Why Young Anabaptist Radicals?

Why start a blog for Young Anabaptist Radicals? I’d been thinking about the idea for a year or two since Michael Sharp started up the Mennonite Progressive list. It seemed like there was interest among folks, but an email list didn’t seem to be the best focus. I bounced the idea off various friends and people I met and found that people were interested in the idea of a blog where they could publish their perspectives in a more permanent format.

Some of the folks I talked with only heard of Mennonites after reading John Howard Yoder and were interested in exploring what it means to be an Anabaptist, regardless of what church they are from. Others grew up in the Mennonite church and identify with their roots, but have questions about where the church today is headed. The people I talked with shared an interest in a space where they could explore Anabaptist values and how they apply to broad areas like economics, war and society and more specific issues like abortion, homosexuality and the “war on terror.” They wanted a space to disagree or agree openly with the church,with society and with each other.

This is attempt to build that space. As Eric shared in the first post, last week five of us gathered face to face to talk more about what this all might look up. We talked about three broad questions to explore:

1) What does Anabaptism mean?
2) What are the political implications?
3) What does that mean for how we live?

We also shared a common goal of disagreeing with each other. And laughing together.

All these fragments are by no means a complete picture, but what excites me the most about this project is all the different people who have expressed interest in contributing. As people introduce themselves with their first posts and share their own vision, I’m sure you’ll agree. Michael’s already shared about his experience with a conscientious objector in Germany and challenged the church to look at where the front line of conscientious objection is. I don’t have anything nearly as dramatic to write about, so I’ll just share a bit about where I come from:

I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania until I was 12 and then moved out to Goshen, Indiana. The move was a significant influence in my life as it took me from a traditional Mennonite church based in a farming community to a Mennonite church based in a academic community. As a junior in high school I went along to the annual protest at the School of the Americas in 1997. The experience and reading folks like Noam Chomsky pushed me into involvement around peace and global justice issues. I got involved with Christian Peacemaker Teams and went to many of the major anti-corporate globalization protests in the early 00’s. When I graduated from Goshen College in 2003 I headed off to London where I spent two and a half years working with various Anabaptist networks and groups. For the first time I discovered Anabaptism as a movement rather than a group of denominations. During the winter of 2005 I spent 3 months in Colombia with CPT. This past winter I was heavily involved in the CPT hostage crisis in the UK, dealing with media and organising events to work for the release of Norman, Harmeet, Jim and Tom. I returned from England a month and a half ago and on Saturday I’m getting married to Charletta Erb.

So there you have it, a bit about YAR and a bit about me. Now lets hear from the rest of you…