Author Archive: TimN

Anabaptist Network gathering this weekend

Lora introduced the Anabaptist Network here on YAR in January, but I thought it might be worth updating YAR readers on our sister organization. As of today we have 421 members on our Anabaptist Network Facebook group (link only works if you’re logged in to Facebook).

This weekend we’re meeting in person for the first time as part of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington DC on Friday night. If you’re interested in joining us, you can email me at nafziger@gmail.com for directions and details. The gathering is open to anyone who is interested, not just people who have joined the Facebook group. If you know someone who is in DC on Friday night and might be interested, feel free to invite them.

Update on conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo

Back in September, Michael wrote about Agustin Aguayo here on YAR. Today Agustin was found guilty of desertion in a US military court in Würzburg, despite 3 years of attempting to get out of military service as a conscientious objector. According to the Independent, “He faces up to seven years in prison, a dishonourable discharge and loss of pay.” This development is the latest in a very long struggle for Agustin, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. [Update: The Washington Post reports that Agustin was sentenced to eight months in prison, which means that, given timed served, he’ll likely be out in a few weeks.]

Michael, as the director of the Military Counselling Network (MCN), is quote in a number of articles on the case. This probably means he’s been answering lots of media calls recently and may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Keep him and MCS in your thoughts as this case may mean lots of increased publicity for them as well as increased interest from soldiers. They’ve been advertising for help on YAR recently as you may remember.

Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides

This week I watched Hotel Rwanda and The Ground Truth. Both films deeply moved me and I highly recommend them to all of you.

Cover of Passage by Andy GoldsworthyBut sometimes I get tired of writing about politics and all that’s broken in the world. So instead I’m writing about Rivers and Tides, a documentary I just watched about Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist whose medium and gallery is nature. He uses rocks, ice, leaves, snow, grasses, flower petals, iron pigment and other found elements to create works that are often transient – washed away, melted or blown into air. The only record of his works are the photographs he takes and shares through books such as Passage (cover right).

The documentary follows his creative process from a beach in Nova Scotia to the meadows of Scotland where he lives. Although I’d enjoyed his photo books before, listening to him talk about his work gave me a whole new respect for his work. He is not just an experimental postmodernist with a clever idea. His vision is rooted in place and time. Like Wendell Berry he is an artist who has discovered the importance of going back to the land and staying put. He talks of the changes he’s seen in the village where he and his family have lived for 12 years: the births, but also the deaths. This appreciation for the process of change is central to his work. (more…)

Who is our enemy?

This morning a friend sent me a link to an insightful article by Glenn Kessler in today’s Washington post. Kessler focuses on the underlying doublespeak behind the way Bush uses the terms “free”, “moderate” and “terrorist”. While we’re all used to Bush’s buzz words, this article sharply tears away the veil to reveal just how untrue the president’s words are.

Yet Kessler doesn’t resort to to black and white truisms that mirror those of Bush. Instead, he lets the gray areas speak for themselves. First he points out that, despite Bush’s claim that “free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance”:

In the two of the most liberal and diverse societies in the Middle East — Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — events have undercut Bush’s argument in the past year. Hezbollah has gained power and strength in Lebanon, partly at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Palestinians ousted the Fatah party — which wants to pursue peace with Israel — from the legislature in favor of Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and is considered a terrorist organization by the State Department.

He also points out that the countries Bush describes as “moderate” such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia rank about the same as Cuba and Burma on the Freedom House rating scale (see links above for their respective ratings).

As Christians, this question of who is our enemy has a special importance because these are the people Jesus calls us to love. (more…)

Radical like surfers or revolutionaries?

This week I read this post over on Adventure Faith about YAR and was inspired to rewrite the YAR “about us” page. In his post, blogger Mike Barret suggests that radical Anabaptists is about as incongruous as radical librarians. I realized that we’re operating with different definitions of what radical means. Mike is about to publish a new book entitled “The Danger Habit”. I was curious about what “radical” means for him, so I read the first chapter that he’s posted on-line. In it, Mike describes his experience as a surfer, skateboarder and Christian. But it isn’t just another “Whoa, Dude, God is cool” book. Mike describes the experiences of being diagnosed with ADHD and realizing that his lifestyle wasn’t always compatible with being a dad. At the same time, he came to see risk-seeking behavior as a gift from God:

And God needs some of us to be change makers, not routine sustainers, to live dangerously, not just enjoy reading about it, to pioneer new ways of thinking and living because the old ways are tired and boring.

(more…)

Christmas invitation from Oaxaca, Mexico

For the last three weeks I haven’t been blogging as much because I’ve been doing support work for a Christian Peacemaker Teams emergency accompaniment team in Oaxaca, Mexico. The team of two CPT reservists was invited to Oaxaca because of increasing repression by state and federal police of local people who have been protesting to remove their governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (more on why below). The state government has replied by killing more than 15 Oaxacans and 1 American and imprisoning hundreds of Oaxacans on fabricated charges.

This Christmas, we are inviting you, along with your families and churches to write Christmas and New Years cards of support to the families of those who have been imprisoned. Here’s the story of one of the families:

Bernadita Ortiz Bautista, a 40 year old Mixteca Indigenous woman, was arrested along with her son Alejandro (19) and two of her daughters, Rosalva (12) and Beatriz (14). Rosalva and Beatriz saw the police beat their mother. The Mexican authorities held the children for three days (separately from their mother) before releasing them. They are now at home helping to care for five younger brothers and sisters. Their father, Pablo Ortiz, says he is unable to work, because he needs to be home with the children now that the mother is away. Typical of homes in Campimiento, their one room house is only sixteen feet long and thirteen feet wide.

(more…)

Response to MJS on Coverings and Conservative Mennonites

A few days ago, a woman named MJS replied to a comment by Brian on a post by Laura in which he said, “I’m going to go out on a limb and actually advocate a return of head coverings for women and plain coats for men.” Although he went on to suggest he was mostly joking, MJS says, “let me assure you that being stuck in a conservative setting & being treated like an archaic museum piece everywhere you go is NOT a picnic–it feels more like a prison.” MJS goes on to describe the negative reaction of family and friends at the thought of her not wearing a covering. To those of us who grew up in more liberal communiites, she says “Consider yourselves fortunate that you don’t have to deal with the huge cultural divide between conservative Mennonites & others. It stares me in the face every day.” (more…)

Celebrating YAR’s 3 Month anniversary

Three Months by TimIts been three months since Eric kicked things off here. Since then we’ve had 64 posts and 126 comments. For those of you who like statistics, that’s an average of 1 post every 1.4 days and and 1.4 comments every day. How’s that for serendipity?

We’ve had 40 people sign up as users on the blog and 14 of you have gotten around to writing a post (you can see who you are under Harlequin/Zealots label on the right hand sidebar). We look forward to hearing from the other 26 of you! Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you along.

We’ve attracted the attention of a few other bloggers out there. Our most consistent links have been from Hootsbuddy’s Place: (more…)

New blog features

Last night I installed some new features for the YAR blog to improve your reading and writing experience.

The main new feature is the new “Related YAR posts” section at the bottom of every post, just before comments. It shows three posts that the computer guesses are similar in content to the article you are viewing. Now that we have 54 posts in the archives and counting, this is one way to introduce new visitors to older content they might not have seen. (more…)

Maeyken Wens: One face of Early Anabaptism

There’s been a couple of posts today referencing early Anabaptists and discussing what exactly they stood for. As Jonny pointed out, they are far from homogenous. I always like pointing out the example of the Batenburgers, survivors of the Muensterites who basically turned terrorist. I always like pointing out their infidel-hating, cow-massacring ways to counterbalance any overly pious view of early Anabaptists.

But I’m not here to write more about the Batenburgers. Instead I’d like to look at a woman named Maeyken Wens who was burned at the stake in Antwerp on October 6th, 1573. If you’ve ever flipped through the Martyr’s Mirror, you may have come across the image that goes with her story (at right). Unlike most of the Martyr’s Mirror etchings, its not an image of death or persecution, but of the aftermath. Her son Adriaen is sifting through the ashes looking for the tongue screw that clamped her tongue so she couldn’t sing or testify. I first heard her story from John Sharp, Mennonite historian, storyteller and father of Michael J. If you grew up Mennonite, you’ve probably heard it too and you may have even seen the tongue screw, carefully handed down from generation to generation to remind us of our persecuted past.

But it isn’t the story of the tonge screw that I want to write about either. It’s the letters Maeyken wrote to her husband and her son that interest me most. (more…)

Recommendation for free Election Night soundtrack

A few weeks ago, Nathan suggested that the singer/songwriter Derek Webb was trumpeting Anabaptist values. I haven’t checked out a new artist Christian music field for quite sometime now, but upon looking at his website I discovered that he was offering his all of latest album, Mockingbird, free to download. As a properly frugal Mennonite, I decided it was my duty to download it. Today I finally got around to listening to it.

What I discovered was a pleasant surprise: the first sarcastic Anabaptist “Christian Music” artist I’ve ever come across (though admittedly I don’t know that many). Here’s a sample:

don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

(pre-chorus)
i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

– from “A New Law”

(more…)

Reflections on Mennonite Young Adult Fellowship Retreat

This past weekend I, along with a couple of other YAR writers, went to a campground outside South Bend, IN for a weekend of conversation, games and networking with about 50 other young ethnic Mennonites in their twenties. I decided to go to the gathering after reading about it in Katie Ho’s post a month ago. I figured it would be a good way to reconnect some small part of the Menno community after being out of the country for two and a half years. And in that regard, I wasn’t dissapointed. While there were a few old friends in attendance, there were also lots of new and interesting people to chat with, including the chance to meet a fellow YAR blogger for the first time in person (Brian Hamilton). There were thoughtful sessions by Ken Hawkley, former Mennonite Church USA young adult worker. The Bike Movement crew did a presentation about their trip, their conversations and their upcoming documentary. And Jason Shenk and Nicole Bauman led a discussion session on young adults and the Mennonite church as part of their new roles with AMIGOS. To balance the serious parts there was also Menno Run, a version of survival. With Anabaptist hunters instead of wolves and foxes and Anabaptist instead of rabbits and deer. All this with liberal doses of engaging conversations. (more…)

Tempting Faith shows Bush exploitation of Christians

I’m not usually one to post videos on blogs, but this two part series on the Keith Olbermann show covers the new book by David Kuo, a longtime conservative Christian political operative and deputy director of White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction appears to be just what its title claims: a thorough expose of the way the Bush administration has strung along Christian leaders over the last 6 years. The general themes of broken promises to conservatives won’t come as a surprise, but the specifics coming from an insider are still very disturbing. One minor, but telling quote from the book:

[Christian leaders] were given passes to be in the crowd greeting the president or tickets for a speech he was giving. Little trinkets like cufflinks or pens or pads of paper. Christian leaders could give them to their congregations or donors or friends to show just how influential they were. Making politically active Christian personally happy meant having to worry far less about the political Christian agenda.

But you can watch it all in gory glory for yourself in Part 1:

and Part 2: (more…)

Dr. Dobson Makes New Hamartiological Breakthrough!

Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family has made a new breakthrough in Hamartiology that I just had to share with you:

“Culture bends and sways with the outcome of elections,” he said. “If you can find a politician who understands the institution of the family, … who understands that we are at war with those who want to destroy us utterly, who understands that liberal judges … need to be reined in, and if you can find a politician who lives by a strong moral code and believes in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, … it would be a sin not to vote for him.” (Star Tribue)

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it is now officially a sin to vote for a anti-war candidate. Jesus couldn’t have said it better himself.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and had a subscription to Club House (and later Breakaway magazine). And I was a devoted listener of Adventures in Odyssey and Mr. Whittaker (featured above) back in the 80’s. Its wierd to try to reconcile the warm and nostalgic memories I have of that show with the outrage I now feel at quotes like these from Dr. Dobson. Anyone else out there who finds themselves robbed of their childhood icons?