The papers gathered here were presented at the second phase of the international dialogue between the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (Presbyterian and Congregational) and the Mennonite World Conference. There are Reformed and Mennonite studies of the topics, together with the responses of a philosopher of religions, a sociologist, a systematic theologian and a church historian. In the Introduction the dialogue is set in its historical and contemporary ecumenical context, and the Conclusion, drafted by the dialogue participants, has been forwarded to the two world bodies for their consideration and action. This important work will be relevant to all future scholarly research into the growing debate between Reformed and Mennonite communions.
According to the author, “this analysis of the Canadian Mennonite Brethren becomes a case study to test the utility of an identity theory of religion, which hinges on the integration/differentiation dialectic. It is, at the same time, a serious self-study in religious sociology, by which the author seeks to gain a better understanding of the processes of growth and decline, of continuity and change, and of the ongoing tension resulting from the religious movement’s confrontation with society.”
Using primary sources such as reports, letters, minutes, etc., as well as society histories, interviews and survey data, Redekop charts the development of these societies, from the establishment of the earliest ones in the 1870s to their flowering in the fifties and sixties and their decline in the eighties and nineties.
The Work of Their Hands elucidates the context in which Mennonite women lived their identity as Christian women, one considered appropriate by themselves and the institutional church. It also shows how changes to the societies, including declining membership and a shift in their primary focus from sewing and baking to one of spiritual fellowship, reflect the changing roles of women within the church, the home and the wider society.
The Work of Their Hands is an important book in the history of Mennonite women’s spirituality and will be a valuable resource for religious studies, women’s studies and Canadian history.
Going by the Moon and the Stars tells the stories of two Russian Mennonite women who emigrated to Canada after fleeing from the Soviet Union during World War II. Based on ethnographic interviews with the author the women recount, in their own words, their memories of their wartime struggle and flight, their resettlement in Canada and their journey into old age. Above all, they tell of the overwhelming importance of religion in their lives.
Through these remarkable stories Pamela Klassen challenges conventional understandings of religion. The women’s voices, intimate and powerful, testify to the importance of religion in the construction of personal history, as well as to its oppressive and liberating potential.
Going by the Moon and the Stars will be of great value to all those interested in the Mennonites and Mennonite history, religion, women’s studies, ethnic studies and life history.
Lydia Neufeld Harder explores these questions from the vantage point of a scholar, a feminist and a member of a faith community. A hermeneutics of obedience, rising out of the Mennonite theological tradition, and a hermeneutics of suspicion, advocated by many feminist theologians, seem to represent opposite approaches to the Bible’s authority. The resulting polarization could easily have led to static definitions of authority and the subtle domination of those who differ from the majority. However, by focusing on the common theological concept of discipleship, Harder has constructed a critical dialogue, beginning a process of creative change in her own view of authority.
This new view opens the way for an interpretation of the Gospel of Mark. A new appreciation of both the power and the vulnerability of the biblical text leads to a view of authority that embraces both suspicion and obedience in a dynamic interpretative process.
In his book Mark Thiessen Nation provides an insider's introduction to Yoder, demonstrating how a committed Mennonite could also be profoundly evangelical in his witness and broadly catholic in his Christian sensibilities. Taking us into Yoder's life and writings, Nation explores Yoder's context, his keen interest in the Anabaptist tradition, his sustained engagement with other Christians and other faiths, and his claim that pacifism is inherent to Jesus' message.
Drawn to their slower pace of life and their resistance to the lures of a consumer society, Egenes found a warm welcome among the Amish, and in return she has given us an equally warm perspective on Amish family life as she experienced it. The Amish value harmony in family life above all, and Egenes found an abundance of harmony as she savored homemade ice cream in a kitchen where the refrigerator ran on kerosene, learned to milk a two-bucket cow, helped cook dinner for nine in a summer kitchen, spent the day in a one-room schoolhouse, and sang “The Hymn of Praise” in its original German at Sunday service.
Whether quilting at a weekly sewing circle above the Stringtown Grocery, playing Dutch Blitz and Dare Base with schoolchildren, learning the intricacies of harness making, or mulching strawberries in a huge garden, Egenes was treated with the kindness, respect, and dignity that exemplify the strong community ties of the Amish. Her engaging account of her visits with the Amish, beautifully illustrated with woodcuts by Caldecott Medal winner Mary Azarian, reveals the serene and peaceful ways of a plain people whose lives are anything but plain.