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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Priests? by Garry Wills

Why Priests?  A Failed Tradition
By Garry Wills, 2013

    Admitting that fiscal limitations have limited my access to this book, I am stooping to a review of a review of a book I have not read but understand to contain themes and subject matter directly pertinent to the Mennonite experience and ideology.

    First off, at 302 pages, Wills’ book does not sound like it will be an easy read.  Two themes that come out from Randall Balmer’s review  in the New York Times Book Review section (17 Feb), are a contextual criticism of the book of Hebrews and subsequently, a basic questioning of the role and authority of the priesthood within the historic Roman Catholic church.  Why Priests? is hardly the first book to question the role and existence of the Catholic priesthood, yet, Wills’ position as a bona-fide birth Catholic and a former Jesuit seminarian should make his perspective intriguing to an the Anabaptist audience which had largely moved on from such questions some five hundred years ago.

    Heirs of the Radical Reformation will note Balmer’s indication that much of Wills’ argumentation easily recalls that of Martin Luther circa 1520.

    Basically, it seems that Wills attacks the notion first of Christ as priest, preferring to locate Christ more as a self-recognized and empowered prophet – a very different spiritual and religious role.  Wills seemingly concludes that the concept of an elite, separated priesthood might in fact be somewhat un-Christian, or at least un-Christ-like.  Like Luther, and the Mennonites, he would place such a role back into the position of the Radical Reformers, within the body of believers and the individual Christian his or herself.

    “Wills argues that an alternative understanding of Jesus and the eucharist (sic), one more consonant with the New Testament (Hebrews excepted) and informed by Augustine, sees Jesus as coming to harmonize humanity with himself.  The Eucharistic meal remains a meal (as it was in the first century), not a sacrifice, one that celebrates the union between Christ and his followers.  “One does nothing but disrupt this harmony by injecting superfluous intermediaries between Jesus and his body of believers.”  Wills writes, “When these ‘representatives’ of Jesus to us, and of us to Jesus, take the feudal forms of hierarchy and monarchy, of priests and papacy, they affront the camaraderie of Jesus with his brothers.”
    “… [Wills] feels “no personal animosity toward priests,” nor does he expect the priesthood to disappear.  “I just want to assure my fellow Catholics that, as priests shrink in numbers … congregations do not have to feel they have lost all connection with the sacred just because the role of priests in their lives is contracting… if the early followers of Jesus had no need for priests,” Wills continues, neither do contemporary believers.  “If we need fellowship in belief-and we do – we have each other,” he writes.  Catholic believers can also find sustenance “in the life of other churches.”

    I will be searching out a copy of Why Priests? by Garry Wills so as to better understand how things have changed within the Catholic church and the priesthood over the last five hundred years, and how contemporary Roman Catholic believers might be encountering similar circumstances topics.  Wills’ book might also be useful for encouraging and fueling a more comprehensive dialogue between believers within the Catholic church and the low church traditions.  As such, it should be well worth the 302 pages read.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An interesting article:

The above is the story of an Orthodox Israeli who leaves his family and culture to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)...  it is just interesting to note and consider different experiences with similar cultural issues.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Are Mennonites at Risk for Drone Attacks?

Cautioning the reader that the purpose of this blog is neither news, apologetic, advocacy or commentary, but merely attempting to feel out the context of the Postmodern Mennonite experience, I am communicating my discomfit with the new Obama Doctrine (his use of drones, period, let alone to kill American citizens).  I am neither criticizing Obama nor the policy – I am just not sure how to process it.
Enn Je’foa rode
    I will come clean on the fact that while I have a degree in international affairs, I have been long out of the field and only occasionally avail myself of pertinent literature, however, Amy Davidson in Whom Can the President Kill? From the 06 Feb 2013 New Yorker Magazine, has helped organize some uneasy questions that had been forming in my mind.  My ethnic Mennonite heritage acts as a second lens to bring these concerns into focus.  This is my best attempt to communicate these thoughts.

a)  In considering the matter of illegal Mennonite immigration into Bolivia from Mexico and Chaco, I am compelled by the possibility that there remains within the Mennonite weltanschauung or cultural self-consciousness, a deep-seated alienation from modern concepts of citizenship and the nation state.  Obviously, I have long argued that we are a distinctive, unique, and yet cohesive ethnic group – but to what extent does this constitute a stateless ethnic identity or an anti-state identity.  To the extent that we are anti-statial (see note), is this an unconscious ethnically engrained protest against the modernist state?  Are there any theological or cultural ramifications?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Amina Saïd Sentiers de lumière

Amina Said, court. Africa Center for the Creative Ar
A franco-phone poet from Tunisia could easily have written of the Martyrs' Trek:

Amina Saïd

Tunis, Tunisia (1953)

(English trans Mary Ann Caws (following))

Sentiers de lumière


j’ai dormi trois siècles sur un lit de rochers
j’ai vu des choses oubliées des homes
j’ai mesuré la distance qui sépare le ciel de la terre
j’ai lu les lignes de la main j’ai rendu les oracles
une voix qui n’était pas la mienne a parlé par ma bouche
j’ai disparu dans une ville elle-même disparue
des cavaliers en armes ont envahi nos plaines
nous sommes restés dans l’attente d’autres barbares
la mer s’est retiree des porte de ma ville
je me suis concilié les fleuves de la terre
j’ai orné le jour du tatouage de mes rêves
mon visage a vu mon autre visage

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mennonites and the joy of LE1F

No commentary, just sit back and contemplate how this Nov 2012 rap video from New York speaks to Mennonite practice and history:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ghosts of Identity


Faith, Place and Cultural Memory

En Jeista

The Jewish Cemetery at Penang

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
That pave with level flags their burial place,
Seem like the tablets of the law, thrown down,
And broken by Moses at the mountain’s base.
    The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” – Longfellow

In a patch of flattened weeds in front of the graves
where a Kohane’s stone-carved fingers part to bless
the remains of Penang’s departed congregation,
barefoot Malaysian boys were playing badminton,
a sagging string strung pole to pole their net.
Our Chinese trishaw driver, too old to read
the map without his glasses, with five hairs long
as my five gingers growing from a mole,
waited for us.  He’d found the street although
the tourist map was wrong:  the name no longer
Yahudi Road, but Zaimal Abidin.

Mennonite Culture

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