walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Anabaptist Reading Project

I'm in the throes of a reading project -- not sure exactly how it happened. I had the books already, but have been lacking the motivation to read them. When my cousin Big B. visited recently, we spent some time talking about the genealogical research I've been doing and how we feel about what I've been finding. While B. was not raised a Jehovah's Witness, and B. has a good relationship with his dad's/my mother's cousin C. and C.'s wife I. and thus knows at least as much about our Mennonite relatives as I do, B. finds the religious elements of our shared ancestry at least as troubling as I do, if not more so. Talking about these issues with B. made me feel a lot better about it -- enough better to dive back into Mennonite history in an effort to build a context in which to place my relatives. The lines I've been working on go back to communities along the Vistula/West Prussia (weirdly, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vistula_delta_Mennonites) and I am trying to understand why they were there/then.

I'm a good chunk of the way through Cornelius J Dyck (editor)'s _An Introduction to Mennonite History_, which is published by Herald Press and aimed at a young adult audience with predictable consequences (they are _so_ mean to unitarians, it is continually shocking, but even worse is the editorial tone taken towards schisms. _Theirs_ are justified and besides, they already said they were sorry for sins committed by their forefathers in previous splits -- like, torturing the Mennonite Brethren -- whereas other groups splitting were just inadequately loving and blah blah bleeping blah). It is what I need (an overview) and it's not at all obvious that there is a better alternative.

As I'm reading it, however, I'm getting a much more solid sense of the relationship between the followers of Amman and the rest of the Mennonite groups. I've ordered a roughly equivalent overview of the Amish, in part so I have a better sense of the migration and family groups on the off chance I stumble across them on R.'s or my lines that touch down in Pennsylvania. It doesn't seem likely (I don't seem to connect up to the Mennonites in the Dutch Colony or the Mennonites in the Palatine migration, so the odds would appear to be against an Amish connection), but I'd hate to miss it out of ignorance.

Dyck also reminded me of Romans chapter 13, the first part of which always makes me scratch my head when people propose to not pay taxes because they are Christian and Christians don't pay for war. Predictably, the author(s) blow that one off as "often misinterpreted" (viz. We decided we didn't like what Paul had to say so we ignored it in favor of running with some other stuff Jesus said instead.). On the one hand, I don't identify as any flavor of Xtian any more, so I feel like I shouldn't even have an opinion on this stuff. On the other hand, I _do_ have opinions on this stuff and it's hard to read something written from a perspective that is at times very similar and at other times so wildly opposite.

I have no idea what I'll read next (whether it will be the Amish history or one of the more academic Mennonite things upstairs or something else entirely), or if I'll go back to trying to push on the tree some more. But definitely expect the occasional foray into hermeneutics over the next few days/weeks. I'll try to keep the daily activities posts separate so you can skip the obscurities.
Tags: genealogy, religion

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