so where’s your buggy?May 5, 2007
I recently realized that I haven’t posted very much on this blog about my Mennonite heritage. Probably part of this is because I started this blog as Blitherings Sprung Anew and didn’t feel a need to bring up that part of my heritage as much. But now that I am posting as “Mennogirl” maybe I should clarify a little more.
But what really got me started down this line of thinking was a great email I got from The Daily Rant, the blog of a Italian-American woman who travels the country with her boyfriend, driving truck for a living. She had noticed my Mennonite background and emailed me some questions about it. So in order to aid in the great clarification of what exactly a Mennonite is, here are my rather rambling attempts to answer her questions.
1. Are you still a Mennonite? I haven’t had a chance to read through posts that might actually EXPLAIN this, but I just wasn’t sure if you broke away or something to go to college.
First off, there is a pretty big spectrum within the Mennonite community and some pretty key differences between Amish and Mennonites. While there are still conservative Mennonites (such as my grandparents) who still dress “plainly” ( i.e. head coverings and cape dresses) many Mennonites don’t appear that different from the people they live near. However the Amish still hold more strictly to their separation from the world and desire to live free from the pulls of commercialism and materialism. So yes I am still a Mennonite, I consider it a big part of my background and a big influence on my current outlook. Also I didn’t grow up as a conservative Mennonite (like my parents did), so I never had to make the decision to stop wearing a hair covering or anything like that.
2. Are there any really good websites that explain Mennonite life? I’m quite fascinated by it.
Okay, this one is good and actually if you happen to be going through the Shipshewana, Indiana I would definitely recommend stopping by. It does a great job of describing the history of Anabaptists (the larger group that both Amish and Mennonites belong too) and also the current beliefs of the Mennonite church.
This site also does a much better job than I can of describing Mennonite beliefs.
This last one is one of the main service branches of the Mennonite church and an organization that I hope to serve overseas with at some point in my life.
3. Is there a Mennonite community in the Chicago area?
Yes in fact there is and I actually live quite near it. Reba Place Fellowship is where I have been going to church and making some connections with ever since I moved to the area in September. This is their website
4. What differences do you notice being in a big city like Chicago as opposed to Lancaster or Goshen?
First of all the major things such as more streets, less yards. But I think a big thing is no longer knowing people that I randomly run into on the streets or coffeeshops. In goshen I could pretty much count on seeing at least one person I knew in the local coffeeshop, that is definitely no longer the case. I think the other thing is that there is always things going on in Chicago, but now that I don’t know as many people, it isn’t always easy to find things to do. But I think that will also change as I get to know more people.
5. Do you ever long to go back to what you called your “Mennonite Bubble?”
No, I definitely look back on my childhood and growing up years with a lot of love, because I did have a wonderful childhood. However I have never been one who wants to hold on to past situations, when one phase is over there is little one can do to change it. Also I have really been enjoying getting to know people outside the “bubble” and it also allows me the chance to examine and explain my own beliefs in ways that I didn’t have to before.
6. Are Mennonites and Amish the same?
No, they aren’t and while they both come out of the same Anabaptist movement of the 16th century, they are different. Those websites I told you about will probably give you a much clearer idea than I can. However I know one of the key differences is the ban, which involves disconnecting entirely from the person it is aimed at. Amish still practice this towards members who leave the church after committing as members, while Mennonites don’t. For example my grandma (a conservative Mennonite) had 11 children and all but one of them stopped dressing plainly and moved away from the conservative end of the Mennonite church. But our family is still connected and very close, despite the choices of the younger generation.