Book review: ‘Both My Sons’

Feb 13, 2017 by

I’m not one of those folks who reads historical fiction and longs for the past, for a more bucolic way of life and the wonder that might accompany the discovery of new frontiers. Indeed, I know a work of...

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Book review: ‘A Witness in Times of War and Peace’

Jan 30, 2017 by

The subtitle of this memoir, “The Story of Gerhard Hein, a Mennonite Pastor Who Served in the Wehrmacht During World War II,” suggests why it was published now in English 35 years after it was first...

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Book review: ‘Righting America at the Creation Museum’

Jan 16, 2017 by

Susan L. Trollinger and Wil­liam Vance Trollinger Jr. describe the Creation Museum as an arsenal for the Christian Right’s culture wars. It’s an apt analogy, but perhaps a better comparison would be a...

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Book review: ‘Daughters in the House of Jacob’

Jan 2, 2017 by

Who am I? Where am I going? How did I get here? Those are common questions for anyone looking into their family history and their place in the generations. Fortunately for the descendants of Jacob J. and Anna...

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Book review: ‘Enchantment and Despair’

Dec 19, 2016 by

The writer Flannery O’Connor once said, “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. If you can’t make something out of a little experience,...

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Book review: ‘Becoming Amish’

Dec 5, 2016 by

The same desire and longing I identified in the rock/rebellion anti-establishment culture during my early 20s I have found in Christian culture and especially in Anabaptist groups who believe in living out...

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Book review: ‘European Mennonites and the Challenge of Modernity Over Five Centuries’

Nov 21, 2016 by

Have Mennonites influenced the course of modern history? That is the question taken up in a new book on Anabaptists in Europe over the past 500 years. In contemporary North America, where Old Order Amish and...

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Book review: ‘Sick Religion or Healthy Faith?’

Nov 7, 2016 by

I look forward to reading the work of pastors. Pastors live close to the ground, in the muck and mire, vulnerable to the minutiae of birth, death and all the life in between. Pastors quickly learn everything...

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Book review: ‘Very Married’

Oct 24, 2016 by

In July, my parents celebrated their 53rd anniversary. This seems a miracle of sorts to me, not because their marriage was especially contentious but because they spent very little time together before...

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Book review: ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’

Oct 10, 2016 by

What are the roles of language in forming and maintaining religious identity? This fascinating volume explores Pennsylvania Dutch, a language that, nowadays, is “neither explicitly taught nor read nor...

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Book review: ‘The Gospel Next Door’

Sep 26, 2016 by

Seeking the peace of the city in Houston, Texas, is no small task for a minister with a heart big enough to reach out to everyone in his urban community. But Pastor Marty Troyer of Houston Mennonite Church, in...

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Book review: ‘Simple Pleasures’

Sep 12, 2016 by

In the creative nonfiction course I teach every spring, I talk about a memoirist’s ability to both convey personal experience and also make connections with an audience. This interplay between the individual...

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Book review: ‘In Pursuit of Faithfulness’

Aug 29, 2016 by

In 1957 in Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, communion was only served when a bishop was present. The bread and cup were reserved for church members who were deemed in good standing. This practice of...

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Book review: ‘For His Sake’

Aug 15, 2016 by

A loud rap on the door interrupts the mealtime of Mennonites Johann and Barbara Strausz and their children in June 1815. They live in Polish Austria, where they farm the land and live in peace, exempted from...

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Book review: ‘Mennonite on the Edge’

Aug 1, 2016 by

In 2004, Cynthia Yoder broke new ground in Mennonite letters with Crazy Quilt: Pieces of a Mennonite Life. The memoir, one of the first of its kind written by a Mennonite, detailed the debilitating depression...

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Book review: ‘To and From Nowhere’

Jul 18, 2016 by

This refugee tale is an imaginative work of biography, dedicated to “the disenfranchised and deported everywhere.” Based on the life story of Greta Enns (1902-1985), it is a timely contribution as...

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Book review: ‘Horse-and-Buggy Genius’

Jul 4, 2016 by

Royden Loewen’s new book examines how Old Colony and Old Order Mennonites try to maintain religious and cultural changelessness in a world that celebrates change. But Horse-and-Buggy Genius also provides a...

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Book review: ‘Breakaway Amish’

Jun 20, 2016 by

As a distinct religious and social group, the Amish have grown used to having their lives reported and interpreted by outsiders. Scholars study them. Novelists and “reality” television shows tell stories...

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Book review: ‘The Patient Ferment of the Early Church’

Jun 6, 2016 by

Alan Kreider, emeritus professor of church history and mission at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, has capped his career with a masterwork on the rise of the early church. All future scholars of the...

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Book review: ‘Lord Willing?’

May 23, 2016 by

People who have experienced devastating loss, like the death of a child or a terminal diagnosis, are familiar with the Christian clichés offered with loving intent but that do little to assuage their...

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Book review: ‘Magpie’s Blanket’

May 9, 2016 by

The novel Magpie’s Blanket begins this way: “The sky swallowed the sun, wrapping the yellow orb’s brilliance in moody, slate-colored tones, pressing it down close to the earth and preventing it from...

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Book review: ‘Bearing Witness’

Apr 25, 2016 by

An elected public official who refuses to fulfill the responsibilities of her position is lauded as a martyr when she is briefly jailed. Businesses that discriminate against a class of people by denying them...

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Book review: ‘An Increase in Time’

Apr 11, 2016 by

This is not an average congregational history. But Germantown Mennonite Church is not an average congregation. Richard Lichty, the author of An Increase in Time: Story Lines of Germantown Mennonite Church...

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Book review: ‘Overplayed’

Mar 28, 2016 by

When my 13-year-old son announced last spring that he wanted to play baseball again, I cringed. I had hoped the days of watching tedious games in freezing Oregon springtime were far behind us, our son having...

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Book review: ‘Crossing the Loange’

Mar 14, 2016 by

One has to have one’s eyes open, one has to ask questions when they come to mind, or one finds oneself finished with a two-year term not knowing what kind of people you were amongst all the time. — John M....

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