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, April 25, 2013

Movies from Lustre Mennonite

en fe'flucht hoot

Micah Rauch grew up in the Lustre Mennonite community in northeast Montana.  He states that this is his first animated film:



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Permanent Quilts

  My friend Dan Whittaker travels extensively in Asia.  An adventurous soul, Dan is also an architect.  His photography is amazing and educational.

  On his current trip, he created a Facebook photo album of tiles found in Bangkok.  The resemblance of the tilework to quilts jumped out at me right away.  With his permission, I'd like to share...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Follow on Twitter

Technology and media march on, regardless of our best interests or personal preferences.  Though confirmed in Ludditism, Neu Bruderthaler has gone Twitter.  Follow Mennonite blogs, sermon series, news, politics, culture and the arts on @Bruderthaler .  You need a Twitter Account to follow these feeds.



To follow @Bruderthaler, simply click on Twitter Bird in the column to the right, or click,

Click here to establish a Twitter Account


  1. MDS Talk 04 May, 9 am Hesston College - Paul Unruh re "Ordinary People doing Extraordinary Things"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Should Mennonites chuck the Church?

    The idea that Mennonites could chuck the church, let alone should, would alarm many in the American Mennonist tradition, yet, perhaps it is time for them to consider the unthinkable.
    The Mennonite or Mennonist church in the United States seems caught in an ideological vise between a liberal Protestantism and a conservative Fundamentalism.  While many still reference their Mennonite cultural heritage, fewer and fewer Mennonites from either side still embrace traditional norms of Mennonist religious belief.
    Many Russian Mennonites voice an ethnic rather than religious Mennonite identity.  Russländer often distinguish between Mennonite Anabaptism or Mennonism and Evangelical or Russian Pietist Mennonite faith.  A few Mennonites even identify as Mormon, Roman Catholic or even Buddhist.
    A sense of confusion is thus created when groups such as the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) claim to represent the Mennonite faith.  Does MCC represent all Mennonites or merely Mennonist Mennonites?  Who is “in” and who is “out”?  Is it more important to be Mennonist or Mennonite?  Does the fact that both the Mennonite Brethren (MB) and the Mennonite Church – USA support MCC mean that they maintain similar religious beliefs or church structures?  Ummmm.  No.  They do not.

Friday, April 12, 2013

John Wayne - Hyphenated-Americans

    While I generally disagree with the premise that hyphens are a "wall" rather than a bridge, I think that John Wayne's remarks on the ethnic fragmentation of America are well thought out and clearly stated.


The Hyphen by John Wayne

The Hyphen, Webster's Dictionary defines,
Is a symbol used to divide a compound word or a single
So it seems to me that when a man calls himself
An "Afro-American," a "Mexican-American," "Italian-
An "Irish-American," "Jewish-American,"
What he's sayin' is, "I'm a divided American."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CBC Radio Archives

Farm Forum broadcast, courtesy CBC Radio-1

11 April, 2013, Micheal Enright's program, rewind, aired selections from the former CBC program Farm Forum, exploring issues of war time production (WW II), the changing economics of farming, the roles of women and children on the farm, the role of religion and the church in rural farm life, and so on.

This broadcast brings back so many memories -- even for me (born long afterwards).  Should women work off the farm?  What about softball games on Sundays?  Were farmers fairly compensated for privations during the war?  Sex?

Take a moment, grab a cup of coffee (or for some of you, reach into that treasured stash of POSTUM) and take a listen.

Click here to listen:  Micheal Enright, CBC Radio-1, "Rewind: Farm Forum 1941-1965"


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Are Evangelicals Cult-hero Worshippers? (Part 3 of 3)

Steven Wall with Rev. Randy Smart 
with contributions from Anne-Marie (Goertzen) Wall

    Traditional Mennonite Evangelicals maintain a consensus-style, congregational intellectual process that is antithetical to the concept of hero-worship.  

    The EMB have always been on the intellectually engaged side of Mennonite culture.  The historic Brüderthaler often assumed leadership roles in establishing schools in pioneer North American communities.  Isaac Peters, the senior Bishop of the EMB, is commended by P. M. Friesen and Delbert Plett for his intellect, his scholasticism and for his understanding and valuing of traditional Mennonite intellectual sources.  John Funk befriended Peters and enticed him to repeatedly contribute to Herald der Wahrheit.

    In Peters’ shadow, the EMB were noted for pursuing intellectual careers as educators, missionaries, pastors, nurses and writers, rather than farming.  Lacking a school of their own, they adopted and contributed to the success and growth of Moody Bible Institute, Grace University and Briercrest Bible College.  In 1911, Evangelical Mennonites established der Evangelisationsbote as the universal intellectual organ for Mennonite Evangelicalism.  Early EMB conferences were attended by the intellectual leadership of both Russian and American Anabaptism and much of the impetus behind the failed Evangelical Mennonite Conference of the 1950s was an attempt by EMB intellectuals to cure a shortage of available pulpits and possibly found a united Evangelical Mennonite seminary.

    Unlike other Mennonite groups which depend on conference schools and seminaries for educational development and leadership, the engines of the Mennonite Evangelical intellect are, and have always been, the Sunday School, congregational dialectic, the unified conference and workshops, and arguably, the pastoral library.  From our Kleine Gemeinde roots, we also retain a strong sense of Pietist reflection on the everyday and the lessons God places within the simple living of simple lives.  Outside resources such as newspapers, literature and books of science and politics circulate freely and commonly amongst congregations and between churches, informing both personal studies and group dialogue.  Intellectual fellowship is definitive of the culture and a constant activity.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Are Evangelicals anti-intellectual? (Part 2 of 3)

Spinoza courtesy
Steven Wall with Randy Smart

    Concepts of the intellect, the intellectual and the anti-intellectual are very complicated.  Airey’s essay might not set us up to deal with these topics properly.  

    We will first champion the new regard recently opened to Evangelical intellectualism and then discuss the Evangelical intellectual process (in Part 3).

    Intellectually, Evangelicals have often been their own worst enemies.  While thinking persons of faith have tended to be highly regarded in the 20th Century, the traditions they represent have not (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Simone Weil, C. S. Lewis, Corrie ten Boom).  In Anglo-American culture, uncontested faith in an unchanging, personable God arguably stalled with the publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, which opened the way for a secular explanation of the universe sans God and thereby birthed the "godless" Enlightenment.  Faith as a living process anchored by a rational God (including the basis of the Mennonite gemeinde) began to falter in 1914 with the beginning hostilities in World War I and the horrors which followed.  Arguably, the entire spectacle over the Scopes’ Monkey Trials of the 1920s were symptomatic of these stumbles, and not their cause.  Soviet atheism did not disprove God, but sought rather to replace God and inhabit (perhaps even control) that realm of the transcendent.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Are Evangelicals Anti-intellectual? A Response to Tom Airey (Part 1 of 3)

Steven Wall and Randy Smart

    Are Evangelicals anti-intellectual?  Are we, as Tom Airey of California recently claimed, overly susceptible to cult-hero-worship?   Are we naïve thinkers content to follow the path of least resistance in a struggle to maintain backwards, redneck theologies and opinions?

    Both raised in traditional evangelical Mennonite (EMB), or Brüderthaler, communities and churches, Rev. Randy Smart, currently of Winkler, Manitoba, and I, originally of Lustre, Montana, hardly know where to begin in answer to Airey’s very simplified world of clean cut definitions and judgments.  Clearly, Airey finds little of value within the Mennonite Evangelical tradition.

    To review, Airey criticizes Evangelicals for being:  suburban, white, anti-big government, anti-crime, anti-gay, anti-abortion, etc., etc.  He quotes Cornel West that evangelical conservatism is a back-lash against Civil Rights and Dr. King.  Seemingly, Airey, a “post-evangelical church leader,” or Emergent, has it all figured out.

    Smart and I had difficulty determining whether to address the simple historical inaccuracy of Airey’s perspective or to focus on his charges of cult-hero worship, naïve thinking, and anti-intellectualism by indicating how current practice does not easily conform to Airey’s convenient definitions against Evangelicalism.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Class Act!


Chicago's Jonathan Toews takes some time out to visit and encourage the children of Lurie Children's Hospital.  

Photos are courtesy:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Signs of Spring!

ne Äwaschwaminj

Rachael Traeholt of Lustre, Montana, shares a sure sign of spring in the northern plains... snow melt flooding ditches and roads.  While these localized floods can make travel dangerous and difficult, the ponds and small lakes formed by the run-off enable new generations of prairie amphibians, water fowl and insects to re-establish themselves.  Soon dusky evenings will be filled with the throaty calls of frogs, the chirps of young insects and the sentry calls of Red-winged Blackbirds, Killdeer and Western Meadowlarks.  Shortly, one might even begin noticing the Mennonites and their neighbors of Lustre - Volt out in their farmyards readying equipment for the spring planting.  Spring is here!

Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.

Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.

Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.

Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.

Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.
Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.
Flooding over Lustre Road, Lustre, Montana, (c) Rachael Traeholt, 2013.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Best Election Backers, Ever!

Daniel Friesen
2013 Mayoral Re-election Campaign
Buhler, Kansas

all images courtesy Re-elect Friesen for Mayor, Facebook, 01 April 2013.

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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