Blessed are the merciful

I belong to a Mennonite-Catholic dialogue group which meets several times a year. Our assignment for this week’s meeting was a personal reflection on the Beatitudes, broadly, and then more specifically, in choosing one beatitude we were particularly “attracted” to at this point — in not more than seven minutes each! The contributions were varied, and all interesting. This was mine:

I memorized many parts of the Sermon on the Mount as a child, to get a reduction on Bible camp fees. So it seems the Beatitudes have been with me forever, like old markers, like a fence around my life. They’ve been markers for my (Mennonite) understanding of discipleship.

“Selig sind die Barmherzigen” (Blessed are the merciful), inscription over doorway in Berlin

In this reflection, however, I was struck by something else. The opening beatitudes [blessed are the poor, mourning, meek, hungry], at least, seem an expression of holes in the soul. I see need, grief, poverty of whatever kind, hunger. Yes, there’s a happiness expressed, but next to gaping wounds. Continue reading

Link notes: Bolivia, bread, a beach story, and more

BOLIVIA  Those of you following the Bolivia Mennonites rape scandal and subsequent trial and judgment will want to read Mennonite Weekly Review associate editor Tim Huber’s editorial about it. At Sightings, Adam Darlage reflects on the “shocking” story in terms of how the “pacifist Anabaptist tradition” has shifted in the American imagination, from “deeply distrusting Old Order Anabaptism to romanticizing it.” He argues that a “doomsday narrative” that posits Old Order Anabaptist groups as symbols of virtue where vice should not reach is “a poor approach to these tragedies [the Nickel Mines tragedy and the sex scandal in Bolivia]” and concludes:

The Old Orders within the historic Peace Church tradition deserve more than facile narratives of nostalgia and woe when terrible events like these happen…. Instead, these groups merit deeply contextual understandings of their particular problems and concerns by people who would approach them for what they are: lived religious communities of human beings with their own sets of rituals, values, symbols and, to be sure, their own very human problems as well. Continue reading

Finding our names

The former Mennonite church at Thiensdorf (Jezioro), now used for storage.

Mennonite Heritage Tour: encounters with women (part 7 of 8).

As my reflections on our Mennonite Heritage Tour wind their way into Poland and soon to an end, I have to confess in advance that this post is a bit of a stretch as far as the “encounters with women” theme is concerned. Poland — or “Prussia” as we also think of it in Mennonite history – made its connections to me through place(s) rather than people. Continue reading