Blog

Near Mennonite: Who’s in or out, and why?

By on Oct 24, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

Near Mennonite: Who’s in or out, and why?

At the beginning of this month, I had the pleasure of going to “Ex-Mennonite, Near Mennonite: Liturgical, Non-denominational, Secular,” a conference hosted by the chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg (Man.). Though it might seem like a strange fit for someone like me who considers myself committed to remaining within and contributing to the Mennonite church, I actually found it very interesting. It provided a window into why some people choose to leave the Mennonite church or feel excluded from it — which I think is...

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Broken down

By on Oct 23, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Broken down

I look out my office window this morning and see a rusty, mud-streaked old pick-up truck with a creaky-looking camper on the back stagger and wheeze its way into the church parking lot. Such sights in the church parking lot rarely portent good news, and this particular appearance will prove no different. A broad-shouldered middle-aged man ambles up to the path and into the church. I greet him at the front door. He’s wearing a black cowboy hat, a dirty denim jacket, and a big pair of grubby riding boots. The smell of manure is almost...

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Rethinking our approach to singleness

By on Oct 22, 2014 in The World Together | 2 comments

Rethinking our approach to singleness

In his opening editorial to the autumn issue of Mutuality, Tim Kruger cites this set of lines from the apostle Paul about singleness: I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs — how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world — how he can please his wife — and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman...

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Talking to preschoolers about race

By on Oct 21, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Talking to preschoolers about race

My daughter and I were sitting outside of seminary housing when one of the few married, male black students in our apartment complex walked by. My daughter, then 2, shouted, voice ringing across the playground, “Mom! That’s the man from the weather! The one on TV!” She was talking about Al Roker, the famous weatherman who, in my opinion, looked nothing like our friend Earl. But in Princeton, N.J., with fewer black men in her daily life, my daughter thought she’d recognized someone famous. As I felt my face turn red it took everything...

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Get ready to chase the Amish dream

By on Oct 20, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Get ready to chase the Amish dream

In case you hadn’t noticed, a long line of people stands ready to tell you Amish stories. They include: Producers of Amish-themed reality TV shows. Tourist-venue operators. Writers of Amish fiction. Writers of Amish nonfiction. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with non-Amish people telling Amish stories. In fact, I’ve done it myself, in a book that I wrote about Amish-themed fiction (Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels). And at Herald Press, where I work, we tell Amish stories as well, through series...

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Jesus unfriended

By on Oct 17, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

Jesus unfriended

People often tell me in the hushed tones of a dirty secret, “I’m not sure I like the apostle Paul.” I reply, “That’s OK. The first Christians didn’t much like him either.” But what really interests me about these conversations is that we think it matters, our liking or our not. No book better illustrates what rubs us wrong about Paul than Galatians. His rhetoric is strong and passionate to the point of offense (5:12 — “I wish those agitators would go all the way and emasculate themselves!”). He goes out of his way to...

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Why the Church needs her martyrs

By on Oct 16, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Why the Church needs her martyrs

Human life is the most sacred thing. Blood trumps everything. To be sure, many would rush to say that God is the most sacred thing. That God trumps everything. But in point of fact, that’s not true. Empirically speaking, we behave as if — as well we should — that human life is the most sacred thing. And this is what makes patriotism and the flag the most sacred thing. This is why the nation is the most sacred thing. Because human life was sacrificed — blood was spilt — for these things. The blood of the solider consecrates and...

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Girls: The hope of the future

By on Oct 15, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Girls: The hope of the future

Over the past few days, my 4-year-old, Ruby, has asked some profound and provocative questions that have both challenged and brought us much hope for the future. “Why does Jesus want us to talk to him if he never talks back to us?” “Why do we have a house to sleep in, while some of our neighbors don’t?” “Why are there only boys on the Giants (my favorite baseball team)?” This week, a 17-year-old Muslim girl named Malala Yousafzai, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Muslim. Pakistani. Female. Child. Breaking culture’s boundaries and...

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Beheadings by religious fundamentalists are not new

By on Oct 14, 2014 in The World Together | 4 comments

Beheadings by religious fundamentalists are not new

My wife’s ancestor Hans Landis, one of the last known Anabaptists martyrs in western Europe, was executed in the year 1614, just 400 years ago. Landis was one of thousands who were martyred for advocating for a free church, one completely independent of state control and free of all forms of coercion or violence. One of the more common means of killing such dissidents in the time of the Protestant Reformation was beheading, next only to deaths by drowning or by burning at the stake. All of these brutalities against Anabaptists (adult...

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A traditional church embarks on the missional journey

By on Oct 13, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

A traditional church embarks on the missional journey

The story of how I came to do what I currently do, where I do it, still fascinates me. I love it when people ask, how did you end up at Doylestown Mennonite Church (in Bucks County, Pa.) and what is your role there? What does it mean to be “pastor for the missional journey” or “missional pastor?” I love telling the story because I have never encountered a congregation who has done what this one has, and I’m about as immersed in the Mennonite church as one can get — a Mennonite pastor’s kid who went to Mennonite schools almost...

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