Monday, October 02, 2006

"Modern" Gives Way To "Minor"

When I started this blog, there were a number of identities and/or topics I could have chosen. White, middle-class, raving liberal, parent, transracial adopter, movie-holic, software manager, amateur history buff, argumentative Christian – all would have provided ample material for a once-a-week-or-so posting.

But I wanted to write about topics that could use more of a voice in our post-9/11 (or post-3/19) world. Given the power the religious right has exercised in its vision of a war-loving, unbridled-free-market Jesus, there needs to be more advocates for an alternative (or, as I like to call it, “more accurate”) vision of Jesus’ social teaching.

So, I chose my Mennonite identity for the blog, not because I am a representative Mennonite (who are all over the map politically), but because the seemingly monolithic “Christian = Conservative Republican” equation needs to be challenged. Christians who support peace and progressive social policies are actually more in line with Jesus' social ethic than those who, for example, support aggressive, unilateral war, torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial, or even large tax cuts for the wealthy. I don't claim to have a monopoly on the truth, but I do feel the need to be at least a tiny voice in this vast wilderness of the web to advocate for social policy that reflects what God might want for us lowly humans.

Since then, I have been spending a lot of time in the Elkhart/Goshen, Indiana area, taking classes at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. This is the Mennonite Mecca of Midwest, where you don’t have to worry about people mistaking your religion for a cult. Spending time among so many well-spoken and serious Mennonites, who represent the faith far better than I do, is a very humbling experience. My Urbana-Champaign congregation is also filled with well-spoken and serious Mennonites, but it is so much easier to feel like a representative Mennonite there than in Elkhart, where there is so much more heritage and diversity.

One of the things that I didn’t anticipate with a blog name of “Musings of a Modern Mennonite” is that the majority of people who reach it (who do not personally know me) do so via an internet search of the word“Mennonite”. Here is a list of recent searches for people who have found their way here:

  • mennonites torture
  • hate mennonite
  • mennonite bloggers
  • mennonite blog
  • mennonite blogs
  • illegal mennonite immigrant or immigration
  • mennonite standards
It is discomfiting to know that anyone interested in hating or torturing Mennonites (or maybe having Mennonites torture or hate them) is naturally led here. More importantly, I fear that without an additional qualifier, people will mistake my rantings as some kind of Mennonite standard, which is unfair to Mennonites as a whole.

So, I’ve decided to replace “Modern” with “Minor”. Minor, not in the sense that I can’t buy beer legally, but in the sense that I am far removed from any hierarchical Mennonite authority, and you could find heresy here just as easily as dogma. “Modern” was never really quite accurate anyway, as a friend pointed out that I am more Post-Modern in my outlook, even though I wasn’t really using the term in that way. And, “Minor” still fits, alliteratively, which is more important than it should be.

My wife claims this change makes me *more* Mennonite, not less, since it is a very Mennonite thing to claim unimportance. It binds us all together in one big, quiet mass of respectfulness. How perfect, then, to confirm my Mennonite identity in a way that makes it seem like I am being respectful and humble.

I proclaim to thee, My Blog, by the power vested in me of knowing the password to my blogspot account, that henceforth, thou shall be known as: “Musings of a Minor Mennonite.”


dw said...

I like the change. I wonder if there are also "miner" Mennonites out there. Or if you can major in Mennonites at college? Or minor in them? Are you in the Menno Minor Leagues, waiting to be called up to the Big Leagues where you'll ride the bench, er, pew?


Cindy said...

I used to think I was a "major" Mennonite - translated as "ethnic," long-term, several generations, etc. However, when our daughter, Lara, began dating her now husband, Steve, she announced when she came home from college one holiday: "I wonder what it would be like to be truly ethnic Mennnonite." I answered: "but you are!" No, she told us. To be truly ethnic Mennonite you had to be part of Steve's family where at the Thanksgiving table every single person had the last name of Troyer or Schrock or Yoder." If that is the criteria, I guess I'm not a major Mennonite. CINDY

Dan S said...

Wow - if Cindy doesn't consider herself a major Mennonite, then I probably don't even qualify as minor. Maybe miniscule would be better. Or maybe I should go be a miner, and forget about quantifying it, except in terms of raw tonnage...

Eric Sink said...

Mythical Mennonite? No, no. That's not right at all.

Mysterious Mennonite? Hmmm. No.

Mystical Mennonite? Catholic, maybe, but not Menno.

Meager Mennonite? That might work.

Miffed Mennonite? Yeah, I'd say that fits sometimes, but not a very good title.

Malicious Mennonite? Contradiction of terms.

Midget Mennonite? Bad imagery.

Melting Mennonite? Great imagery, but the special effects would be expensive.

Messy Mennonite? Perhaps, but what would you write about?

Missing Mennonite? Well, yeah, sort of.

Micro-Mennonite? Works well if the word "Minor" starts to seem to roomy.

Dan S said...

I like all these, especially "meager" right about now.

Maybe I need to work up a title generator that changes each time the page is refreshed.

Amy said...

Your wife is right. It is typical of mennos to be suspicious of hierarchy, or any kind of leadership. If is the downside (or upside, depending on how you look at it) of the priesthood of all believers thing.

Interestingly, I found your site when searching for just plain ol' "mennonite" on blogspot. Nice to meet you, fellow menno.

Brownie said...

Minor Mennonite? Interesting...

In Music, minor keys are used to impart a feeling of dread, discomfort or even sadness (while major keys often express happiness or carefree attitudes). I wonder if there is some serendipitous relationship here, not to say that you impart dread, but that perhaps the overall "tone" of your blog one of discomfort (with whatever). Perhaps Dissonant Mennonite would have been equally accurate, though in a more chromatic way.

Don't change Modes, just be in Harmony.

Musically Yours,

KFingtree said...

Menial Mennonite, but with major chords to seem militarily masculine or rediculously republican. Stay away from those sissy minor chords Dan. Untrained musically; KiwiTree=+

Magpie said...

One has to wonder... what is this "hierarchical Mennonite authority" of which you speak?

Anonymous said...

Getting away from the "M" descriptor about "congenital Mennonites." When I went to NYC in the mid-60's, this is what the city folk called those of us who came from long-standing Menno families and traditions.