Readers write: March 24, 2023 issue

March 23, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 6
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Alvin Baroro
On page 6 of the Feb. 13 issue is a picture mentioning two people’s names and identifying another as “an Indigenous coffee grower.” Please do better than that and offer all equal dignity by making the effort of having all the names.
—Harold Penner, Arnaud, Man. (Arnaud Mennonite Church)

Editor’s note: Good point. His name is Alvin Baroro. May God bless him and his community.

F-35 letter to Trudeau
The photograph on the front cover of your magazine (the F-35 fighter jet on the Jan. 30 issue) prompted me to write the following letter [excerpted].

Dear Justin Trudeau:

Fortunately I did not have to pay much tax for 2021. Certainly I have no intention of contributing to the purchase of such a deadly weapon [as the F-35 jets].

As an attender at the Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) I affirm the Peace Testimony.  We are called to live “in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars” [George Fox, 1650]. War and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ. . . .

—Heather Wheat, Peterborough, Ont.

Thanks, Ryan Dueck
Thank you, Ryan Dueck, for provoking us to reflect anew on the spiritual state of our Mennonite congregations. Your article (“To set a soul aflame,” Jan. 30) recalls the vigorous discussion of The Anabaptist Vision a few decades ago and its pastoral impact on one or two generations of Mennonite leaders.

Notably, Dueck’s article scares some who have experienced exclusion by the church, and rattles others who had to unlearn their guilt-induced, or subjectively manipulated, fundamentalist Mennonite experience to embrace Christian faith. Harold Bender’s Anabaptist Vision allowed a generation to unlearn in the name of “authentic” Anabaptism and Christianity.

Thank you for quoting Brad East’s blog; he is no theological slouch. His blog article cites Stanley Hauerwas positively—a name very familiar to so-called progressive Mennonites. Hauerwas is a pacifist theologian and a close student of Mennonitism. He consistently challenges old forms of Christianity, including liberalism or religion as therapy.

Also, East’s piece does not use the words “progressive,” “left” or “right,” or “aging white liberals,” as Dueck does in his summary. Those categories are problematic, and in my humble opinion will not foster good Mennonite conversation on these critical questions.

That said, it is time to pick up the conversation.
—Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, Stouffville, Ont (Community Mennonite Church)

Military ‘service’ questioned
The Focus on Education article entitled “Service through art” (Feb. 13) contributed by Menno Simons Christian School (MSCS) has huge implications for education, peace theory and the concept of Mennonitism. The key word in the title, “service,” fosters the current secular myth that soldiers, presumably of all nations, and often on opposite sides, serve people by killing each other.

The artist featured mentions, “the sacrifices of hundreds of Canadian soldiers who fought for keeping peace in South Korea.” This illogical idea that soldiers, of any stripe, fought and died for “freedom” or “peace” seems to go unchallenged in our public schools, but when it also goes unchallenged in a school which features the names of Menno Simons and Christ, a fresh discussion of peace theory is necessary.

The soldiers on both sides of the Korean conflict believed their cause was just. One would think that, at a Christian school, that concept would be countered by Jesus’ prime teaching to love enemies.

In the same issue of CM one letter basically implies that in light of Russian aggression fighting back is necessary. If that view is the case, then we have chosen Barabbas as our example and not Jesus. Freedom and peace don’t depend on weaponry and killing others. They depend on clear education and the daily grind and true sacrifice of peace working without any particular cause or goal. One grain of sand at a time, it works. History shows that the alternative is destruction because violence just breeds more violence.

Maybe the staff of MSCS could present to students the history of pacifism and examples of many people who chose peace by being conscientious objectors or dedicating their lives to peace work.
—Peter Voth, Ajax, Ont. (Toronto United Mennonite Church)

On the musical fence
The piano ban,” (March 13): I might be riding the fence, but I see the value in both sides [worship with instruments and without]. I was adopted into a Mennonite home. Although I have never had lessons, God has given me the gift of music. I play half a dozen instruments. In my teens dad told me he wouldn’t join the conservative churches while I lived at home, as he felt it would be wrong to stop a God-given gift.

However, to this day I prefer to go to churches with a cappella singing. The four-part harmony is one of the most glorious instruments to hear and participate in.

There is a danger in what one generation allows in moderation the next allows to excess. It saddens me to return to church that brought in “just a piano” and 30 years later they have such loud drums and keyboards in their praise and worship teams that I walk out with a headache. I believe instruments are wonderful in the right time and place, but should accompany the singing, not overpower it.
—Stephanie Kauffman, Portage la Prairie, Man. (online comment)

Joon Park’s March 13 column “Goodbye ‘model minority’ ”: An insightful commentary with its painful reminder of our insular tendencies. I grieve at your daughters’ experience and recognize that they are not alone.
—Ken Bechtel (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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