Power

Wealth: A Mennonite’s experience in London

Pedestrians on the London Bridge during the evening commute out of the City of London

I’ve always known I’ve had a problem with The Rich. I had a bias against The Rich for a long time. It also took me a while to notice I was one of them. I had expected to have inner conflicts by traveling to “third-world” countries (low life expectancy, low standard of living, low literacy rates, high poverty) and being faced with extreme poverty – not only an opposite lifestyle than I was used to, but also a lifestyle that was in direct relationship with my lifestyle : my demands had caused their poverty.

I’ve also known that Mennonites have appeared to favor missions and outreach to places with high levels of poverty and have had few resources to spend for missions and outreach to the upper echelons of society. I knew for this reason that living in one of the highest affluent areas in London could prove interesting as a missionary. I hadn’t, however, expected inner conflicts and deep moments of pain and sorrow as a result.

Have you tried living in the world’s most expensive city while having a deep theological and personal foundation of identity in walking with and learning from the Poor of the earth? It’s trying and tiring. (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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How do we live out our peace witness?

It seems that a few posts have dealt with our Anabaptist identity, specifically regarding peacemaking. So I want in.

I know of a Mennonite church that’s had a lot of problems in the past decade. They’ve split in ’99, fired their pastor in ’02, and now their next pastor is resigning because he feels he can’t contend with the warring factions in the church.

Now, clearly, they have some militant members who see “winning” as the ultimate goal. They seem to want the church to be modeled after them. That’s a problem that’s reared its head every time the church has split or lost its pastor.

But more concerning is the people who believe in peacemaking, yet have expressed their belief by turning a blind eye to the problems, hoping they’ll go away. That is not peace; it is denial. And it’s sad to see our peace witness lived out in such a way. Jesus taught a “third way” of overcoming hostility, not fight or flight but attacking the problem (not the person) head-on. He taught that we shouldn’t use violence, but we should work to expose evil, even when it resides inside of ourselves.

So I want to be part of a new vision for peace. Too often I’ve been one to stand by quietly, fearful of stirring the waters. So I want to change that. Our new vision needs to shun militancy and passivism. We don’t want to destroy our church to win, nor should we sweep problems under the rug. We need the “third way” of peacemaking within our Mennonite churches, so we can tell the world with confidence that peacemaking works.

Why is Iraq in Such Trouble?

Hi, I’m a young anabaptist named Nate. Some of you on this site know me. Anyway, I thought I’d post something on an issue I believe is of great importance: What’s wrong in Iraq?

Conservatives blame liberals for being “soft” on terrorism. Liberals blame the neocons. And everybody in America seems to ultimately blame the insurgents and “terrorists” who “hate freedom and the democratic process.”

But as usual, things are not that simple. Not nearly. There are several factors that most middle east scholars and experts foresaw. Let me enumerate some of them, since I believe it is imperative for us to understand world events so we can make a difference: (more…)

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…)