MENNONITE CHURCH USA CHURCHWIDE STATEMENT ON LGBTQ COMMUNITIES, DIVERSITY, POWER, OPPRESSION &Â PRIVILEGE*
Mennonite Church USA has roots in seventeenth-century churches planted by what today we might call “radicals” and “social justice activists” from Europe. Our church continues to grow and be enlivened by people who join us from many countries, backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, as well as other diversities and differences. As Christians, we believe we are called to welcome these seekers of church community in our congregations and communities, especially as our government fails to serve all but a privileged few, with harsh laws frequently punishing difference. Assumptions about identity make some people more vulnerable to political biases and discrimination than others. Our concerns about the status of peace and justice in this country and in this world relate to how people are treated based on race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability status, citizen status, religious identity as well as other statuses.
We reject our country’s mistreatment of people, repent of our silence, and commit ourselves to act with and on behalf of all our community members regardless of any status. (more…)
February 17, 2014
activism, antiracism, Current Events, disabilities, Ethics, Exclusion, Faith, Gender, Group Identity, Immigration, Indigenous, Leadership, LGBTQ, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, Power, Privilege, Race, Sex, Tactics, Violence
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We do have a poetry category and I thought I’d invite it out of the dusty corner to join us for a little conversation today with Mennonite poet, Jeff Gundy. I’ll open the space by sharing a poem of his, a bit of a story from him to go with it and then a chance to ask him questions in the comments.
When Madonna Met Menno
“You’re a slut,” he said, “but God loves you anyway.”
She took a long pull on her beer. “Don’t be simple,”
she said. “I was a Catholic schoolgirl. I’ve known that
since I was twelve.” She was all knees and ankles,
and he was a river toad, the two of them crammed
into a tiny booth among the hard-drinking yuppies.
“Besides, I’ve got babies now,” she said, “and all that
whore stuff was for sales anyway.” “I know what you mean,” (more…)
September 20, 2013
History, Martyrdom, Poetry, Sex
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On the great day of judgment, all of humanity was gathered in a celestial banquet hall. It was a huge space, with a massive round table in the middle. The table was so big that it accommodated what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people, probably more. As one looked to the left or the right, there were people as far as the eye could see. Yet somehow, by some supernatural optical phenomenon, one had no trouble seeing clearly everyone seated directly across the table. In a position of prominence was the Almighty herself, who interestingly had an appearance not unlike the way God was portrayed in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” yet whose Voice was unmistakably feminine. After a while, some grumbling was to be heard, as people began to take notice of who was present. Finally, a lone voice cried out, a voice with a thick Brooklyn accent, saying, “Hey God, I’m happy to be here, of course, but I see my old neighbor Moshe sitting over there and I know that rotten sonofabitch rascal ought to be in the other place. What gives?” (more…)
May 20, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, City, Community, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Evangelism, God, Group Identity, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Sex, Tolerance
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As the new millennium dawns, anabaptists do a new thing in the city: Build a communal neighborhood populated by tens of thousands of simple-living sectarians.
The project is initiated by the Bruderhof and some Old Order Amish, partly for practical reasons: (1) the Amish and Bruderhof population explosions, making it necessary to continually branch out and establish new settlements; and (2) the shortage of affordable farmland, making it difficult to maintain a rural way of life.
More importantly, the initiative stems from a “quickening” amongst these plain people, who realize they’ve lost their ancestral impulse for going into the marketplaces & street corners, inviting others to become co-workers in God’s kingdom. They also realize geographical isolation no longer protects them against worldly influences. So they branch out to the Bronx, where they can influence the world instead.
January 18, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, City, Civilization, Community, End Times, Ethics, Group Identity, Love, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, Sex, Tolerance, Urban Ministry, Wealth, Young Folks
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(Revised November 2011)
The Sermon on the Mount is defined as the 40+ sayings of Jesus found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. About half of those sayings are considered by scholars to be non-authentic (meaning they were likely created by the early church rather than originating with Jesus). Non-authentic sayings are not included here. Most Sermon sayings have parallels in other gospels (Mark, Luke & Thomas). Sometimes the parallels are in simpler form, and thus probably closer to what Jesus actually said. Listed below are 21 of the most authentic Sermon sayings, along with Torah passages that Jesus probably had in mind when formulating them. Similar sayings from other traditions are offered as well.
Luke 6:20: “Congratulations, you poor! God’s kingdom belongs to you.”
Matthew 5:3: “Congratulations to the poor in spirit! Heaven’s domain belongs to them.”
November 13, 2011
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Ethics, Fun, God, Group Identity, History, Interpretation, Judaism, Love, Mental health, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, Polemics, Pornography, Sex, Spiritual Life, Tactics, The Bible
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We are Marginal Mennonites, and we are not ashamed.
We are marginal because no self-respecting Mennonite organization would have us. (Not that we care about no stinkin’ respect anyway.)
We reject all creeds, doctrines, dogmas and rituals, because they’re man-made and were created for the purpose of excluding people. Their primary function is to determine who’s in (those who accept the creeds) and who’s out (those who don’t). The earliest anabaptists were also non-creedal.
We are inclusive. There are no dues or fees for membership. The only requirement is the desire to identify oneself as a Marginal Mennonite. We have no protocol for exclusion.
We are universalists. We believe every person who’s ever lived gets a seat at the celestial banquet table. No questions asked! Mystic-humanist (and anabaptist) Hans Denck was quoted saying that “even demons in the end will be saved.”
We reject missionary activity. Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural extermination. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic campaigns and mission boards, no matter how innocuous or charitable they claim to be.
We like Jesus. A lot. The real Jesus, not the supernatural one. We like the one who was 100% human, who moved around in space and time. The one who enjoyed the company of women and was obsessed with the kingdom of God. The one who said “Become passersby!” (Gospel of Thomas 42), which we interpret as an anti-automobile sentiment. (more…)
November 7, 2011
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, City, culture, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, Fun, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Interpretation, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, Pornography, Schism, Sex, The Bible, Tolerance, Urban Ministry, Wealth, Young Folks
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There’s a building boom on the Bowery these days. It’s been happening for a while, but the last couple years have witnessed an escalation in development, turning the neighborhood into a hip destination point.
Fifty years ago the Bowery was the largest skid row in the world. There were gin joints and flophouses on every block. That’s all gone now, thanks to the forces of gentrification. In their place are condos, art galleries and upscale eateries. Only one skid-row relic remains: the Bowery Mission.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting behind the Mission’s pulpit in the 1960s, looking onto a sea of expectant faces while my father preached. In retrospect I realize the men behind those faces were awaiting the sermon’s conclusion so they could get their grub. (more…)
August 22, 2011
Anabaptism, Biographical, Change, Church, City, Civilization, Consumerism, culture, Current Events, Economics, Education, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Mental health, Nonviolence, philosophy, Polarization, poverty, Power, Privilege, Race, Schism, Sex, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Urban Ministry, Wealth
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In class we’ve been studying a lot about New Monastics. Lots of good stuff that you can read about it in many places, some even on this blog. Since it’s a fluid movement, I was wondering when they are going to update, change, or adjust their 12 marks. I have some comments on a few, and I’m sure others do as well, so when is the next conference? Or do we just email somebody like Johnathan W-H?
I agree (in thought and action) with a lot of what is said in the 12 points and what I see in the daily lives of the community around me and my interaction with some of these folks. But my particular question is spurred with regards to mark 1, which says that they relocate to abandoned places of Empire.” Some think that I am doing the “new monastic thing…” I’m not sure about that, but I do know that I am in my home area…and it fits many of the descriptions, but it’s not abandoned by Empire. Or do they mean that it’s abandoned by Empire because no (or hardly any) white people live in the area? There is a beautiful organic culture here and I don’t want to discount that by saying it’s abandoned. I think it is important to affirm the initiative of persons rather than possibly falling into “white savior” complexes again. I see that many New Monastics are very aware of race and class dynamics, so I’m hoping that mark 1 can be articulated in a more antiracist way. (more…)
October 29, 2008
activism, Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, Civilization, communication, culture, Current Events, Education, Ethics, Exclusion, Faith, Gender, Group Identity, Interpretation, LGBTQ, liberation theology, Love, New Monasticism, Reviews, Sex, Sexism, Spiritual Life, Theology, Tradition, Young Folks
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I have a confession to make: I’ve never looked at porn. Okay, that’s a lie. But here’s the truth…….I’ve never sought out porn. Ever. Sure, there have been times in High School when a guy flipped me a rag, or in college when I went to a party and some guys were watching porn. And, like the rest of the 21st century world, I’ve accidently googled it from time to time. But I’ve never bought it, rented it, or pay-per-viewed it.
When I admit this fact about myself I get asked “Don’t you like it?”, “Are you not into chicks?”, “What’s the deal?”. Honestly, I never thought porn was good thing. I became a Christian at 19 so I had plenty of heathen years to look at this shit but I never thought it was right. Yeah, I’d probably like it. I’d probably like crack too.
I consider myself lucky. I’ve never met a guy who is in my position; who by 28 has been so “clean” of the stuff. Women might not know it, and maybe I’m letting the cat out of the bag here, but nearly all guys, universally, look at porn. Sorry to blow your cover fellas.
Anyway, an old Pastor of mine moved out to Arizona a couple years ago to start yet another church. He met this girl who used to be a very successful porn star. She comes to his church and is very vocal about her past. I’d post her myspace and what-have-you but I don’t feel like it’d be appropiate. So my old Pastor likes to make movies and they thought it’d be cool to make sort of an “inspired on a true story” type flick about this girl. They posted a “making of” online. (more…)
July 5, 2008
Bigotry, Biographical, Blog, culture, Dumb Stuff., Pornography, Sex, Sexism
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I’m lifting a sub-thread from ST’s post inspirational lunch which has the potential for an interesting discussion of its own – we’ve certainly talked about sex before on YAR (check out sex outside of marriage, or is it really a sin? for all the talk about gayness you could care for.) Clearly sexuality is a central issue for all young people, and I think it’s one of the essential tasks for everyone, especially people in the typical YARer’s age range (thinking late teens to early thirties), to figure out how one’s sexual nature can be integrated & expressed in one’s life. But, getting ahead of myself, that already might be language that we’re not all comfortable with. So, here’s the conversation so far: (more…)
January 17, 2008
Gender, Love, Sex, Young Folks
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With some trepidation, I’m bringing up the topic of having sex with people to whom one is not married. This isn’t about lgbtq people’s inability to be married in the legal sense in most states in the U.S., and it’s not really about affairs either. It’s about people who are not married in any sense having sex with anyone at all. Or people who are engaged having sex before the wedding.
A couple of times I’ve seen people on YAR say they don’t hold to the same ethic on this as the Christian Church has taught during at least our lifetimes. I have always heard from the Christians in my life that it is a sin to have sex in any form (or get close to it) with anyone other than the person to whom one is married. Having sex at any point before the wedding ceremony (in whatever form it takes) is a sin, they tell me. (more…)
June 21, 2007
Ethics, Sex, The Bible, Theology, Tradition, Young Folks
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OK. I had originally thought when I came to this blog that there was consensus on the issue of “homosexuality” (a term which I don’t like using, as it is often conflated with GLBT when it is a term that doesn’t refer to that whole spectrum). I don’t entirely like “GLBT” either (is there a privileging of groups in there?). I usually use queer and gender queer, I hope it is clear what I mean when I say that.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. I thought we had consensus on this issue. Yet from previous posts, it seems we don’t. There are others that I’m not linking to because I don’t have the time to search.
So, though I know Katie has sounded off on this many times and very well, even to me, I want to ask:
Is being queer (or gender queer) really a sin, as understood biblically?
As a related question: does it even make sense to look at it in this context?
Maybe this is a question for the sidebar.
If you’re arguing this either way, cite verse.
I’m not sounding off on this until I get at least 5 responses.
Also, all of the materials that Katie has linked us to should be in the sidebar if possible. They are invaluable.
May 17, 2007
LGBTQ, Sex, The Bible, Theology
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We’ll this is the first time I’m making a post. Over the past couple years I’ve been writing articles in a monthly church newletter. The articles I like to write discuss Christianity, the bible and how it relates to everyday life. So my style of posting on this website may follow more of an article type format. I hope that’s ok.
I believe there are things in this article that will benefit not only those who are currently dating, but also any person who is single and wishes to someday get married. And if you are married, the ideas in this article could also build you and your marriage up.
Unfortunately too many people in society go into a dating relationship looking for what they can get out of the relationship rather than what they can put into it. It almost seems that dating has become a form of entertainment without purpose rather than about finding somebody who you can marry and spend the rest of your life with. Today I would like to share a few thoughts with you, about dating and marriage, which you may have never heard before. (more…)
May 11, 2007
Sex, Young Folks
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Why is there so much talk about “sex” around here? What is this “sex” thing that we are saving for marriage? And what is this marriage thing?
The whole conversation is based in hetero norms and assumptions. Dictionary.com mainly defines “sex” the way we talk about “gender.” It also links to Coitus, which it defines as hetero intercourse – a penis penetrating a vagina. According to all that, I don’t have any gay friends who have ever had sex (coitus) in their lives (though most have had sex (gender) since birth or soon after).
So much for promiscuity. By hetero norms, Gay and Lesbian people are generally celibate, and it all gets confusing when you start talking Trans-gendered.
And don’t say “you know what we mean” because I don’t. Where’s the line? What’s the definition? Holding hands? Kissing? Petting? Nudity? Orgasm? Genital to genital contact? It’s not only a continuum without clear delineations, it doesn’t all even line up. Which is worse, clothed orgasm or nudity without touching? What about orgasm without touching? Where is oral or anal sex in the mix? What makes them more “sex” than, say, petting? There is no answer. Coitus is a hetero concept, and a false delimiter.
Language is important.
And then you have marriage. (more…)
May 3, 2007
Bigotry, Language, LGBTQ, Sex
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radical self love
a roommate once wanted to start a “masturbate for peace” campaign. he was shot down by everyone he talked to. i now wish i had backed him up. but this isn’t really a post about that…
“love your neighbor as you love yourself.” is that a command or a statement of fact?
make someone happy – buy yourself an iPod.
maybe this is a post about that after all…
i’ve discovered the key to world peace. (more…)
November 28, 2006
Awesome Stuff, Biographical, Change, Church, Community, Current Events, Ethics, Fun, Gender, Peace & Peacemaking, Sex, Tolerance, Tradition, Young Folks
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