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March 2002
vol. 57 no. 1

The stripped-down, numerical phrase "9/11" has come to function nationally as an awkward synecdoche of the crises of events and crises of understanding unfolding from that date forward. As a synecdoche, its minimalist reference to a date is a 'part' representing a growing 'whole': a range of emotions and rhetoric so potentially explosive in political and religious terms that the minimalist phrase becomes a mute term of reference until broader conversations and research offer more articulate rhetoric. A heightened concern over language and articulation exists in Mennonite-related contexts because of the potential for the marginalizing of pacifist rhetoric, history, and thought during a time of international military crisis. Mennonite Life therefore may offer one important site among others for emerging discourses.

In this issue, we begin to offer early articles asking questions about the meanings of "9/11" from within sites of significant conversation. The first article, by Duane Shank, was developed in part in relation to the vibrancy and intensity of inter-Mennonite conversation through MennoLink, an email discussion list. For a complementary debate over just war theory and the public role of pacifism between Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University and the Editors of First Things, see this link. The second, by Heidi Regier Kreider, is a sermon preached the Sunday immediately following, on 9/16/01. While an excerpt of this sermon was published as part of a book (reviewed in this issue), we offer the complete sermon here, in text as well as in audio format, to reflect the context of a sermon existing in a particular church, in its place and time. We hope that future issues of Mennonite Life will engage related issues: we include here as a hopeful sign of future developments an image of a world flag developed by artist Mary Lou Goertzen in response to the Gulf War. She and others held up world flags as "wordless posters" as part of a demonstration along the coastal Highway 101 in Florence, Oregon.


On another topic, our final article in this issue offers an examination of visual and verbal meanings through the history of postcards representing Bethel College, including images dating from 1908 to the present. Interweaving the study of postcard research as social history with the history of the college, the co-authors Keith and David Sprunger examine how a "grass-roots view of history" can offer an inclusive range of angles upon "the flow of ordinary life."

Additionally, a wide range of issues across Mennonite worlds of thought and experience, from post 9-11 concerns to concerns about the environment, are explored in book reviews in this issue by James C. Juhnke, Rachel Waltner Goossen, Gerlof D. Homan, Raylene Hinz-Penner, John M. Janzen, Thomas Heilke, and Jon K. Piper.

War in Afghanistan: Was It Just?
Duane Shank
Duane Shank is Issues and Policy Advisor for Sojourners and Call to Renewal. He has been on the staff since 1995. He has been active as an organizer and administrator in the peace and justice movement for 30 years. He has worked as a community organizer in the rural south, in interfaith coalitions, and in the nuclear weapons freeze and Central America solidarity movements of the 1980s. He is Mennonite, and currently an active member of the Community of Christ ecumenical congregation in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D. C. Duane is married to Ellen Kennel and they have an 18-year-old daughter, Celeste, who is a student at Goshen College.

Sermon - September 16, 2001
Heidi Regier Kreider
Since August 2000, Heidi Regier Kreider has been the lead pastor at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kansas. For the previous nine years, she was pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville, Florida, and has spent five years as an organist for Episcopal churches. She graduated from Bethel College with a B. A. in Bible and Religion in 1983, and from Yale with her Master's of Divinity in 1991. She is married to David Kreider, and her two sons Benjamin and Mark, are 7 and 9. She suggests that her identity was strongly shaped by growing up overseas in Zaire/Congo.

Postcards from Bethel
Keith Sprunger and David Sprunger
Keith Sprunger is emeritus professor of history at Bethel College. He taught at Bethel 1963-2001. His main publications are in the area of English Puritanism and Mennonite history. He is currently working on the history of printing and Puritan and Mennonite church architecture. The three Sprunger children are David, Mary, and Philip, all Bethel graduates, and all are now college teachers.

David Sprunger, a Bethel alumnus of 1982, is chair of the English Department at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. Although his training is in medieval studies, he remains interested in all aspects of modern popular culture, including postcards and the stories they tell. David's most recent publication is co-editing a collection of essays, Monsters, Marvels and Miracles (Medieval Institute Publicaionts, 2002).

Book Reviews

Call for Submissions: Upcoming Issues of Mennonite Life

What is the state of anti-war literature? Is there a great anti-war novel since Catch-22? Is there a dearth of anti-war novels?