What will the issues be for Canadians in 2014, my American friend asked me over the Christmas break. A good but difficult question, I said to myself—a query worth sharing with my faith community for the coming year. So here goes:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to [all] on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14) will be read and re-read in our places of worship this Advent season as well as sung with gusto, sometimes glibly, to the words of Henry Longfellow: “I heard the bells on Christmas Day.”
It’s Remembrance Day as I write this. To say that Canadian Mennonites are conflicted on this day is an understatement.
Donna Schulz, new regional correpondent for Saskatchewan. She lives in Rosthern and can be reached at 306-232-4733 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Canadian Mennonite is the glue that holds Mennonite Church Canada together,” Larry Cornies, a journalism professor and former chair of this publication’s board of directors, told our staff and regional correspondents during a two-day workshop held last month at our Waterloo, Ont., office.
The local newspaper editor called it a soap opera. The local Member of Parliament tried to make the spokespersons for the historic peace churches lone fringe persons in a celebration of the War of 1812, speaking only for themselves and not for the members of the several Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Friends (Quaker) churches in Stouffville, Ontario.
It was Soren Kierkegaard who said: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Robert J. (Jack) Suderman flinches every time I, or anyone representing Canadian Mennonite, uses the word “independent” to describe who we are as a publication. The characterization apparently grates on his pastoral instincts to think, even for a passing moment, that we are not an integral part of the “body of Christ” as it is expressed in the institution of Mennonite Church Canada.
The year was 1953. Mennonites scattered across Canada were a disparate group, having come to this land of freedom in several migrations from Europe, the first of which was of Swiss-German origin from the German Palatinate coming from Pennsylvania and settling in what was to become the Niagara Region of Ontario as early as 1786.
Two stories on sexual abuse have re-emerged recently on the Mennonite scene that call for sober reflection and some self-examination, but not self-obsession. They should be seen, in the present, as “teachable moments” and occasions for healing, rather than harsh judgments on the sins of our fathers.
It is a great experience to be on the board of Canadian Mennonite. On a personal level, it is both fun and interesting. You get to meet other Mennonites from across the country and hear what is going on in their churches. You find that some things between congregations are very similar.
My, what a summer—unexpected flooding in central and southern Alberta, oil rail tankers exploding in Lac-Mégantic, devastating that small rural town in Quebec, record-setting heat waves in several parts of the country.
In an increasingly polarized culture, we seem to be plagued more and more with labels that define us. Driven by an obsession to organize our society, we put each other into the categories of liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice, fundamentalist or social gospel, traditionalist or progressive, pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, Oil Patch worker or anti-pipeline crusader.
Ken Bechtel makes an astute observation in our lead feature when he says the church in postmodernity is more about “the experiential, spirituality, community, globalism, relativism and authenticity” than the “rationalism, dogmatism, nationalism and a veneered religiosity” of the past.
Why has “creation care,” as we have come to euphemize an issue that distinguishes our faith-based concern for the environment, risen to the top of our conversation as modern-day Anabaptists?
Two headlines this week bring into sharp focus the cultural context in which our own faith community
is forming its core belief and practice, one encouraging, the other not so much.
I turned off the radio en route to my destination at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph, Ont. A shooting in Toronto, a bombing in Boston, political chicanery in Ottawa—all were short-circuiting my gradual descent into solace. The noise was drowning my need for silence, a yearning for an uncluttered world.
You know you’re in a Mennonite home when you walk into the living room and see a copy of Canadian Mennonite on the coffee table.
Recently, our congregation discovered Facebook. “Discovered” isn’t quite the right word, of course, since many of us were already part of the online community reputed to have a mind-boggling billion users around the globe.
Out of the many discussions at Canadian Mennonite’s annual board meeting recently in Lethbridge, Alta., came the call, once again, for some clarification on two issues: “Whose voice is Canadian Mennonite’s?” and, “Do we print all the letters to the editor?”
While the Mennonite faith community has sometimes been contentiously consumed over the past two decades with one aspect of sexuality—homosexuality and same-sex marriage—another darker side has quietly escaped our notice: sexual abuse of women and children.
In her “Mennonites have a long history of environmental activism” letter to the editor on page 12, Joanne Moyer questions whether it was fair to hold Menno Simons to account for a lack of concern for climate change and broader concerns of the earth.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
“The fossil fuel industry is the richest and most arrogant industry the world has ever seen,” charges Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, and referenced by Will Braun in our lead feature “Crossing the (pipe) line” on page 4. The five largest oil companies alone made $137 billion in profits last year, according to the Sierra Club.
As one year ends and another begins, the pundits package the highlights of the past and out of that attempt to project something of what lies ahead. It’s as if time stands still for a brief moment while we catch our breath for reflection, a search for some meaning.