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  • Direction: A Direction Lens on the Mennonite Brethren
    22 Compared to the generosity allowing a large diversity of theological stances including even the basic peace stance which was once worth dying for and allowing pastors of other doctrinal backgrounds to lead in their own ways it is not difficult to see an inconsistency in this matter Issues regarding women in leadership were discussed and voted on in the General MB Conference Conventions of 1981 1987 1993 and 1999 yet it is amazing that despite the presence of a great deal of unclarity concerning the meaning and function of ordination 23 and the inconsistency between the senior pastor model with the heritage of multiple leadership Mennonite Brethren scholars and leaders have been reluctant to make more studies and discussions in this area in order to encourage a reconsideration and revitalization of our whole understanding of ordination and of ministry 24 225 Such an attitude is not beneficial or healthy for the church In fact the current position which encourages women in all leadership roles except one is considered illogical and inconsistent by many Two surveys carried out in 1995 revealed little increase in women s leadership during the previous sixteen years However the surveys focused only on the number without understanding the cause of the phenomenon 25 Both conference leaders and periodical editors should continue to invite study and discussion on the gender issue so that Mennonite Brethren can have a much more reflective and consistent approach to the Bible a renewed love for each other and an increasingly effective ministry in the church 26 REFLECTIONS Studying Anabaptist Mennonite Brethren history is an ambivalent experience for me On the one hand it helps me to know the origin and story of the denomination to which I currently belong and which I appreciate On the other there are some notable doctrinal differences between the Mennonite tradition and those of my Chinese church heritage The possible loss of one s salvation for example contradicts the general belief in eternal security among the Chinese churches I sometimes wonder how these churches which support a Calvinistic theology of predestination and preservation and a Presbyterian style of organization could have joined the Mennonite Brethren family While it seems that this type of diversification is considered acceptable in today s Mennonite Brethren Church it is striking to read David Ewert s words written almost twenty years ago He noted that unity was an important issue for all Christians yet since we belong to the North American Conference of Mennonite Brethren the unity of these churches concerns us most at the moment He continued All of us have to decide which church we want to identify with in doctrine practice and mission He considered loyalty to one s denomination important and pointed out some inappropriate examples of diversity that still exist in certain ways in our churches 27 I agree that a denomination is more than just a loose connection of diversified local churches for the purpose of support It is hard to understand how members of these congregations can develop a sense of loyalty toward the denomination and of unity with other Mennonite Brethren churches Yet rather than attributing the problem to personal integrity I prefer to understand the situation as a misunderstanding I am still learning what it means to be Mennonite Brethren in a minority ethnic group in North America Since most of today s first 226 generation immigrants understand English I wonder if cultural difference is a good enough reason to organize according to ethnic group and whether such groups should be encouraged to associate only with churches that speak their native language I also wonder how a minority ethnic church can be a true local church without being considered international i e somewhat foreign and how its English speaking second generation can be helped to develop a strong sense of belonging Mennonite Brethren theology and historical practices have considerable strengths but there are also weaknesses which cause me some uneasiness I had a hard time struggling with them as I came to learn about them and am still unsure whether I want to remain Mennonite Brethren despite my support of Anabaptism Being a female within an ethnic minority group there are already enough barriers to overcome to lead effectively in the church Perhaps God will make clear to me that I should continue to bear the Mennonite Brethren name But I may otherwise be reluctant to do so if remaining MB does not help to release but rather increases my difficulties SUBJECT ANALYSIS OF DIRECTION JOURNAL JANUARY 1972 TO SPRING 2002 In conclusion I offer some brief comments on topics addressed by Direction journal since its inception based on the Subject Index located on Direction s web site www directionjournal org This evaluation may be compared to the more detailed analysis a decade ago by Richard Thiessen A Bibliometric Study of Direction Direction 21 spring 1992 83 93 Direction was first published as a quarterly journal in January 1972 and was released semiannually beginning in 1983 From October 1978 most articles in each issue focused on a theme assigned by Direction s Editorial Council The presence of a theme no doubt placed some constraints upon the contribution of each author From 1972 through spring 2002 Direction published 731 articles in addition to book reviews Most articles have been tagged by more than one subject category with an overall average of about two per article Since approximately one fourth of the articles have only one tag e g editorials faculty research those tagged more than once have an average more like three subjects per article Care is thus necessary when comparing the number of articles in one category with those in another For example it would be incorrect to conclude that Direction has published nine times as many articles on biblical studies OT NT 105 than articles on Peace Justice Nonresistance twelve because some of the latter articles are also tagged for biblical studies The 227 location for each article on Direction

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  • Direction: The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God
    violence or the threat of violence and the further effort to harness these fears in pursuit of some goal 6 In essence and from God s point of view nonstate terrorism and state counterterrorism are the same Key to the use of terror is ethical dualism in which protagonists portray the conflict as one of good versus evil and demonize their opponents The consequences are disastrous The demons created such as allies turned enemies and the military industrial complex take on a life of their own beyond our control Further we ourselves become demonized when we miss the image of God in our sisters and brothers 100 On making concessions to terrorists the refusal to talk is the greatest concession for it produces more violence and death as well as restrictions on human rights In the biblical view our hope to end terror lies not in empire nor in violence but in God whose terror is very different God s terror heaps burning coals of love on enemies 184 Jesus renounced the dehumanization that feeds terrorism For him evil methods never led to good ends he lived the end time the reign of God in the present In the book of Revelation it is not the empire s violence but the resurrection of the slaughtered lamb that ends earthly terror Only a nonviolent way of being in the world interrupts the cycle of terror and counterterror 251 The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God contributes both to the literature on terrorism and to Christian theological reflection Strongest is Griffith s thorough and nuanced definition of terrorism which judges state counterterrorism and terrorism equally His greatest theological contribution is the insistence that the sovereign God cannot be identified with any power and God s terror can never be equated

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/war-on-terrorism-and-terror-of-god.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Where Was God on September 11? Seeds of Faith and Hope
    Africa the lingering effects of terror on post Soviet Russians prophetic protest in the conquest of Latin America terror in Christian history terror in American inner cities and terror in the Bible itself Readers expecting essays on Islamic extremism however will be disappointed there are none Six sermons are included Part 4 among them one by Jürgen Moltmann on the tortured Christ Jewish scholar Peter Ochs the only non Christian contributor concludes the book with an appreciative reflection on Christian resistance to terror There is deep lament bitter complaint and stubborn Christian hope here In some essays however it is unclear whether God functions merely as an eternal fount of wishing that things would get better or as a source of spiritual power and truth of wisdom for how to live as individuals and communities in ways consistent with the self giving love of Christ Most readers would be better served by borrowing this book than by purchasing it Where Was God is a kind of scrapbook of almost seventy essays articles letters sermons interviews meditations and prayers generated by the events of September 11 The terrorist attacks of that day represent a critical test case for religious pacifism This collection emphatically if not quite unreservedly affirms nonresistance enemy love and reconciliation Future researchers into the responses of religious pacifists to September 11 will find important primary sources here librarians take note 237 As one would expect from Herald Press the contributors are predominantly Anabaptists pastors professors conference leaders and writers Catholic Eastern Orthodox Episcopalian Presbyterian Quaker Baptist and even Jewish traditions however are also represented Many readers will recognize such names as Philip Yancey Frederica Mathewes Green Donald W Shriver Jr Miroslav Volf and kidnapping victim Terry Anderson The book s title is misleading Only seven brief entries directly

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/where-was-god-on-september-11-seeds-of.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Surviving Terror: Hope and Justice in a World of Violence
    lingering effects of terror on post Soviet Russians prophetic protest in the conquest of Latin America terror in Christian history terror in American inner cities and terror in the Bible itself Readers expecting essays on Islamic extremism however will be disappointed there are none Six sermons are included Part 4 among them one by Jürgen Moltmann on the tortured Christ Jewish scholar Peter Ochs the only non Christian contributor concludes the book with an appreciative reflection on Christian resistance to terror There is deep lament bitter complaint and stubborn Christian hope here In some essays however it is unclear whether God functions merely as an eternal fount of wishing that things would get better or as a source of spiritual power and truth of wisdom for how to live as individuals and communities in ways consistent with the self giving love of Christ Most readers would be better served by borrowing this book than by purchasing it Where Was God is a kind of scrapbook of almost seventy essays articles letters sermons interviews meditations and prayers generated by the events of September 11 The terrorist attacks of that day represent a critical test case for religious pacifism This collection emphatically if not quite unreservedly affirms nonresistance enemy love and reconciliation Future researchers into the responses of religious pacifists to September 11 will find important primary sources here librarians take note 237 As one would expect from Herald Press the contributors are predominantly Anabaptists pastors professors conference leaders and writers Catholic Eastern Orthodox Episcopalian Presbyterian Quaker Baptist and even Jewish traditions however are also represented Many readers will recognize such names as Philip Yancey Frederica Mathewes Green Donald W Shriver Jr Miroslav Volf and kidnapping victim Terry Anderson The book s title is misleading Only seven brief entries directly address the

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/surviving-terror-hope-and-justice-in.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Bridging the Generations
    circles having taught at Tabor College for twenty four years and having published numerous articles and books However she writes Bridging the Generations not from an academic viewpoint but rather from the perspective of a church elder who has herself observed increasing segregation of the various generations so that as a result they have very little contact with one another Due to the fact that Wiebe has targeted her book for anyone interested in this topic the reader will find the author s writing style to be easily accessible The book begins by first exploring intergenerational relationships as desired by God and found within Anabaptist history Wiebe contrasts these desired relationships with the segregationist situation actually found within many churches today After establishing the need and purpose for creating intergenerational relationships within the church body subsequent chapters in the book discuss barriers to the more active involvement of the elderly within the church community and explore strategies for overcoming those obstacles Specific topics include confronting ageism finding or creating more positive roles for the elderly teaching younger generations to respect older individuals and creating intentional venues through which the elderly can share their life experiences and wisdom with the young

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/bridging-generations.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Rise and Fall of Synanon: A California Utopia
    sacramental status were encounter sessions known as the Game The Game consisted of confrontational techniques designed to strip down a person s defense mechanisms and uncover the real person According to Janzen Dederich based his game on Emerson s essay Self Reliance Participants were encouraged to be brutally honest spouting indictments to attack hypocrisy and fraud as their fellow members ran their stories Confronted with high rates of recidivism and the need to restructure the movement in the mid 1960s Dederich began allowing nonaddicted outsiders or squares to live in the Synanon community These outsiders were ordinary people who gravitated to Synanon not for its reputation for rehabilitating addicts but for its communal nonviolent ordered lifestyle But as Synanon still continued to lose members Dederich introduced even more changes some intrusive enough to further alienate the Synanites The community began to incorporate violence against abusive outsiders and insiders who wished to defect from the 240 community A ban on smoking did not sit well with the dopefiends who felt they deserved this one last addiction On the bizarre side members were required to surrender the right to bear children Many vasectomies were performed In addition Synanites swapped spouses and participated in physical fitness programs including karate As Synanon failed to substantiate its therapeutic mission it acquired more of a religious character and increasingly Dederich took upon himself the complexion of a religious leader By the 1980s even its more committed members began to defect until the community was disbanded in 1991 Janzen presents a balanced account of Synanon noting both its positive and negative aspects So often neglected were its successes At its peak in the 1960s and 1970s Synanon rehabilitated many people donated millions of dollars in goods to charitable organizations and its Game inspired similar sessions across the

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/rise-and-fall-of-synanon-california.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Anabaptist World USA
    valuable section of the book is a series of interpretative essays Chapters cover the Anabaptist beginnings contemporary communities common convictions the major Anabaptist bodies and their activities in education service and mission The authors cluster the Anabaptist bodies into four tribes Amish Brethren Hutterite and Mennonite and provide concise descriptions for each category telling us how they are both alike and different In addition to these four groupings the authors also classify the Anabaptists by their rate of cultural assimilation traditional transitional and transformational Few groups fit any category perfectly Some straddle several categories and thus their approach allows for more flexibility than the usual progressive and old order typologies The second half of the book consists of parts two and three Part two provides resources related to the various groups The four tribes are listed by their cultural types numbers and congregations Brief profiles are also given for over 60 groups Readers can see which Anabaptist bodies are located in each state and the size of the various congregations Part three consists of a directory of the Anabaptist congregations in America categorizing them by tribe denomination and location Anabaptist World USA is a well researched convenient handbook that summarizes

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/2/anabaptist-world-usa.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Power, Authority, and the Anabaptist Tradition
    xii Using an interdisciplinary approach this edited collection of essays seeks to provide an introduction to issues and questions that many Christians have been reluctant to explore The book begins with a helpful overview of the philosophical historical and theological roots of intellectual discussion concerning power and authority These essays written by J Lawrence Burkholder Benjamin Redekop James Stayer and Lydia Harder help position Mennonite responses within the larger Western intellectual tradition and demonstrate the variety of Anabaptist responses to issues of power and authority They are followed by an examination of particular situations in which power or force has been used or more often misused Jacob A Loewen and the late Wesley Prieb look at class and labor relations in the Russian Mennonite Commonwealth period Joel Hartman provides a case study of power wielded within domestic and congregational circles that centers around a diagnosis of HIV AIDS and Stephen Ainlay follows with an exploration of Mennonite Culture Wars which focuses on education and publishing These authors demonstrate how deeply involved Mennonites have been in creating and maintaining authority structures within the institutions of the church and community The book also includes an essay by Dorothy Yoder Nyce and Lynda Nyce which explores gender and power in Mennonite ecclesiology and Calvin Redekop provides a concluding chapter which suggests ways in which an Anabaptist understanding of power might resolve the paradox of being and doing that lies at the heart of the gospel 243 As Calvin Redekop notes in his conclusion the difficulty for Anabaptist Mennonite communities in confronting the problems of power has been the failure to take the issue seriously outside of the discussion of church and state relations The strength of this book is that the authors take up the challenge to enlarge the discussion in ways that

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