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Lancaster Conference Credentialed Leaders Respond to Recommendation Regarding the Ordination of Women

Good grief! I need to be studying, but I was sucked in by the latest poll (look to the right)[update 4.15.07 – click here for info about the poll]. Whoever put that up deserves a gold star!! Ever since I read the report about the ordination of women in the Lancaster Conference News last month I have been thinking about posting something about this (Katie already did). I’ve copied the relevant report below from the February 2007 issue. I think the poll speaks for itself; its commentary is more poignant than any I could muster. (more…)

Ain’t I a Woman?

I ain’t actually, but Sojourner Truth was. I copied this from the Modern History Sourcebook.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? (more…)

Unhooked? An unabashed reflection (and rant) on love

The other morning, driving to teach, I caught myself listening with a longing heart to a laughable story on NPR. Welsh farmers who, because of a shortage of eligible women, were “advertising” themselves as possible husbands in hopes to keep their small community going. Women from all over the world were responding! I found myself daydreaming about me and some handsome Welshman eating scones…then snapped back to reality in order to lead a poetry course to 35 carefree college underclassmen. I wanted to tell them, “Look. Don’t ever graduate. Don’t ever assume everything’s going to be as easy and planned out as it is now. And for goodness sake, don’t assume that Meg Ryan movies can happen in real life.” But I decided to talk about the Beats instead.

It’s no secret that young people in America–often faced with too many options or life choices– go through a “quarter life crisis” (just see the whole book series on the subject). I’ve been rethinking my life goals a LOT recently, along with all the assumptions and expectations that go/went with them. I used to believe that every “Anne of green gabels” had her “Gilbert” out there. I used to believe that God knew what was in store for our hearts and protected them. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune in ten years, but for now, I’m content to sit with my multiplying questions. (more…)

Split Youth in the Southern Cone

Bouncing directly from Angie’s latest post… always got to give a shout-out to Dorothy! But Last week the passion for exclusion came not from the institution, but from the people themselves, YOUNG people, and a student in seminary…

At the Southern Cone Mennonite Anabaptist meetings in Uruguay last week, there was a large division among the Chilean, Argentinean, Paraguan and Uruguayan youth about what was important about church and our lives as Christians. After a large time of dialogue together as young people, a small group of youth got together and wrote a letter (which was read in front of the whole assembly) about the fact that they were worried about a few themes (of the many that were mentioned in the youth meeting and throughout the conference). They took an anti-dialogue stance towards the mention of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, sex before marriage, and referring to God as Mother and Father/inclusive language. In the letter they invited everyone to do further study of the bible so that it is clear that all these practices are sin and they condemned anyone who practices or teaches these things. (more…)

What’s Next?

I really enjoy YAR. There are great discussions about great things here, they are intriguing and they make us think. But what’s next. Do we just continue to talk about these things and hope that some day our churches and our communities will change? Or do we do something. I would love it if we could start discussions about practical ways in which we can do these things we have discussed. But of course, not stop there implement these things in our churches and communities and then report back on YAR how God is working. In this way we can honor our heritage as radical Anabaptists and continue to reform the church in the 21st century.

living tribute

I learned of Martin Luther King, the hero of the Civil Rights Movement, in school.
I learned of Martin Luther King, the peacemaker, at church.

In both cases I learned about King as an icon. He was like an angel-man, superhuman. King became a real person when I moved to Atlanta.

It was a fall from a pedestal of sorts, when I learned about all of the trials, the fractures, the tribulations, the anguish, and the arguments that went on behind the scenes of the marches and the committee meetings. To listen to lectures by the veterans of the movement, (Former Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, R. D. Abernathy, Rev. James Orange) all still involved, but some bitter, some who have appropriated the movement…whew! I learned about the hundreds of sidelined and under-recognized women who laid the groundwork for so many of the church meetings, boycotts, and potlucks (Septima Clark, Montgomery Women’s Council, Ella Baker, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson). Most of all, when I saw the struggle of his immediate family to know how to live out the legacy of the father they lost when they were young children, it all became so tangible. (more…)

generic anabaptism and postmodernism

I’ve been reading DreamSeeker Magazine for a few years now, and was struck by two articles in the most recent issue. DreamSeeker is published and edited by Michael A. King, of Telford, Pennsylvania (he’s also the pastor of Spring Mount Mennonite Church). The mission statement says DreamSeeker is “dedicated to publishing ‘voices from the soul,’ meaning writers aching to share passionate and personal dreams of how the void has been or could be shaped into a new creation.” It features predominately Mennonite voices, but stretches the definition of such.

The first article, found here, is entitled “At the End of Ethnic Mennonite Life” and is by Michael King himself. It touches on the cultural expressions of Mennonite faith versus the spiritual practices and the tension sometimes inherent in that.

The second article is entitled “Cultural Agoraphobia: Why Young Postmodern Mennonites Struggle to Follow or Lead,” by David Landis. He writes of the incredible number of options available to young adults and how quickly it can overwhelm, saying “The trick to countering this paralysis is to name the power we have in a way that allows us to trust ourselves and others as leaders. Although this seems like an obvious statement, it’s one I have seen Mennonites and sometimes other Christians hesitant to embrace. Postmodern culture’s default setting seems to be doing a good job at encouraging engagement, but it doesn’t seem to be naturally promoting empowerment.”

NEW Year

It’s January 2, so I’d like to write an entry for the NEW year.

Growing up, I learned that “the blood of Jesus washed me white as snow” (It confused me, since I’m bi-racial…but that’s another blog entry). Anyhow, there was emphasis put on the fact that an acceptance of Jesus “made you NEW, CLEAN,” You were born again (Like Peter, I was the kid in Sunday School who asked the anatomy question, but I get it now). Today, I recognize that I still cling to this concept and feeling state because I remember that I did feel NEW and different when I accepted Jesus.

I thrive in NEW situations, but sometimes begin to trip up as the NEW situations become routine. Sometimes I feel sad or angry at my inability to maintain the special NEWness feeling. At these times I turn to the meaning of faith to get me through, but I crave the NEWness again. That is partially why I love the coming of the NEW year and New Year’s Day so much. (more…)

Response to MJS on Coverings and Conservative Mennonites

A few days ago, a woman named MJS replied to a comment by Brian on a post by Laura in which he said, “I’m going to go out on a limb and actually advocate a return of head coverings for women and plain coats for men.” Although he went on to suggest he was mostly joking, MJS says, “let me assure you that being stuck in a conservative setting & being treated like an archaic museum piece everywhere you go is NOT a picnic–it feels more like a prison.” MJS goes on to describe the negative reaction of family and friends at the thought of her not wearing a covering. To those of us who grew up in more liberal communiites, she says “Consider yourselves fortunate that you don’t have to deal with the huge cultural divide between conservative Mennonites & others. It stares me in the face every day.” (more…)

some small thoughts

radical self love
a roommate once wanted to start a “masturbate for peace” campaign. he was shot down by everyone he talked to. i now wish i had backed him up. but this isn’t really a post about that…

“love your neighbor as you love yourself.” is that a command or a statement of fact?

make someone happy – buy yourself an iPod.
maybe this is a post about that after all…

world peace
i’ve discovered the key to world peace. (more…)

the numbers game: a cranky opinion

I spoke at a small Church of the Brethren congregation in Napannee, Indiana last Sunday. The church seems to be an older congregation, which was interesting mainly because in Sunday School, a somewhat skeptical older gentleman turned to me, and out of the blue, said that while the numbers of non-denominational churches are rising, the Church of the Brethren (and, he presumed, the Mennonite Church) is shrinking. He asked me why I thought that was. I didn’t say that I think it’s dangerous to assume that growth is always the best indicator of the health of anything (take obesity as a prime example). (more…)

Polygamous Anabaptists

The Mennonite Weekly Review reported this week that the world’s largest Anabaptist Conference, the Meserete Kristos Church of Ethiopa, recently made two groundbreaking (maybe even radical) decisions. One is that women can now be fully active in leadership in the church. My only comment to that one is: well done, the church will be better for it. More interesting to me is the other decision. Polygamous converts can now be baptised into the church without divorcing all but one of their wives. The church is still saying monogamy is the way to go (their “teaching position”) and men shouldn’t marry any more wives once they are part of the church (also probably shouldn’t be leaders).

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Reflections on Mennonite Young Adult Fellowship Retreat

This past weekend I, along with a couple of other YAR writers, went to a campground outside South Bend, IN for a weekend of conversation, games and networking with about 50 other young ethnic Mennonites in their twenties. I decided to go to the gathering after reading about it in Katie Ho’s post a month ago. I figured it would be a good way to reconnect some small part of the Menno community after being out of the country for two and a half years. And in that regard, I wasn’t dissapointed. While there were a few old friends in attendance, there were also lots of new and interesting people to chat with, including the chance to meet a fellow YAR blogger for the first time in person (Brian Hamilton). There were thoughtful sessions by Ken Hawkley, former Mennonite Church USA young adult worker. The Bike Movement crew did a presentation about their trip, their conversations and their upcoming documentary. And Jason Shenk and Nicole Bauman led a discussion session on young adults and the Mennonite church as part of their new roles with AMIGOS. To balance the serious parts there was also Menno Run, a version of survival. With Anabaptist hunters instead of wolves and foxes and Anabaptist instead of rabbits and deer. All this with liberal doses of engaging conversations. (more…)

against tradition: a polemic

(this started as a comment and then grew)

personally, i’m rather fond of ignoring the 1200 years of church history between constantine and menno. well, ignore isn’t quite the right word, and menno and constantine aren’t where i would stop.

honestly, constantine was obsessed with making a state church (bad idea) and menno was a strong proponent of celestial flesh theology (yes, jesus passed through mary as ‘water through a pipe’, and no, that was not supported by the science of the times). i’m not saying the last 2000 years are worthless, but they don’t get to be worthwhile guides just because they happened.

i agree that mennonites have a pretention of newness. we’ve been new for nearly 500 years now. in fact newness itself could be called a pretention if you believe that everything has already been thought of or done (give or take the advance of technology and everything that comes with it (such as globalization of nearly everything from world-views to nestlee’s quick).

but what say we reconsider some things? let’s even ignore the howevermanybillion years before christ, because we can (it’s especially easy to ignore the parts no one wrote down). if by ignore we mean ‘not to practice or agree with’ rather than ‘to pretend it never happened’, i’m happy to ignore quite a few things in and out of the bible and church history.

i think the church is in a horrible mess for being 2000 years old. i don’t mean that an organization at 2000 should be better than this one is, but that quite possibly organizations should never be aloud to get that old. too much red tape, too much baggage, too much confusion of the mission statement. i’ve seen three years water down a mission statement.
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