Monthly Archive: April 2007

We Were Here First! Right?

Illegal immigration. That raises feelings in the hearts of alot of us. There are strong feelings on both sides of the debate. If you do your homework, it makes this debate a whole lot less easy. There has been a few things nagging at me and I just can’t shake it. Would you like to hear what they are?

First off, most of us European Americans fled our countries in search of freedom from our oppressors. The pilgrims were in search of religious freedom from the church of England. Even our Mennonite ancestors sought out freedom. Dutch, Swiss, German and many others were seeking solace and safety in a new land. It wasn’t as if this land wasn’t occupied already. Of course, we all know that there were indigenous people here long before we ever arrived.

Yet, without as much as a green card, we steam rolled our way across the country, practically wiping out whole people groups. We threw up our flags and claimed this land as our own. Even after states were established, the government steam rolled over their sovereignty as well. Welcome to the new Promised Land. (more…)

Responses to nonviolent protest in the West Bank and in Iraq

Who is Our Enemy? Part 2

Since Ben Anderson asked about the difference between pacifism and nonviolence over on the Practical nonviolence prevents bank robberies post, I thought I’d start a new thread along the same line to see if others wanted to add their thoughts on the topic. It just so happens I came across a current event which adds an interesting angle to the discussion.

This past Friday, Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire was shot by the Israeli military while participating in a nonviolent protest against the wall being built in the West Bank. I for one didn’t hear anything about until this evening when it happened to show up on my Google news page. A quick search shows that only 13 articles have been written about this incident in the past week. Robert Naiman highlighted this dearth of coverage in a blog post on the Just Foreign Policy website (also sent out as a press release by the International Solidarity Movement). Naiman’s challenge is a good wake up call to pacifists who often advocate nonviolent social change as an alternative to armed struggle: (more…)

Garrison Keillor Likes Mennonites?

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.


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, (more…)

Standards for Guiding YAR Blog Together

I have been meaning to work on this for a while and finally got inspired.

Some things to think about before you get yer posting and commenting on.

This blog is moderated to keep spam out but we’re not in the habit of deleting comments or blocking dissent. There are, however, certain behaviors that are rude and annoying and others that aren’t. The line isn’t always clear and we all cross it occasionally. If you feel someone has crossed a line or have questions, feel free to contact one of the moderators (Tim, Eric, or Katie). You are also welcome to politely challenge behaviors yourself, as you feel led.


How do we get the straight white men to shut up?

Before anyone gets offended, that’s hyperbole. Bet it got your attention, though. What I’m really asking is how do we achieve diversity on YAR? I have noticed something these past few weeks on YAR. The regulars who tend to dominate the discussions on race, gender and inclusion are… men. (Or I presume so based on their screen names.) I recall several saying they are straight and white. In no way am I saying I don’t enjoy reading what they have to say. I’ve certainly been challenged by them in many ways. It just seems to me there’s something anachronistic about a core group of males who are probably also straight and white being the primary discussors of these matters in this venue.

I remember a recent race and church discussion here in which someone said straight white males should step down from church leadership to give women and minorities* back some of the power. How much does YAR function as a pulpit? We know more people are reading than simply those who post and comment. We’re even going to give periodic summaries of our discussions to an Anabaptist publication.

My fear is that with several straight white males being so adept at sharing their (thoughtful and insightful) views on the subject, the women and minorities* who would like to speak up will see YAR as ultimately no different than any other straight-white-male-dominated venue. I’m not one to just shut my trap on here, heh, but not everyone is like me. Hopefully those who know far more than I ever could will find this a safe place, too.

Maybe I made some of you mad. Good! If I’m wrong, tell me so. Come up with a better solution. Tell me which are the right questions to ask.

*I’m including GLBTQ in “minorities.” Hopefully that’s not a problem.


There has been some concern about the Y in our name being exclusive to aging Anabaptist Radicals. Of course, all three of the letters are meant to narrow down the target contributers. Interesting to me is the breakdown of how much we care about each letter. According to an earlier poll, we care most about the A, quite a bit less about the R, and almost not at all about the Y.

There’s a lot of talk on here about being Anabaptist. As that is what differentiates us from all the other young radical blogs out there, I won’t act too surprised. But I am a little surprised. The R seems fairly central to why this blog exists. Or am I wrong? As a founder, I know that was a main reason for starting it – a forum for radicals among the Anabaptists. The Y and A were more descriptive of ourselves and our context (we were all young Anabaptists) than purpose in my mind.

What about that R? Does it matter to you? Are you radical? What makes you radical? Would you join a YAM for moderates or a YAC for conservatives? Do you care?

On Schism and Unity

A point of clarification: at least if we let them tell the story, the early Anabaptists were not schismatics. According to Menno, schismatics and those who refuse Christian admonition are indeed the only ones who merit exclusion–“and that with sorrow and pain,” in order to turn them back to the Word of Christ (Complete Works, 1060–61). If there is a time for excommunication, it is only to be undertaken with an eye to unity and to reforming (never destroying!) the person or group who is excluded (p. 1049). What’s more precious to the church than her unity? A church divided can never witness to the reconciling power of Christ, or the constancy of the Father. Pilgram Marpeck likewise urges,

“If you truly contemplate these things [I have said] you will honor this great treasure of the bride (love), which is unity in the Holy Spirit, and preserve it in your midst without laziness and carelessness. For this treasure alone the Bridegroom prayed to the Father on behalf of the bride, that is, to keep the unity with one another as the Father and Son are one in Spirit and truth. This is the true and chief treasure of our most holy Bridegroom, Christ.” — Pilgram Marpeck, The Unity of the Bride of Christ

I say this, of course, in response to Eric’s recent post: get your schism on!. (more…)

anti-abortion, pro-abortion?

I didn’t pay much attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. I skimmed the headlines, noted that pro-abortion activists were “outraged” while anti-abortion activists were celebrating, and went on to the next page. (In case you’re fuzzy on the details, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on partial birth abortions.) But this past week, I noticed that another web site had reprinted Tim’s post, “The Altar of the Gun.” The blogger said he didn’t agree with Tim’s post but wanted to provide another perspective on idolatry. At one point in the article, he inserted this: “No mention whatsoever from this crowd [that would be YAR] that this Democratic congress supports the murder of five million people per year with abortion…”

Abortion is an incredibly complex topic; it’s never as simple as either side wants it to be. Even the words we use, how we chose to define ourselves, matters: pro-choice? Pro-life? Both phrases sort of rankle me. But I really want to know: how do we here at YAR feel about abortion? Since I’m asking you all to perhaps make yourself vulnerable, it’s only polite of me to go first. (more…)

get your schism on!

There’s a lot of talk about wanting to be a church open to people who disagree. On the one hand that sounds like a great idea, on the other hand where does it end? How do we define ourselves as a church? Even assuming a model with more focus on central mission than fringe cases, how do you keep your mission strong while remaining somewhat democratic and having such divergent members? How do you keep it strong after, say, 500 years of people joining the denomination for no other reason than they grew up in it? What does it mean to be a “historic peace church” once you are left with only a minority in the church claiming that all war is sin (see the recent church member profile conducted by MCUSA). Who cares what we are historically, if we’re something different now?

Here’s the point:

If we believe in a church with differing voices, and are opposed to schism, why have a Mennonite church at all? Why not just add to the diversity of a mainline protestant denomination? Why not reunite with Catholicism to create the Ultimate Diverse Universal Christian Super-Church?


If we believe there are things worth splitting over, and reasons to have a distinctly Anabaptist or even more distinctly Mennonite church, what issues are worth it? Why not split over ordination of women? Why not split over beliefs about war? Why not split over acceptance and support of GLBT people? These all seem like fairly important issues to me, much more so than coat buttons or the mustache or even child baptism. You wouldn’t include white-supremacists in a civil rights organization just for the diversity of opinion, so why include militants or homophobes in a peace church?

Are YARs evangelical?

I understand and respect the sentiment expressed by Skylark and Joe, that there is a need for a space where younger voices can be heard. I just entered my own response to the “YAR or OAR” poll in the 46-55 bracket, and I am grateful for the expressions of welcome to participate. I’ll be content, for now, to listen more than to speak, since I have a great deal of curiosity about what YARS are thinking and feeling these days.

First question: are YARs “evangelical”, or not? I suppose that might make them YEARs, and the YEARs in turn might make them OARs, but that’s a separate question. (more…)

Anabaptist and College

I just finished reading Loren Swatzendruber’s article, “Liberal or Conservative” in the Spring 2007 issue of Our Faith. It was a good article, although his conclusions seem to be very different from what the title would indicate. I found myself enjoying the article, and felt like giving a hearty amen by the end of it, but then I remembered that I just graduated from a Mennonite institution (Bluffton), and my feelings deflated. My initial reaction was to write a letter to the editor of Our Faith with my thoughts, but instead, I will publish my thoughts here on YAR. (more…)

The Altar of the Gun

Statue of Bellerophon Taming Pegasus by Jacques Lipschitz. Photo by Tim Nafziger

Note: I found writing this piece to be a way of channeling my own anger at the massacre this morning. But I recognize that anger is only one part of the grief process. Please join me in praying for the families and friends of those killed.

American worships the gun. Today, 33 more were sacrificed on the altar of our devotion to the gun. Specifically to semi automatic handguns. There are already dozens of articles from disciples arguing that the massacre today at Virginia tech could have been avoided if some of the students had been carrying guns so they could shoot the killer before he killed them. We trust the gun more than we trust God. (more…)

Practical nonviolence prevents bank robberies

On Friday, soon after reading Nate’s post on Questions about Pacifism I heard a story on NPR called Killing Bank Robberies with Kindness. Give the story a listen. Its a very practical application of nonviolent principles in the face of expected violence.

For many years bank tellers have been told to do nothing when faced with a prospective robbery. The main goal was to make sure no one gets hurt. The new “Safe Catch” technique described in the radio story above empowers bank tellers by allowing them to step out of the expected victim role. They enthusiastically greet the suspicious person and thereby invite them to step out of their role as aggressor. It sounds a lot like the nonviolent deescalation tactics we learned as part of Christian Peacemaker Training. (more…)

Nature vs. Nurture

I’m curious about something here, though it may be something for a later poll.

I am 23 and only recently “became” Mennonite. I had a spiritual rebirth as a result of my attendance at a Mennoniite church and through reading the Confession of Faith, though I was almost enticed to Catholicism because of my fascination with the Catholic Worker movement (though I have serious reservations about particular aspects of Catholic theology).

I’m one of two people in the whole place who are even in their twenties; everyone else is either a teenager, a small child, or mid-30’s on up through their 80’s (most folks being baby boomers).

How many people here grew up in a Mennonite/Brethren family? How many people here came into the Mennonite/Brethren church later in life? For either answer, how do you think this influences you view of the church and your faith, if at all?