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Tuesday, 27 December 2005


Tish G

I think sometimes it's a combination of growing older and being more confident with oneself that allows for one to see that where one came from wasn't all that bad.

When I go back to NJ, I see where I came from as this wonderful, ticky-tacky melting pot that is drastically different from where I now live. There are times when I miss it, and then there are the reminders of why I stay away.

Have a wonderful New Year, Shamash! read you next year!


We cannot escape our roots. This is not to say that we cannot change, but that ultimately we choose, consciously or unconsciously, what part of our roots we want to maintain. Your wholesomeness is so evident in who you are. This is a good thing and is a great complement to the exotic world adventurer side of you.
Happy New Year.

Jeff Hess

Shalom Shamash,

Happy New Year.

I too grew up in a rural environment. It was nowhere's near a restrictive community as yours, but my friends in Cleveland sometimes ask questions like When did you get your first pair of shoes?.

I go home three times a year: Father's day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I usually spend three or four days and I'm ready to leave.

The Service and college were the escape mechanism for me. My father and I are the only one's in the immediate family who went to either.

Now that I've passed the half-century mark I find myself less critical of life in Marietta and more comfortable during my visits. It is what it is and the differences don't seem to be as important as they once were.




I wanted to thank you for sharing this little bit of history with us, I just never got around to it :P

And Mennonite, well, Menno Simons was a Dutch guy, and specifically Fries. I could tell you stories about the Friesen! ;)


I'm so glad Michiel left this comment, because it meant that I got to read this fascinating post -- I must have missed it when you posted, Shamash.

My wife and I also grew up in a small Mennonite church town, so I'm also on the journey toward appreciating the best parts of those deep roots. I love your outline of the thin wedge separating support and caring from judgement and gossip.

You may have already read it...a complicated kindness by Miriam Toews is a fascinating read for those of us with these kinds of backgrounds. Sample chapter here and a friend's review here.

Cool to find some shared heritage online...
: )


Michiel: What a wierd feeling to read the name "Menno Simmons" from someone who isn't Mennonite. Not too many people know who he is, even though he's an instrumental part of my Mennonite heritage, and I grew up hearing his name often. I had forgotten that he was Dutch!

Jeremy: What a small, small world. Via 43 things, and via similar life values that keep us connected in the blogosphere, two people from Mennonite backgound and from two different continents meet in cyberspace. How ironic is THAT?

I haven't yet read "a complicated kindness" by Miriam Toews, but just reading the link to her one chapter brought tears of sadness AND laughter to my eyes, esp. the part about Menno Simons! And the reviews are just: well, perfect. Thanks for the links... I thought about them all day.


Oh, I'm so glad it resonated with you. As I said in my comment on Lesa's site, I found the book emotionally difficult in the same way you've just described...quite moving.

Did we find each other through 43Things? I had forgotten that. "Similar life values" probably can emerge from shared lists of goals. You might also be interested in a little discussion of creativity that we had going a while back.


Another thought on shared values and new connections...I noticed you had an Adbusters link in your sidebar, which is certainly value-laden. A friend-of-a-friend (and Mennonite) was managing editor of Adbusters, founder of Buy Nothing Christmas and has recently started publishing a new magazine called geez.

I don't necessarily share all of his views, but it makes me think that there is a set of non-faith Mennonite values (anti-consumerism being the main one in these examples) that I do still share after distancing myself from the culture. A focus on pacifism, social justice, helping those in need, family ties...these are not unique to Mennonites, but they are values that have stuck with me even after the food, language, songs and faith have been mostly lost.


Anti-consumerism, "a focus on pacifism, social justice, helping those in need, family ties...these are not unique to Mennonites, but they are values that have stuck with me even after the food, language, songs and faith have been mostly lost."

I couldn't have said it better, Jeremy.

And: I had no idea that a Mennonite was involved in "Buy Nothing Christmas", yet alone Adbusters! But, in retrospect, it makes sense. Those antibaptists always were a radical bunch, always doing something against the status quo. It's in the blood, I guess.

Thanks for the heads up, and the links.


I too grew up conservative Mennonite in PA, and I read a few of your blogs. I love your style of writing, but I also just really felt like I understood where you are coming from. I struggle with keeping the good of my heritage and forgetting the past, figuring out what to pass on to my kids and what to rise above.

It really never is possible to leave the Mennonites, even after you have left...

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