Confession: This almost seems egotistical for a Mennonite to link to. But a friend told me about it in the last month and I was blessed. I think we could probably take a moment to hear what Mr. Taylor had to say–to celebrate what we’re good at without forgetting we don’t have it all–
What do you think? Is he representing the Mennonites you know? What do you want to be known for?
Why I Wish I Were a Mennonite
by Aaron Taylor
I often wish we could have a more Charismatic spirit among our Mennonite circles. And STILL keep our heritage!!! 🙂 I like his idea of merging the two!!
Well, he makes us as Mennonites sound pretty good!:) but there are the more unsavory characteristics of Mennonites that I long to delete from the heritage I pass onto my children; gossip, greediness, empty tradition that’s held up as gospel, closemindedness, viewing any different views immediately as wrong, bitterness, cliques, superiority, and entitlement. To be fair, those can be found anywhere! But I see us as having a tendency towards them, possibly because of our insistence on Bible truth, close communities, and work ethic. It is a carnal outworking of initially good intentions. Could we focus more on being like Jesus? Would that change our responses to hard things? I long for us to be a better light to the world and not a smear on the name of Christ!!
I agree with BW on wishing for more charisma in addition to our wonderful heritage. Sometimes it feels like intellect is frowned upon and emotion is frowned upon, and pray tell, what is left? Shouldn’t we worship God in a holistic way?
I’ve realized in the past year that I don’t know how to worship God in my emotions. That is something Jesus and I are working on.
I’m also praying that I don’t become bitter and cynical about the things I wish were different. I want to be truly grateful for the good things I have as a Mennonite.
His article addresses the issue of denomination like some other people I have worked with. It is part of relative truth. I noticed that a lot of his comments about Mennonites were nice but they seemed to be things Mennonites did because they were Mennonites in his opinion. While it maybe comforting as a Mennonite to have someone telling me what I have right; I don’t see him saying this is right because the Bible says so so I will do it. He doesn’t have to because he isn’t Mennonite.
We will always have denominations and even different kinds of Mennonites (Mennonite USA seems to be what he was referring to). I need to be at the place that I do this because I am a disciple of Christ and a reader of His Word and not because I am a Mennonite.
I am really curious why Mennonites are frequently trying to make themselves feel good about what they are or are not doing by securing other peoples opinions on how they are measuring up? Is that where we get our praise and satisfaction for what we do well? Should I feel good about what I am doing well because this man says so? I hear us measure our success as a church by what we hear others saying about us. Honestly, I think its time to reconsider, where we find our security for who we are and what we do.
I think it is important to listen when people talk to us, for through them God can speak–life, conviction, forgiveness, love. To me, “hearing what they have to say” does not automatically mean we are “measuring our value and success by it”—though I admit it is a sin I am painfully prone to. God can speak through the words of praise this man offered, and He can speak through your rebuke. I thank you for it and am listening…
Interesting article, but I think it is mistitled. Rather than saying, “Why I wish I were a Mennonite”, maybe it should say – “Why I wish I was Nonresistant” — because that is really the core content of what he addresses…and nonresistance is not a belief that only Mennonites might adhere too.
“While charismatic leaders were “naming and claiming” plush clothing, fancy cars, and million dollar mansions, Mennonites were teaching their children to live simply so that others could simply live.” Honestly, I think this man is off on this one. We like to tout simplicity and talk about it, but our lives are anything but simple…and I have seen just as much materialism and self-obsession amongst the Mennonites (sometimes more) as I have seen in Pentecostal, Baptist, and independent Protestant churches — and I have participated in church life in them all.
“Mennonites were sharing possessions, building communities, and identifying with the poor.” This one got to me. Building communities and focusing on community culture – totally seen that. Sharing possessions? Maybe. Identifying with the poor?? He got me there. My experience has largely been Mennonites dismissing the notion of identifying with the poor, with a string of excuses like, “We can’t help everyone.” “I can’t change the world.” etc.
…but then, maybe I just haven’t been around long enough…
At any rate. It’s nice to hear nice things from other people, but if we would compare ourselves and measure ourselves up to the word of God and the standard of Jesus – I think we’d soon realize how far we fall short. And maybe this would bring us to the redemptive repentance we need to revive our souls and radically revamp our lifestyles.
His article is fun to read. We all want to believe we belong to a valid Christian faith tradition, whether Anglican or Presbyterian or Mennonite or “just Christian.” I used to think we Mennonites had a unique brand of weirdness, until I heard Lutherans talk about how weird it is to be Lutheran.
I could write a similar article titled “Why I wish I were a Catholic.” Then again, I suspect my Catholic friends would rather be noticed for their church’s social and humanitarian work than its official stance on birth control. Sometimes a tradition is more praiseworthy in some aspects than in others.
I hope for the grace to receive the praise with its due pinch of salt and strive for the renovation any faith tradition requires to stay alive and relevant. We have something to offer. We also have a lot to learn.
“Then again, I suspect my Catholic friends would rather be noticed for their church’s social and humanitarian work than its official stance on birth control.” – Perhaps. 🙂 I know some Catholics (my Dad’s family, for instance – he grew up in a devout Catholic household) who would fit this bill…but I also know some Catholics who would readily appreciate being associated with an official stance on birth control.
That said – my point was never to say that there are not people in a tradition/denomination/whatever you want to call it who aren’t doing well with – simplicity, humanitarian work, or etc.I am sure there are many Mennonites who are not self-obsessed and materialistic. I was getting at something a little deeper.
I think this writer has some very valid points. Whether it be ‘Mennonite’, ‘Anabaptist’, or just plain ‘Biblical’…the points he brings out as ‘Mennonite’ is what we as ‘followers of Christ’ should be trying to attain!! Unfortunately many of us still have human tendencies and we tend to fail…hopefully as we get older the failings become less and less!!
Building communities, working together and sharing are some of the Biblical principles that ‘Anabaptists’ stood for. It does indeed make me sad that in so many of the large Mennonite communities these practices have all but died out!! 🙁 We too are living in ‘posh’ homes, driving fancy cars, our older women getting jobs, cause they don’t have enough to do, and one income isn’t enough to support their lifestyles…what and how are they teaching the younger women!! We DO need to get back to the ‘simple’ lifestyle!!!
I’m thankful to be a Christian ‘Mennonite’, but my prayer is that we need to get back into the ‘Word’ and the principles that the folks stood for who originally were called ‘Mennonite’. Then and only then can we truly have a message to be ‘vocal’ about!! 🙂
Simplistic? Possibly in some ways. When my dress and hair covering is prescribed by the brotherhood, it makes what I put on every day much simpler. But what about my house and car? Anything goes there, so then my life is less simple because I look to my culture so I “fit” in. This is only one aspect of the “simpler” life style. I agree with “the Boss”, we truly have something to offer, but we have something to learn also.