July 20th, 2020
Arguably the two most widely known Mennonite artists, and a survey of literature on Mennonites and the Holocaust, highlight the current issue.
The online-only journal Mennonite Life is produced at Bethel College. The current issue can be viewed at ml.bethelks.edu.
Mennonite peacebuilder Lisa Schirch, Harrisonburg, Va., has surveyed “Anabaptist-Mennonite relations with Jews across five centuries” through a look at what scholars have written on the topic.
How Mennonites were affected by and reacted to the Holocaust, and Mennonite roots of today’s white supremacy movement in North America, make up the bulk of this atypically long article.
Accompanying “Anabaptist-Mennonite Relations” is a much more personal response to Mennonite history vis-à-vis the Holocaust, from Schirch and her peacebuilding colleague, Rabbi Marc Gopin.
The other major piece in the “Essays” section of Mennonite Life 2020 is a conversation with Penn State University professors Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Christopher Reed.
The two were the chief organizers of the exhibit “Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Jane and Warren Rohrer,” originally scheduled for the Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia this spring and the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University this summer and fall (now postponed until 2021).
The late Warren Rohrer was the first Mennonite to take his place among the important American abstract painters of the 20th century. Jane Rohrer was one of the first to have her poems published in the mainstream literary press.
Kasdorf and Reed talk about the process of putting the exhibit together, as well as larger questions of land, art and privilege.
Also in the essay section, Jason Schmidt of rural south-central Kansas muses on the challenges facing a 21st-century farmer who struggles with being a good parent and partner, and a responsible steward of the earth.
Mennonite Central Committee turns 100 years old in 2020, and Alain Epp Weaver was on the Bethel College campus last fall to give a series of lectures on “mission” and MCC.
This issue of Mennonite Life includes the sermon he preached at Bethel College Mennonite Church right before giving those lectures.
Bethel student Emma Beachy rounds out the section with her examination of the attitudes of U.S. Mennonites toward communism (and capitalism) in the mid-20th century.
The section of book reviews starts out with a new addition to the catalog of literature on the “Mennonite diaspora” that also ties in with the “Mennonite-Jewish relations” survey, John Eicher’s Exiled Among Nations.
There are also reviews of a half-dozen recent books from Cascadia Publishing. Three are volumes of poetry, including “late poems” by Jane Rohrer, still living in her 90s, along with work by Joseph Gascho and Shari Wagner.
Also included are a memoir that looks at how a lifelong educator’s early experience with the teacher of her one-room school shaped her whole philosophy of education; a history of the Scottdale, Pa., Mennonite churches; and an examination of the presence/absence of Christ.
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is Zippia.com’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to RNtoBSN.com; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu