History: Alternative history — what if?

Nov 20, 2017 by

What if? It’s one of the great history games, speculating on alternative outcomes if events had happened differently. What if Abraham Lincoln had decided not to go to the theater on April 14, 1865? What if...

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History: Catalyst of Anabaptist ideas

Oct 9, 2017 by

Five hundred years ago, on Oct. 31, 1517, German monk and theology professor Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church by nailing his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. This simple act ...

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History: White supremacist’s racist ‘faith’

Aug 28, 2017 by

More than 5,200 miles separate Charlottesville, Va., from the now-disappeared Russian Mennonite col­ony of Molotschna. But according to the geography of racial and ethnic hatred, they’re located virtually...

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History: Bethlehem ’83: coming together and apart

Jul 17, 2017 by

When the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church met in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1983 for their first joint convention, MC moderator Ross Bender and his GC counterpart, Jacob Tilitzky, placed their...

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History: The sun, the moon and truth

Jun 5, 2017 by

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” Attributed to Buddha, this was Zaida Catalan’s retweet on March 3, her last. Catalan, a United Nations expert from Sweden, died with...

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History: An antiwar conspiracy?

Apr 24, 2017 by

The president had squeaked by in the general election. A key plank in his platform had been opposition to foreign military intervention. But in a matter of months after his inauguration, he reversed...

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History: Confessing a weakness for humor

Mar 13, 2017 by

S.G. (Samuel Grant) Shetler (1871-1942) of Johnstown, Pa., was known for moving his audiences to tears one moment and laughter the next. This was natural, he said, because “the well of tears and the fountain...

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History: The ‘Anabaptists’ who weren’t

Jan 30, 2017 by

Before the Radical Reformation and before the Protestant Reformation were the Waldensians. While Protestant Christianity celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2017 and Anabaptists prepare to do likewise in eight...

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History: Stones of remembrance

Dec 19, 2016 by

I had my apple strudel and coffee — not to be missed if you’re visiting Innsbruck, Austria — in a café along Maria Theresa Street. I read again the brass plaque marking the 1536 execution of Jacob...

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History: Who can get the Amish vote?

Nov 7, 2016 by

Despite a drive to garner Old Order Amish votes this year, historical evidence suggests Donald Trump won’t get them as tries to become the 45th president of the United States. Two Republican operatives...

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History: No fires, no foes in Münster

Sep 26, 2016 by

It’s 300 steps from the street up the ancient spiral stone stairway to the tower keeper’s room of St. Lambert’s Church in Münster, Germany. The stone steps are worn from centuries-long use by the tower...

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The CO Mennonites once found objectionable

Aug 15, 2016 by

Nearly 50 years ago, the self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time became the greatest religious conscientious objector to war of all time. Because of his Muslim faith, Muhammad Ali, the talented and...

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Scandal of nationalism

Jul 4, 2016 by

I remember it well, because the question was transformative. I was a first-year student at Hesston College, in the library studying to teach a lesson on eschatology to a junior high Bible study at Hess­ton...

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Memorial Day for a martyr

May 23, 2016 by

Jose Chuquin came to faith as a student at a Mennonite school at Cachipay, Colombia. As an adult, that faith became his vocation, serving 11 years as director of the relief agency World Vision’s operations...

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How I teach history differently

Apr 11, 2016 by

A student wanted to know: Why did I tell such negative stories about this country? Our country does good things, too. The purpose of teaching history, it seemed, was to produce proud, patriotic, unquestioning...

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The conference that sought its own end

Feb 29, 2016 by

Rare is the organization that exists with an eye to its own termination. Yet that’s a big part of the story of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren, a small but energetic denomination that was “ready to unite...

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Of strangers, pilgrims, hospitality

Jan 18, 2016 by

The immigrants had arrived. Was there no end to their numbers? What language were they speaking? What was their origin? Their destination? Why were they here? The two worlds were a study in contrast. The...

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More than our family tree

Dec 7, 2015 by

Betsy Poling didn’t grow up Mennonite. Neither did her parents or her grandparents or her great-grandparents. Of German-Irish background, Poling grew up in Lima, Ohio, where she attended a Church of the...

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Peace churches prepare for war

Oct 26, 2015 by

Few in the mid-1930s could have imagined another global conflict as horrendous as World War I, with its 20 million casualties. Even fewer would have believed that another global conflagration would triple that...

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Pacifist policing and proactive discipleship

Sep 14, 2015 by

Felix Manz needs no introduction. Nearly 500 years after he was martyred in Zurich, his legacy is arguably the most enduring in Anabaptist/Mennonite history. Milton Whiteman, meanwhile, needs to be made known....

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Confessing without forcing

Jun 22, 2015 by

Like so many other Christian groups, Mennonite Church USA has an LGBTQ issue. But more than that, MC USA has a history problem. Unfortunately, as has happened for three decades, the two will no doubt clash at...

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Bridges, marches and ‘foot soldiers’

May 11, 2015 by

I thought I knew the civil rights story, but a weeklong seminar with Hesston College students, faculty, staff and friends March 7-14 gave me much more. What I knew were the broad outlines, major events and...

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Secrecy enabled sin

Mar 30, 2015 by

Few things cause as much damage and pain in the church as secrecy. Hiding information spawns suspicion, distortion and lies. Secrecy fosters an imbalance of power, as those few people in the know can act with...

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300-year-old prayers still resonate

Feb 16, 2015 by

From what resources can we draw in the current vigorous conversations across the church? How about prayer? Here are two that might be useful. They are prayers drawn from Die Ernst­hafte Christien­pflicht,...

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Bad history perpetuates animosity

Jan 3, 2015 by

Philipp Melancthon called Anabaptists “irreligious fanatics and murderous revolutionaries, enemies of temporal government, however peaceful they may seem.” Johann Casimir said the movement spread an...

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