The stripped-down, numerical phrase
9/11 has come to function nationally as an awkward synecdoche of the crises of events and crises of understanding unfolding from that date forward. As a synecdoche, its minimalist reference to a date is a
part representing a growing
whole: a range of emotions and rhetoric so potentially explosive in political and religious terms that the minimalist phrase becomes a mute term of reference until broader conversations and research offer more articulate rhetoric. A heightened concern over language and articulation exists in Mennonite-related contexts because of the potential for the marginalizing of pacifist rhetoric, history, and thought during a time of international military crisis. Mennonite Life therefore may offer one important site among others for emerging discourses.
In this issue, we begin to offer early articles asking questions about the meanings of
9/11 from within sites of significant conversation. The first article, by Duane Shank, was developed in part in relation to the vibrancy and intensity of inter-Mennonite conversation through MennoLink, an email discussion list. For a complementary debate over just war theory and the public role of pacifism between Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University and the Editors of First Things, see this link. The second, by Heidi Regier Kreider, is a sermon preached the Sunday immediately following, on 9/16/01. While an excerpt of this sermon was published as part of a book (reviewed in this issue), we offer the complete sermon here, in text as well as in audio format, to reflect the context of a sermon existing in a particular church, in its place and time. We hope that future issues of Mennonite Life will engage related issues: we include here as a hopeful sign of future developments an image of a world flag developed by artist Mary Lou Goertzen in response to the Gulf War. She and others held up world flags as
wordless posters as part of a demonstration along the coastal Highway 101 in Florence, Oregon.
On another topic, our final article in this issue offers an examination of visual and verbal meanings through the history of postcards representing Bethel College, including images dating from 1908 to the present. Interweaving the study of postcard research as social history with the history of the college, the co-authors Keith and David Sprunger examine how a
grass-roots view of history can offer an inclusive range of angles upon
the flow of ordinary life.
Additionally, a wide range of issues across Mennonite worlds of thought and experience, from post 9-11 concerns to concerns about the environment, are explored in book reviews in this issue by James C. Juhnke, Rachel Waltner Goossen, Gerlof D. Homan, Raylene Hinz-Penner, John M. Janzen, Thomas Heilke, and Jon K. Piper.