Adventures in Anabaptist Comedy Improv Auctioneering

Crossposted from As of Yet Untitled.

This past month has been a busy one for me, starting with two and a half weeks in Chicago to help lead training for new trainees joining Christian Peacemaker Teams. One of the highlights was this video of the public witness to close Guantanamo and end torture in which I did some videography and my first ever voice over narration.

This past weekend was the first in our two weekend Peace, Pies and Prophets west coast tour. On Friday night, Jan. 25, we raised over $5,000 at Seattle Mennonite Church. It was a rousing good time, with Tim Ruebke at his most hyper auctioneering level that I’d seen yet.


Laughter is Sacred Space: Memoir of an Anabaptist comedian

Crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

This is the funniest book about the pain of suicide you’ll ever read. It may also be the most profound. By diving deep into what it means to lose your comedy partner, Ted Swartz squeezes us through windows of surprising grace, lubricated by laughter.

Scene 2 of the book tells the tragic story of how Lee Eshleman “succumbed to a fatal illness known as depression” in 2007, as Ted puts it. Lee was the other half of Ted and Lee, the only full-time professional Mennonite comedy company that I’ve ever known. His death sent Ted into a spiral of anger, guilt, debt, depression and holey underwear as his business collapsed, and he got into debt.


Time Traveling Amish Avoid Future; Take Over the World

Amish gas tank, sleds and buggy
Zack Exley, formerly of Revolution in Jesusland, shared this story on Facebook. Its a delightful slice of the Anabaptist apocalyptic imagination:

I had a dream last night that kept repeating all night. Time travel was invented. A conservative Amish-ish sect used it to swap the past for the future with everyone else. They kept going back one year so that they wouldn’t have to experience all the new developments. But this kind of time travel only worked by swapping places with people in the past. So they swapped with people who wanted to skip ahead and get their new iPhones sooner and watch the new Mad Men season earlier. This seemed like a harmless and good deal for everyone involved. But it emerged that each year (a la Groundhog day) the retro sect was using their knowledge of the future to secure enormous power over the world. But it actually turned out well because the sect used their power to prevent wars, famines, etc…

Maybe Mark Tooley was just off by one sect. Zack asks for movie credit from anyone who makes the movie.

Photo by Tim Nafziger

Wild Goose plug from an UMAAR

Greetings from a not so young Anabaptist radical. Warning: lots of name-dropping ahead!

I have spent 20 years on the road in various denominational conferences, congregations, and colleges. I met a lot of wonderful people, some of whom I’ve disagreed with theologically, and perhaps politically. But the saying, “traveling artists leave their theology and politics at home” is usually good advice. What is odd however is when it’s a Christian event —a conference, church or Christian college or university, where there are commonalities assumed. Again, our theology usually stayed at home. So we felt many times like we were strangers, just mercenaries, or as we like to say on occasion, theater whores, taking the money without ever being emotionally involved with the event. To be fair, this happened more often in conferences, than in churches.

In 2001 in the fall Lee Eshleman and I were guests at a conference in Seattle sponsored by The It was Solarize: A Conversation. The speakers were Sally Morgenthaler, Brian McLaren, Tom Sine, Leonard Sweet, and Richard Rohr. Workshop leaders included Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. Almost for the first time, I felt like I was at home. The theology, the fact that they had a theology pub where someone brought a keg and handed me a beer, the social justice awareness, and the deep appreciation for Anabaptist theology throughout made us feel as if we were home. The whole weekend blew me away— truly a life changing experience. Brian, Sally, Doug, Tony and Richard have all become friends. The reason I bring this up is to illuminate the speaker lineup at the Wild Goose Festival in June. Richard and Brian and Tony and Doug will all be there. (more…)