Why write a book about a website?

Ask Third Way Café: 50 Common and Quirky Questions about Mennonites. By Jodi Nisly Hertzler, Cascadia Publishing House, 2009.

April 25, 2012 | Focus On | Volume 18 Issue 9
Reviewed by Dave Rogalsky |

Just type “Third Way Café” into your search engine—you don’t even need the accent on the “e”—and you will soon be sipping today’s brew of Mennonite stories, reading blogs, viewing videos, and buying books, CDs and DVDs. There’s even a link to donate for the “brews” you’ve imbibed.

Run by MennoMedia, Third Way Café is a portal into the Mennonite world for many around the world. As such, it is the recipient of many questions, quirky and otherwise, about Mennonites and Mennonite beliefs, practices and culture.

Jodi Nisly Hertzler is the one to whom these questions come, and for the sake of the non-Internet audience, she has gathered 50 questions that, she says, “provide others with insight to the questions people ask about Mennonites.”

So what are people asking about Mennonites? Besides many questions that confuse Amish and Mennonites, modern and Old Order, are questions about salvation, the nature of God and other beliefs, Anabaptist history, pacifism, and, “Would it be okay if I became a Mennonite?”

Researching her answers from home—she’s a full-time mom—Hertzler quotes from the Bible, the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and anything else she needs. She is not the first Third Way Café staffer to answer online questions, and for this book she has depended on previous people in her position for information.

Every question sent to the site is answered, even ones that seem sarcastic or purposely pulling someone’s leg.

With its 50 short sections this book would be a fun read on a trip or to give to a high school student in a faith exploration class. Alternatively, it might be a good book for an adult class to dip into with their theological cookies and sip the Anabaptist brew.

Dave Rogalsky is the Eastern Canada correspondent for Canadian Mennonite and the pastor of Wilmot Mennonite Church, New Hamburg, Ont.

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