My Weird Notes from Saturday Morning at the U of W

Continuing this series!

I was excited that Andrew and I would be together for this day… but alas, we had considerable trouble getting from Steinbach to Winnipeg in a timely fashion.

When we arrived, I believe Elisa Taber (of The New School for Social Research, New York) was presenting her paper Morbo: Attracted by the Repulsive in Paraguayan Narratives of Exile and Refuge… via Skype. Or maybe it had been previously recorded. Either way, we caught the end and it was fascinating but I was still catching my breath at this point. There was some kind of joke about attempting to protect the identities of those having been interviewed for this anthropological research, but sometimes it’s just “blown right out of the water”. I had no idea what was going on, being such latecomers.

Still getting settled when Christa Mylin took the podium to share her paper What Does the Lord Require of You?: Turner’s Root Paradigms and Schism in Mennonite Church USA. Here are the weird notes I took, this time awkwardly on my iPad:

The LGTBT issue — how this withdrawal affected church members

(From Mennonite Church USA)

It’s like a divorce — one leaving after one breaks a covenant

Figuring out identity

Root paradigms emerge during times of crisis

Standing up for “what is right “

The idea of supporting decisions “because they wrestled with it”

How to define the idea of what it is to be “prophetic”

Other side was Mill View Mennonite

Loss of relationships in the midst of disagreement

“Communal forbearance”

Not moral relativism

Two parties in disagreement must have something in common…

Q&A — power structures that don’t allow people to articulate, I.e:

“I’m very open minded — I’ll even talk to people with painted nails”

“Wow, we’re having two very different conversations”

She was looking at social drama of the situation.

Christa Mylin, of State University of New York, Albany.

Next was coffee, and I took this opportunity to select a seat right at the front so as to get better pictures and really just get the most out of the event. (I’m not so into being a back bencher — way too crowded back there!) Okay, so Panel 6: Missions. Here we go!

Kimberly Schmidt of Eastern Mennonite University spoke on Christianizing and Civilizing the Heathen: Gender and U.S. Policy on the Cheyenne Missions, 1871-1934. Again, my notes make zero sense. I am so sorry. Here they are:

Women in particular were supposed to embody the term “quiet in the land”

Parallels — submission, piety

Challenging gendered expectations

Mennonite missionary agenda

Bertha Kittsinger Penner rejected “quiet in the land” ideas for herself but advocated for it with the Cheyenne people

They owned their own property, were assertive, could control child bearing, could leave their partners

“Content to serve indirectly, in the homes”

Government wanted to “civilize” the Cheyenne (teach them to “love work”) and could accomplish this via missionaries

Bertha preached in Cheyenne!

Government-missionary collusion.

Government shifted in the 1930’s — Bertha opposed this / was disappointed in it

Could the Cheyenne have “heathenized” Bertha?

Advocated for ordination of a Cheyenne woman in 1847

Kimberly Schmidt, Eastern Mennonite University.

Next was Sarina Annis from the University of Toronto, speaking on Evangelism and the Mennonite Missionary in Quebec 1954-1980. My incomprehensible notes:

Evangelism isn’t only transformative for those being missionized, but the missionaries themselves

How their perceptions changed over time

As time passed they described the mission efforts differently

From the door to door and tracts of the 1950’s, to the passive, quiet, “letting people come to them”

PHOTO OF DAILY BONNET! (This floored us. Also it felt awkward because we were sitting right in the front, HA! But we hadn’t known it’d be on the screen, and she didn’t know the writer of the Daily Bonnet was sitting right there either, ha! Oh, Transnational Mennonite Studies Conference, you are the best.) 

“An ocean of ink has been spilled over Mennonite identity”

Reaching out to Groups they consider “needy”

Interestingly Quebec was considered foreign missions to those in Indiana

Identity through religious practice

(This made me think of the mission portion in Search For Renewal…)

Sarina Annis, University of Toronto.
Whoa. We were pretty surprised to see this appear on the screen during Sarina’s presentation!

Next, Doreen Helen Klassen of Memorial University of Grenfell shared her paper The Local and the Universal: Jacob Loewen and Ben Eidse’s attempts to Indigenize Theology. My notes!

Why had my action story (David & Goliath) turned into a mere conversational story?

Culture heroes

The story isn’t only about the story. Whose truth is being told?

“Local theology“ The action and experience of the community

She said she became an anthropologist when she first visited Japan in the 1970’s

Communal decisions to become Christian, best in the past, according to Eidse, “wholistic culture “ — as the move to individual decisions lends itself to the rise of cults

Traditional beliefs and interconnectedness

Missionary as listener  (Loewen)

First phase -clubbing people with the Bible

Second — the hook

Third phase — listener

Mentioned MCC’s efforts to amend conflicts in the Paraguayan Chaco between Mennonites and indigenous people

Eidse couldn’t fit an anthropology course into his schedule so he sent his wife to take the course!


Royden Loewen — the longer they stayed on the mission field, they almost became apostates…!

The mission modernized the Mennonites (Sarina Annis)

Jake Loewen wrote the only anthropological book in Low German (Dr. Janzen)

(Can you be an anthropologist and missionary at the same time?) (Dr. Janzen)

Doreen Helen Klassen, Memorial University, Grenfell. I was dazzled by her hair. Like looking at unicorn. Loved it!Then, time for lunch. I remembered Banh Mi King from last year, and we made a beeline for this delicious lunch spot. It wasn’t long before the place filled up, and we were able to have a lively lunch conversation with some of the afternoon presenters, along with a past presenter and someone who may be a future presenter. (I was excited to find out one of the people we were talking with — Jonathan Dyck — had created the famous comic in The Walrus entitled Mennonites Talking About Miriam Toews. You know the one: a thoughtful, engaging work. I’m sure we’ll see much more from him!) Also, just so you know, Banh Mi King is a solid choice for lunch.

Carel Roessingh, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Even though I said this is all about Saturday morning, I figured I’d include my notes from Panel 7: Discipline. First up was Carel Roessingh from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, sharing his paper Making Rules and Regulations: The Belizean Government and the Old Order Hoover Mennonites. Here are my messy weird notes:

His name is Carel, which is often pronounced “Carol” but really it’s more like “Carl” I think

Springfield Belize

Beuraucratic obedience

Nor okay with it, don’t like computers

Computer regulated systems

“Why are they here, why do they have to chip our cows?”

You’ll be hacked.

“The chip has the worldly system in it.”

Belizean livestock program

“Slow to join in a government control system”

Came up with non-chip tech for this community

Compromises of complexity

How free are they to make choices that allow them to live their lives as they choose?

Consequences of a computerized society

Simplicity becomes complexity

Tom Thornton, Johns Hopkins University.Next on this panel was Tom Thorton of Johns Hopkins University, speaking on A Space for Prison Chaplaincy: Mennonite Ambivalence, Discipleship, and the Theological Imagination of Ethics in Alabama.

Missionary chaplaincy / a part of missionary studies

“Prison revival” (!?!?!)

Alabama prison system broken

But Salt & Light prison ministry doesn’t address anything political

Concept of (what it means to be) Mennonite-based ministry

“Southern Mennonite identity”

Fellowship areas on death row

Volunteer chaplains help with the problem of understaffed…

But they’ve been conscripted into service of the state!

Mennonite faith and prison dominance

How does the ministry operate under the authority of the prison?

Penal compliance = Christian obedience

Ministry helps prison security

“What does non-violence even look like inside a prison?”

Chair Patti Harms of Brandon University poses a question to the panel.

So many good questions and explorations! One more post coming up about this.