Polarization

Transformationist Anabaptist?

In a number of posts in the last few months it has been quite clear that some of us have very different visions of what Anabaptism is than others. I wrote about this phenomenom two months ago on my blog on the Mennonite in a post on the four streams of Anabaptism. I thought that YAR folks might be interested the table I posted based on an article by Rodney Sawatsky (see the post above for more)

Streams of Anabaptism

Anabaptist Stream
Emphasis
16th Century Corollary
Separationist
Social/cultural non-comformity to the world
Swiss Brethren with Schleitheim Confession
Establishment
Biblical nonresistance/personal holiness
Menno Simons
Reformist
Discipleship of Christ/service to the world
Pilgram Marpeck
Transformationist
Political/ideological nonconformity to the political powers
Hans Hut and apocalyptic Anabaptists

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a paradigm parable

This isn’t the “Part II” I intended to post, but perhaps I’ll save that for a rainy day. I found this post this morning and thought I’d repost it here. Via The Parish.

1 And it came to pass that Jesus came to America, not in the way of Joseph Smith’s story; rather, he showed up at Chili’s in a Southern state. He was tired and hungry and wanted bread and wine. 2 When he discovered the wine available at Chili’s, he immediately left that place and went to a local restaurant with a better menu. 3 The place was frequented by many different people of various races and religions (some having no religion) and political leanings. 4 He sat at a table in the rear of the bar and ordered a red table wine (under $15) and a basket of bread. 5 After the server brought the bread and wine, she asked if she could get Jesus an appetizer or lunch. 6 “Nay,” Jesus replied. “But please, invite all the patrons to come have bread and wine with me.”

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A never moving frame grounded in tradition and held up by suspenders

This morning Jonathan posted this comment over on the Young (White) Anabaptists Radicals post:

If you have any concern for new believers please read this…

http://www.mennodiscuss.com/viewtopic.php?t=5151&start=0

It didn’t quite fit with the existing discussion there, so I thought I’d move it to a new post for further comments. If you click on the link, you’ll find yourself at MennoDiscuss, a lively forum for Mennonite conversations.

Mennonite Discussion logo (more…)

Paradigms & Christianity, Part I

An acquaintance of mine, who is in college hundreds of miles away from where he grew up, once suggested that perhaps one of the most radical things he could would be go home after he graduated–commit himself to the land and the people and his church and stay there, for better or for worse.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be Christian and be radical. We get a mix of the expected and unexpected answers on this blog–to be radical is to work for peace, to work for rights of the oppressed, to stay home instead of traveling abroad. Reading the post on “Covenantal Christians” inspired me to add another layer to this discussion: it is radical to love Christians with whom we disagree without any intent to convert or judge them. (more…)

Gregory Boyd: “Mennonites: they’re in trouble”

A friend just sent me It turns out I’m a Mennonite! from the blog of Greg Boyd, a prominent dissenter in the mega-church movement. In July 2006 he was profiled in the New York Times after he lost 20% of the membership of his mega-church after refusing to endorse conservative political causes. He is author The Myth of a Christian Nation.

This past weekend Boyd was at Hesston College for a conference and found a connection with the Mennonite tradition. He says, “…on a deep level, it kind of felt like coming home.” In many ways his reflections echoes the stories told in Coming Home: Stories of British and Irish Anabaptists in which people from many different Christian traditions share how they connected with Anabaptism. I worked with many of these folks while in England and it was incredible to see the impact the Anabaptist tradition had on their lives. Boyd’s post has that same energy. It’s an energy that I see as critical to the future of Anabaptism, rather than be as part of the Mennonite church or an Anabaptist movement of people from many different denominations (as in the UK).

The difference between Boyd’s story and those of my friends in England is that Boyd also immediately discovered some of the shortcomings of the Mennonite tradition. I remember vividly the disbelief from British friends when I told them that more than half of Mennonites voted for Bush. This made no sense to them based on what they’d discovered as Anabaptist core convictions. Boyd put it this way:

But there was another very interesting thing I learned about the Mennonites: they’re in trouble. I heard this from a number of people, including John Roth. One man literally wept as he told me how he’s been grieved seeing Mennonites abandon their core vision of the Kingdom and core convictions over the last several decades. They’re losing their counter-cultural emphasis and becoming “Americanized” and “mainstreamed” (as various people told me). Consequently, many Mennonite leaders are getting involved in partisan politics in a way that goes against the Mennonite tradition. While Evangelicals tend to be co-opted by Right Wing politics, these leaders are being co-opted by Left Wing politics. They’re basically defining Kingdom social activism as supporting radical democratic policies. Yet, three fourths of Mennonites are Republican. Hence there’s growing tensions between the leadership and the body of the Mennonites.

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Violent Video Game as Church Recruiting Tool

I’m really sad today. I often become sad when I read the NY Times.

I wasn’t sure which article I should write an urgent post about, there were so many. Women are being destroyed in Congo as rape has become the most common tool of war and the crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. I was sure I was going to blog about that–as soon as returned to the computer from a session of weeping–crying out and pleading with God that people in every country would respect women’s bodily integrity. Here is that article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html?th&emc=th

But, I couldn’t write about that one because I got overwhelmed by the next article. Rape and pillaging in wars will never stop as long as long as people in the imperial center do things like spread the gospel using Halo3, a dichotomizing, bloody video game. The article is copied into this post. Here’s an excerpt.

Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”

Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church. “

HOW–with what words, passages, or guiding principles–can we speak to our christian “brothers and sisters” about this? YAR has been a community of support for speaking truth to power. Words of advice, comfort, or challenge as we welcome many more christians by way of accepting Jesus as their savior while they were aroused by the massacring and tag-team destruction they just did?

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Liberal and Conservative Christians

While at the conference in San Jose, I encountered a great deal of conversation about “liberal” and “conservative” Christians, discussion which treated these as polar opposites and if you fall behind one particular view that is “liberal” than whoops! everything you think is liberal. I went to a workshop entitled “Sticks and Stones: A conversation about our conversations” presented by Dale Schrag who took a cue from Gregory Boyd on the polarizing debate happening within congregations throughout America and the devastating effects of the “Moral Majority” and the “Religious Right”. The politicizing of the church – something which is evident in MCUSA too, with a lot of focus on political issues – has ripped it apart, to the point where political allegiances are dictating what church you go to and what gospel you hear (or, should I say, choose to hear).

Does anyone else find the terms “liberal” and “conservative” problematic as they are used in a Christian context? I smell CNN and Fox News all over that distinction.
A few rhetorical questions:
Are you a “liberal” Christian just because you strategize ways to assist the poor? Are you “conservative if you don’t? Are you “conservative” because you place such an emphasis on scripture? Are you “liberal” because you don’t?

Who needs hate crimes protections?

The US House of Representatives just passed hate crimes legislation that would extend hate crimes protections to be based on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to current protections for race, religion, color, and national origin. It still has to go through the Senate and then face veto by you know who.

The thing that really blows me away is that people are actually against this, and that those people happen to call themselves Chrisitians. Now, if folks have a problem with the idea of hate crimes protections in general, eh, I would be happy to discuss that. But the idea that some groups of people should get protections while other groups (groups which happen to experience a disproportionate amount of hate crimes) should not is completely ridiculous. As it happens, the religious right is coming out en force against hate crimes protections for lgbt people. I linked this article about this in an earlier post.

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Complexity of Divisive Topics in Church

Thanks Katie for your post “’the homosexual lifestyle’ – a rhetoric of bigotry”. It is a perspective that needs to be heard and continues to challenge my use of language surrounding the LGBT community. Your article prompted me to think through some of the complexities of this issue and other divisive issues that tend to polarize the church while attempting, as you wrote, to avoid harmful stereotypes. This post is hopefully less of a commentary about homosexuality, but rather an attempt to use this topic to examine how the church addresses these divisive issues. (more…)