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  • Direction: Artists, Citizens, Philosophers
    29 7 to seek the welfare shalom of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare NRSV as the guiding wisdom for a Christian response to the world The notion of an exile seeking the shalom of the city allows Friesen to acknowledge that there is not a monolithic response that Christians will give to the non Christian culture At some points Christians will cooperate with the culture and at other points Christians will challenge the existing culture The teleological character of Friesen s proposal seeking the goal of God s shalom provides a fertile ground for Christian engagement with culture The first section of the book is however marred by Friesen s use of the theology of Gordon Kaufman to ground his account Kaufman takes a Kantian approach to theology a person can have no direct awareness of God but only human perceptions of God We cannot have knowledge of ultimate reality In chapter 3 Bread and Meaning Friesen clearly identifies himself with Kaufman in such claims as I am aware that all views of God are human constructions 65 and God is that symbol in terms of which everything is to be understood and interpreted 69 On this account God is not a person but a symbol that human beings have constructed Fortunately it seems that much of what Friesen says could be grounded in a realist view of God The second section of the book Engaging Culture Seeking the Peace of the City discusses three areas in which Christians can seek shalom for the culture in which they find themselves the arts social involvement and the quest for wisdom Friesen intends these areas to be suggestive of how to

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/artists-citizens-philosophers.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: God's Healing Strategy
    God s consistent concern and methods to bring healing to the cosmos Chapters 2 3 5 and 6 cover Genesis Exodus and some of the prophetic tradition and articulate particularly well the theme of healing Samuel and Kings in chapter 4 are fruitfully brought into the discussion of the role of Israel s leadership in God s strategy Chapter 7 summarizes the message of the Old Testament and provides a bridge into the New Testament Such a brief work cannot possibly cover all the biblical writings and omissions are made where many biblical theologies also 113 conserve space legal texts Psalms and Wisdom literature Representative passages are used illustratively and the reader should be able to repeat and test the analysis with other passages Chapters 8 through 12 cover the New Testament and unfortunately tend toward an abbreviated survey format Jesus teachings actions death and resurrection are addressed using Mark the expansion of the church using Acts and Romans and the tribulation of the church through Revelation The unique and valuable contributions of the other Gospels and epistles are passed over which is one of the shortcomings of this approach to biblical theology The synthetic treatment of God s healing

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/gods-healing-strategy.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: On the Backroad to Heaven
    resignation to God s will yielding to others gentleness a calm spirit contentment and a quiet acceptance of whatever comes Gelassenheit is the opposite of assertive individualism Its meaning is woven into the fabric of Old Order life and underscores the most fundamental difference between Old Order culture and modern values The authors address some of the myths and misunderstandings that enshroud Old Order life Here are a few examples of myths which are helpfully clarified Old Orders are social antiques ignorant and backward declining and dying The reality is that Old Orders are not cultural fossils but are constantly changing and shifting their cultural fences While many Old Orders do drive horse drawn carriages and all of them ban certain types of technology none of them categorically boycott modern devices All four groups use state of the art technology selectively and somewhat cautiously A further reality is that Old Orders are far from ignorant While formal education is limited they have practical skills and wisdom Hutterites and Old Order Mennonites are highly successful farmers while Amish and Brethren are astute entrepreneurs Finally many Old Order groups rather than declining are thriving Some are doubling almost every generation Large families and strong retention rates rather than missionary efforts have produced growth The essence of as well as the challenge to Old Order life is discussed in the excellent closing chapter Ironies of a Postmodern Journey which describes ironies faced by all Anabaptist groups seeking to be true to their spiritual heritage Old Order communities look to the past for their moral compass and are grounded in the collective 115 understandings enshrined in their Ordnung i e rules and discipline Developed over the generations these rules for living provide a blueprint for an orderly way of life Old Orders exemplify a

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/on-backroad-to-heaven.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Liberty in Confinement
    ways as hostile to him as the sixteenth century religious culture was to his Anabaptist forebears Reimer briefly gives his hero Mennonite roots but without any particularly favorable emphasis Vanya is identified as an Evangelical Baptist We learn that Vanya had formerly been a Communist and that at the technical institute he attended he had given the impression he was an atheist Reimer apparently intended to create only enough of a past for his hero to give meaning to his conversion to Christianity As the story develops Vanya finds himself railroaded during his army induction into regular military service without getting the slightest opportunity to exercise any of the astuteness he had confidently hoped would get him assigned to noncombatant duty Reimer is uncompromising in his development of his love your enemies theme but his treatment never becomes preachy Far from being a religious tract this work is a consistently interesting narrative with a robust central character whose refusal to strike back enhances not only his own spirituality but also wins the respect of those who first hate him This novel will appeal to a wide range of interests Analytical fiction readers will appreciate Reimer s knowing characterizations especially of Russian military types Readers with theological concerns will probably compare Vanya s Christianity characterized by an otherworldly obedience to Christ no matter what the cost to the no cost type of Christianity practiced by those who see in Christ mostly a free insurance policy against personal perdition regardless of how they live in this world The original version of this work shows Reimer in solid command of idiomatic German Although the English translation is generally adequate it frequently blunts details of Reimer s expressions Unfortunately there are also other truncations substitutions and omissions throughout the translation Actual errors are less

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/liberty-in-confinement.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: From the Ground Up: Mennonite Contributions to International Peacebuilding
    important role Mennonites have played as outsiders supporting and partnering with the efforts of local peacemakers Mark Chupp describes the broader context for MCC involvement in Central America in discussing various facets of the Peace Portfolio Project there Chupp s primary focus is on his assistance in the process of disarmament and demobilization in the years following U S sponsored wars throughout the region There he assisted with mediation conflict resolution training and the accompaniment of Nicaraguan peace commissions and individual peacemakers His concluding reflections on being an outsider are contrasted with Colombian Ricardo Esquivia s account of his peacemaking efforts in his own war torn country Describing the circumstances of his encounter with the Mennonite Church in Colombia Esquivia speaks personally and passionately about the way in which his life is completely immersed in the conflict there Having equally embraced Anabaptism he describes Mennonite involvement in peace and human rights work as deeply rooted in his own personal experience and embodied in the activities of the organization Justapaz Throughout Esquivia combines vision opportunity and the urgent need to resist violence as giving direction to his work In his chapter on MCC efforts in Somalia Lederach asserts the significance of pre war programs in health and education and more importantly the relationships nurtured through them for establishing 119 new opportunities for peacebuilding Lederach identifies six tracks of MCC involvement ranging from its original relief and development work to in country conciliation and disarmament efforts again concluding with several principles which have guided past efforts and promise to provide direction for the future His more analytical chapter is nicely complimented by one of only two contributions by women in this section In chapter ten Bonnie Bergey gives vitality to MCC s role in Somalia by documenting the circumstances of her work and life there and in recounting her ability to pursue meaningful involvement while making sense of the chaos of bullets around her Never quite clear about what precise peacebuilding role she was playing Bergey s approach admittedly has the appearance of being without direction However the reader comes away with an appreciation for the necessity for peacemakers to carefully and cautiously navigate the ever shifting terrain of opening and closing pathways both small and large For these lend themselves to appropriate peacebuilding by both insiders and outsiders In another account from the African continent Barry Hart describes his participation with a trauma healing and reconciliation team in post war Liberia an increasingly necessary role which was then on the cutting edge of international peacebuilding efforts Of the nine Hart s chapter works most extensively at integrating the theory and practice related to intervention models methodologies and other concepts having to do with the analysis and understanding of peace related work This makes it a slightly more academic approach but still maintains its feel as a personal narrative Kathleen Kern s chapter on The CPT Experiment serves as the final on the ground account by an active peacemaker While Kern locates

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/from-ground-up-mennonite-contributions.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Nonviolent Atonement
    narrative Christus Victor understanding of the atonement as the best alternative to either the Anselmian satisfaction or the Abelardian moral influence views He argues that these two latter views especially the Anselmian both rely on necessary violence in making Jesus sacrificial death required for salvation and hence are not ultimately consistent with Christian pacifism Drawing on black feminist and womanist theologies Weaver argues that traditional atonement views go hand in hand with violent oppression These various nonmainstream theologies each helpfully point to alternative understandings of atonement but Weaver believes that they need to be enhanced by additional elements of narrative Christus Victor particularly that of making the nonviolent life and teachings of Jesus central to the doctrine Weaver s take on atonement theology will be as notable for the reactions it fosters as for the positive theses it illumines From Weaver s right questions might arise about the biblical grounding of his argument He does interact with biblical materials but only briefly and he does not interact in any depth with more traditional ways of dealing with the biblical materials Those on Weaver s left might question whether he actually has succeeded in excising the notion that Jesus had to

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/nonviolent-atonement.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Reclaiming the Old Testament
    theology The second part of the book The Old Testament Speaks is composed of eleven essays most of them interpreting an Old Testament text image or theme for use in the Mennonite church today The section Freeing the Old Testament to Speak follows Janzen s essay with chapters by Adolf Ens and Helmut Harder analyzing the use of the OT in Mennonite preaching and the 1995 Mennonite Confession of Faith respectively John H Neufeld suggests that the reasons and challenges for preaching the OT include a shared theological orientation specific theological convictions and vocabulary and the OT narrative 123 structure Wesley J Bergen demonstrates a postmodern reading listening process Elmer A Martens suggests that a biblical theology for the whole Bible can be advanced through rethinking old paradigms and using intertextuality as an interpretive theological method Part Two The Old Testament Speaks opens with Victor G Doerksen s reflections on historical and contemporary Christian hymnody based on his reading of C S Lewis and the biblical psalms In her autobiographical review of Hebrew and English literature Margaret Loewen Reimer invites the reader to re mythologize the Old Testament In Reading Psalm 139 Lydia Harder uses the tension which lies at the heart of the psalm to show how that very ambiguity informs theological psychological and sociopolitical interpretations of the text Using the Sinai tabernacle pericope of Exodus 25 10 22 Millard C Lind argues that OT prophecy was institutionalized within the cultic Torah paradigm Titus F Guenther explores the missionary vision and practice of the OT people namely witnessing to God s promise to unite all nations into God s covenant people 163 Jo Ann Brant posits that the sword functions as a symbol of discipleship absorbing rather than dispensing violence Daniel Epp Tiessen develops the thesis that the OT

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/reclaiming-old-testament.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Current Research
    standing with Lubicon while simultaneously acknowledging the many factors that separated them from each other The study analyzes two specific collective actions a blockade of Lubicon territory in 1988 and the establishment of a nongovernmental commission of inquiry in 1992 as attempts to enact this 129 solidarity relationship The blockade is a collective action which was developed and implemented by the Lubicon who then invited interchurch and other supporters to stand with them in solidarity The commission exemplifies an attempt to set up an intermediary structure with overlapping advocacy and mediating roles The study then examines the impact of both actions on the power and cultural differentials separating the Lubicon from their non Aboriginal supporters It concludes that the maintenance of a strong advocacy and solidarity relationship requires not only the willingness to empower the Lubicon in various collective actions but also a sensitivity to the cultural boundaries between the two parties and the willingness and opportunity to sustain ongoing supportive relationships across cultures Klassen Wiebe Sheila Called to Mission A Narrative Critical Study of the Character and Mission of the Disciples in the Gospel of Luke Doctor of Philosophy Biblical Studies New Testament Richmond VA Union Theological Seminary 2001 Advisor Jack Dean Kingsbury Current Position Assistant Professor of New Testament Canadian Mennonite University Winnipeg Manitoba This dissertation traces how the implied reader is led to construct a portrait of the character and mission of Jesus disciples through a sequential narrative reading of the Gospel of Luke The approach used is narrative criticism which treats the Gospel as a coherent and unified narrative in which individual events such as the sendings of the twelve and the seventy two are considered in terms of the flow of the whole story rather than in terms of a situation outside the narrative world The narrator employs a variety of techniques to guide the reader s understanding of what it means to be a disciple engaged in mission and to help the reader evaluate the disciples From the first appearance of the disciples it is evident that involvement in Jesus mission is an integral part of being a disciple of Jesus 5 1 11 The centrality of mission for discipleship is also apparent in the fact that the disciples are commissioned by Jesus for mission work not only in the beginning but also in the middle 9 1 6 10 10 1 24 and at the end 24 44 49 of the gospel story Although their participation in Jesus mission of preaching and healing begins already during his earthly ministry Jesus warnings about rejection and persecution remain unfulfilled and lead the reader to anticipate that these will characterize the disciples mission at a 130 future time Luke s gospel story recounts how the disciples are trained by Jesus to carry out their mission and to live as his faithful followers The tension in the story is created by their conflict with Jesus as he leads them from being uncomprehending fearful followers to bold witnesses

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/31/1/current-research.html (2016-02-16)
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