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Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church
March 14, 2007 2:51 PM   Subscribe

"Pray for the Hartzler family. Their youngest has left the church and no longer believes that Christ died for her sins. She buys clothes at the mall. Tongue pierced, nose as well. Her shirt shows her belly where a ring of gold sprouts. We pray she will remember that her Lord's side was pierced, that His crown held no gold, only the dried blood of His brow."

Shamash thinks the prayer request in this poem might be written for her. Despite her start in a Mennonite family, she is now an "international traveller living and teaching in Asia."
posted by The Light Fantastic (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
How cool! that poem stood out when I heard it on the Writer's Almanac (Child only half-formed: head turned the wrong way; heart laid on the outside of her chest; one leg little more than an afterthought.) Of course I could listen to Mr Keillor read from the Taco Bell ingredients list and feel inspired...

I wish I knew more about the poem -- did he take prayer requests as writ or just take inspiration from them? Is the poet Mennonite?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:09 PM on March 14, 2007


what a beautiful poem. thank you.
posted by nasreddin at 3:33 PM on March 14, 2007


Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not hers.

And Shakespeare weeps for poetry's crimes, like that one.

Straight from
the Bukowski
school of placing line breaks
in (banal) prose &
calling it a
poem.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm siding with the Mennonites until that woman makes me french toast as delicious as the portion served to me by Mennonites at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.

Mennonites make delicious baked goods and wear amusing bonnets. She probably makes patchouli smells and wears unamusing old Birkenstocks.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:45 PM on March 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley, c'mon now! We're a lot more complicated than that...

I Googled the author; he appears to be a Methodist, but grew up in Elkhart, IN, so I'm sure he has at least a partial handle on the Mennonite experience (it's kinda hard to escape in that part of the country).

As for the prayer requests: I grew up Menno and from my experience, the poet took inspiration from them rather than taking them as writ. The spirit captured in the poem is fairly accurate, but most Mennonites I know would not be quite so eloquent (they're not EVER this flowry or honest, even the liberal ones). Although...the prayer leader may indeed have contributed some choice phrases and ideas, and the initial impetus for the requests rings true (I doubt they all occurred in one service though - that would be one doozy of a worship service).

I'm not gonna comment on the poem, except to say yawn...Julia Kasdorf does this stuff better.

Thanks for the link to Shamash's blog - my folks are not as conservative as hers (judging from the photos), but pretty close...always nice to find a link to a fellow former Mennonite.
posted by Knicke at 3:50 PM on March 14, 2007


Your favorite band/poet sucks.
posted by basicchannel at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2007


they're not EVER this flowry or honest, even the liberal ones

There are liberal Mennonites?

Isn't that like being a technophilic Amish?
posted by Target Practice at 3:57 PM on March 14, 2007


Of course I could listen to Mr Keillor read from the Taco Bell ingredients list and feel inspired..

Fuck Garrison Keillor. Garrison Keillor: A Bigot's Home Companion
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on March 14, 2007


Yeah, there ARE liberal Mennonites - quite a few of 'em. Actually, the root values of Mennonites are pretty liberal (or at least "hippified") - pacifism, respect for nature and human beings, social justice. It's just that these values are often expressed outwardly in a way that seems repressive to many (i.e. special clothing, special cars, etc.)

They don't all wear bonnets.
posted by Knicke at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2007


Buys clothes at the mall? She's a witch!
posted by Slothrup at 4:16 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Target Practice : Isn't that like being a technophilic Amish?

It could happen.

Check out the wheels on that cart, rowr slick. And look at that axe, double bit with a hickory handle. That is the shit right there...

I'm paraphrasing of course.
posted by quin at 4:21 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Garrison Keillor says dumb things real purty.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2007


One extremely liberal Mennonite here!
posted by Cosine at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2007


Mayor Curley, c'mon now! We're a lot more complicated than that...

I'm teasing. I am so positive on 10,000 Villages. My wife and I registered there for our wedding. We shop there whenever we can. And talk it up to our friends.

Thank you, Mennonites, for making the world a better place.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:32 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


We do what we can.
posted by Cosine at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2007


to at least try to balance out the Catholics. ;)
posted by Cosine at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2007


ericb, I don't wish to take this thread offtopic, but those first two links remind me of the conservative pundits and politicians who've embarrassed themselves by taking the Daily Show and Colbert Report's segments in earnest.

In any case, I think there's a distinction that needs to be made between homophobia and dislike of gay men who act the part of the stereotypical homosexual. Being around that sort of person is like being around a black guy who acts like a minstrel show.
posted by Target Practice at 5:03 PM on March 14, 2007


Target Practice : Isn't that like being a technophilic Amish?

Actually, from what I've read, the Amish aren't against technology, they're against being beholden to outside (aka "english") influences, like your friendly local electric co.

(Many Amish use electric generators, and cellular phones--though I believe mobiles are still under "review" status.)

You could say that the Amish started the "living off the grid" movement.
posted by retronic at 6:09 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Love Shamash's blog and feel for her being rejected and judged for wanting to be true to herself. She seems to be a thoughtful, interesting and genuine person.Thanks for this post.
posted by nickyskye at 8:44 PM on March 14, 2007


I will allow no criticism of the fine people who invented the funnel cake.
posted by unreason at 3:59 AM on March 15, 2007


The poet taught creative writing and American Literature to me at Goshen, a Mennonite liberal arts college in northern Indiana. A whole school of people write stylistically muted prose-poems on Mennonite themes (Davis, Julia Kasdorf, Jeff Gundy, Ann Hostetler, etc.), and several of them were in our English department at the time. Politically and culturally, these poets are much closer, by the way, to Shamash than to the people this poem describes.

As an arrogant undergraduate, I didn't have a lot of time for modern academic poetry, with its small-run journals and coterie appeal, and Mennonite ethno-lit was particularly unappealing to me. Now I think this poem is pretty nice, I guess.
posted by sy at 5:57 AM on March 15, 2007


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