Yoder-Short: Choosing our rituals

Oct 24, 2016 by

Football player Colin Kaepernick, with a cross decorating his arm and Bible verses tattooed on his chest, started a conversation by refusing to stand for the national anthem ritual. How do we speak to an...

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Yoder-Short: Was Lydia black?

Sep 12, 2016 by

Images become stuck in our heads. Of course Lydia was white. And Cleopatra looked like Elizabeth Taylor. Lydia is frequently cited as the first European convert. Most children’s Bible storybooks confirm...

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Heavenly tablecloths with fresh ideas

Aug 1, 2016 by

Peter is hungry and goes to pray. A vision of unclean food, arranged on a heavenly tablecloth, appears. He is invited to eat. Peter, the good Jew, refuses. He is told not to “call anything profane that God...

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The many what-ifs of loving your neighbor

Jun 20, 2016 by

“Who is my neighbor?” I understand the lawyer’s need for a clear answer from Jesus. Jesus answers the question with the story of a Samaritan showing mercy to a wounded traveler. It seems easy. The person...

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Unsettling stories

May 9, 2016 by

“The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” The Bible says some unsettling things. Multiple bloodbaths clear the way for The Chosen. Smashers of babies against rocks are called blessed. The list of...

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All are in God’s circle

Mar 28, 2016 by

Recently a teacher was explaining how even preschool kids know who is in and who is out. They know who they want in their block-building circle and who they don’t. Ideas of inclusion and exclusion form...

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Freed from madness

Feb 15, 2016 by

Imagine a violent tormented sociopath transforming into a person in their right mind. Imagine pigs running and drowning in the sea. Some stories are just too strange. Certain stories ask us to wrestle with...

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Whose lives matter?

Jan 4, 2016 by

An expert in political science asks Jesus about his support for Samaritan Lives Matter. Apparently, Jesus had told a story with a Samaritan hero and a couple of heartless religious leaders. Some say Jesus even...

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Odd couple in a chariot

Nov 23, 2015 by

The Bible storybook image of this odd couple is a curiosity. Philip, the insider, dressed in drab beige, runs beside a jewel-studded chariot carrying a colorfully dressed royal Ethiopian. The educated...

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Complicated lines

Oct 12, 2015 by

Life is complicated for Daniel. Training to become a civil servant in a foreign country is tricky. Taking classes on the wisdom and literature of the Chaldeans is confusing. Studying astrology, omens and myths...

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The price of privilege

Aug 31, 2015 by

Ben Goossen, a scholar examining the relationship of Mennonite identity and German nationalism, said at Mennonite World Conference, “It is important to understand that playing ‘The Mennonite Game’ [and...

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Forbearance’s flavors

Jul 20, 2015 by

With Mennonite Church USA delegates passing “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences,” some of us are encouraged. Others, who were hoping for a step toward inclusion, are disappointed. Can we find ways to...

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Listening, while the winds blow as they may

Jun 8, 2015 by

“Forbearance” is buzzing around in our Mennonite Church USA conversations. The dictionary defines it as “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.” Will forbearance become more than jargon? How...

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Where is the line?

Apr 27, 2015 by

Jokingly I told a Mennonite farmer that we should be discussing glyphosate at our denominational convention. Can a Mennonite farmer spray glyphosate, the herbicide in the common weedkiller Roundup, in light of...

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Stop giving bonus points for success

Mar 16, 2015 by

Sociologist Dalton Conley explained on NPR’s Here and Now how families become less cohesive when one sibling is significantly richer than the others. Money triggers family tensions. Siblings with more money...

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Learning from stories that stink

Feb 2, 2015 by

As I took down my string of Christmas cards and letters, I smiled as one friend noted the danger of a Christmas letter becoming “a list of stellar achievements accomplished by perfect people.” Ours had no...

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Shame on us

Dec 22, 2014 by

Visible sins bring shame. The holiday picture of pregnant Mary reminded me of an earlier time when an unwed pregnant female would stand in front of the church and publicly confess her sin. Most of us now doubt...

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In speedy culture, slow church is better

Nov 10, 2014 by

“News of [great numbers of Greeks becoming believers] came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch” (Acts 11:22). Imagine sending a person on a 300-mile journey to check...

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Let’s talk about sin

Sep 29, 2014 by

More than 60 years ago, Howard Ham­mer and his revival tent came to Kalona, Iowa. Some still remember how riled up people got. They tossed cigarettes and jewelry into a barrel. According to one account, a...

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Indicators of a biblical church

Aug 18, 2014 by

My daughter brought some of her Albuquerque garden soil to Iowa. Her tomato plants were looking yellow, and she suspected the acidity of her soil. With the help of pH paper, in minutes her soil was deemed...

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A little Jesus spit

Jul 7, 2014 by

My son Daniel learned at a young age seeing clearly is an essential skill. His older sister made him a chocolate milkshake. At least that is what she called it. I’m not sure of all the ingredients — a...

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Seeing our own stupidity first

May 26, 2014 by

Lately I’ve caught myself ranting about stupidity. Or perhaps some would say I’m being judgmental. I thought: How could Sarah Palin be so stupid? What was she thinking when she said, “If I were in...

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Puzzling visions

Apr 14, 2014 by

As a child I remember my mom being concerned about the Mennonite church. It was losing its identity. Mennonites were becoming less different from the world in the ways they dressed and thought. What looks like...

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Debating Genesis

Mar 3, 2014 by

It’s not always easy to distinguish sand from rocks. The Feb. 4 debate between Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and Bill Nye “The Science Guy” seemed at times to turn into an attempt to prove the stupidity...

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Eating our way to the great banquet

Jan 20, 2014 by

Should one serve hummus to a hog farmer? Clashing food “shoulds” fill our conversations. Mennonites are divided. Some of us refuse to eat meat; others raise meat. Some of us protest the size of chicken...

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