Author Archive: Skylark

About Skylark

Female, Ohioan, 24, Mennonite since 1996, pacifist since 2000, vegetarian since 2000, and would you like to know when I got my driver's license?

Why I left YAR, and why I’m not likely to come back regularly

Looks like Folknotions paved the way for me on this one. I’d pretty much forgotten about YAR until yesterday TimN sent me a new incoming comment on a post I’d put up well over two years ago.

Like Folknotions, I didn’t leave YAR because I thought YAR was a bad place or because anyone had angered me. Rather…

1. I’m not Mennonite anymore, even though Anabaptism still influences my thinking and theology.

I started attending a Mennonite church with my family when I was 12. I left that church a little over a year ago, at 25, because of some undesirable circumstances that culminated and made clear to me in an instant that it wasn’t the church for me anymore. I haven’t set foot in that building for anything church-y since, and have had only limited contact with its members since. (My family still goes there, though, and I have lots of contact with them.)

When I left initially, I took a few weeks off from faith communities. I decided to check out a United Church of Christ congregation in the small town where I was living at the time. My dad’s side of the family is all UCC, so I felt a little more comfortable checking out a UCC church than the Methodist church next door, to which I had no pre-existing connection. I felt a need to participate in a faith community, but my finances had become such that I needed a church to which I could walk. Since I was planning on moving from that small town, I knew from the start that this congregation would be a transitional church for me.

It was a relatively “safe” place for me to be at that time in my life. I had broken off an engagement to someone I loved very much, and he was still making me miserable through stalking me and some other measures. In contrast to the Mennonite church I’d left, where there was an insanely high percentage of twentysomethings, this UCC church was highly concentrated with people above 70 years of age. It had the “new and different” appeal to me of being a fairly liturgical church and following a more formalized pattern of rituals than the Mennonite congregation. I know it’s backwards to most people for anyone to “discover” liturgy as something “new and different,” but I guess you’ll get that when every church you’ve regularly attended your entire life has eschewed any connection to the lectionary. (more…)

Guatemala to require DNA tests prior to adoption

Since I first heard about the Guatemalan infant market here on YAR (thank you Tom Dunn), it only makes sense to post a link to this news story. It looks like the Guatemalan government is trying to crack down on the human rights abuses.

New York Times article

This one is a straightforward hard news story: (more…)

So about this rich guy I know

I’ll be the first to admit it’s a strange feeling to log onto www.time.com and read a story involving someone I know.

Time story

It’s even stranger to get to the end, do a little more searching for what is being said about this person elsewhere online, and come out feeling quite conflicted about the whole thing.

Examiner story

Machetera story

For those who are reading this post before going back and reading the links, I should clarify what I mean by “know.” I am currently spending five months doing volunteer work at the Stansberry Children’s Home and Daycare in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and one of the people on the board of directors of Stansberry is Ron Larsen, a US-born cattle rancher who is fighting with the government to keep the thousands of acres of ranch. I can’t say I know him well, but I have met him a couple of times and engaged in run-of-the-mill chit-chat about who we both are and what we’re doing in Bolivia. (more…)

Advice time! What should I know or do before going to Bolivia?

It looks like I’ll be spending some time in a different hemisphere before too long. Details aren’t finalized, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be going to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for about four months starting in January. My church has been supporting an orphanage there for longer than I can remember. I’ve been hearing about this children’s home since I was 12 years old and seriously thought about going there at other decision points in my life. This time, I’m actually going and not just listing it in my options.

If we had smilies on YAR, I’d use the one where the character jumps up and down excitedly with a giant grin.

Since this will be my first trip to the Third Word—technically I was in central Jamaica when I was three, but I don’t remember it—I know I have a lot of mental work to do in the next two months. I can never be fully prepared. I expect to be changed a lot while I’m there. But there’s no reason I can’t start that personal process in the mean time.

What/who do my fellow YARs recommend I read, listen to, watch or talk to before I go? If you’ve been to Bolivia, or Santa Cruz, or even this orphanage (like Denver), what do you wish you would have known before you went? What should I pay close attention to while I’m there? What surprised you the most? What do you wish people would ask you about? (more…)

When should we insist on peace and nonviolence?

In the past few months, we’ve discussed how to handle churches that stray from their nonviolent roots, why we should refrain from commenting on situations we don’t know in-depth, and why those of us in comfortable lives should hold their tongues when people in uncomfortable lives outside of North America use violence. Yes, that’s a simplistic way of saying it, but it’s a decent summary.

My question is, when should we insist on peace and nonviolence? When should we, as people committed to the peacemaking roots of our church tradition (and not because it is our tradition, but because we believe it, too), stand up and say, “Nope, I’m not going to let this get watered down”? If a person with a U.S. military background comes into our churches and says, “Don’t tell people in Palestine not to throw rocks when people point guns at them,” how do you respond? Should we insist on peacemaking and nonviolence for ourselves but decline to comment on how others live? Can we live in church fellowship with those who say otherwise, and if so, does this mean asking them not to promote their beliefs in our churches? (more…)

Clothes, Fashion and Practicality: Where do YARs draw their lines?

Out of all the issues we discuss on YAR, what we wear is probably one of the least important. But we all make choices daily about clothing, so it’s not something to just ignore, either.

How does what you wear communicate something about you to other people? Do you use your clothing as a medium consciously?

Are you more interested in the production of said clothing than what the style, cut, and extras have to say about you? (Sweat shop labor concerns and the like)

How do you keep clothing from being more important an issue than it ought to be? I know a woman who wears plain, roomy dresses she makes herself not because she’s trying to look Amish (not that there are any Amish people in her town in England, anyway), but because it helps her focus on important things and not her body shape and size. Those of you who have worked in medical settings where scrub uniforms are required may know the feeling of liberation by not having to think about what you’re going to wear to work that day.

Is there clothing you just won’t wear? Why or why not?

Things we don’t talk much about on YAR

Today while looking at the category list on YAR I noticed several categories with just a handful of posts. It’s interesting to see which these are. I should note some of these are topics we do address but for some reason don’t categorize our posts as.

But for the others, are these topics that don’t interest you? Would you like to start talking about them more?

Chosenness (2 posts)
New Monasticism (1 post)
Consumerism (4 posts)
Corporations (1 post)
Death Penalty (1 post)
Economics (2 posts)
Education (3 posts)
End Times (1 post)
Environment (2 posts)
Ethics (2 posts)
Ex-Gay (1 post)
Excommunication (2 posts)
Foreign Policy (4 posts)
Gaza (1 post)
God (4 posts)
Guns (1 post)
Hamas (1 post)
Hate (1 post)
Illegal (1 post)
Immigration (3 posts)
Indigenous (3 posts)
Israel (2 posts)
Judaism (3 posts)
Loyalty (3 posts)
Music (4 posts)
Objective (4 posts)
Palestine (1 post)
Peace (4 posts)
Polarization (4 posts)
Poll (4 posts)
Pope (2 posts)
Rape (1 post)
Reviews (1 post)
Schism (2 posts)
Science (1 post)
Sex (4 posts) (Compare this to 8 under “Homosexuality” and 28 under “LGBTQ”)
Sports (1 post)
Stewardship (2 posts)
Stories (2 posts)
Theater (1 post)

We pledged allegiance but didn’t know better.

Twenty of us have voted on the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance poll. The question is, “Did you grow up saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school?” So far, the top response is “Yes, but I didn’t know better then.” That’s gathered seven votes.
With five votes each are “No, I didn’t go to public school” and “No, but everyone else did.” Then, “No, I’m not an American” got two votes, and “Yes, and I’m glad I did,” got one. It seems no one doesn’t know what we’re talking about, no one said it reluctantly, no one said it despite not being an American, and no one didn’t but wishes they had.

No poll can completely reflect the myriad of possibilities, of course. I remember saying the Pledge sometimes as a homeschooled student, but most days we got right into whatever we were working on with just a prayer. It wasn’t an issue anyone made a big deal over. But then, my family didn’t start going to a Mennonite church until I was 13. Someone in our homeschool co-op wanted the kids to pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, but that didn’t go over real big. The story I heard was the Christian flag is really more of a Baptist flag, and we’re supposed to be pledging allegiance to God, not to a flag someone made and decided to call the Christian flag. (more…)

Re-joining the Roman Catholic Church

Several times in the past months on YAR, I’ve noticed people mention in passing we could re-join the Roman Catholic Church* if we don’t like the idea of dividing over differences of belief and/or practice. I haven’t heard this idea anywhere else, but maybe I’m not listening hard enough. Is this an option many YARs or other Mennonites consider to be a valid and even attractive option?

Someone mentioned common objections Anabaptists have against the RCC, namely heirarchy and gender issues. I know Catholics who quit tithing to the RCC when the priest-sex-abuse scandal broke because they don’t want their tithes to become part of a payout. Then you’ve got infant baptism, obligatory First Communion, war, lgbtq, transubstantiation and the list goes on.

What is attractive about the RCC? I think I might “get” part of it, having visited many Catholic cathedrals, monestaries and schools, and having read Cloister Walk, but other aspects of “what it might mean to be Catholic” turn me off. Each congregation will vary, of course. There’s just something freaky to me about the idea of one human non-God person (the Pope) making declarations that all living people in that church are supposed to follow. Do any Catholics still believe the Pope is error-free anymore? I’m sorry if that seems flippant or dismissive, but it’s a real question. But then, sometimes we Anabaptists live like we believe a committee is error-free, so maybe it’s no different. (more…)

Practical question for a radical: Yea or nay on pentagrams?

I recently received a pentagram necklace as a well-intended gift from someone who thought it was a Star of David. We both had a good laugh when I told her my first association with it was a pagan/Wiccan/Satanist symbol.

Now, I’m not one of those reactionist people who gets wild-eyed at the mere mention of such belief systems, and I’m not freaked out to see such symbols. I did a little bit of reading online and discovered some Christians in the Middle Ages used the pentagram to symbolize the five wounds of Christ, the five senses, and five aspects of good health. That’s certainly not how I think of pentagrams, nor probably most who would see it if I wore it.

If I choose not to wear this necklace, I want it to be for an actual, thought-out reason, not just “it’s evil.” It’s a nice necklace. I have no lack of jewelry, though, so I could give it away and never notice its absence. But I tend not to wear religious symbols of any kind unless there’s a specific reason I’m doing it. (Crucifixes are part of my RenFaire costume, for example.)

Thoughts? I realize this is a periferal issue to what we usually talk about on YAR. But, it could bring up how we view pagans, Wiccans and Satanists. That might be a good reason to wear it: it may prompt thoughtful discussion with people I meet. Or then again, it could just prompt eyerolls and disdainful comments.

Bible Verse of the Day 07-02-07

This one’s for you, Lora. ;-)

Numbers 1:5-16

“These are the names of the men who are to assist you: from Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur; from Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai; from Judah, Nahshon son of Amminadab; from Issachar, Nethanel son of Zuar; from Zebulun, Eliab son of Helon; from the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim, Elishama son of Ammihud; from Manasseh, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur; from Benjamin, Abidan son of Gideoni; from Dan, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai; from Asher, Pagiel son of Ocran; from Gad, Eliasaph son of Deuel; from Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.” These were the men appointed from the community, the leaders of their ancestral tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.”

:-D

Sex outside of marriage

With some trepidation, I’m bringing up the topic of having sex with people to whom one is not married. This isn’t about lgbtq people’s inability to be married in the legal sense in most states in the U.S., and it’s not really about affairs either. It’s about people who are not married in any sense having sex with anyone at all. Or people who are engaged having sex before the wedding.

A couple of times I’ve seen people on YAR say they don’t hold to the same ethic on this as the Christian Church has taught during at least our lifetimes. I have always heard from the Christians in my life that it is a sin to have sex in any form (or get close to it) with anyone other than the person to whom one is married. Having sex at any point before the wedding ceremony (in whatever form it takes) is a sin, they tell me. (more…)

Laugh with me on LarkNews.com

I discovered LarkNews.com about a week ago. Thank you, Utne Web Watch e-mail. I have been laughing my butt off since then. LarkNews.com is a parody site much like The Onion, but it focuses on Christian subculture. It uses Christianese to the point of hilarity. Some of my favorite stories have been “Church tries, fails to get through worship time without singing a Matt Redman song” and “Cleveland, Ohio revival linked to scripture on woman’s checks.”

They have T-shirts, too, for those interested in short snippits for chuckles. My favorites are “Jesus loves you. But then again, he loves everybody,” “I want to be a pastor’s wife,” and “I love cheeses.”

http://www.larknews.com/june_2007/index.php

This is perfect for when you’re tired of processing theology or annoying trolls and just need to unwind.

Bible Verse of the Day 6/13/07

James 3:13-18 (NIV)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

————

This comes immediately after the well-known “taming the tongue” section of James. I’m not really quite sure what to say to go along with this BVotD because it reminds me to keep quiet when I don’t have any real wisdom to share. Since I don’t want to blather on to hear myself talk, I’m keeping this short.

Sexism has never been so much fun.

Ba-ack step, tri-ple step, tri-ple step, ba-ack step, spi-in left…

I had way too much fun swing dancing this weekend. When I sat down to blog about it on my personal blog today, I started realizing just how much gender roles are infused into that seemingly-innocent passtime. I thought back to my comment in response to Tom’s giving-up-music post, how it was admirable to be willing to give up something you like because something else is more important. I realized swing dancing might be that for me. Now, I know I only just got back into it, and it’s not an ingrained part of my life (yet; it very well could be soon). When near a thrift store today, I stopped in to see if they had any heel-less shoes I’d want to wear dancing.

The difference between music/secular music and dancing is the music is a personal morality issue, which the prolific YAR posters tend not to be concerned about, while the dancing definitely could contribute to social sexist pressures and all that. (more…)