Sunday, August 08, 2004

Real Christians in Texas

Yesterday, Lisa and I ate at a small Mennonite restaurant here in Garland. To say the food was good would be an understatement. If you live in Dallas, check out Marlo’s house. It is run by Mother/Father/Daughter and it is neat to watch a family work together. However good the food was, and it was good, that is not why I am bringing them up.

I knew nothing about the Mennonites when I entered the restaurant and I still know very little. But I could observe how they interact with each other and how they treat their customers. They treat each other with respect and affection. They treat their clients with respect and make them very welcome. Now, I do get some raised eyebrows when I come in. That is because I am wearing my Utilikilt. These are not raised eyebrows of disapproval (believe me, I have come to recognize that look). They are raised eyebrows of curiosity.

Inside this little restaurant I am able to relax. It feels welcoming and intimate.

The little I know about Mennonites comes from a brochure in the restaurant introducing the local Mennonite church, Peace Mennonite Church. Now that is a cool name for a church: Peace. On the first inside panel of the brochure (don’t be thinking glossy, four color pamphlet here, this is a Xeroxed, folded piece of plain copy paper) the Pastor introduces himself and the Mennonite faith.

He says “ . . . we believe we are called to follow Jesus in a radical way.”

If you have read any of this blog, you know I am a Witch. I have little patience for Christians who insist on conversion. Normally this statement would make my hackles rise and I would be gearing up for a confrontation. Following the Pastor’s statement is a Biblical quote I have never seen before:
“He has told you, O mortal what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk, humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Micah is in the Old Testament. I would not have expected to find a God of justice and kindness there.

Still, I prefer to judge people based on actions, not words. So what is it Mennonites do?
• Founded the Dallas Peace Center (my wife, Lisa is a member although not active) in 1981
• Revlon Supper Club which provides home cooked meals for clients of AIDS services of Dallas (I think my mother-in-law does this)
• Damascus Road Anti-Racism Program
• Communidad Child Care Center offering affordable child care

These Mennonites are quite intimidating. Apparently, rather than follow the traditional Christian model of paying lip service to the words of Christ and then going out and behaving like a savage, they actually strive to practice what they preach.

The pamphlet has a section entitled “Why we’re different” and I want to reproduce it here: In a culture obsessed with earthly power and possessions we seek justice and offer mercy. In a culture obsessed with individualism and material wealth, we seek community action and simple living. In a culture that believes violence and war are real solutions, we claim peacemaking as a key teaching of Jesus, and we promote non-violent alternatives. In a culture that uses God to justify all kinds of misdeeds (sometimes via misinterpretations of scripture) we believe God expects us to love—our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves.

These are indeed radicals and one wonders whether Homeland Security has been informed!

Actually, silliness aside, I wanted to note that I have attended rituals where I did not feel at home because I did not share common values with the particular group of Witches/Pagans who were hosting the ritual. I suspect that if I attended a service at this church, I would feel at home because I have common values with these people. However, I have no idea how they would feel about having a Witch in their midst.

I'm not sure there is a particular point to this post other than the fact that it felt good to know these folks were out there. I would wish the blessings of the Goddess on them, but I am not sure they would welcome that, so instead I will wish that their concept of the Divine walk with them on this journey of life.