For those who don’t know what the heck a Mennonite is, they are the followers of Menno Simons–Anabaptists of the most extreme sort, who–along with the Amish–emigrated to William Penn’s colony of religious freedom for Quakers and Shakers and Moravians and other sects. They are there to this day, and have grown and prospered. They mind their own business for the most part and are pacifists.
The Mennonite in me is also the reason I get so bored with politics and politicians and can’t understand why everybody is so uptight about homosexuality and shopping malls and promiscuity and birth control and bad TV shows and war and crime and fast food restaurants and beauty pageants and drug barons violent video games and corporate corruption and greedy bankers and democrats and wall street occupiers and Republicans and so forth.
Why does everyone who calls themselves followers of Jesus Christ get so worked up about this stuff?
The Mennonite in me says, “Vell, chust vhat did dey expect?” The Mennonite in me expects bankers to be greedy, politicians to be corrupt and those who follow the way of the world to be venal, shallow, lustful, violent and disgusting. That’s why he went off to live on a farm, mind his own business, hunker down and wait for the persecution to begin. The Mennonite in me declines to serve in the military or the police. He wishes he could get away with not paying taxes. He wants to be left alone, and if the majority of people are slip sliding down into Hell he’s sorry, but he’s not surprised.
The Mennonite in me sings as he hoes the garden, “Dis vorld is not my home, I’m chust a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…” He expects the worst and hopes for the best. He’s grateful for all the many blessings of this beautiful life, but he knows they are fading. He looks for solid joys and lasting treasures.
I worry about this Mennonite in me because I sometimes think maybe I should be more interested in politics. I should be more concerned to change the world. I should maybe be more of a crusader–join more groups–sign up for more activist organizations. Maybe I should be like those sisters who try to ban the death penalty or run soup kitchens. But the Mennonite in me mutters, “Vhy vould you vant to change de vorld vhen you cannot change yourself?”
There was a time when I was unaware of the Mennonite in me. Then there was a time when I wanted the Mennonite to shut up and go away. The older I get, the more I like the Mennonite in me.
He’s winning. I’m becoming more like him.
I might even grow a chin beard, and does anybody know where you can buy those straw hats?