Here are five things worth paying attention to this week. These are designed to expose you to a perspective you may not normally come across in your daily lives.
- Demoting, ousting, severing, canceling. Mennonite World Review has set all of us connected with Fresno (California) Pacific University into concerned conversations. The article by Tim Huber reports that “MB Seminary demotes president and ousts lecturers” (MWR, Sept. 4). Ousting three nationally respected pastors who are Anabaptist co-travelers, causing students to lose faith in the learning process, taking cues from other groups that value perfect agreement above exploration of multifaceted truth and demoting a president for allowing emerging Anabaptism to challenge us from other circles of faith is disheartening to many. It has evoked multiple expressions of puzzlement (yet some are asking, Why would we be puzzled by fundamental separatism?), depression (but why are we grieving the predictable?) and dismay (but why would we question if support, rapport with donors might rule academic integrity?). The backstory is more complicated than MWR reports,” a FPU board member explains, “but the article is not inaccurate.”
- Silence. Rowan Williams, the past Archbishop of Canterbury, offers guidance in “Silence before the Mystery” (Christian Century, Aug. 29), a stimulating article that evoked a long conversation at our home base church last week. His types of positive silence that end in total awe, his treatment of negative silence, his reflection on Jesus’ silence before both Pilate and Caliphas sparked insight and emotion in our need to grow beyond words to hear the Word.
- Fear. Bob Woodward’s book, publication date 9/11, is on our radar screen after tantalizing prepublication excerpts and is now available. More interesting than his report is the reactive crafting of denials plus the character assassination of one of our most respected political journalists who stood by the truth through the era of Watergate. Once again, the messenger must go and the message be gone. This is a plot we know from sitcoms and pulp fiction. Join us in reading Fear if you are or are not afraid.
- Daniel Bowman (1813-1903). We find ourselves mentioning this amazing man from Dayton, Virginia, whose mill still stands at Silver Lake. (Rebuilt after Sheridan’s raid burnt it to the foundation stones). His profits were all used to buy enslaved people and set them free. We mentioned it to the docents when touring the Woodrow Wilson House in Staunton, at Monticello in Charlottesville and at Mount Vernon in Alexandria as an alternate story when they
made their conclusions about the church and slavery. For full disclosure, David claims him as his great-great-grandfather.
- Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine. Visiting in Pennsylvania and Virginia, we find comfort in food seasoned with the three basic spices—sugar, salt and pepper—but we talk fondly of the Southwest, where Asian, African, European, South American, Central-American, Pacific Island and Caribbean foods are all around us and awaken us to the richness of spice, herb and the magic blending of creative flavors. Oh chilies! Lancaster and Rockingham, come visit Los Angeles County and try Monterrey Park and the explosive joy of Szechwan peppers.
David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.