December 9th, 2011

_An Introduction to Mennonite History_, Cornelius J. Dyck, Editor

I got a used copy of the 2nd edition. If I had been paying a little closer attention, I might have put forth the effort to get the 3rd edition (1993); there are aspects to the book that are church-yearbook-y (that is: this country had this many congregations and this many members in 1978) and it would have been nice if those had been only twenty years out of date as opposed to thirty. The other Mennonite history I have read was a similarly older edition (current when I read it, but _Through Fire and Water_ was updated in 2010). Based on the content of less-than-current editions, if you want to read _one_ Mennonite single-volume history, _Through Fire and Water_ is much more pleasant. Much. Really hard to emphasize how much more pleasant.

That said, if you want to be able to figure out what led to various schisms in any detail, you're probably better off with Dyck (n.b. you _still_ won't understand, but at least some clues will be present, however distorted).

Should you _want_ to read a Mennonite history? Well, I did, because one of my grandparents was ethnically Mennonite in Canada (ancestors in the Kleine Gemeinde) and I have a bunch of living relatives who are active members of Mennonite churches (altho I infinitely prefer the cousin-once-removed who is under the ban and his wife, who really _enjoys_ putting on a big spread when we go visit and all the church-y types show up to see us but will refuse to eat her cooking because of the ban. You really have to eat her pie and see the looks on their faces when they feel compelled to say no to truly, truly, truly understand how much fun you can have with other people's judgmentalism). The ancestry aspect pushed me very hard in the direction of understanding the history; knowing actual Mennonites and feeling the similarities between them and JWs made it really hard to proceed. I can't tell whether there's any innate value in reading this book, independent of my personal circumstances. I found it worthwhile, altho if I want to reread it, I'll get a more current edition.

Next on the list of the Amish history which shares one author with the Fire/Water book. I feel more optimistic about that, altho strictly speaking I'm also in the middle of Klassen's _Mennonites in Early Modern Poland and and Prussia_ (kindle edition). Realistically, I'll probably read something trashy with lots of sex and violence to try to clear my mental palate.

I did pick up a great new term/TLA: HPC, described here:

Mandatory Testing Debate Finally Getting a Little Traction

School board member takes 10th grade standardized test. Does poorly. Publicizes results and uses it as a platform to try to get some possibility of change.


Okay, here's my question.

I was complaining about what a bad idea high stakes standardized testing was during the Clinton Administration. As in, _way_ before things went nuts with No Child Allowed to Succeed. I can't prove that I was complaining about this because I wasn't a blogger at that point (altho B.C. was trying to convince me to start even then -- he seemed to feel Pundit was my natural vocation and it's hard not to think he might have been onto something, altho I might be more inclined to use words like "windbag"). I'm assuming the person who took the test is older than me (based on the grown children remark). I'd sort of like to know what led to his Conversion Experience. Was it realizing that people he knew and cared about (teachers and administrators) were about to be punished because of test results?


Still, better late than never. Big kudos to anyone who gets on this and rides it all the way to a saner future.