Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

3.04.2010

Once a Mennonite, Always a Mennonite

Because life changes moved us away when I was in high school, I was a Presbyterian pursuing my Master of Divinity at a Methodist seminary when one of my Baptist professors said that to me: Once a Mennonite, always a Mennonite. I don't remember what the context was, but she said it in response to my saying something like, "I used to be Mennonite" or "I grew up a Mennonite." She was right, of course.

I was browsing the latest Sojourners headlines email and came across a couple of articles about a controversy about Goshen college. I don't keep up with Goshen, but it's a very important place for my extended family. I read the articles with interest and shared them on Facebook, then provided context for non-family with the Wikipedia article on Mennonites and devoured that as well. If you have the time and are curious, reading the following three links will give you a lot of context about my politics and where I am coming from with many of the things I share on this blog.

Peace is Patriotic: Anabaptists and the National Anthem: The recent decision by Goshen (IN) College to begin playing an instrumental version of the U.S. national anthem before some sports events after never having done so has sparked a firestorm of protest. . . .

Mennonite College Will Now Play National Anthem Before Sporting Events: Goshen (Ind.) College recently unveiled its landmark decision to play the national anthem before athletic events, having never before played the song out of its historic peace stance. But now, out of hospitality, the athletic department will decide when to play an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” starting spring 2010. . . .

Wikipedia: Mennonite: The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in adult baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to nonviolence. . . .

When my parents and I asked her parents for permission to marry a Hmong, they asked if we could understand what it meant to be a minority people with no country who often fled from persecution. Check. If you didn't know, the Amish are a subgroup who broke off from the Mennonites. For another example to give you an idea of our values, if you've read the Wikipedia article you've seen things like, Traditionally, very modest dress was expected; my dad bought my mom silverware as an engagement present because a ring was considered too showy and impractical. My clan is definitely of the more modern, progressive ilk, but to illustrate further just how Mennonite we are, the Wikipedia article includes the following:

Post-Secondary schools - United States

* Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas
* Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio
* Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
* Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana
* Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas
* Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas


I was born in Harrisonburg while my dad was the athletic department for Eastern Mennonite High School. When I was seven we moved back to Hesston to be closer to family, and he taught/coached at Hesston College (along with two of my mom's brothers) until I was in high school. We were seven miles from North Newton and often competed with Hillsboro. Many of my cousins are graduates of Goshen, and one of them is now a professor at Bluffton. I may not currently affiliate with any Mennonite church, but it's a core part of my identity. Read the links above if you want to know more.

(And the link to my professor is a quick way to gain more context for understanding me; I took all of my electives in seminary from her and this guy, and proudly proclaim both of them as prime influences. I also fondly remember him and him. The second "him" is where I originally heard the prism metaphor that I use as a way of describing the book of Proverbs.)

1 Comments:

At 3/05/2010 12:39 AM, Blogger Degolar said...

Tex and I spoke pretty seriously about me applying to pursue a PhD under Stanley Haurwas, but I felt specializing in academia just wasn't for me.

 

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