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In the Shadow of Classist Ethnocentrism: Prophetic Voices Against “The Status Quo”

This is taking a new thread of thought from somasoul’s comments in the “Christarchy!” post Lora wrote (thanks Lora)
I find often on this blog a tendency to attack what is seen as the “Christian” status quo, readily identified as the following:

1) Rich

2) Sheltered

3) Spiteful of “sinners”

I will, of course, say “Amen”, “Amen” and “Amen”, provided the caveat that this refers mostly to North American suburban Christians – and, in the global scheme of Christendom, this is a small portion of the body of Christ.

I mention this because I sometimes wonder when we take on a prophetic voice to critique Christians for the above errors, if not this critique itself issues forth from a privileged and ethnocentric perspective. (more…)

International Bloggers’ Day for Burma


Free Burma!

Last week I wrote about the worsening situation in Burma. Today is International Bloggers Day for Burma and the country is in the midst an increasingly repressive crackdown on thousands of monks and ordinary people in the country who were on the streets last week. The BBC reports:

Residents of the main city, Rangoon, say the streets are quiet during daylight hours, with the police and army keeping a low profile.

But during the overnight curfew, they say raids by the security forces continue.

The BBC’s Chris Hogg, in neighbouring Thailand, says if it is a tactic designed to scare people, it is working.

Click the read more link to sign the petition. (more…)

first yar meeting

some of us met today to rant about various things and worship golden calves. the usual. it was great. i see this being a fabulous little blog in the near future – and a major menno hit down the road. we’ve got ideas from hot topics (boring) to mennonite organizations (lame) to ‘evil vs. good’ and ‘who does god hate’ surveys (good) and bible verses of the day (hot). we’ll be talking theology, faith and irreverance – tradition and radical reform. we’ll be throwing metaphorical molotov coctails at your over-literal assumptions. we’ll be snobs about your snobbery and smugly reject your smugness. all that in one little blog with a silly title.

jo ho yo got nothin’ on this concern group.

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selective systems of service and poverty

This afternoon I was taking a test for a course called Jesus and the Gospels. I was laboring over questions and getting irritated with myself for not studying more. But there was a time issue – not only a commitment issue. I like Jesus – and the Christian Scriptures that recall the good news that surrounds his stories. I like trying to remember which Gospel is the longest, the shortest, the oldest, the most Jewish. I like trying to recall which Gospel contains what parable and that John’s gospel is the only one in which the hackneyed “for God so loved the world…” passage appears. Some of it is rote memorization for memorization’s sake, but I do like knowing, at least, that Jesus does say “I am the way,” but that he only says it in one of the four Gospels. Only one of the writers chose to put that phrase on the lips of Jesus. I think that is interesting. But this isn’t the point. (more…)

“That which exists is possible”

Today I had the chance to hear Gene Sharp speak at the John Howard Yoder Dialogues on Religion, Nonviolence and Peace at the University of Notre Dame. I was not familiar with Sharp’s work prior to this event, although his most famous book is The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Sharp’s talk, entitled “Principled Non-violence: Options for Action,” was interesting on many levels and, I think, quite pertinent for us YARs. (more…)

second time around

for thos of you who missed it the first time around (and i guess now a second time, since we just got Katie’s new posts up), Katie posted a link (hidden deep in her introduction) to a great little speech she gave.

i wanted to pull it to the forground here and identify some of the fantastic questions it addresses – maybe get some conversations going over it.
(more…)

YAR Travelogue from Venezuela No. 3

On Tuesday we took a tour of the area around Merida with our guide named Alberto. Alberto was born up the valley from Merida in the Andean foothills and for the last 7 years has been a guide for tourists. He told us stories of mountain rescues and handling Anacondas. When I asked him what he thought of Chavez, he said that he liked Chavez, but not the people he works with. Specifically, Alberto likes what Chavez has done to protect Venezuelan culture. He grew up watching Dawson’s Creek on television, but now television stations must also carry some Venezuelan content. In the same way radio stations must regularly air an hour of Venezuelan music. Alberto felt this was a good way to protect Venezuelan culture from being lost.

When I asked Alberto what he didn’t like about the people who worked with Chavez he talked about the corruption he witnessed first hand at an organisation he worked for. He said they recieved government money, but didn’t do anything to show for it.

Chavez has good ideas Alberto said, but they aren’t always carried out well.

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an event to attend

In addition to this event that Lora pointed out a few days ago is another event that y’all should consider if you are Mennonite*. I went to the Young Adult Fellowship retreat last year in Ontario and it was pretty cool. This year it is near South Bend, IN and is happening the weekend of October 20. Check it out. I think I’ll be there (along with all the other cool kids) so you should too.

I don’t think that I’ll be able to go to the Hesston thing but would love to hear from those who go. These would both be good places to hype our awesome blog.

*Sorry to those of you who aren’t Mennonite but Anabaptist in the non-Mennonite sense that most of my stuff is rather Menno-centric. That is my connection to the Anabaptist thing and, yeah, sorry. I am also sorry for the run-on sentences and poor grammer that you will see from me as I continue to post.

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the queer radical Mennonite conundrum

I’m going to do a spin-off from the speech I pointed you all to last week. So here is the conundrum. I grew up Mennonite. I went to a lovely, nurturing, happy, rural church (East Union Mennonite Church) where I was baptized at 16. I went to a Mennonite summer camp (Crooked Creek Christian Camp) for quite a few years and loved it. I went to many a Mennonite bi-annual conference as my parents were youth leaders for many years and when I was in high school. I went to a Mennonite high school (Iowa Mennonite School) where I learned lovely things about Mennonite history and faith along with the English and Trig. I served for a year with Mennonite Central Committee (SALT) in South Africa. I spent four formative years at Goshen College. I highly value every one of these institutions as they have played a major part in my formation. Those institutions represent an integral part of almost my entire life. The problem arises when I realize that every single one of these institutions would discriminate against me if I were to want to work for them or even volunteer for them as an openly queer Mennonite.

I feel quite a bit of loyalty to the Mennonite Church because it is an important part of who I am. I feel that I am part of the church as much as any other Mennonite who says I shouldn’t be. According to the official membership quidelines and many Mennonites – I shouldn’t teach, preach, or work for any official part of the church or even be a member. To me, it feels like the church is not living the values that I learned from the church. (more…)

YAR Travelogue from Venezuela No. 2

So today I had another opportunity to get a skewed sampling of Venezuelan opinions on Merida´s cable car, the highest and longest in the world. In one of the stations on the way up, Charletta and I struck up a conversation with an professor of computation (accountancy?) and her husband an economics professor. Not surprisingly, they don´t like Chavez. They described his government as violent and polarizing and they said that freedom of press is gradually being eroded and they are worried for the future of democracy in Venezuela. When we asked about all the projects that Chavez is doing to help people (more on this in a later post), she said that they were good ideas, but badly executed and claimed that they were so corrupt that very little of the money actually helped people.

All this was quite interesting, but then some warning lights went off for me when I shared about working in Colombia and they said “Oh, they have a much better government over there”. For those of you who haven’t been following Colombian politics, the country is currently governed by Álvaro Uribe who has promised to end the civil war by beating the guerillas militarily. While I was there working with CPT last year there was a massacre in the peace community of San Jose de Apartado that was likely carried out by the Colombian military. In response, Uribe accused the community of collaborating with the guerillas. Nuff said. (more…)

'peace play'

those of you around the Goshen College scene have probably heard of, witnessed, or even participated in the famous Goshen College Peace Play Contest. you should have – we’re talking submissions from international playwrights and… well… some fairly major questions about what a ‘peace play’ is.

my least favorite is the “crash” genre – airbrushed silhouettes of complexity. they make us feel all deep on the inside without actually pushing us beyond anything we’ve already thought of a million times. the self-flagellating genre is just as bad, and i’m not even sure about my own submission of the mennonite-woman-interview-play genre a few years back. it was a great interview – but i’m entirely sick of that genre. then there’s the allegory plays and the…
(more…)

A White Supremacist Theology of Liberation

A friend recently told me that I should start saying things, whether I have them right or not – that the saying, the conversation is what matters. So, in that spirit, here’s a glimpse into what I consider, along with Robin Hawley Gorsline, to be contemporary white-supremacy. And why we can’t just say white supremacy exists out there, but that all white people, including you and I, are white-supremacists.

I am attempting to discuss a way of living and being – a particular ethic. My deepest hope is that it corresponds as closely as possible with the way of being and living that Jesus asks of us. I’m using theology as a medium to talk about the broader issue of white supremacy that white people continue to enforce (whether consciously or not) in the US (and world) today. So this essay is a theological one in the same way that an essay from George Bush on “a Jesus Ethic” might be a presidential one. Bush could offer an anti-white-supremacist presidential perspective to help us think about our own stories of white-supremacy – presidential, theological, economic, pedagogical, etc.

About the title (and an intro into my thoughts): White supremacy makes me think of the KKK and I really don’t like that organization. Theology makes me think of Karl Barth and Paul Tillich and, on occasion, James Cone (all theologians – two are white and better known). Liberation makes me think of oppressed groups of people empowering themselves toward freedoms. I put them together because they don’t really fit and because, in actuality, this particular combination is exactly what we need to learn to fit together. (more…)

Confessions of a Tattooed Mennonite

Hello, everyone. This blog does the body/soul good! For the past few years, I’ve been addicted to “confessional” forms of literature. As a poet, I just can’t stay away from bringing skeletons out of the closet or mucking through some pretty big issues in my own work. The other young women in my grad workshop don’t see what the big deal is…What I’m finding is that even though my home community was supposedly “progressive” in many ways, I grew up thinking my voice was somehow inferior. I know others will relate to balking at any form of confrontation, too. Well, today I am noticing a silence in our (mostly rural?) “anabaptist” congregations towards issues that once gave us our name and purpose, and as a young woman I want to speak out “firmly but gently.” Poetically, if you will. To hold us accountable, to remind us of a God much bigger than any red, blue, or purple state and what our neighbors think of us. I’m beginning to publish inside the “Menno Realm,” something that’s frightening for me b/c of its obvious audience. But (I think) I’m ready. Grandma, Grandpa, prepare thy ears!

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YAR Travelogue from Venezuela No. 1

Yesterday my wife (!) Charletta arrived in Venezuela for our honeymoon. We decided its the first time for both of us that we´ve been in a Latin American country as purely a tourist (previously it was studying, volunteering or CPTing). Venezuela seemed like a great place to go to see beautiful countryside and do some political sight seeing as well. We´ve been reading about Chavez for the past 8 years so it was about time we saw what it was all about first hand.

First impressions so far have been mixed. Our first political opinions on Chavez were from Emilio and Samuel on the bus ride from the airport into Caracas (tell you something about their economic status). Emilio is a student from the Southeast of Venezuela studying optometry. He used to go to St. George´s on Grenada but transferred to the Caracas campas after the Reggae culture of too much Ganja and Cocaine got to him. He was travelling with his cousin Samuel who is a professor teaching physical therapy. Neither of them had a particularly good view of Chavez. They said that he has been a polarizing force in the country, turning families against one another (sound familiar). They described his ideology as a mix of socialism, communism and anti-capitalism. These accusations weren´t new to me. However, they also said that in order to get a job with government or even to get a government contract “you have to have the right opinions.”

So that´s the first portrait. Over the next 2 weeks I´ll occasionally post other perspectives and reflections on the the politics and culture here in Venezuela. Hasta Luego!

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dreaming the day away

A few days ago, I was asked what I dream of for the church. It came just after an unrelated discussion about this event. The truth is, I couldn’t answer that question at the moment. I’m still stewing over it; it involves something along the lines of a place where we can share our joys as well as our brokenness. I want church to be a place not that caters to individual whims but which draws in all followers of Christ and transforms us one by one. I want it to be a place that always leaves me slightly discomforted. I want the church to be a place that deals more in the spheres of grace than of legalism.

I’m not attending the gathering at Hesston College, but I do like their questions on the web site, so I’m going to steal a few, and toss them at you all. How would you re-imagine the church? What do we really care about, and how can we make that happen? Of what do you dream?

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