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So every creature can sing

Artbeat | Jun 14, 2017

If you find the notion of caring for and healing creation formidable—or even hopeless—Mennonite Creation Care Network has a resource that just might change your perspective.

With an accessible approach that draws upon science and faith, the Network has shaped a special 13-week creation-care curriculum around biblical teachings. The original edition of Every Creature Singing was directed towards an American audience, but with support from the Network and Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Mennonite Church Canada has adapted it for Canadians.

New book an aid to ‘identity formation’

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Jun 14, 2017

Palmer Becker’s “little book,” What Is an Anabaptist Christian? has been translated into many languages and used globally. But as he taught from it in various places around the world, it became apparent that a longer version would be welcome.

To that end, Anabaptist Essentials was published by Herald Press last year after testing in his home congregation of Waterloo North Mennonite Church. Mennonite Church Eastern Canada sent a copy home with each congregation after its annual church gathering in April.

‘What does God have to do with any of this?’

Author Craig Terlson

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 31, 2017

Craig Terlson is a real-life Bartholomew Cubbins. That is to say, he wears a startling number of hats. He is an erstwhile illustrator, present-day graphic designer, moonlight master chef, a one-time psychiatric nurse’s aide and a longtime writer of fiction. His debut novel, Fall in One Day, was released on May 16, 2017.

Laying it on the line

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | May 03, 2017

Bruxy Cavey is unapologetic about particularism. In his new book, the pastor/author sums up the good news in one word (Jesus), three words (Jesus is Lord) and 30 words (Jesus is God with us, come to show us God’s love, save us from sin, set up God’s kingdom and shut down religion, so that we can share in God’s life).

Particularism—the focus on one way to being right with God, rather than universalism, which would suggest that there are many ways to be right with God—is both this book’s strength and weakness.

Jan Fretz wins two U. of W. art awards

Jan Fretz explains ‘Unveiling Misogyny’ to a group of friends on April 5, 2017, in the University of Waterloo’s East Campus Hall main art gallery. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Apr 19, 2017

Jan Fretz has been working at her honours four-year fine arts degree at the University of Waterloo for a long time. But the incubation period has paid dividends.

She loves to work in colour, so her faculty advisors encouraged her to work in black and white. And they challenged the painter and printer at heart to work sculpturally.

Fretz had two pieces in the university’s 43rd annual senior undergraduate exhi-bition and came away with two awards and their accompanying cash prizes.

Suffering from Bach withdrawal?

Sean Gortzen, founder and conductor of Winnipeg’s new Pax Cantata Chorus, right, is pictured with other members at a rehearsal before their first concert, held April 2, 2017, at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Apr 05, 2017

Sean Gortzen got his first taste of baroque cantata repertoire during his time at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), both on campus and through his involvement with local groups like the Mennonite Festival Chorus.

Captivated by the music, it became a dream of his to sing in a chorus in which he could explore the full range and depth of the genre. Following his graduation in the spring of 2016, he learned that many of his colleagues were also looking for groups to sing with, like they had during their university days.

Saint or sinner?

Artbeat | By Dave Rogalsky | Feb 22, 2017

“There’s a crack in everything / that’s how the light gets in,” is often quoted by Christians as hope that God will “get in” to any situation. But the quote has a strange source, penned and sung as it was by Canada’s own beat poet, Leonard Cohen, that Jewish? Christian? Buddhist? lady’s man, from the song “Anthem” on his 1992 album The Future, which contains references to drug use and sex acts. Leonard Cohen: Is he a saint or sinner?

More should be expected from the CBC

Artbeat | By Royden Loewen | Feb 08, 2017 | 1 comment

Many of you will have watched the first episode of CBC’s mini-series Pure last night (Jan. 9). As a spectator, I was mildly entertained. As a Canadian who loves this culturally diverse country, I was troubled. As an historian who has written extensively about both the Old Order horse-and-buggy Mennonites of southern Ontario and the Low German Mennonite migrants from Mexico, I was deeply dismayed.

Is our indignant response to Pure righteous?

Dan Dyck
Artbeat | By Dan Dyck | Feb 08, 2017

Since the first couple of episodes of CBC’s Pure depicting Mennonites as drug runners from Mexico aired on Jan. 9 and 16, 2017, the temperature of our community’s righteous indignation has reached a fever pitch. The loudest voices so far are appalled at the conflation of two distinct groups (Old Colony Mennonites from Mexico and Old Order Mennonites in Ontario), poor research, a lack of accuracy and, perhaps most of all, strong objection to stereotyping us as drug-running murderers.

‘Never again’?

Collage of a synagogue burning during ‘the night of broken glass.’ (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Feb 08, 2017

Until March 4, 2017, the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery is hosting an important exhibit of new art entitled “Synagogues in Germany: A virtual reconstruction.” First imagined by a group of German university students following the arson of a local synagogue in 1994, the project consists of digital reconstructions of dozens of the extraordinary synagogues that were lost to history in the 1938 Reichspogromnacht, in the year before the Second World War began.

New ways of doing good

Artbeat | By Will Braun | Feb 08, 2017

I had to make my way past the sombre line-up of people waiting for welfare cheques at the band office. It was awful. I worked in the office of a northern first nation, and once a month I had to squeeze past the indignity, shame and hopelessness that silently clogged the front entrance.

That highlighted two things for me. First, welfare is not a solution; it is a dreadful lack of creativity. Never did I think “the solution is bigger cheques.” Second, people need jobs, with exceptions for those who are unable to work.

Play tells stories in refugees’ own words

The cast of disPLACE is composed of Uliana Akulenko, Emmett Hanly, Jane Oliphant, Keenan Marchard and Kate Nundal. (Displace Productions photo by Jef Gibbons)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Jan 11, 2017

One of today’s most pressing social issues came to life onstage late last year at Trinity Western University (TWU) with the world premiere of the original drama, disPLACE: Refugee Stories in their Own Words. The play was presented through Dark Glass Theatre in association with the university’s Humanitas Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre.

University theatre personnel sifted through more than 20 hours of audio interviews in order to find the words to use in the drama.

Letting his spirit grow

Larry Krause says his music is a reflection of his faith. (Photo courtesy of Larry Krause)

Artbeat | By Donna Schulz | Jan 11, 2017 | 1 comment

Like many Mennonites, Larry Krause grew up singing in Sunday school and church choirs. Music has always been an important part of his life, but in the past decade it has taken on greater dimensions.

As a singer/songwriter in the roots, western and country gospel traditions, Krause has recorded four albums. His most recent effort, entitled Let Your Spirit Grow, features gospel music. An earlier gospel album, The Gate is Open, won the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Gospel Album of Year Award in 2007.

More-with-Less cookbook gets a new look

Artbeat | By Barb Draper | Dec 21, 2016

The 40th-anniversary edition of the More-with-Less cookbook, with its many full-page photographs, has an updated and more sophisticated look. Rather than simple black-and-white pages, it has moved to a full-colour format, designed to appeal to the eye. Although most of the recipes are the same, the layout has been reorganized, and the tips for eating in a healthy and eco-friendly way have been shortened and streamlined. I wonder how much our homes and churches have also moved from basic and practical to more decorative in the last 40 years.

Mennonite academic launches new book on theology and popular literature

Paul Doerksen reads from his new book, Take and Read, at a Dec. 4 book launch in Winnipeg. (Photo by Beth Downey Sawatzky)

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Dec 21, 2016

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) professor Paul Doerksen launched a new collection of essays, Take and Read: Reflecting Theologically on Books, at McNally-Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg on Dec. 4, 2016.

‘Marriage geek’ offers her take on love and fidelity

Artbeat | By Kelley Hughes | Dec 07, 2016

If self-confessed “marriage geek” Katherine Willis Pershey knows one thing after 14 years of marriage, it’s that couples bound together in a sacred covenant need more than cheery how-to advice on achieving marital bliss.

The author and pastor offers a bracing dose of reality about the “agony, ecstasy, and tedium of wedlock” in her new book, Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity from Herald Press.

Insights from film help with Bible study

Gary Yamasaki launched his new book, Insights from Filmmaking for Analyzing Biblical Narrative, at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 1, 2016. The book explores how a film approach to storytelling can help 21st-century readers better understand the Bible. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Nov 16, 2016

What do popular films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark have to do with the Bible?

Gary Yamasaki explores this question by identifying the filmmaking principles underlying such popular films and applying them to understanding the stories of the Bible.

Church growth the result of actions, not words

Artbeat | By Lorne Brandt | Nov 02, 2016

Recently, I have become curious about the life of the early church. What did its members believe? What did they preach and what did they practise? More to the point, what did they do that made the church grow? We read of no great missionaries spreading the Word after the time of the apostles. Yet the church grew to the point where, as we know, its erstwhile nemesis, the Roman Empire, succumbed to it in AD 313.

Seeking peace through post-war theatre

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Sep 21, 2016

The Winnipeg Mennonite Theatre is a long-standing hidden gem of Manitoba’s fine arts scene. The amateur company is just that—a group of honest-to-goodness theatre lovers, whose Mennonite faith convictions enliven their artwork with a spirit of community service and vivid, conscientious story-telling. They are one of the only theatre companies in Canada that still presents plays in German, and regularly features new plays by local writers, often on explicitly Mennonite themes.

Glick family experiences ‘risk and adventure’

Artbeat | Sep 07, 2016 | 1 comment

A new memoir by Albertans Isaac “Ike” Glick and Mildred “Millie” Alger Glick, Risk and Adventure: Community Development in Northern Alberta (1955-1970), highlights the work of Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) participants in Canada from 1955 to 1970.

Familiarity breeds good content

Artbeat | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | Aug 24, 2016

Jane Austen once wrote that, for a developing writer, “three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on.” While Steinbach, Man., is certainly no “country village,” culturally it retains much of its old small-town feel, as so many Bible-belt communities do. Perhaps this is why Steinbach has served local blogger Andrew J. Bergman of “The Daily Bonnet” so well as a source of inspiration and opportunity.

A unique treasure

MC Saskatchewan’s Music Library began as a repository for choral works sung at annual songfests. This historical photograph depicts the choir that assembled for one of these songfests, which took place at Third Avenue United Church in Saskatoon on May 18, 1947. 

Artbeat | By Donna Schulz | Aug 24, 2016

Anna Rehan has logged countless hours of volunteer time as Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s music librarian. Appointed by the area church council, her mandate was to organize the large collection of music known as the MC Saskatchewan Music Library.

Food for body and soul

Lovella Schellenberg, left, narrates as Anneliese Friesen demonstrates the art of making zwieback at the Abbotsford, B.C., book launch of Bread for the Journey. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Artbeat | By Amy Dueckman | Aug 24, 2016

While the aroma of fresh-baked zwieback filled the air, members of the “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” blog group launched their newest book at the Mennonite Heritage Museum on Aug. 3, 2016.

Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul is the latest in the series of books from a group of Mennonite cooks mostly based in the Fraser Valley of B.C. While previous books in the series have been entirely cooking-based, this one focusses more heavily on devotional meditations, prayers and stories, along with the recipes.

‘Living autonomously’ in the Age of the Spirit

Bryan Moyer Suderman engages children with songs from his new CD, I’m Glad You’re Here, under the sky tent at the recent Skylight Festival in Paris, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Skylight Festival)

Artbeat | By Dick Benner | Aug 10, 2016 | 1 comment

True to its name, this year’s Skylight Festival focussed on how the church can regain its place in a post-Christian society, exploring a larger movement of faith, arts and justice for this time.

Citing the story of God calling Abram to leave everything and “depart for a land I will show you,” Brandan Robertson insisted that this biblical narrative is where the church is today, needing to abandon its institutional moorings to discover new ways of reaching out to its neighbours and especially embracing the spirituality of a new generation of millennials.

Balance and beauty found in The Harmony Tree

Artbeat | By Deborah Froese | Aug 10, 2016

Yearning for eloheh (ae-luh-hay) is clearly evident in Randy Woodley’s new children’s picture book, The Harmony Tree, published by Mennonite Church Canada this year. Richly illustrated by Ramone Romero and with an afterword by theologian Walter Brueggemann, the story speaks about healing and community through a deeply rooted, God-centred indigenous view of creation.