From Mennonite “madness” to Marshall McLuhan

The past days have been unusually stimulating for me. The main reason is the annual conference of the Chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg, this year on “Mennonites, Melancholy and Mental Health.” I attended much of it, from Thursday evening to this afternoon, hearing papers on a whole variety of topics connected to mental health – from the history of attitudes, to the history of institutions (like Bethania in Russia, Bethesda in Ontario, Mennonite Youth Farm in Saskatchewan), to personal and family histories, and a lot in between. Continue reading

Assembly 15: does it need more analysis?

The January 11 Canadian Mennonite carried a letter from Margaret Loewen Reimer, which she had first sent to the Mennonite World Conference (MWC). In it she thanked for the “colourful reports” of Assembly 15 in Asuncion, Paraguay, in the recent MWC magazine, Courier. But, she went on, “The glowing reports, as appropriate as they are, did, however, leave me with many questions and a longing for some deeper analysis.” Loewen Reimer then offered some questions she would like explored in future issues of Courier and the Mennonite press generally.

MWC president Danisa Ndlovu (left) and Lutheran World Federation general secretary Ismael Noko embrace after the LWF apology to Anabaptists at Assembly 15 in Asuncion, Paraguay. Photo credit: Lowell Brown


Although I do not currently work for the Mennonite press, I was part of the four-person Meetinghouse team that covered Assembly 15 in Asuncion, Paraguay. (Meetinghouse is an association of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ publications.) I also oversaw Assembly 15’s presentation in the MB Herald, where I was working at the time. We covered the event primarily for our papers, but shared our material with MWC for use on their website and in Courier. They had also assigned stories that they then sent us through their news service. 

I’ve been thinking about Loewen Reimer’s letter and would like to offer a few responses to it from my perspective. I hope I won’t sound defensive, because I think the questions raised are good ones, indeed. 

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