Number 22

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Reconciling our vision of holiness with the reality of sin

If the grim historical associations with words like “purity” and “cleansing” are any indication, then Sider is right to suggest that the church has had trouble reconciling the messiness of life with its concept of holiness. To See History Doxologically is a direct engagement with the tendency to sever holiness from the difficulty of life. Sider frames this question in the context of how we understand and tell our history.

New assignment in Burkina Faso

The Frey Yoder family, from left to right: Deborah, Nancy, Jeremiah and Bruce.

Nancy Frey and Bruce Yoder are building a new home in Burkina Faso with their children Jeremiah and Deborah. In the capital city of Ouagadougou, the Frey Yoders connect with and help support the Foyer Evangélique Mennonite de Ouagadougou (FEMO), a congregation primarily comprised of young adult university students, 24 of whom live in the FEMO residence. Until 2011, FEMO was served by Tany and the late Jeff Warkentin, of Springridge, Alberta.

Canadian Mennonite warned of political activities

A federal government agency has warned Canadian Mennonite about publishing material that could rally its readers to oppose specific politicians and political parties. A letter to the magazine from Canada Revenue says: “It has come to our attention that recent issues . . . have contained editorials and/or articles that appear to promote opposition to a political party, or to candidates for public office.”

The paths and ditches of Biblical interpretation

Path #2: Context makes a difference

By Rudy Baergen, Co-chair, Being a Faithful Church Task Force 

“Context makes a difference in how Scripture is interpreted, understood, and applied for faith and life. Context refers not only to the importance of understanding the time and place out of which Scripture emerged and to which it was addressed. It also refers to our time and place and how that impacts our understandings of Scripture.”

Deliberate and Deliberate

I’ve been part of countless conversations where people deliberate over the state of the church. Among church veterans this usually revolves around what the church has lost or is no longer. Among younger types such chatter circles around the church’s failures and supposed irrelevance. Different angles don’t change the fact that, quite often, such deliberations usually end up, to agonize with Shakespeare’s MacBeth, as “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Where are the Followers?

Ever since being part of the North American Mennonite Church, I’ve appreciated the cyclical if not constant emphasis on leadership development. Self-development for personal satisfaction, new and increased competency for pastoral and lay leader success, and a wider range of healthier leadership patterns are needed and wonderful. But at the same time it’s caused me to wonder.

For discussion

1. Do you consider yourself as a rational being or more of an emotional being? Do you find others reacting more rationally or more emotionally? In what ways has the Mennonite Church tended to appeal to our heads rather than our hearts? Has this been changing?

2. What vision or picture do you have of “the good life?” How do you work at trying to achieve this? How does this vision of the “good life” fit with what we talk about at church? How much does the culture of the broader society influence our deepest longings?

Culture and character

Friesen says that a modern mall has similarities to a cathedral—it is a secular cathedral with rituals and liturgies.

After many hours of methodical and systematic doubting of all that he held certain, seventeenth-century French philosopher Rene Descartes came to an astounding conclusion: the only thing that he could know for certain, beyond any reasonable doubt, was that he was a thinking creature. His famous dictum, “I think, therefore I am,” ostensibly gave him a foundation upon which to build all subsequent knowledge. Descartes’s rather drastic, rationalistic notion of human persons—of what human beings essentially are—is still prominent in many parts of our culture today.

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