama’s speech and white privilege in class. After class, I asked about heterosexual privilege. My prof and classmate both responded that a concept of heterosexual privilege “trivialized racism” since the sufferings of African-American are so embedded in our culture (I guess with the implication that the sufferings of LGBTers aren’t). My prof even claimed that the bans against single-sex marriage and other anti-sodomy laws were not persecution, but just limited the “freedom” of LGBTers.

This was a quick conversation in passing, so I didn’t really have my wits about me to respond. These are both caring, intelligent people who care deeply about social justice issues. Yet, for some reason, they don’t consider queers a persecuted group. I realize that I also don’t know yet enough about the history of this issue to be really comfortable about a response. However, after more reflection and conversation, I do have a couple of responses / observations –

  • I don’t think that my colleague’s response is really about “trivializing racism.” It’s about not defining the queer experience as a social justice issue. As soon as LGBT is defined as a social justice issue, then the Mennonite Church is on the wrong side of the issue. As long as we can keep this just about Scripture and not how Scripture has been used to persecute or block access to institutions, then the Mennonites can have it both ways — we can advocate for social justice and keep the gays out.

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Mark Gornik and the Fourth Period of Inner City Development?

March 15th, 2008 by JeremyY

This semester we read To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City by Mark Gornik in my missions class. Gornik was one of the founding members of New Song Community Church in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood on Baltimore’s West Side. Over the past two decades or so, New Song has been heavily involved in the revitalization of Sandtown through their urban ministries and Habitat for Humanity. Gornik’s book makes a theological argument for Christian engagement with the inner city, not as a “mercy mission,” but as faith in action that seeks to revitalize urban spaces and communities.

My reservations with the book are not so much what Mark Gornik writes, but what he didn’t write about. Gornik describes three historical periods of development for inner city neighborhoods — the Segregated Inner City, the Post-Industrial Inner City and the Global Inner City. However, I think we may have entered a fourth stage, the Gentrified Inner City.

To Live in Peace was published in 2002, just as the so-called “Baltimore Renaissance” came into full swing. Until the crash of the housing market, some of Baltimore’s inner city communities were in the midst of rapid gentrification and redevelopment — Inner Harbor, Pig Town, Fells Point, Patterson Park, Dundalk and Canton all experienced a demographic shift as the yuppies moved in and property values rose. I live in a tiny row house in Fells Point, a traditionally blue-collar neighborhood now transformed into a tourist attraction with boutiques and condos. My landlord purchased the property for about $50,000 in the mid-80’s. Last time I looked at the tax records, the property was valued over $300,000. The vast amount of development in Baltimore City over the past decade has not been in the realm of affordable and middle-class housing, but luxury condos, hotels, a new conference center and expensive office space. The urban wasteland around Johns Hopkins University Hospital is being cleared away to make room for hospital expansion and a new biology research park. read more »

The Unexpected Pastor (To Be)

February 22nd, 2008 by JeremyY

Greetings,

So recently YAR has had introductions from the The Reluctant Christian and The Impossible Anabaptist. So in the spirit of things, allow me to introduce myself as The Unexpected Pastor (To Be). I say “unexpected” because I never expected that I eventually would work on my MDiv at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. I never expected that I would want to be pastor. And in the darkest days of my disbelief and disorientation, I never thought I would want to be a Christian. However, since I graduated from Goshen College six years ago, I’ve had these quiet tugs pull me into this direction. Is this God? Is this insanity? Is this proof that God has a sense of humor?

I live with my wife Maegan and the expected Baby Yoder in Baltimore. We attend North Baltimore Mennonite Church, which currently is experiencing a lot of change since our pastor retired at the end of December. I feel change is a good thing — we needed to shake up status quo. There are good people in this community, but there are a lot of problems and divisions as well. Like a lot of urban Mennonite churches, there is broad theological/political diversity in the congregation and we have to somehow find a way to get along together.

What else? I grew up in Berlin, Germany and Evanston, IL. I am an alum of Reba Place Church and was there from 1988 to 1995. Reba’s has had a significant impact on me and what I feel churches should strive for. We attended Reba’s 50th Anniversary last summer and I it felt good to reconnect with Reba’s vision. read more »