Beware the Amish pirates

Protest, performance and pottery: Interview with a Mennonite ceramics artist

March 16th, 2012 by TimN

On March 10, I visited my uncle Dennis Maust in his studio in northern Lancaster, Pa. It was a beautiful sunny day and the windows of his studio look out across rolling farmland to the hills of the northern border of the county. While he worked on his latest pieces, I asked him some questions about his work as a ceramics artist. But first I had a read through his essay “Living the Patchwork” in the latest issue of The Studio Potter for some background. This interview draws on themes from that piece. Dennis’s next show is in Lancaster for the month of July at Laporte Jewelers on Harrisburg Pike in Lancaster (across from F&M University). It is opening July 6th.

Found somewhere  near father Abrahams birthplace (unexploded)

Found somewhere near Father Abrahams birthplace (unexploded), 2004. Photo by Dennis Maust

Tim: In the article in Studio Potter you talk about the period where you were building “protest-oriented pieces.” Can you say more about this?

Dennis: During the lead up to the latest Iraq war and during the early stages of the war, I was looking a lot at historic Iraqi pots and thinking about the tremendous loss of the antiquities when the U.S. troops first went in and didn’t protect the museums. So I was thinking about both the loss of antiquities and the human loss. And I was doing this series of pieces that were based loosely on historical Middle Easter forms and that particular piece seemed to be a bomb canister form, so I thought about where Abraham was born and the thought that something of this sort may have been found unexploded as a bomb canister. It’s about the loss and the danger and the cost of this war. I wanted to have people look at it as something that could have been found.

read more »

Anabaptist Rosary

January 21st, 2010 by AlanS

As a note: This is also posted at The Wandering Road

So I’ve recently run across the Catholic Rosary.  While I’m drawn to it’s structure and it’s ability to help people pray, as a good Anabaptist, I take issue with some of it’s theology.  So here is my initial thoughts and proposal for an Anabaptist Rosary.

First- An orientation to the actual Rosary.

How to pray the Rosary
1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say the “Apostles Creed.”
2. Say the “Our Father.”
3. Say three “Hail Marys.”
4. Say the “Glory be to the Father.”
5. Announce the First Mystery; then say
the “Our Father.”
6. Say ten “Hail Marys,” while meditating on the Mystery.
7. Say the “Glory be to the Father.”
8. Announce the Second Mystery: then say the “Our Father.” Repeat 6 and 7 and continue with the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Mysteries in the same manner.
9. Say the ‘Hail, Holy Queen’ on the medal after the five decades are completed.
As a general rule, depending on the season, the Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday; the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday; the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday; and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday. read more »

“In the world…”

October 5th, 2009 by Robert Martin

I’m embarking on an interesting adventure this fall, one of my choosing (to borrow some terms and phrases from Wayne Speigle’s sermon this past week). See, I love movies. I like to watch the characters unfold, the plot thicken, and all those little surprises and such that come up. But I’ve also recently learned to love to hear the messages that movies try to tell us. The filmmakers (directors, producers, screenwriters, actors, etc) are telling us a story in a rather fascinating medium that allows elves to live on screen, dragons to fly, robots to laugh, and monsters (both “real” and figurative) to be overcome. Through that story, they are trying to convey ideas, theories, and worldviews in a hope that we will understand them and where they are coming from. Some filmmakers even do so to try and “convert” us (watch “Gorillas in the Mist” sometime…). So, this fall, I’ll be leading a Sunday School hour discussion time on film, the stories they tell, the messages they speak, and our responses to them. I’m looking forward to this adventure. (Shameless plug: If you’re going to be in the Bally/Boyertown area anytime during the months of September through November, come on by Bally Mennonite Church at 10:45 AM and join us!).

One criticism that I’m bound to get on this (and I’ve heard some of this already from a few places) is “Why are we talking about watching some of these movies from Hollywood? Why not show and talk about Christian movies?” This bothers me somewhat (lots of things bother me, as many of you already know). I recently read a blog article from someone else (I can’t remember where and if you’re reading this and you’re the culprit, please speak up) about the “ghettoizing” of Christianity. Music is performed and Christians historically have done one of two things. Either we have denounced it as “from the devil” and called for boycotts and other protest means (and this is not relegated only to “Rock ‘n’ Roll”… read up on Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach sometime) or we’ve “redeemed” it and made our own music and made it “OK” to listen to. Books are written and the same things are said and done. Poems are made. TV programs are made. And now, suddenly, we want to do the same with movies. read more »

DNC Artistic Political Convergence

August 12th, 2008 by eric

Hey all, long time no… something. Thought I’d let you know about this in case any of you were coming to Denver for the DNC. Cheers.

The LIDA Project, artistic curators of BINDERY | space in downtown Denver, will be opening it’s doors to artists and activists for an artistic political convergence during the week of Democratic National Convention and is issuing a call for entries. LIDA is seeking actors, writers, directors, performance artists, puppeteers, dancers, poets, musicians, seasoned troupes and emerging theater groups to perform their shows and participate at the DNC Convergence Center at BINDERY | space, an intersection of political activism and artistic insight. 


Virtually any type of performance is welcome to apply. Categories include: cabaret, comedy, dance, drama, improvisational, magic, multimedia, musical theater, performance art, puppetry, storytelling, variety, burlesque, sideshow, street theater, spoken word, and other creative madness. Performances with relevant political context will be given priority.

The Convergence dates are 22 August – 29 August, 2008. Visit www.lida.org for information. Please send a brief proposal of your project to lida at lida dot org. Include the title, a short description of what you intend to do, number of performers and technical staff, and any other technical requirements.

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BINDERY | space
Once a book bindery in function, this warehouse in the heart of downtown is a reincarnated new urban art space for performance of all kinds. BINDERY | space, curated by The LIDA Project, envisions a local home for national and local performing and multimedia artists on the edge. Fresh and experimental, BINDERY | space will foster artists and events that promise to challenge, incite, and inspire.


Wisdom from Those Gone Before

May 17th, 2008 by Jason

ST’s post reminded me of a conversation I had last September with someone I’ve admired for his consistent commitment to justice-making over decades (peace and development work in Vietnam during the American War in that country, international and community interfaith work with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, etc).

Knowing that it can be easy to burn out or drift toward the mainstream, I was interested in how he’s sustained his passion and activism over the course of the years. His answers came almost faster than I could write. read more »

Mystics

October 21st, 2007 by ST

“Ironic, but one of the most intimate acts
of our body is
death.

So beautiful appeared my death—knowing who then I would kiss,
I died a thousand times before I died.

‘Die before you die,’ said the Prophet
Muhammad.

Have wings that feared ever
touched the Sun?

I was born when all I once
feared—I could
love.”
-Rabia (Sufi mystic)

Mystics have saved my spirituality these last 4 months. Their wild, pithy, and beautiful poetry has inspired me beyond measure to continue to re-center and reconnect with the divine. I am just learning about mystics. Does any YAR out there have more information about them, besides what I can Google? Has anyone being loved by the Beloved? read more »

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

July 14th, 2007 by Skylark

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.

a note on dogma

July 11th, 2007 by danl

Well a note of introduction first since I’m new to this blog. I work for MCC, grew up in North Philadelphia, and live in Lancaster. I suppose I count as a Mennonite- chose to be one a few years ago, and constantly in a flux of being in love with the church and embarrassed by it. I guess thats true of what I think of myself too for that matter. Thanks for allowing me to write on the blog- its good to be here.

I’ve been thinking a bit about Anabaptist dogma and the death of imagination. Deep in the blood of Anabaptism is a concern for discipleship, or obedience. This discipleship has changed forms I think over the years, but culturally we are an obedient people- obedient to something. It’s a blessing I suppose in many ways. We as a church have fought hard to work for the kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven. Discipleship values the material and the contemporary. Its an affirmation that what is here, the world, is good but broken and in need of restoration. Its this very discipleship that enables us to be radical in the face of war, capitalism, oppression, and nationalism. It’s a good thing.

What’s troubling about discipleship is that it has turned the Anabaptist church into an economical people. I think we see this in a variety of ways. In my short time in the Mennonite Church I’ve come across many people who are all too convinced they are destroying the environment and causing wars every time we so much as breath. read more »

Sexism has never been so much fun.

May 30th, 2007 by Skylark

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. read more »

Music

May 28th, 2007 by tomdunn

If you remember, in my intro post, I mentioned that I am a youth pastor. I am in my 8th month of youth pastoring now, and I would like to discuss with YAR an issue that am dealing with as a pastor: Music.

Nine months ago (before I was a YP) music was not an issue at all in my life. I listened to whatever I wanted to, and on occasion I would censor some “bad stuff” from myself. For instance, if the song blatantly objectified women (i.e. anything on MTV), promoted violence, sex, drugs etc. I would try to avoid it. That being said, my personal “censoring filter” was pretty generous. By and large, if I liked the way it sounded I listened to it. read more »

Garrison Keillor Likes Mennonites?

April 25th, 2007 by jdaniel

Today the Writer’s Almanac featured another “Mennonite” poem. You can read it online at the Writer’s Almanac Archive. I will also copy it below:

First TV in a Mennonite Family” by Julia Kasdorf, from Sleeping Preacher. © University of Pittsburgh Press.

1968

The lid of the Chevy trunk couldn’t close
on that wooden console with a jade screen
and gold flecks in the fabric over the speaker.

They sent us to bed then set it up
in the basement, as far from our rooms
and the dinner table as they could get,

read more »

Just who are the ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites?

March 22nd, 2007 by Trini

Thanks to TimN for cajoling me to write my first post. I’ve been reading this for about a month, quite interesting stuff inside here, so here goes, my first post. As a multicultural Christian with my foot in a multicultural Mennonite church, I wanted to respond to just who are these ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites that Conrad Kanagy makes reference to in his recently published survey of diversity in the Mennonite church. You can read more of the survey results in one of February’s Mennonite Weekly Reviews.

Who are the Ethnic Mennonites? by Trini
So to get the conversation started around this, I wanted to ask, just who are the ethnic Mennonites? read more »

Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church

March 8th, 2007 by jdaniel

This is the poem from today’s Writer’s Almanac. I don’t know if [I’m] allowed to post this poem, but Garrison Keillor apparently got permission to post it on the Writer’s Almanac Archive.

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: “Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church” by Todd Davis from Some Heaven (buy it here). © Michigan State University Press.

Pray for the Smucker family. Their son Nathaniel’s coat and shirt were
caught in the gears while grinding grain. Nothing would give, so now
he is gone. We made his clothes too well. Perhaps this is our sin.

read more »

Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides

February 19th, 2007 by TimN

This week I watched Hotel Rwanda and The Ground Truth. Both films deeply moved me and I highly recommend them to all of you.

Cover of Passage by Andy GoldsworthyBut sometimes I get tired of writing about politics and all that’s broken in the world. So instead I’m writing about Rivers and Tides, a documentary I just watched about Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist whose medium and gallery is nature. He uses rocks, ice, leaves, snow, grasses, flower petals, iron pigment and other found elements to create works that are often transient - washed away, melted or blown into air. The only record of his works are the photographs he takes and shares through books such as Passage (cover right).

The documentary follows his creative process from a beach in Nova Scotia to the meadows of Scotland where he lives. Although I’d enjoyed his photo books before, listening to him talk about his work gave me a whole new respect for his work. He is not just an experimental postmodernist with a clever idea. His vision is rooted in place and time. Like Wendell Berry he is an artist who has discovered the importance of going back to the land and staying put. He talks of the changes he’s seen in the village where he and his family have lived for 12 years: the births, but also the deaths. This appreciation for the process of change is central to his work. read more »

Fluffy, Prophetic Post-Apocalyptic Cartoon

January 24th, 2007 by TimN

Its exactly a month since Christmas eve, but this startlingly grim holiday cartoon from 1939 is relevant year round:

Thanks to Treehugging Therapist for the link.