What to do about Vladimir Putin?
Re: “Becoming the enemy you hate” column, April 18, page 13.
The topic that Joshua Penfold highlights is at the very heart of the Anabaptist movement, which began in the 1500s. The Anabaptist leaders determined that the only way to stop the circle and cycle of “an eye for an eye” was to replace vengeance with forgiveness and meaningful actions of love.
This teaching was central to their recorded doctrines of faith and practice. It was rooted in what Christ taught, lived and demonstrated by his death and resurrection. It was indeed a costly decision for them, just as it will be for those who desire to follow Christ today.
To be willing to obey Christ, to seek not to retaliate and to seek reconciliation require divine empowerment. It may still be a serious component in the statements of faith and practice of many Anabaptist communities, but is it held with conviction by the pastors and leaders who influence their faith communities each Sunday?
Today, with the war in Eastern Europe, the present generation of Anabaptists are forced to evaluate their peace position. On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. A sorrowful reminder of what the Anabaptists in Ukraine experienced in the early 1900s. They suffered because of the civil wars and unimaginable chaos. Ukrainians also suffered terribly under the forced famine by Stalin in the 1930s.
Is Russian president Vladimir Putin the enemy that is hated? As more and more of Eastern Ukraine is destroyed, will hate consume us? Will we justify revenge and destruction?
Much is being done in assisting the suffering Ukrainians, but what about our attitude toward Russia and its leaders?
I would appreciate a pastoral word concerning Russia from the leadership of Mennonite Church Canada.
—David Shantz, Montreal
Reader feels ‘gut-wrenching emotions’ of his ancestors
Ten weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still sends shivers up my spine, as it did when I read the headlines in the Globe and Mail on the morning of Feb. 24: “Russia invades Ukraine.”
You see, my girlfriend and her daughter were stuck in her apartment in Kyiv on that morning and now, 10 weeks later, still cannot leave.
My grandparents were all born in Russia, my paternal grandfather in Spat, Crimea, and my maternal grandmother in Terek colony, Russia. They met and were married in Rosemary, Alta., in 1936.
My grandmother published her memoirs in the 1980s. In it, she describes her terrifying ordeal at being surrounded on all sides by militant tribes: the Nogais, Tatars and Chechens, and the very difficult decision to leave the colony in February 1918.
After a harrowing journey across the steppes of Russia, they eventually reached Ukraine, and freedom to Canada, in 1924.
Now I am experiencing those same gut-wrenching emotions they must have felt, as I wonder how long this conflict will last, and when they will be set free.
—Ryan Adrian, Winnipeg
The writer attends Jubilee Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.
Writer, husband, CM chastised for ‘middle-class, individualistic thinking’
Re: “Be at peace?” Feb. 7, page 11.
I was disappointed to read this article in Canadian Mennonite.
The author names her husband’s “more worldliness” as a desirable trait. Strange language coming from a Mennonite.
Beyond the host of biblical references that challenge the worldview of this author—“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” “Give to those who ask of you”—I found her middle-class assumptions most disturbing.
Having worked with lower-income individuals, I read Vincent as entering into what he believed to be a reciprocal relationship with the author. He helped her with cheaper groceries and she helped him with fronting some cash. She indicated that Vincent always made good on these small loans.
Just when Vincent was at the point of counting on her for this regular help, she withholds this act of grace. Vincent’s anger is fully expected. Beyond her naivety as to the distress that this likely caused Vincent, it would be doubly angering to have somebody who is clearly doing better than you financially say they “are not in a position to help.”
The couple seems ignorant of class distinctions and how somebody from a class other than their own may think and act differently than them. Vincent seems to depend on reciprocal relationships while his neighbours seem to have bought into middle-class, individualistic thinking, something I would think a Mennonite periodical would be calling into question, not lending support to.
—Tom Friesen (online comment)
Congregant feels unwelcome because she’s ‘not jabbed or masked’
Re: Second letter of “Two views on the ‘freedom convoy,’ ” April 4, page 7.
To Paul Thiessen: Knowing that God is involved in the truckers convoy, I am angry at the churches “downing” this. I don’t feel welcome in my church because I’m not jabbed or masked. Again I asked God for an answer, and “no jab” was it. The Mennonite church needs to wake up. Thanks for reading.
—Anne Warkentin, Winnipeg