Monthly Archive: August 2007

1st Year Reflections from a 1st Year Mennonite – Gonna be a long one folks

A friend of mine invited me to a Mennonite church with her to experience their message this past November of 2006. I looked into the history; I examined the theology. And it made sense to me. As a result, I had a Christian conversion.

And then I spent some time in the church, and found that faith can smolder even among Mennonites. Despite a great theological understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit, I rarely hear Mennonites talk about the Spirit in their lives. Though preaching pacifism, some Mennonite lives out passive-ism. And still others cling to an ethnic identity which, while certainly important to heritage, is also exclusionary for those folks who don’t share that history.

I found this blog and thought perhaps it could be a helpful spiritual outlet for me. And, indeed, it has been.

But even us folks I think warrant a bit of constructive criticism, which I do submit comes from within my limited worldview, so take it with a grain of salt. YAR ain’t perfect. I may love this space, but I don’t unflaggingly support it. In the upcoming year, I would suggest the following to be considered by us folks: (more…)

Things we don’t talk much about on YAR

Today while looking at the category list on YAR I noticed several categories with just a handful of posts. It’s interesting to see which these are. I should note some of these are topics we do address but for some reason don’t categorize our posts as.

But for the others, are these topics that don’t interest you? Would you like to start talking about them more?

Chosenness (2 posts)
New Monasticism (1 post)
Consumerism (4 posts)
Corporations (1 post)
Death Penalty (1 post)
Economics (2 posts)
Education (3 posts)
End Times (1 post)
Environment (2 posts)
Ethics (2 posts)
Ex-Gay (1 post)
Excommunication (2 posts)
Foreign Policy (4 posts)
Gaza (1 post)
God (4 posts)
Guns (1 post)
Hamas (1 post)
Hate (1 post)
Illegal (1 post)
Immigration (3 posts)
Indigenous (3 posts)
Israel (2 posts)
Judaism (3 posts)
Loyalty (3 posts)
Music (4 posts)
Objective (4 posts)
Palestine (1 post)
Peace (4 posts)
Polarization (4 posts)
Poll (4 posts)
Pope (2 posts)
Rape (1 post)
Reviews (1 post)
Schism (2 posts)
Science (1 post)
Sex (4 posts) (Compare this to 8 under “Homosexuality” and 28 under “LGBTQ”)
Sports (1 post)
Stewardship (2 posts)
Stories (2 posts)
Theater (1 post)

YAR Anniversary Poem

YAR – [a work in progress]

scattered strangers –
exiles and
in-track anabap.tists
glasses half-empty, but mostly half-full
fingers fire across keys
punching out the truth
their truth
a truth
hoping sharing
will ease the loneliness
of living as black sheep
or the cramp
of working out the pearl from the sand
– together forming community.

YAR 1st Anniversary Week: What has YAR meant to you?

A year ago this week, Eric wrote the first post on this blog. In honor of our first anniversary, I’d like to invite you all to share a post reflecting on the last year in any way you see fit.

Feel free to focus on a theme that we’ve talked about on the blog (i.e. tradition or politics. You can write a poem, an essay or paint a painting. See the YAR archive tag cloud if you need a memory jog on what we write about.

Please try to post your 1st anniversary reflections before August 31st, our official anniversary.

Biblical Authority in the Global South

I am currently reading The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. It is a fascinating book and if you have a chance to read it, I would highly encourage it. You can also hear Philip Jenkins give a little bit of an overview of the book from his address at the Berkeley Theological Union.

I would like to share a few quotes for discussion. From the end of the the chapter “Power in the Book” which surveys contemporary African and Asian perspectives on the Bible and its striking conservatism in relation to Euro-American “scholarly” understanding of biblical interpretation, Jenkins writes:

By what standards, for instance, do churches decide whether particular biblical verses or passages carry special weight, or might be less authoritative than others? Except for the hardest of the hardcore fundamentalists, American Christians rarely believe that each and every verse of scripture carries the same degree of inspiration, and hence the same value. Instead, many assume an implicit hierarchy of texts, based on what is commonly viewed as the best scholarly opinion. So, for example, the assumption that St. Paul did not really write the Pastoral Epistles attributed to him – the letters to Timothy and Titus – means that these can be treated as less serious, less authoritative, than the apostle’s undoubted words in Romans or the Corinthian correspondence. To claim that “Paul didn’t really write this” consigns the Pastorals to a semi-apocryphal status. At one synod of the Church of England, a clerical presenter made the remarkable argument that since no scriptural texts prohibited the ordination of women, modern conservatives should not “set up artificial and inept lines that no one can defend”. Apparently, in such a view, the explicit prohibition on women’s leadership or teaching authority found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 no longer ecen counts as part of the New Testament. Opinions can differ about the authority that such a passage should command, but for many believers, it literally has been read out of scripture. (Jenkins, 40)


We pledged allegiance but didn’t know better.

Twenty of us have voted on the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance poll. The question is, “Did you grow up saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school?” So far, the top response is “Yes, but I didn’t know better then.” That’s gathered seven votes.
With five votes each are “No, I didn’t go to public school” and “No, but everyone else did.” Then, “No, I’m not an American” got two votes, and “Yes, and I’m glad I did,” got one. It seems no one doesn’t know what we’re talking about, no one said it reluctantly, no one said it despite not being an American, and no one didn’t but wishes they had.

No poll can completely reflect the myriad of possibilities, of course. I remember saying the Pledge sometimes as a homeschooled student, but most days we got right into whatever we were working on with just a prayer. It wasn’t an issue anyone made a big deal over. But then, my family didn’t start going to a Mennonite church until I was 13. Someone in our homeschool co-op wanted the kids to pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, but that didn’t go over real big. The story I heard was the Christian flag is really more of a Baptist flag, and we’re supposed to be pledging allegiance to God, not to a flag someone made and decided to call the Christian flag. (more…)

Theological Education, Anyone?

Hi, I’m Amy. I’m not new to the blog–I’m a frequent lurker and occasional commenter.

As someone who is entering seminary this year, I’m interested to know if any of you are going to seminary, or if you have considered it, or if you even care about theological education. What is the value of that to you, fellow YARs?

I’m going to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (this is my first year), and trying to figure out how to get my Anabaptist stuff while here. You might be asking why a Mennonite would go to a Lutheran seminary–well, show me a Mennonite seminary that is in the city, and focuses on urban issues, and I’ll be there!

I’m looking forward to reading your comments, and hearing your perspectives.

On the Separation of Church and State

I wrote this for the Brethren Mennonite Council blog but thought I’d cross-post it since it’s been quiet here for the last few days. If you need more context, you might check out the previous post on the BMC blog about the Human Rights Campaign/Logo Presidential Forum that j alan meyer mentioned here a while ago.

At this point, it seems somewhat likely that beginning January 21, 2009, a new Democratic administration of the United States will start working to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and beef up Hate Crimes laws. Glad to hear it. What isn’t clear yet is whether the discussion around same-sex marriage/civil unions will be about “what is achievable,” “states rights,” “a man’s journey,” or “the separation of Church and State” (all themes from the recent HRC/Logo forum). The Democratic front runners (the Republicans declined the invitation) want us to know that they are all for lgbt equality … as long is it doesn’t interfere with their chances of getting elected by including marriage equality. It is encouraging to hear that in the coming election, the most electable Democratic position is 90% gay friendly (not as good as 100% gay friendly but I’ll take what I can get for now). We’ve come a long way in the last few years but plenty of work remains.

I don’t have more to say about either Edwards or Richardson for now but I think Clinton should fire whoever came up with those states rights talking points. Didn’t we learn anything from the civil rights movement? States Rights is code language for “long, painful, tortured journey to someone else’s equality” now just as much as it was forty or fifty years ago. She should know better than that.

What I really want to address is Obama’s call for the separation of Church and State, which, for him, somehow means separate but equal (he, of all people, should know where that gets us). I first heard him go down this road during the CNN/YouTube debates. He didn’t seem to have a very good grasp of his own talking points and he ended up confusing even himself with his tortured explanation. He did quite a bit better in the HRC/Logo forum as he seemed to have prepped with his aides more and at least didn’t confuse himself. When he was done I said to myself “well…that’s almost a good idea.” (more…)

Welcoming the Poor

It is almost impossbile for a minority culture group to express their opinion so that it might be heard.

As the racially and sexually segregated can attest, it is an uphill battle. Sometimes a minority cultural group has to insist upon expressing themselves, at which point they might be called “uppity” or a witch with a captial B. But they persevere, because they recognize that their opinion counts and that they are an important participant in the process of communication and decison-making.

However, just as most women and blacks a half a century ago had learned that it is a more peaceful life to just keep quiet and stay in one’s place, so most of the lower class has realized this as well. And there is more at stake for the lower class than the racially and sexually oppressed, because almost without exception they are physically and mentally weakened by their poverty, which makes expressing a differing opinion almost impossible. If they do express an opinion, half the time they are ignored, assuming they are having a “mental breakdown”. Of course, sometimes they are having a mental breakdown, and sometimes they are just being socially inappropriate (as determined by the ruling class) but it is still humiliating to be ignored. It is stressful to share a rejected point of view. It pushes ones buttons to speak what you think to be clearly true and to be treated as if your point of view just doesn’t matter. (more…)

The Next Global Youth Summit

The AMIGOS met last week in Paraguay to plan the 2nd Global Youth Summit (GYS) of Mennonite World Conference (MWC). The event will happen July 10th-12th, 2009, immediately followed by MWC’s 15th World Assembly July 13-19. It will all take place in Asuncion, Paraguay…with independent trips to surrounding countries or regions before or after World Assembly.

At GYS, 50 delegates from 50 countries will meet to discuss the idea/practice of “Christian service”, social concerns, and church politics. Delegates will be given an assignment prior to the Summit to survey at least 50 people about what service means to them, what they see are the major issues in their local and national society, and youth involvement in their local church context. With answers and further questions coming in from all over the world, the delegates will work together to create a comprehensive statement on service and the other topics. They will present it to the MWC General Council, which consists of a church leader representative from each organized Menno/Anabaptist national conference in the world.

In addition to the delegates, the AMIGOS committee is expecting about 700-750 participants. Unlike the delegates who represent the youth (ages 18-30) in the Menno/Anabaptist churches in their country, participants come representating themselves, for their own personal reasons and interests. The participants create the atmosphere of theological debate and discussion, as well as a lot of laughter and soccer playing. In Zimbabwe, GYS felt like a big family reunion with all the extended family…cousins you’d never met but heard about, grandparents who told stories of days past, and lots of email exchanging and promises to “keep in touch”. It was and continues to be all about seeing who was and is part of the Menno/Anabaptist family globally: To learn that what we imagine we have in common, we don’t…and to find sweet connections through life situations that draw us closer to one another. (more…)

Portrait of an Anabaptist Radical (Young?)

Hello, hello. I am Steve Kimes and I’ve posted a few comments, but I’ve just had the opportunity to join this infamous group, so I figured I’d take the time to write a few paragraphs about me, as an introduction.

First of all, I wasn’t raised Mennonite/Anabaptist. I actually wasn’t raised Christian. I came to the Anabaptist fold via conservative evangelicalism. My career choice was missions, specifically working with the poor in Bangladesh, after a missions trip in Calcutta and Bangladesh for six months. However, God led my wife and I to work with the homeless in Portland, OR instead.

But, since our background was missions, we approached doing homeless ministry from a missions perspective. So we invited the homeless to our home, trying to understand their culture and ways. We try to love them within their culture, rather than bringing them out of their culture, trying to teach and demonstrate how to live for Jesus as a homless and/or mentally ill person rather than just as a middle class person. (more…)

“Up From the Rubble”

“The epic rescue of thousands of war-ravaged Mennonite refugees”

Due to a desire to go back to my spiritual roots, I decided to spend free time this summer reading books about Anabaptists. So far I’ve only read one. I stumbled across it unintentionally and am glad I did because I hadn’t come across it in my online searches (which have been few) for books related to Anabaptists and Mennonites. Months ago, I had mentioned this summer reading goal to a YAR friend of mine, and he asked if I would write reviews on whichever books I read. This review is more of a summary and reflection, a smattering of thoughts I had while reading. Let me say, first of all, that I recommend it. It is a very poignant story of a group of people trusting God’s faithfulness and provision despite heartache, persecution, hunger, fatigue and seeming hopelessness.

Some of you may be familiar with Up From the Rubble, written by Peter and Elfrieda Dyck. I had never heard of the book nor the story it tells. My Mennonite lineage is Swiss-German whereas the Mennonites in this story are from Russia. I don’t know anyone (or anyone’s grandparent) personally who went through this, but I felt a connection due to being a Mennonite, and that connection served to make the story seem all the more real as I read and digested it. (more…)

Paul’s Authority?

This is a question I struggle with. Eric was leveled with the charge of iconoclasm for questioning the authority of Paul on the issue of sexuality. So I ask: Where does Paul’s authority lie? Does he fill in where Jesus didn’t explain things? Does he add to Jesus things that maybe weren’t meant to be added? Do either questions matter? Does he have final authority on sin and Christian practice? If not final authority, then where is his place in the “overall trajectory of scripture”?

Let’s venture out here a little bit. If you are arguing in the tradition of Paul as authoritative, don’t assume that this is self-evident. Prove it. If you are arguing that Paul’s authority is questionable, same applies: prove it.