Monthly Archive: July 2007

Young Adults Present Statement of Visions at San Jose

Roxy Allen and Jeremy Yoder present young adult visions at San Jose 2007

The following statement was drafted and presented at the San Jose 2007 Convention in response to an invitation from MC USA Executive Leadership for feedback from BikeMovement and associated conversations regarding young adult visions for the Mennonite church:

Young adults have been called the future of the church. We come before you today to say that the future has already begun.

We come from varied walks of life. Some of us went to Mennonite colleges, some of us did not. Some of us are connected to our home congregations, and others are finding it hard to connect to any congregation. We have built relationships that transcend geography. We are using the new medium of the Internet – including sites like the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog and the Anabaptist Network on Facebook – as forums for conversation, debate, and community. We are seekers in our faith and full of complex questions. (more…)

Anonymity and Internet communities

These thoughts are partially inspired by some recent conversations with a few YAR writers, and folknotions’ post on the San Jose YAR meetup.

I’ve been thinking recently about the strange aspect of anonymity that makes this and other online communities distinct from print publications, face-to-face discussions, etc. In the past few years I’ve had on-and-off involvement in a few online Mennonite communities — some more anonymous than others (for instance, Yahoo group “MennoNet” was a frustrating waste of time). Ultimately, one of the aspects that frustrates me when taking part in these groups is the aspect of anonymity and lack of community — where I feel like writers aren’t willing to remain accountable to each other, take responsibility for what they write, and generally maintain a level of respect and decency. I certainly don’t think this is happening here (and I don’t mean to be targeting people with creative usernames here), but in other groups it often reaches a point where people seem to regress to name-calling and attacks, partially because they can hide behind their cryptic usernames. Again, I don’t see that happening here.

That being said, I’ve also found myself wanting to know more about my fellow writers here on YAR, beyond the regular posts on ethics/theology/ecclesiology. (more…)

My Problem with “Opening the Floodgates”

I had a lot of great discussions with Katie (and other YAR’s) this week at San Jose. Katie asked that I write a post about how I, as someone who did not grow up in the church, understand what the church teaches about queer sexuality.

First of all, I will say that, generally, Christian thought about same-sex sexuality appears backwards to me. It seems to neglect our Lord’s commandment to love and instead go around being Satan (which, I learned, is translated as “prosecutor”). And the old “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing isn’t the commandment – love is unconditional, and what you are saying when you say “love the sinner, hate the sin” is “I love you but…”, which is conditional. There are serious pitfalls in this thinking (and, I will admit, even in my own on the subject).

Another problem I find in the teaching of sexuality is what I call Floodgate theory
but which can be identified as the “slippery slope fallacy”. What is Floodgate Theory? (more…)

San Jose YAR Meetup

I was really excited to meet some of the YAR authors/lurkers at the San Jose conference this week, to hear of the kind of things you are doing inside and outside the Church, and to hear the insights you had about the future of the church.

On Wed, July 4th, several YAR authors and sympathizers had dinner and discussed issues that they felt were pressing in the church. Here are my notes from the meeting. (more…)

Mennonite Conventions: What Happened to Stewardship?

Let me start with a disclaimer, no I’m not in San Jose at the convention, and yes I would love to be there. I was in Charlotte for a couple days a few years ago and I attended the Nashville convention but I’m no expert on the whole convention model. I think that it is a good and healthy thing for the church to gather in a large body to discuss important issues, worship, and fellowship together. I think these things should all continue to happen at Mennonite conventions (or assemblies, is that the more correct term?). However, I have two main concerns with the current convention model. One, is it really necessary to spend thousands of dollars on renting out convention centers in large cities (where there usually aren’t that many Mennonites) and then having all the participants stay in hotels. Now this could be a question simply of numbers, are there just not large enough buildings to host joint worships of thousands (other than in large cities)? However, would it be totally unthinkable to have a Mennonite convention in an area with significant Mennonite infrastructure? (more…)

Meeting the Church

I haven’t taken much time on this blog to talk about myself. I should say that I am an outsider in this church – my last name isn’t Yoder, Miller, Freisen, or Moshier.

I have only been a Christian for 9 months; the Mennonite congregation I attend (a beautiful place that I hope my new-found YAR friends can come see some day) was evangelical merely by their presence – they were spiritually formative by aligning speech and action and desire and vision. I would not want to be any place else.

I am writing from the convention in San Jose; I have been here since yesterday and will be leaving tomorrow (short time, I know, but I’m a busy guy).

I am coming to learn why it is frustrating to penetrate the Mennonite world: there are a lot of people who make money off of being Mennonite. (more…)

Blog from San Jose

I’m writing from the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Assembly in San Jose. I’ll try to keep some updates coming as I have time and content. I’m here more as a delegate from my congregation than as BMC staff but of course I still have similar concerns whether I’m wearing a BMC hat or just the Katie hat.The speaker at tonight’s adult worship session was Juan Martinez. I didn’t know of him before but you can read a bit about him here. As I listened to him speak, I was reminded once again that the church has a long way to go. The reason I say this isn’t because I disagreed with much of what he had to say, I felt he was right on as he spoke of the need for the church to deconstruct boundaries and break down walls. He spoke of the church needing to able to change and deal with diversity and I was there with him. I wish I took notes at these kind of things because then I would be able to give a better idea of his words to those gathered tonight. I’ll try to get my notebook out more the rest of the week so I can give better synopses.The thing that bothered me was that as he was talking about deconstruction and breaking down walls, and boundaries and such it was clear he was talking about language, race, and culture boundaries (maybe even gender, wish I had those notes that I didn’t take) and anything outside of that gets a little fuzzy. When I hear a good speaker talk about themes like this, I tend to apply the inspiring words to my own experience and think how well it all fits but, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t talking about some walls the church needs to deconstruct (or if he was, he wasn’t making that clear with his words). He wasn’t talking about the boundaries that push lgbt people out or tell them they are unworthy. He wasn’t talking about the walls for heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia. (more…)

Bible Verse of the Day 07-02-07

This one’s for you, Lora. ;-)

Numbers 1:5-16

“These are the names of the men who are to assist you: from Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur; from Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai; from Judah, Nahshon son of Amminadab; from Issachar, Nethanel son of Zuar; from Zebulun, Eliab son of Helon; from the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim, Elishama son of Ammihud; from Manasseh, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur; from Benjamin, Abidan son of Gideoni; from Dan, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai; from Asher, Pagiel son of Ocran; from Gad, Eliasaph son of Deuel; from Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.” These were the men appointed from the community, the leaders of their ancestral tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.”

:-D

Time and Place for YAR gathering in San Jose

For YAR writers and readers out there who are attending San Jose 2007, we’ve decided to gather for supper on Wednesday evening at 5:30 pm at the Tandori Restaraunt at 109 S. First Street (link to a map of the location on Google). This will be an opportunity to put some faces with the names we’ve been seeing on this blog for the last 10 months. See you there! If you need to get in touch with me you can call me at 312-505-7461.
Feel free to invite people who are interested in writing for YAR.

What’s happening in Gaza?

This is another proxy-post by Rich, written for CPTnet and copied here with permission:

North American media have again found one of their favorite stories in the fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza – Palestinians bent on killing, incapable of arranging their political lives without massacres. Without claiming to have the complete story, I can at least interject some additional perspectives that call for deeper interpretation. For example, I saw Fatah and Hamas legislators in Hebron walk arm-in-arm down Ain Sara Street, on a day when five of their colleagues died in a gun-battle in Gaza. OK, at least that says that Hebron is not Gaza. But what is behind the fighting in Gaza?

Last week in Gaza, Hamas fighters finally drove Fatah fighters out of the Office of Preventive Security – that’s a police headquarter building, basically. Maybe North American reporters have forgotten that there was an election in Gaza and the West Bank early in 2006 – by all accounts a free, fair, multiparty democratic election. The voters chose new government, Hamas, by an overwhelming majority. Now, another way to describe this result would be to say that the electorate “sent the Fatah incumbents packing.” At least, in most places, it would mean that. But in this case the United States government objected to the choice of the Palestinian voting public, and acted in a variety of ways to stop the incumbent party from handing over the institutions of government to the winning party. So the Fatah legislators, bureaucrats and officials did not pack up – they stayed. That’s why they were still there in control of this police station more than a year later.
(more…)