Visiting Mennonites

Vol. 4, No. 6

This issue offers three essays by and about three writers who have spent significant time with Mennonites, and features work by Abigail Carl-Klassen, whose poems about the Mennonites in Texas and Mexico are based on observation and oral histories.

In this issue:

  • 1 read more In This Issue

    In This Issue

    by Ervin Beck

    This issue was inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift’s classic travel narrative and social and philosophical critique. Gulliver visits the exotic lands of the Lilliputians, the Brobdignangians, the Laputans and the Houhynyms. His is an early version of the “cross-cultural” experience earnestly sought today by academics, serious tourists and culture critics.

    Since World War II, thanks to Mennonite Central Committee, various Mennonite mission agencies, and academic study-abroad requirements, Mennonites have travelled throughout the world and embraced a more diverse understanding of culture, to the extent that Mennonite worship services and social occasions borrow ideas and practices from international and …

  • 4 read more David Foster Wallace Among the Mennonites

    David Foster Wallace Among the Mennonites

    by Ervin Beck

    The Reading at Goshen College

    It was a dark and stormy night on December 5, 1996. The roads between Bloomington, Illinois, and Goshen, Indiana, were covered with snow, ice and sleet. David Foster Wallace was late for his 9:30 p.m. reading at Goshen College, but we knew he was on his way so we hunkered down in the Koinonia Room of the Church-Chapel building, which was overflowing with students, some of whom had to sit on the floor. Among the students were ardent followers of Wallace, acclaimed author of Infinite Jest, and many more who had come to see what …

  • 2 read more Literally, Not Quite A Mennonite

    Literally, Not Quite A Mennonite

    by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

    I came to Goshen, Indiana, in the winter of 1987. My flight from Harare had landed in Chicago. From there, I made my way to Wheaton, Illinois, where my late brother Richard was then living. After a couple of days visiting him I took a connecting flight to Indiana.

    This was my great big adventure. I was nineteen years old, and just five weeks before had been at an all-girls’ boarding school in Harare – Arundel – nicknamed the “Pink Prison.”

    I’d seen all the movies but, for me, New York, New Jersey, Goshen . . . it was all …

  • 1 read more Me and Mennonites: The Way We Were "The Other"

    Me and Mennonites: The Way We Were "The Other"

    by Emma LaRocque

    My connection with Mennonites goes back to my early teen years--back to Anzac Dorm in northeastern Alberta and then across the border to major Mennonite educational institutions and, finally, to familial connections here in Manitoba, which is now my home. My “sojourn” with Mennonites is a story of deep and lifelong human attachments; it is also one of some pain and alienation that comes with crossing cultures, borders, languages and socio-economic locations.

    I will highlight a number of very special Mennonite people who made such a difference in my life and who will always remain close to my heart. So …

  • 0 read more Still In The Land and Other Poems

    Still In The Land and Other Poems

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen

    The following poems are based on my experience and observations drawn from living among the Mennonite communities of Seminole Texas in the 1990s and early 2000s and on oral histories I collected from some of my closest friends and their parents, as well as from people who would later become family members through marriage. While we ate Faspa around the kitchen table and knocked zoot on the back porch, they shared childhood memories and coming of age stories from the years they spent living in Old Colony communities near Cuauhtémoc, Mexico. I am thankful for my opportunity to be a witness to the past and present among friends and family in Seminole and Mexico, and these poems spring from that gratitude.