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Draft dodger Doxology

Kim Walker (as Sue Clemmer), left, John Wideman (as Sam Steiner), and other Goshen College students played by Rebecca Steiner and Ben Wert work on the college’s student paper in Theatre of the Beat’s Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft.

gad·fly - [gad-flahy]

1. any of various flies, as a stable fly or warble fly, that bite or annoy domestic animals.

Unveil your heart

Rohina Malik plays a veiled Muslim woman in her one-woman show, Unveiled, performed at Conrad Grebel University College on March 30.

Rohina Malik was 14 when her family moved from London, England, to Chicago. It was there that she lived through—and continues to live through—the misunderstandings about Muslims, veiled Muslim women in particular.

From print to podcasts

Canadian Mennonite is at an exciting place in its history, Larry Cornies told board members of the Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service (CMPS) at their annual meeting and fundraiser on March 24 at Toronto United Mennonite Church. “We’ve come to the intersection of Christendom’s decline, the rise of new communication tools and a new paradigm in leadership,” he said.

Reading Mennonite novels as works of art

Paul Tiessen , English and film studies prof at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Although sailing troubled waters over the past 50 years, Mennonite novelists have taught Mennonite readers how to approach their texts with boldness and humility as “we learn more about ourselves through their works of art,” Paul Tiessen said last month in wrapping up a nine-week series of lectures by Mennonite writers at Conrad Grebel University College.

Beauty from loss

‘6.5 Weeks’ by Cliff Derksen (clay with patina finish). The artist tried to sculpt his murdered daughter’s bound hands, but couldn’t bear to. Instead, he sculpted his own because he wishes they would have been his hands bound, instead of hers.

‘70 x 7’ by Odia Derksen (100 percent felted wool, detail). The hanging represents tears and giving up hatred.

‘Evidence of a trial’ by Odia Derksen (100 percent felted wool, detail). Derksen crocheted nearly every day of the trial. Every time she felt a new emotion, she would change colours. Cream represents feeling neutral or doing fine. Red represents pain and black represents anger.

‘The Last Walk’ by Odia Derksen (series of photographs, detail). A patron of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery views the collection of photos Derksen took as she walked her murdered sister Candace’s route from school to where she was abducted and then to where her body was eventually found.

Wilma Derksen poses beside husband Cliff Derksen’s sculpture, ‘Escape: Jonah’ (clay with a patina finish). While the artist was unhappy with life, wishing to escape just like Jonah, he felt peace knowing that he has a patient, understanding and forgiving God.

It is indescribable, the feeling of losing a loved one, especially when that person is lost as the result of a murder.



Poet struggles with Mennonite identity

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, the Rod and Lorna Sawatzky Visiting Scholar, spoke to staff and students at Conrad Grebel University College and members of the public last month.

Ancestral worship for Mennonite writers is a great temptation, Julia Spicher Kasdorf told a faculty forum at Conrad Grebel University College on Feb. 17 as part of the award-winning Mennonite poet’s three-day presence on campus as a visiting scholar sponsored by the Rod and Lorna Sawatsky Fund.


Mennonites can dance

Émilie Durville (Claudel) and Marcin Kaczorowski (Rodin) dance in Peter Quanz’s ballet Claudel/Rodin at Les Grands Ballets Canadien in the fall of 2011.

Choreographer Peter Quanz, centre, sits in the kitchen of the home of his parents, Ken and Lil, in Baden, Ont. His parents have posted the clippings of his latest dance on the fridge.

At the age of 17, dancer Peter Quanz of Wilmot Mennonite Church was already living in Winnipeg on his own. Before heading to Winnipeg, he commuted to an arts high school in nearby Kitchener, instead of attending his local high school. His parents had always supported his interest in dance, although they all kept it quiet in the congregation and community.

Billy Graham meets the evangelist of outrage

Billy Graham chats with President Obama

I recently received two books by authors in their 90s: Nearing Home by Billy Graham, and Time for Outrage by Stéphane Hessel, a retired French diplomat and concentration camp survivor who helped draft the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Each book conveys a strong sense of mission and each is made more compelling by the author’s age.



Poetry, paintings bring Old Orders to life

Peter Etril Snyder is known the world over for his sensitive paintings of Old Order Mennonites in the Waterloo Region. Although he had just retired from his gallery and painting for health reasons, he was intrigued when Tundra Books came to him with Nan Forler’s poems of an Old Order girl’s life over the course of a year, feeling that they epitomized the world he knew so well.

Learning about peace from those ‘who have gone before’

Mennonite Church U.S.A. executive director Ervin Stutzman believes people today can learn from those who faced challenges over peace in the past, gaining perspective and humility as they study history. That’s why he wrote From Nonresistance to Justice: The Transformation of Mennonite Church Peace Rhetoric, 1908-2008, published this year by Herald Press.

On killing bullies

“So you want to kill some Nazis?” Dr. Erskine asks the short, skinny asthmatic wanna-be war hero in this summer’s big superhero film. “I don’t want to kill anyone,” comes the reply. “I just don’t like bullies.” Somehow this convinces Erskine that the young man, whose name is Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), is a good, compassionate person.

Encore!

After 20 years of service as children’s choir director at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, Man., Lori Wiebe gets to sit back on May 8 and enjoy an encore of songs from past musicals she has directed over the years. Pictured at right is Mel Braun, who is also leaving his post as accompanist after 11 years.

For Lori Wiebe, the May 8 performance of The Rock Slinger and his Greatest Hit, a musical about David and Goliath, was a significant milestone in her life. After 20 years of directing the Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church Children’s Choir, this was her last musical.

Cooking for peace

Nettie Baer, left, sits with her nephew, John Thiessen. Waterloo Region author Erica Jantzen, who helped with Nettie’s Story: The Pax Years, Feb. 1954 - Nov. 1956, stands behind them at the book launch on May 16.

“Will the fellows like my cooking?” wondered Nettie Redekopp in 1954 as she arrived at the Pax post-World War II rebuilding project in Wedel, Germany. That question haunted her for years, but finally in 2010 she dredged up the courage and began to call those whose phone numbers she could find.



Mennonite musicians ‘rule’ in Winnipeg

Although The Liptonians are not a religious band, singer-guitarist Bucky Driedger, left, says his Mennonite heritage has influenced the way he writes the band’s lyrics.

Most of the members of Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers have Mennonite roots, including Paul Schmidt, second from right.

Bucky Driedger, second from right, and his Royal Canoe band mates.

Writers with Mennonite roots, like David Bergen, Miriam Toews and Di Brandt, have long dominated southern Manitoba’s literary scene. Now, the community’s music scene is experiencing a similar sort of influence.



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