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Mennonite World Review curates a blog of Anabaptist-themed writing from a wide variety of sources including Brethren, Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Brethren, Conservative Mennonite, Quaker and other Anabaptist-influenced thinkers. To submit a blog, email kyoder@mennoworld.org.

Your scapegoat “pacifism”

By on Dec 19, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Your scapegoat “pacifism”

Dec. 12, a deputy editor of First Things, Matthew Schmitz, posted a rather unusual piece: “Our Partial Pacifism.” It starts out with the bold statement, “I am inclined to blame pacifism for our embrace of torture.” I say it’s an unusual piece because it took me numerous readings and conversations with a number of (pacifist) friends to figure out just what Schmitz was trying to get at in his brief post. My initial reaction was confusion. I was profoundly bewildered as to how one could connect the dots of a claim...

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Time for a divorce ceremony?

By on Dec 18, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Time for a divorce ceremony?

I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my life. But I’ve only been to one divorce ceremony. It happened a few years ago. I was visiting a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Near the end of the service the pastor asked the congregation to stand to read a “blessing of separation” for two members whose marriage had sadly come to an end. As a congregation, we read a litany that invoked God’s blessing on the former couple as they went their separate ways. It was sad occasion, yet hopeful at the same time. Later, I was told that this couple had...

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The wordlessness of God

By on Dec 17, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

The wordlessness of God

Imagine if this coming Sunday your pastor got up at sermon time and said the following: “After diligently studying Scripture and searching the Spirit this week, I’m here to report . . . there is no message from God. Thus saith the Lord.” There is no salary for the pastor this week. Thus saith the church oversight committee. The problem Jeremiah faces is as old as religion: people putting their own words into the mouth of God. They are signing God’s name to their own vision of the world. They’re ascribing their interpretation of...

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Jesus was tortured to end all torture

By on Dec 16, 2014 in The World Together | 4 comments

Jesus was tortured to end all torture

I grieve over torture. I grieve not only for those subjected to abuse no human being should be forced to endure. I grieve not primarily as an American citizen who feels ashamed of the morally bankrupt national leadership that authorized and promoted the practice. I grieve not just as an individual who is personally appalled that supposedly civilized people could bring themselves to deliberately inflict prolonged and terrifying pain on helpless captives. I also grieve as a Christian minister who hears brothers and sisters in Christ voicing...

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Advent as “God’s time”

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

Advent as “God’s time”

Time. We never seem to have enough of it, and yet it dominates us, ruling our days and how we view and spend our hours, even our very lives. Time was Professor John Swinton’s theme when he spoke a couple of months ago at Canadian Mennonite University’s J.J. Thiessen lectures. He talked about how there are two different understandings of time. One is time as viewed in our capitalist culture, something with economic value as in an hourly wage, perhaps best summarized by the phrase “time is money.” This kind of time is all about...

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Ten ways Christmas is still relevant

By on Dec 12, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

Ten ways Christmas is still relevant

Angels, flying reindeer, and virgins giving birth — oh my! You might be forgiven if you didn’t think Christmas was still relevant. But before you discard this venerable holiday and her celebrators into the trash bin, let’s take a closer look. Because if you can resist interpreting the story long enough to actually hear it, you might agree with me when I say Christmas is as relevant as ever. The real miracle to celebrate isn’t anyone’s virginity but the fact that the story still matters. I’m stunned at its workability and capacity...

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Maintaining peace, withdrawing from MC USA

By on Dec 11, 2014 in The World Together | 6 comments

Maintaining peace, withdrawing from MC USA

A paradoxical way to unite a deeply divided Mennonite Church USA popped into my mind. It happened one morning as I was memorizing and praying Paul’s prayer for the church (Eph. 3:14-21). One question looms large in our discernment around same-sex attraction. Where should the authority lodge for a congregation’s missional and pastoral decisions around the question of same-sex attraction — in the conference or in the congregation? I propose that we Mennonite congregations who wish to locate the authority in the local congregation instead...

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God’s work means changing the way things are

By on Dec 10, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

God’s work means changing the way things are

During a retreat several weeks ago, we were invited to sit with Jane Hirshfield’s poem, “Three Times My Life Has Opened,” to reflect and journal about three significant transition points in our lives. Three times our lives have opened. Three watershed moments. My mind went to that moment when I was 17 years old. When I moved away from my immediate family in Oklahoma to attend Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa., for my senior year. I had grown up as a missionary kid in Mexico and as a third-culture kid in Dallas and...

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Beginning Advent with lament

By on Dec 9, 2014 in The World Together | 0 comments

Beginning Advent with lament

A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah — weeping and mourning unrestrained, Rachel weeps for her children, Refusing to be comforted — For they are dead. – Matt. 2:18 I first wrote a longer version of this reflection in 2005 during our first Christmas in Bethlehem, Palestine, where my husband and I served with Mennonite Central Committee as co-peace development workers. This reflection has surfaced in my heart again this Advent, in light of the grieving mothers of black sons and daughters that have been profiled and killed in our country. I...

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The world doesn’t need the early church

By on Dec 8, 2014 in The World Together | 1 comment

The world doesn’t need the early church

If only we could return to the early church, then we’d have it made. This statement, in one form or another, is one that I hear fairly regularly. The sentiment is nice, but it’s just not a notion that I can support. This world doesn’t need the early church, it needs a modern church. The watching world today needs us to be more faithful in word and deed and more practical in our ministry. The early church, despite what you may have been told to believe, didn’t have it all together; they weren’t perfect. They struggled with sin, just...

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