Mennonite/s writing, and reading, and viewing

Issue 2023, vol. 77

As has been true pretty much since the 16th century, the phrase “Mennonite life” can conjure almost anything. However, in 2022-23, much of the rest of the world has been seeing “Mennonite life” in Women Talking, the film by Sarah Polley and the novel of the same title by Miriam Toews from which the film came. This issue of Mennonite Life includes a review/reflection on the film and book by Hannah Neufeld, who spent five years with her family among the Low German-speaking colony Mennonites in Bolivia, during the time when the rapes and sexual violence around which novel and movie are built took place. In addition, a book review by Willmar Harder (spouse of Hannah and therefore with somewhat similar experience in Bolivia) and a set of prose poems by Abigail Carl-Klassen look directly and indirectly at life among colony Mennonites in south Texas and northern Mexico.

Carl-Klassen’s contribution to this issue, along with a poem by Cheryl Denise, an essay by Johnny Wideman and a sermon by Sheri Hostetler, resulted from Mennonite/s Writing IX, a conference held at Goshen (Ind.) College Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2022.

Other articles and reviews also look at history surrounding Mennonites associated with “Low German culture,” including a senior seminar paper by 2022 Bethel College graduate Nathan Garber on the historic effect of Alexanderwohl Mennonites on the surrounding Goessel/Marion County, Kan., community, and reviews of The White Mosque, Sofia Samatar’s memoir of following, in 2016, the path of the 1880s Great Trek in Central Asia, and Menno Moto, Cameron Dueck’s travelogue about riding his motorcycle from southern Manitoba through Mennonite communities deep into Latin America, including those in northern Mexico and Bolivia.

Other reviews cover a memoir of coming out (in all ways) of a conservative upbringing; a history of anti-militarism efforts in U.S. public education; a graphic novel set in a present-day Mennonite community in southern Manitoba; a teenager’s escape from World War II Ukraine and Europe to North America; and two considerations of Mennonite identity, one, by Rob Zacharias, reflected through the lens of “Mennonite writing,” and the other comprising a collection of essays on various aspects of culture.

Finally, this issue includes the text of Brad S. Gregory’s Menno Simons Lectures on “The Radical Reformation and the Makings of the Modern World,” given at Bethel College in October 2022.