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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shunning Platforms

Stage Identities:  Creating a Platform or Space for Dialogue
ne Kaunsel

   Some people in the know have informed me that there is a whole other history for Diane Driedger’s collection of poems, The Mennonite Madonna, one of which I was not aware.

 Apparently, The Mennonite Madonna actually originated as a collection of performance poetry framing a 1997 Fringe Theatre performance by Driedger as the Mennonite Madonna and as her grandparents. 
    The greatest strength, in my opinion, of the art scene in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is that the scene is all about smashing boundaries – boundaries between the numerous historic and immigrant cultures that have together built the city, boundaries between tradition and new perspectives and boundaries between art forms.  Two of my favorite examples of the latter are the adaptation of Patrick Friesen’s poetry to both print and stage forms and Clive Holden’s multi-media Trains of Winnipeg.  (Though I am also tempted to include a phenomenal presentation of Carl Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928) accompanied by acoustic and jazz performers on the level of the Wyrd Sisters.)
    The Mennonite Madonna is a stage persona Driedger developed in response to the lack of a female divine in Mennonite culture and worship.  Searching for options and solutions, Driedger apparently looked to the Roman Catholic image of Mary, Mother of Christ, and to Mary's iconoclastic double – the pop performer Madonna who became a dominant force in pop culture by challenging traditional values and perceptions – possibly one of the first great Postmodern performers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bothersome Things -- Blogger Stats

schentlijch, en Glottskopp

    An interesting thing about Blogger™ is that it provides a certain level of reporting back to you regarding the audience, search terms, how readers find your blog, etc. 
    A while back, I posted a piece titled American Voyeurism and the Amish, in which I expounded on some terms  and concepts recommended by The New York Times television critic Neil Ginzlinger regarding the recent PBS special on the Amish.  In his piece, he made three points – the American obsession with the different or the other, America’s mostly superficial knowledge of their fellow Americans, and  what he felt to be the carefully managed public image of the Amish (though I had pondered if it was not rather the American public that was in fact manipulating the image of the Amish for their own social psychological needs).  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vikileaks continue despite Toew's efforts...

Het Bloedig Tooneel fon en Unjasäkjungsjerejcht*
Vic Toews and Adam Carroll in Hayez's Before the Inquisition (ca 1830s).
    Vic Toews' story is pertinent to the blog for two reasons -- Vic Toews is of Russlander Mennonite descent and the story is an amazingly predictable illustration of Postmodern digital network lifestyles and a Modernist's attempt to direct and contain the Postmodern... Perhaps a form of Scopes Monkey Trial in the United States which helped delineate the final stages of Modernity overthrowing the last of its pre-Modern or Scholastic Fideistic heritage.

     Appreciable are Toew's dual moralities -- he seems to want to know and publish everything about everyone else, but protect that which embarrasses him.  Also, based on earlier speeches and stances regarding the sanctity of marriage, he is obviously living in a dual morality that excludes his own early personal potential failings or weaknesses while using the reins of government to hold others to a higher legal standard -- as unimpressed Mennonite converts were wont to say in the pre-Reformation -- "give my regards to the priest, and also to the woman who serves as his wife."  (The quote being a gross liberty taken from early Reformation anti-clerical tracts).  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Collected Meanings: Japanese Pottery (repost)

en Leem Tap (?)

Collected Meanings:   
Japanese Pottery and Travel Stories

Dick Lehman
Goshen College Visual Arts Gallery
Goshen, Indiana
12 July, 2010

     My first reaction to this exhibit was one of curious pleasure mixed with acute apprehension.  Asian ceramics always tweak my interest.  My aunt Ruby FitzGerald (FitzRu) studied pottery under a Japanese Master (one of the first Western women to do so), and I have always freely lost myself in the Asian ceramics collections of the Art Institute Chicago and the Minneapolis Art Institute.  On the other hand -- of what real use is an Asian ceramics collection? 
    I need not have worried.  Dick Lehman is both an expert in the field of ceramics and an accomplished collector.  Collected Meanings explores decades of collecting and travel experiences in Japan as both a record of an on-going cultural exchange between the United States and Japan, and as an educational introduction to the variety of methods, textures, finishes, and shapes historically common to Japanese ceramics. 
    One might begin Lehman’s tour in one of two ways.  One might rush right into the cases of ceramics and begin exploring, or one might choose to engage the well placed magazine articles and travel memoirs posted along the wall.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mennonite Southern Baptists? Not Yet.

Fäaseene fann en Fäauadeel*

James Craig Anderson  (1962 - 2011)
     It is with wry bemusement that after so many years of having to defend Anabaptism against its critics amongst the Fundamentalists and Baptist Evangelicals (the Anglo-Americans), we are now being courted by both the Religious Left and the Fundamentalist Right to coopt that very heritage which only decades ago was too odious and too theologically suspect for true “Christians” to accept.
    Knowing and admitting my subsequent cultural bias against the Southern Baptist model of church governance, their creedal approach to faith, and a compromising history of controversial racial understandings, I am never-the-less attempting to give Rick Warren, for instance, a relatively fair hearing.  What I have found is that Baylor and its former seminary, South West Baptist Seminary (Rick Warren’s alma mater) are not so different in the general composition and make-up of their student bodies from many comparable Mennonite schools – the demographics of both groupings generally reflecting those of the surrounding communities with about 20-year time lag (understandable given the differing needs of different generations of immigrant families for educational resources).  The major difference being in the focus on religious fundamentals in the former and concepts of service and justice in the latter.
    On the other hand, the technically independent Bob Jones University seems to fulfill most of the more negative impressions to which I had ascribed to the wider Southern Baptist conference.  So maybe I have been guilty of judging congregations and conferences more by the company they keep than by their own individual beliefs and actions.  Good enough.  Rick Warren might be legit.  Bob Jones might not speak for the Southern Baptists.
    Warren’s outreach to the Anabaptists brings up a couple of questions – why us?  Why not someone else?  These are not the same questions.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

CBC-1 -- the Loewen Farm, Saskatchewan, (Pt 1)

Living Out Loud, CBC-1: Farewell to the Farm, Back to the Land

    This should really be a recommendation but is so effective at bringing back memories that it needs its own posting -- a transcript someday would be amazing.  The program is a two part presentation programmed for CBC-1's Living Out Loud.

    Thank you CBC-1, Stacey and the Loewen family.


Stacey Loewen (Pt 2) - Transcript

August 2010 Archives, Living Out Loud
Friday August 27, 2010
Farewell to the farm, back to the land
… when Stacey Loewen’s father died, one of the most precious things he left behind was his daily diary of life on the farm …
            transcribed (see Pt 1)

Photo link:  JMeyersForeman Photography, Biggar, SK, © jmeyersforeman

CBC:    Stacey Loewen was raised on a family farm in Saskatchewan, not in the fertile south but way up north on hard rocky land.   This is where her family made a tough and precarious living.  It all came to an end some years ago when Stacey’s father died.  Today, Stacey’s early memories of her father are snapshots from her childhood.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family and Cultural Legacies

Elvina Neufeld Martens (1926 - 2012)
en Denkjmol

    Elvina Martens passed away 05 April in Goshen, Indiana.  While much has already been written about her family, and more will continue to be written about Martens' place in our collective narrative and cultural identity, it is important to mark her passing at this point and to reflect on how her life reflects the Golden Age of Mennonite culture, cooperation and inter-connectivity in the United States.
    According to her obituary in the Elkhart Truth (13 April, p A6), "Elvina graduated from the University of Illinois Medical School in 1950.  She served as a missionary doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 18 yearsAfter retiring from the mission field, she practiced medicine in Illinois and Indiana.  She was a member of the Silverwood Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Medical Association."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seeing Outside of Time

    I move within an ecumenical circle.  This is a necessity of life – there just aren’t that many Mennonite churches around the world, and the Mennonite evangelicals are almost extinct.  The need for companionship and fellowship could become dire if one is not realistic.  My latest effort is being trained to be able to serve as a lector during high church services – a position readily available to all within the Protestant traditions, and even for Roman Catholic services – at the discretion of the presiding priest.  (No, I do not partake of the Eucharist – I normally only fellowship in communion with fellow Anabaptists.) 

Lutheran and Russian Mennonite Dialogue Decals

In honor of the on-going dialogues between the Mennonite Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the following decals were recommended:

Russian Mennonite and Lutheran Church Dialogue Decal

Mennonite Israel Decal

By request:
Russian Mennonite - Israel Decal

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cattle Theft Spotlights Mennonite Nelore Herd

    Mennonites have been known to maintain herds of many types of cattle.  In the USA for instance, every Mennonite family had traditionally maintained a couple of dairy cattle – probably either the Dutch Holsteins or Jerseys – most commonly, probably a mix between the two.  Russian Mennonites on the great plains of Assiniboia most often seemed to favor the Angus breeds grown for beef – Red Angus or Black Angus – still the most commonly noticeable cattle when driving through the Northern Prairie ranch country.  The newest arrival on the scene for Mennonites in Lustre-Volt for instance are not cattle at all but rather traditional North American Bison, which are both highly acclimated and marketed as a healthy beef alternative.
    According to GAMEO, Russian Mennonites had traditionally grown East Friesland Cattle but developed their own breed, the Molotschna Cow or German Red Cow in Ukraine.  (Note that various breeding guides indicate that the Middle German Red is now often referred to as the German Red.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In Memorium...

Jason Örnberg  (c)

    I just found out that a friend and colleague, Jason Örnberg, passed away this weekend (31 March) near Berlin, Germany.  

    Jason was an extremely gifted young artist, social activist and lover of German history.  Admittedly, I had grown  somewhat dependent on his insights to German and Dutch culture and his help with both the German language and history.  His assistance and influence will be sorely missed -- and his  unique ability to relate everything to one or another zombie movie.

    I understand that many of you might not agree with his politics but had you met him, you could not disagree with his heart…  the NOH8® Campaign was especially important to him…   

For those of you who are interested in peace and justice – check out their website at :  For those too quick to judge – the dog tags he is holding are from his service time with the German Army in Afghanistan, for that alone he deserves gratitude and respect.

30 April 2012 Post script:

Eric Unger courtesy FaceBook

  Another NOH8 supporter, Eric Unger of Deerfield, Illinois, was attacked in a potential hate crime situation for identifying with the LGBT community.

    Unger, a student at Illinois State Univerity, was seriously injured while walking home with from school with his sister 21 April, 2012.

   While the LGBT identity, the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell in the United States military, same-sex marriage, gay adoption and anti-discrimination rights for the gay community promise to be a controversial matter in the 2012 United States Presidential election, as socially minded, Pacifist Evangelicals, Mennonites need to be aware of how our political rhetoric can have a very real impact on the lives of others -- especially if that rhetoric is used to encourage and justify violence against groups such as the LGBT community, racial minorities, ethnic immigrant communities, and as the Mennonite community learned in World Wars I & II, against those with whom we disagree.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mennonites on the RMS Titanic

fe’senkje, en sheppbruch 

Annie C. Funk (1874 - 1912)
    15 April 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage between South Hampton, United Kingdom, to New York, USA.  Amongst the over 1500 who perished that night was Annie Clemmer Funk (1874-1912), a General Conference Mennonite Missionary heading home on furlough from India.  Funk celebrated her 38th birthday while on board (12 April).
    According to the Titanic Encyclopedia, Funk had been originally scheduled to depart England aboard the RMS Haverford, whose crossing had been delayed due to the Coal Strike.  According to sources, she died a selfless heroine. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oostre (Easter)

The 606 a German translation

Music Image c Wiki
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
   The 606 has often been referred to as the Mennonite National Anthem -- indeed it seems to unite all of the disparate Germanic ethnic Anabaptist voices into a single melody -- literally.
    Basically, the 606, which is now available as a ring-tone btw, is the traditional "Praise God from Whom all blessings, flow," also known as the Doxology.
    In my Bruderthaler family, we did not use the Mennonite Hymnal, so the long-standing hymnal version, the 606, did not exist for us.  Instead, we sang the simple Doxology at all family gatherings as our traditional grace before meals -- Easter, Christmas, anniversaries, weddings -- they all began with Grandpa leading the Doxology.  In that the words remain the same for both the short Doxology and the more elaborate 606, the basic unity of Mennonite culture remains intact.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Russian Mennonite Heritage Decals (TM)

    Here are some fun Russian Mennonite (TM) Decals that you can download for personal (non-commercial) use.  It is important to show your pride in your family heritage.
    Some of the decals are meant to show your pride in being a Russian Mennonite from a particular country, or they might convey a dual heritage (mine is Mennonite - Swedish), or they might show the union of couple -- one flag for each partner.

    Click on the decal and save image to your computer.  Then print it out onto a T-shirt iron on paper (available at your craft store) or onto a bumper sticker printer sheet.  You might adjust the size with the correct software.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Secular Catholics

Terry Mattingly
    In an article published by The Elkhart Truth, Terry Mattingly, director of the Journalism Center for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., and Baylor graduate, is bringing forward the concept of the “secular” Catholic – a proposed entity not unlike that of the ethnic Mennonite that has been brought forward by secular Russländer Mennonites of the Canadian persuasion (including the Brüderthaler).
    Mattingly quotes Fordham’s Tom Beaudoin in defining secular Catholics as, “’… people who were baptized as Catholics, but they find it impossible to make Catholicism the center of (their) lives, by which I mean Catholicism as defined by the official teachings of the church’ … [f]or these believers, there are ‘things that they learned about faith from Catholicism.  Then there are things they learned from their jobs, from school experiences, from their music and from their favorite movies. … They are hybrid believers and their faith comes from all over the place,’” (Mattingly, ibid).
    Culturally, this is an interesting idea, not in its novelty – cultural Mennonites have been defining themselves out of a spiritual self-identity since the early 1960s – but rather in its reflection on “identity.” 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

General Answers to Queries

Amsterdam Canal
    Where do these essays come from and what are they used for?
    A number of persons have asked what the goals are for the blog, what is the organizing concept behind the essays? Etc.
    Somewhat embarrassingly, there is no ultimate agenda.  The majority of the essays are merely thoughts and conversations that have occurred while researching other projects, performing school work or drafting papers, discussion group topics and presentations.  Unless otherwise indicated, the essays do not represent any actual papers, themselves.  That is part of the reason that so many of the essays contain phrases such as “it occurs to me,” “is it possible?” “potential … “.  It is also the reason there are so many questions openly asked in the writing and the mentioning of source materials.
    Regrettably, we simply do not have time to winnow everything down and do a lot of editing.  This is not a commercially feasible hobby or use of time.   ; )
    On the other hand, it is a great way to review older information, to look for possible connections between disparate sources and find new perspectives.

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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