A new Anabaptist reading list

Mar 13, 2015 by

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The Mennonite churches I have been part of, and the theology and ethics they espouse, have been among the most formative theological influences in my life. But lately, I’ve realized most of the theological texts I consider formative actually haven’t come from Anabaptist-Mennonite sources — with a few exceptions.

A few months ago, I compiled a list of what I considered the most influential books I’ve read. With the exception of The Body and the Book, by Julia Kasdorf, and The Nonviolent Atonement, by J. Denny Weaver, none of these texts grew out of an Anabaptist context. Thinkers who have shaped my theology and understandings of the world the most are writers like Rita Nakashima Brock, Patrick Cheng, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Christena Cleveland, Alfred North Whitehead, Catherine Keller and the list could go on.

In recent years, I’ve wanted to dig more intentionally back into Anabaptist-Mennonite texts. I have been frustrated by how difficult it is to find pieces that are written by individuals who are not straight, white men. Let’s be clear: many straight, white, Anabaptist men have said really interesting and important things that have shaped the ways I think. But how is it that after 11 years of Mennonite education, I still have to dig and hunt to find diverse voices exploring theology, religion and cultural studies from within Anabaptist-Mennonite contexts? In seminary, I would have scoffed at any syllabus that didn’t include a more diverse canon of authors.

Last week I decided to crowdsource this question on Facebook. I was pleasantly surprised at the response, which included many texts I had never heard of. Below I’ve included some of the list. I hope to keep adding to this list. What authors and texts would you add?

Nonfiction

  • “What about Animal Sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible” by Malinda Elizabeth Berry and “Doesn’t the Bible say that Humans are more Important than Animals?” by Nekeisha Alexis-Baker in A Faith Embracing All Creatures, edited by Andy Alexis-Baker and Tripp York.
  • Tongue Screws and Testimonies: Poems, Stories and Essays Inspired by the Martyrs Mirror, edited by Kirsten Eve Beachy.
  • Set Free: A Journey Toward Solidarity Against Racism, by Iris De Leon-Hartshorn, Tobin Miller Sherer and Regina Shands Stoltzfus.
  • Peace Theology and Violence Against Women, a collection of papers edited by Elizabeth G. Yoder. These papers were presented at a conference where several women would begin to talk and decide to again name and address John Howard Yoder’s sexual abuse directly and publicly.
  • otherdreamsoffreedomOther Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking, by Yvonne Zimmerman.
  • “Freedom of the Cross: John Howard Yoder and Womanist Theologians in Conversation,” by Nekeisha Alexis-Baker in Power and Practices: Engaging the Work of John Howard Yoder, edited by Jeremy M. Bergen and Anthony G. Siegrist.
  • Black and Mennonite: A Search for Identity, by Huebert L. Brown.
  • Struggles for Shalom: Peace and Violence Across the Testaments, edited by Laura L. Brenneman and Brad D. Schantz. Includes chapters from a diverse array of writers.
  • Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture, by Felipe Hinojoso.
  • Living More with Less, by Doris Janzen Longacre.
  • The January 2015 edition of the Mennonite Quarterly Review, which is written primarily by women and addresses issues of sexual violence. It also includes the article “Defanging the Beast: Mennonite Responses to John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Abuse,” by Rachel Waltner Goossen. 
  • Wing-Beaten Air: My Life And My Writing, by Yorifumi Yaguchi, a Japanese-Mennonite poet reflecting on his life. 
  • Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, by April Yamasaki.
  • 51ntcXkin3LBuffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together, edited by Steve Heinrichs.
  • The Global Mennonite History series, compiled and published by Mennonite World Conference.
  • Reflections of an Hispanic Mennonite, by Jose Ortiz.

Poetry

  • A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry, edited by Ann Hostetler.
  • The Apple Speaks, by Becca J.R. Lachmann.
  • Storage Issues: Poems 1988-2008, by Suzanne Kay Miller.

Fiction

  • A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar.girl runner
  • Girl Runner, by Carrie Snyder. I also discovered Carrie’s blog.
  • The Stella Crown Mystery Series, by Judy Clemens.

Now I’ve got some reading to do. What would you add?

Hannah Heinzekehr lives, works and writes from Newton, Kan. She holds a master’s in theology and community development from Claremont School of Theology. This post originally appeared at femonite.com, where she explores the intersections of Mennonite identity, theology and feminism.


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