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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God directed Moses to call forth water from the rock.

ne Wotahakjse onn ne dräje Tiet

    For centuries, Amish Americans and Russländer Mennonites have attempted to establish homes in dry hostile environments and to survive draught in part by practicing the mysterious and controversial art of water dowsing.  In Montana, we refer to this as water witching – the practice of attempting to find water by noting reactions and vibrations in a wooden or metal stick.  My grandfather, Albert Wall, used a long metal rod and spent many an afternoon trying to determine water resources on his Montana farm.  According to his stories, his grandfather, J. C. Wall, had located at least three water wells using a willow wand – though at least one of these seems to me to a rather common sense location due to surface evidence of a high water table.

    In Nuevo Ideal, Mexico, distant cousins are currently attempting to deal with the consequences of a harsh drought.  A few are moving to Canada but others are attempting to either ride out the difference between the drought year and a promising recovery, or even to identify new water resources.  Apparently, Mexican Mennonite Peter Wall has inherited the knack for dowsing – though his method is described as that of using two metal wands – one in each hand, to determine the location, quantity and depth of the water table.  Who knows – there might be something to this.  While water dowsing is certainly not considered to be scientific, neither would Mennonites sanction the practice of magic – so the practice is seemingly more complicated than doubters would have us believe. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are We in a Rush for Cultural Allies?

Fleeing a Bank Robbery mural Lake Placid, New York
  Never far from the center of contemporary American politics, questions of the separation of church and state have hit an new high (or low) under the Obama administration’s recent decision to require religious organizations to cover reproduction and contraceptive technologies and devices as part of their employee health care benefit packages – tricky in that apparently most organizations are now required to provide a minimum health care benefit to their employees. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Maintaining the Lineage of our Faith

ne Frädhoff (en kjoakjhoff)

Cmetarz mennonitow (Mennonite Cemetery in Poland) (c) A. T. Przechlewski

    Often it is only historians and new mourners who worry about the upkeep of our ethnic heritage sites such as graveyards and cemeteries.  Perhaps the time has come to consider the need for a national (international?) Mennonite foundation to begin looking after this aspect of our shared and endangered diasporaic heritage.  For an ethnicity of historic religious and political refugees, these remnants of our periodic stops along the Martyrs’ Trek, are essential historic markers preserving the dignity and truth of our group narrative and missionary outreach.  While many have traveled to view the graves of our ancestors in Amsterdam, Danzig, Poland and Ukraine, future generations will likewise look towards graveyards in Litchfield, Henderson, Coaldale, Steinbach, Yarrow and Chinook for traces of their (our) family stories – and signs of the historic faith that led our faith predecessors to migrate and to establish new homes.
    Recently (25 April 2012), Jennifer Stultz alerted us via the Peabody Gazette of the challenges of maintaining this shared heritage.  She quotes Catlin Cemetery upkeeper Don Stutzman, “We’re having trouble maintaining the cemetery and could use some help. … There is a lot of history to learn here yet and we are searching for a way to sustain the upkeep,” (Stultz, see below).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tribal and Mennonite Quilt Diplomacy

ne je’stekjde Dakj

     Mennonites and Amish have long been known for their excellent quilting skills.  In the North American West, they have found themselves to be in good company – especially on the Fort Peck Reservation, home also to several Mennonite communities and nearby Hutterite Colonies.
    I have been in a special position to appreciate this as the grandson of the perpetual head of the EMB Ladies’ AID quilt committee and the son of a mother who herself learned to quilt from Native American quilters at the school in which she taught.  I deeply treasure both my Schmekfest Quilt and my two star quilts – one made by my mother and one given to me upon graduation by her best friend. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Daily Bread

Van Meegeren and his (forgery) Christ in the Temple, (c) NY Times

Pietist Mennonite practices regarding the daily devotional are as intrinsic to the Russian Mennonite identity as is verenika – in fact, one is surprised to learn that there was a revival of Bible study and devotions in Gnadenfelde under the influence of Eduard Wüst – when had it ended?
    Personal study of the Bible and searching the Scriptures for oneself is an intrinsic aspect of the Anabaptist revolution – the first Adult Baptisms were performed only after intense study of the Scripture.  Schools were started, Bibles translated and preachers sent out to encourage other Christians and non-Christians to discover this direct personal access to Christ’s teachings for themselves.  Even more than pacifists or Adult Baptizers, the term Students of the Bible would most adequately describe the well-spring and radical vision of our Swiss, Flemish and Frisian predecessors.
    No story reveals this truth more strongly than the personal testimony of Menno Simons – the teacher whose leadership helped to preserve and re-organize the early Anabaptist church antecedents of our various conferences and denominations today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mennonite Panty Snatcher

Pettipants or Mennonite lingerie
Sondaboa oon fe’dreit

    With the recent change in sentencing of Canadian Mennonite James Duerksen of Rosenort, Manitoba, (25 April) to four years in prison, rural Mennonite teens and women can again visit church in peace, knowing that their bedrooms and their undies will remain safe in the interim. 
    In a Mennonite story straight out of fable, Duerkson, married and father of two, has been convicted of 92 counts of breaking, entering and theft over 21 years and across two Canadian provinces – the object of this criminal activity – Mennonite women’s lingerie.
    In researching this essay, I actually learned that Mennonite women actually have access to a peculiar, old-fashioned form of undergarment called pettipants or Mennonite lingerie (see photo) – a sort of cross between bloomers and a slip.  Though, according to the Winnipeg Free Press, the lingerie in this story tended to be of a more conventional Victoria's Secret style and type.
    Duerkson, however, was not motivated by mere curiosity – according to court documents, Duerksen has been diagnosed with transvestic festishism, which according to the Winnipeg Sun, is a form of transvestitism whereby the sexual interest in cross-dressing, (possible repressed?), results in a significant psychological distress or social impairment (Winnipeg Sun, see below).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ne Je'schijchte, jleewe onn en Gloowe

CBC-1’s Shelagh Rogers: The Last Chapter 23 
April 2012,“It’s about the ghosts of family”.
Some of Alexi Zentner’s thought on myth, belief and faith… 
Ne Je’schijchte dee fonn oole Tiede staumt, jleewe onn en Gloowe
Alexi Zentner (c) Peter J. Thompson
(Note that this is not a complete transcript – to review this material, please reference the CBC link archive: (downloaded 23 April 2012).

Roger’s questions are approximations.  The answers are as accurate as possible.

Alexi Zentner is the author of Touch.

It is impossible to determine what is myth and what is Truth” says Steven, an Anglican priest in Zentner’s debut novel Touch.  

“Memories are another way to raise the dead.” Quoting Zentner from People Magazine.

It’s about ghosts of family … it’s really sort of a book about the way in which stories become myths and become legends and the ways that families pass them down, not only within families but within countries and nations…”

What interests you about family stories?

“… my parents were story tellers and one of the things I loved about them is trying to figure out what part of them are actually true… and I think that that is something that does happen within families – an event happens, and it’s true, and its told and retold and passed down… by the time that it gets down to the grandchildren, they become these big fish stories… but we tend to forget that there is usually something true at the heart of them … and it’s interesting to me which of those family stories survive and why.”

Can you apply this to the nature of myth….?

… I think some of them started as sort of cautionary tales, but most of those cautionary tales are built in some sort of reality… we dress them up in larger stories…  Myths start somewhere and they have a resonance for a reason and I think that most myths are very specific stories and because of that specificity they become universal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MCC and Russian Mennonite Symbols

TM Agassiz and MCC respectively.

   The following images are NOT AUTHORIZED and MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED or used without the permission of the primary copyright and trademark holders -- being Mennonite Central Committee and Agassiz Media.

    For this reason, "Disallow" symbols have been placed over the symbols to prevent their unauthorized use.  The "Disallow" may not be removed.

    Mostly, this is to protect MCC's control of use of their logo.  If you get their permission, I will gladly remove the "Disallows."  They have not yet been approached either way.

    So the question would be asked as to how to show the unity of your ethnic identity and your global service awareness?  One could consider receiving permission from certain groups such as the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to show one's support for both identities.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mennonites and Christ's Militia

Does the above message truly reach others for Christ?
    Facebook™ is both and neither good or evil, but it is loud.  Someday, Sociologists will be able to quantitatively sift through this mound of networked words and images to understand, describe and, um, er, yes, well… judge current generations.
    Now let me be straight up – I am a bona fide pacifist non-resister in the tradition of the Brüderthaler, and at the same time, a proud descendent of about 1000 years of military heroes – in fact, my last name was conferred on the family for heroic service on the battlefield some 1100 years ago in the forests and estuaries of the Batavian lowlands.  I have dated military and spend a lot of time worrying about and supporting our boys and girls (my friends, cousins and former girlfriends) in the forces around the world.  But… I am still a non-resistor, a Mennonite and an American.
    So, I understood when my cousin posted the above graphic on her Facebook page, but do indeed find myself, well, yes -- offended.  This isn't the first time -- she has a history of posting similar graphics (see below) and so I am used to the fact that we see things very differently, there a double standard here?  And does this truly reflect a Christian witness?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pietist Passion of J. S. Bach

J. S. Bach by Haussman
   So J. S. Bach was not Mennonite, but his music has been sung in Mennonite churches for at least three centuries and will continue to shape and influence Mennonite music and church services for several more.  While I am unable to share much of the actual performance with readers of a blog such as this, a couple of ideas from Bach’s libretto did happen to stand out during this year’s performance – a couple of very touching original passages reflecting a high degree of spiritual pietism and a rather in-depth prescient study by Bach of the Postmodern concept of intertextuality.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Short Note from Stouffville, Ont....

Guernsey stamps honoring Major-General Sir Isaac Brock and Shawnee ally, Tecumseh

  • May 10, 2012 - 1:18 PM  From

More than Mennonites have heritage of peace

Re: Mennonites protest war celebration, May 3.

    We applaud the Mennonite community in protesting the June 16 military parade and fly-by to “celebrate” the War of 1812 in our community.
   This event would have costs, both financial and cultural.
   The War of 1812 was won in Canada because of the First Nations who fought in this war. The Calandra/Harper Conservative government should be ashamed of their current treatment of First Nations. Spend the money on appropriate housing.
    The Calandra/Harper agenda of re-making Canada as a military nation only supports their purchase of fighter planes at an unknown cost and for an unknown need.
    Our reflection on war is personal through two uncles who fought in the war. One left this country as a happy teenager and returned a broken man unable to function in our society for the next 60 years. The other uncle was injured at Vimy Ridge, never talked about it and died at a young age.
    Our community has roots in First Nations, Mennonites and many other peace-loving people. For the Calandra/Harper government to ignore our heritage of peace is wrong. 

   To remember is to work for peace.

Lovanna & Jim Sanders



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tacos de requesón menonita

Queso Mennonita, aka Queso Chihuahua
Tacos de requesón menonita 
Mennonite Tacos

Mennonites in Mexico are known for their excellent cheeses, especially queso Mennonita.  Recently, Chef Marisa Rodriguez published this recipe for Mennonite Tacos using cottage cheese -- a well-known ingredient to North American Mennonites but less familiar to our Mexican neighbors.  
The original recipe might be found via this link:  Mennonite Tacos

Chef Marisa Rodríguez | NorteDigital

"Nuestro estado de Chihuahua se caracteriza por elaborar productos lácteos de muy buena calidad, y uno de ellos que muchas veces no sabemos en qué utilizarlo es el requesón que el día de hoy les presento.

Es un plato muy sencillo con este ingrediente y muy útil para esta cuaresma, el requesón se elabora con el cuajo de la leche que nos sirve para elaborar los famosos quesos menonitas y muchos más.

Tiene un sabor muy neutral que podemos consumirlo en recetas tanto dulces como saladas y en esta ocasión les comparto unos tacos de requesón con una mezcla de pico de gallo lo que lo convierten en una comida muy diferente pero igualmente rica, ¡elabórenla y disfrútenla!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Suzuki, Plett and Gadamer


  Southern Manitoba is probably the closest Russian Mennonites will come to again realizing the concept of an integrated Russian Mennonite commonwealth. So the region commends itself for study in the areas of sociology and political science.
    Recently, (21 March 2012), noted Canadian scientist Dr. David Suzuki and PC Senator for Manitoba, Don Plett, got into an exchange that clearly illustrates the concept of openness, or rather its lack, in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s discourse theory or “rules of play.” 
    In as much as both Plett and his hometown of Landmark, MB, are of strong Mennonite heritage, this brief “exchange” between the two ideological social leaders is notable for its reflection as to the potential evolution of Russian Mennonite norms and values.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mennonite Hockey Hall of Fame


    We are just in the quarterfinals competition for Lord Stanley's Cup -- the international award for the National Hockey League of the United States and Canada.  Even without the steller Jonathan Toews, the quiet ethnic Mennonite boy from Manitoba made good in Chicago, the youngest captain of a major league team and already the proud owner of his first Stanely Cup title, there is still plenty of ethnic Mennonite hockey action to be caught in the Los Angeles Kings and the Washington Capitals and plenty of heritage distributed across the board (note:  for our purposes, we are merely identifying those players with an ethnic Mennonite or Amish connection, while making no claims regarding any particular religious affiliations.)

    The following are fourteen of the best major leagues hockey players to come from Mennonite extraction.  While all of the indicated hockey players are more or less from Canada, they do represent both Russian Mennonite heritage and the Eastern Mennonite heritage of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.  In fact, were Kitchener to team up with Rosthern, Sask., where the Regehrs call home in Canada, they would make a great rivalry for the Winnipeg-Winkler Mennonite hockey powerhouse.

    We even have a missionary family represented by both Robyn and Richard Regehr.  Robin was born while his family was on mission to Brazil and his younger brother Richie was born in Indonesia.  Nor are they the only brothers represented.  While Jonathan Toew's younger brother David Ryan has yet to make his mark in the majors, he has been included for having been drafted into the major leagues.  There are a few other teams of cousins that could be constructed easily if we were to list all minor league Mennonite hockey players... but that would take more time than I have -- though there is the tantalizing possibility of at least one American Mennonite family dynasty in the persons of the Miller clan of Michigan -- though apart from their name there is no evidence that they are either Mennonite or of Mennonite-descent -- so until more information is gathered, Mennonite hockey remains a Canadian monopoly.

    So have some fun, get into the game... If ever a sport were designed to appeal to the skills and joys of the Mennonite athlete, ice hockey has to be a prime candidate -- especially now that you know some of the players:  (read further for player profiles)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mennonite Drinking Songs

drunkfallijch Mennoniten

Destroy All Robots, an acoustic group out of Kitchener-Waterloo, is well worth a listen.  For purposes of this blog, I will refer you to The Mennonite Drinking Hymn from their CBC radio playlist (see link below).
 A direct link is not available so you will have to do a bit more work on this one...

Destroy All Robots courtesy of CBC Radio

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quaker Anabaptists?

American Quaker William Penn
    I was a bit startled a couple of weeks ago to read an essay about Evangelical Christianity’s “more progressive and more contemplative Anabaptist cousin, Quakerism.”  Stranger still, the author of the article was not only Quaker but a graduate of George Fox, a leading Quaker university.
    First the Southern Baptists are now Anabaptists and now the Quakers are coming home?  What’s going on here?  What’s next? – Will the Amish again admit to being kith and kin with the Mennonites?

    Consumed by debates between Mennonites and Amish on the traditional American side, and between traditional Mennonites and ethnic Mennonites amongst the Russländer, the Quakers have generally been pushed off the historic Anabaptist table. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Syrian Crisis Generates Need for Relief Kits

Syrian Refugees, (c) Reuters, courtesy Gulf News, Dubai.

 ne Help; Een Flijchtlinkj

  The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has responded to Syrian refugees fleeing the violence into Jordan.  One of the supplies that MCC requires is personal hygiene kits for the refugees known as "relief kits".

  According to the United Nations (UN), at least 12,500 registered refugees from Syria have entered Jordan.  Other reports indicate that Syrian refugees number in the tens of thousands (as many as 80,000).   While Jordan has traditionally been known for its history of openness and hospitality towards various refugee groups in the Middle East, but it is not a wealthy nation and has already admitted to the UN that money is low for providing for the latest arrivals.

    Putting together one or more relief kits is an excellent way that religious and non-religious ethnic Mennonites can help to build ties of peace and compassion between their culture and others who are experiencing need.  The relief kits are a basic aid component and do not carry any specific religious or political overtones -- just an expression of compassion and concern from the Mennonite diaspora to the recipient.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day and ne Pelsbloom

(c) Kim Wheeler of
Ne Pelsbloom, de easchte Mei
    Many holidays just make more sense and are more fun for their context on the highly seasonal prairies of Agassiz and the Assiniboia.  One such holiday is May Day (de easchte Mei) – both highly controversial and widely, if quietly, celebrated by Prairie Mennonites across North America.
  More controversially known as International Workers’ Day, most of us grew up noting May Day as that day when the former Soviet Union paraded out the nuclear missiles and other military hardware designed to destroy God, Democracy, and the West.  As we grew more sophisticated, it was the day to determine who was in and who was out based on the line-up of Soviet dignitaries atop Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square.  Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the Socialist (or Soviet) celebration of May Day was designed to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, 04 May 1886, and not some sort of pagan, atheist Soviet holiday. 
    More personal, and more memorable to me was that other aspect of May Day – the celebration that spring had come to the prairies – a time to gather the first wildflowers, normally ne pelsbloom (aka Pasqueflowers, wind flower, danesblood, Anemone patens or prairie crocuses) and try to surprise our mothers, grandmothers and schoolteachers by placing poesies of furry, delicate lavender blooms on their doorsteps, knocking or ringing the doorbell, and then hurrying around the house to get away before they could catch us and tickle us for playing tricks on them – a sort of reverse trick-or-treating where the children left the treat as part of the trick.

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


A. F. Wiens (1) A. H. Leahman (1) A. J. Wall (1) Abraham Gerber (1) Abram Groening (1) Adam Carroll (2) AIMM (3) Albert Wall (7) Allison Mack (1) Anne-Marie Goertzen Wall (1) Annie C. Funk (1) Aron Wall (1) B. F. Hamilton (1) Benjamin Mubenga (1) Benjamin Sprunger (1) Bernhard Dueck Kornelssen (1) Berry Friesen (1) Bitter Poets (3) Bob Jones University (2) Brandon Beachy (1) Brendan Fehr (1) Bruce Hiebert (1) C. Henry Niebuhr (1) C. R. Voth (1) Calvin Redekop (3) Carolyn Fauth (3) CBC News (1) Charles King (1) Chris Goertzen (1) Connie Mack (1) Corrie ten Boom (1) Dale Suderman (2) Daniel Friesen (1) Danny Klassen (1) David Classen (1) Dennis Wideman (1) Diane Driedger (3) Dick Lehman (1) Donald Kraybill (1) Donald Plett (1) Dora Dueck (1) Dustin Penner (1) Dwaine and Nancy Wall (1) Edna Ruth Byler (1) Eduard Wust (1) Elliott Tapaha (1) Elvina Martens (1) Eric Fehr (1) Esther K. Augsburger (1) Ethel Wall (1) Frente Menonita (1) Fritz and Alice Wall Unger (1) Gbowee (1) Georg Hansen (1) George P. Schultz (3) George S. Rempel (1) George Schultz (1) Gordon C. Eby (1) Goshen College (4) Gus Stoews (1) H. C. Wenger (1) H. F. Epp (1) Harold S. Bender (1) Heidi Wall Burns (2) Helen Wells Quintela (1) Henry Epp (1) Henry Toews (1) Ian Buruna (1) Isaac Peters (6) J. C. Wall (3) J. T. Neufeld (2) Jakob Stucky (1) James Duerksen (1) James Reimer (1) Jason Behr (1) Jeff Wall (1) Jim Kuebelbeck (1) Joetta Schlabach (2) Johann F. Kroeker (1) John Howard Yoder (1) John Jacob Wall (1) John R. Dick (1) John Rempel (1) John Roth (1) Jonathan Groff (1) Jonathan Toews (2) Jordi Ruiz Cirera (1) Kathleen Norris (4) Kelly Hofer (3) Kevin Goertzen (1) Keystone Pipeline (3) Leymah Gbowee (1) Linda May Shirley (1) Lionel Shriver (1) Lorraine Kathleen Fehr (2) Margarita Teichroeb (1) Marlys Wiens (2) Martin Fast (1) Matt Groening (2) Melvin D. Epp (1) Menno Simons (3) Micah Rauch (1) Michael Funk (1) Moody Bible Institute (2) Nancy Wall (4) Norma Jost Voth (1) O. J. Wall (2) Orlando J. Wall (3) Patrick Friesen (4) Peter Wall (1) Philip Landis (1) Phillip Jakob Spener (1) Rachael Traeholt (2) Randy Smart (3) Rhoda Janzen (1) Rob Nicholson (2) Robin Martins (1) Robyn Regehr (1) Roger Williams (1) Rosella Toews (1) Ruth Lederach (1) Sam Mullet (3) Sam Schmidt (1) Scot McKnight (1) Stacey Loewen (2) Stanley Hauerwas (2) Steven Wall (6) Susan Mark Landis (1) Taylor Kinney (1) Tom Airey (2) Victor Toews (4)