Such little change

Jun 4, 2018 by

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My enjoyment of competing in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia this spring was undermined by the heavy presence of U.S. Army and Marine Corps recruiting. This is a continuation of the militarization of sporting events.

It would be interesting if Pennsylvania Mennonites were to show up at the Penn Relays to do counter-recruiting or present options such as Mennonite Voluntary Service, which Mennonite Church USA appears ready to abandon for lack of volunteers. At a time when this country’s military budget is approaching $1 trillion a year (including Department of Energy nuclear warhead production, weapons cleanup and interest on the debt from past wars and military spending) the lack of attention to this by MC USA and MWR is deafening.

Instead, judging from MWR letters to the editor, Mennonites continue to engage in what was published in the Freeman (S.D.) Courier on Jan. 21, 1909, and reprinted 100 years later:

“ ‘Half the folks in the church should be turned out.’ Thus spoke a good sister in the seat in front of us at a meeting the other night. Perhaps, but who is to say which half is to be fired, and who is to do the firing? Would you make everybody who does not think and act just as you walk the plank? Should the vain and haughty and proud be in the excluded half? Must the dancers and the card players go overboard? Should the liars and gossipers and scandal mongers herd on the outside with the hypocrites and tax-dodgers and back-biters? . . . Who is to separate the sheep from the goats? Here is one who thinks dancing the excluding sin; another blacklists every lying old gossip; still another draws the line at boozing; while others have this, that or the other test of fellowship. We wonder if the church doesn’t need a little more charity, a little more of the milk of human and Christian forbearance just about as bad as it needs to turn one half or the other of itself out.”

David E. Ortman

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