This is an independent blog and is not affiliated with any particular church, group or conference. The term Bruderthaler refers to a specific ethnic or cultural Mennonite heritage, not to any particular organized group. All statements and opinions are solely those of the contributor(s). Blog comprises notebook fragments from various research projects and discussions. Dialogue, comment and notice of corrections are welcomed. Much of this content is related to papers and presentations that might be compiled at a future date, as such, this blog serves as a research archive rather than as a publication. 'tag

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What’s in a Name?

    The former Nebraska Conference or Bruderthaler Mennonites suffer from a variety of cultural handicaps.  Our historic language is unwritten, we have no universities of our own to preserve and develop our culture, and our common “homeland” no longer exists.  Perhaps critics such as Epp and Redekopp are a bit too quick to judge us for failing to maintain such an oppressed identity.  Through our own fault, we have also managed to alienate ourselves from many of our co-religionists and fellow Anabaptists.  Social and economic competition between our congregations and those of the Mennonite Brethren (MB) and General Conference were historically exacerbated to the point that while fellowship was able to continue, in many instances, a unity of communion was out of the question.  For many of us, the decision to remove the Mennonite affiliation from our conference was painful but not nearly as destructive to our cultural self-understanding as our withdrawal from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). 
    In my case, I have continued my grandfather’s close cultural affiliation with the Canadian Mennonite culture (a constant source of amusement to my non-Mennonite Canadian friends given my US citizenship).  While this includes a common cause relationship to Anabaptist institutions in the United States, my lack of membership in a traditional Mennonite Church, and failure to attend a traditional Mennonite College have led me more and more into a cultural understanding of who I am rather than a religious conviction.  This is coupled with a need to explain my pacifist and communitarian principles philosophically and politically rather than as mandates of a church.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Significance of Lilacs

    In researching the cultural mention and memory of lilacs amongst the Mennonites, I was not surprised to discover how deeply identified this stalwart travel companion and constant comfort to many a Mennonite farmwife has been identified with the journeys and experiences of the Mennonites, especially those of Russian and Ukrainian origin.
    In her blog posting, “Mennonite a People,” posted May 31, 2009, Linda May Shirley of Rosthern, Saskatchewan, indicates how deeply she identifies this symbol with the Russlander Mennonites, “Strange after all these years, and after all what the Mennonites have contributed to Canada that we are still not recognized [as a unique immigrant community].  Rosthern [Sask]  was/is a large community of Mennonites and in the early 1900’s was the largest exporters of flax.  We brought with us winter wheat, apple trees, lilacs, and many other things that many do not know about.  Back in Russia it was the Mennonites that first built a harvesting machine.  Still we are not known of our contributions rather many are ridiculed as a religion.” 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are We an Ethnicity or a Religion?

    Does the term Mennonite refer to a religion or to an ethnicity?  This question regarding religion versus culture assumes greater significance as those who self-identify as Mennonite increasingly move away from their traditional clusters of farms, congregations, and colonies.  People have coined many terms to deal with this question -- Patrick Friesen, the noted poet and teacher of Mennonite descent, refers to himself as a “Recovering Mennonite.”  Many of my fellow Mennonite students at Georgetown University, a well-known Jesuit university of the Catholic faith, referred to themselves not as Mennonites but as having Mennonite grandparents -- in the same manner that Philip Landis, the controversial “Mennonite” cyclist, would later identify himself not as Mennonite but as of Mennonite descent.  In a former Mennonite Brethren church in Minneapolis, Minnesota -- we all celebrated one communion and a single fellowship, but identified ourselves as Bruderthaler-Mennonite, Old Mennonite, General Conference Mennonite, Hutterite, and Mennonite Brethren -- all the same, but all different.  Obviously, we retained distinct cultural differences -- the proverbial alphabet soup of Mennonite identities, that had no affect whatsoever on our shared spiritual understanding.  In an informal conversation, Carolyn Fauth, a Mennonite journalist and historian from Lustre, Montana, shared in conversation that until the 1940s, you could tell the Mennonite groups of Lustre-Volt apart by the pattern of ribbons on the bonnets worn by the women -- the Bruderthaler, the Mennonite Brethren, and the General Conference women all ascribed to a distinct style.  Furthermore, you use the same criteria to distinguish between the Old Mennonite churches, the Amish Mennonites, and the Hutterites.  Yet, I am aware of no written understanding that any of the Mennonites ever believed that God preferred or mandated a specific pattern for bonnets in His Church (though I am aware of stories where certain hairstyles and clothing fasteners are mandated by formal church instruction).  Though originally grounded in a religious understanding, many of these practices would seem to have become cultural norms and traditions rather than religious dogma.

Mennonite Culture

606 agriculture AIMM Alcohol Alt-Oldenburger Amish Amish Prayer Amish voyeurism Anniversary of Russian Mennonites Architecture Archives Athletes Baptism Bess und Bettag Bible Study Bluffton College BMC Bob Jones University Bruderthaler Burial Customs Camp Funston Canadian Government Catherine the Great CCC Chaco Civil Rights Colonist Horse Congo Inland Mission Conscientious Objectors Consensus Cultural Criticism Death decals Definitions Dialogue diaspora Discipline Discrimination Divorce Drama Drugs Easter Emergent Church Movement ethnic violence Ethnicity Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Evangelical Mennonites Evangelicals exile Famine Fastpa folk art Footwashing Frente Menonita Front for the Defense of the Mennonite Colonies Furor mennoniticus Gardens gay Gay Marriage Gelassenheit Gemeinshaft Gender Studies General Conference German German Bible Gnadenfelde Goshen School Grace School grief Halodomar hate crimes Heirloom Seeds HMS Titanic Holocaust Holy Kiss Horses Hymns Identity Formation identity politics Immigration Immigration Song Inquisition Inter-faith Mennonites Jewish Diaspora Kairos Kleine Gemeinde Krimmer Mennonites Language LGBT Lustre Synthesis Lutheran and Mennonite Relations Magistracy Marriage Martyrs' Mirror MC-USA MCC Kits Mennonite Brethren Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Mennonite Decals Mennonite Diaspora Mennonite farming innovations Mennonite Flag Mennonite Heritage Plants Mennonite Horse Mennonite Identity Mennonite Literature Mennonite Refugees Mennonite Women Missions Molotschna Cattle Breed Movies Music Non-resistance Pacifism photography Pietism Plautdietsch Flag Plautdietsche Poetry Politics Postmodernism quilts Radio refugees Rites Roman Catholic and Mennonite Relations Roman Catholicism Russian Mennonite Flag Russian Mennonites Russian Orthodox Church secularism Shunning Southern Baptists Taxation Television Ten Thousand Villages Terms Viki-leaks Water Dowsing Wenger Mennonites Women's Studies World War 2 World War I


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