Though not Mennonites, recent Presidential electoral bids by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Governor Rick Perry (TX) proved divisive between liberal Mennonites and conservative Mennonites – especially in the traditionalist versus Evangelical debates. At least two items featured in that split – contemporary religious uncertainty over the state’s right to dictate morality to individuals (on both sides of the political spectrum) and as Ryan Lizza pointed out in his 15 August 2011 essay in The New Yorker, Bachmann’s acceptance of the Christian Far Right’s concept of Dominionism – a political theology that God has called certain individuals forth to establish and lead a “Christian” nation. Perry has been similarly identified with the movement in Texas.
|Kingdom of Munster|
In many ways, the Mennonite ethnicity (both Russländer and American Amish) is a history of a successful ethnic identity that has after 500 years, failed to achieve geographic self-determination. Davies’ might offer some interesting parallels – though he only deals with actual kingdoms and states – not ethnic regions.
As much as people have taken fun pot-shots at Goshen College for its controversy over the National Anthem, one could suspect that if it came down to it, questions of Mennonite nationalism against fellow Mennonites are still unsettled.
Davies’ book serves as a useful reminder to us that human history is volatile and passing. Christ calls all of his followers to discipleship and spiritual discipline – but clearly, in that many of the nations mentioned by Davies were “Christian,” Christ does not seemly ally himself with any particular nation and guarantee its long-term survival. The Münsterites were basically early Dominionists and a huge embarrassment to future generations of Anabaptists. Whether we subsequently chose political neutrality out of political necessity for survival or out of theological conviction is relatively moot. That this is a formative belief in the Mennonite identity is more or less established – both religiously and ethnically. Davies’ book indicates that while such neutrality is often politically unpopular with our neighbours and fellow citizens, it yet demonstrates a long-term political astuteness and a realistic reading of history.
|Vanished Christian States in Europe|