Have you heard things about Mennonites from a possibly unreliable source?
Maybe you’ve heard bits of information about us from different seemingly credible sources, people you thought ought to know what they were talking about.
But those sources contradicted each other.
You’re not looking for graduate-level disputations on the origins of Anabaptism or religion in praxis. You just want to know if you can trust the knowledge that random people are conveying to you.
If you are sometimes confused as to whose Mennonite information to trust, this blog post is for you.
Or maybe you’re in a different position. Maybe you have in your possession a little bit of knowledge about the Mennonite world and have caught yourself wondering whether to speak up when you hear others asking questions or spouting what is probably misinformation about Mennonites.
If you are sometimes not certain if you have the right to speak about the Mennonite stuff that you know, this blog post is also for you.
To keep things simple (we’re a simple people, after all), I have divided the list into three easy categories:
- People who have zero right to speak and should just shut up already;
- People who, sure, can talk about their own experience as long as they make it clear that it’s only theirs and they’re not talking about all Mennonites;
- People who might, perhaps, have a right to speak in general about who Mennonites are, what we believe and how we live.
I was going to add a fourth category for people who most definitely are qualified to speak on all things Mennonite but I decided to leave it at three categories. Because I couldn’t think of anyone to put in the fourth category.
It is worth noting, of course, that most Mennonites are pretty tolerant of people stepping outside of their lane to talk about Mennonites as long as they are saying something nice. But even that is risky as we don’t always necessarily agree on what it means to be nice.
You might be asking at this point, what right I have to set myself up as arbiter of who can and cannot speak. The answer is, of course, no right whatsoever. But if I tried to go through all the proper channels to obtain approval from all of the various Mennonite congregations and communities, this list would be a very long time in the making.
And some things are so important they just can’t wait.
Here’s the list – it’s not exhaustive and maybe I’ll amend it based on feedback. Or not. We’ll see.
People who have zero right to speak and should just shut up now
someone who is confused by seeing an Old Order, Old Colony or Conservative Mennonite using a cell phone or getting on an airplane
someone who calls us “Amish-lite”
someone whose knowledge comes from having had a Mennonite babysitter, gardener or other service provider
someone who has visited St. Jacobs, Steinbach, Lancaster or Goshen once (even if they bought something while there)
someone whose knowledge comes from reading Bonnet Romances
someone whose knowledge comes from watching TV
someone who knows only what they’ve read in the Daily Bonnet
someone who thinks they’re talking about Mennonites but aren’t sure- maybe they were thinking of Mormons
someone who has attended a Mennonite Relief Sale once
someone who thinks the idea of a Mennonite cocktail blog is improbable and/or offensive
People who, sure, can talk about their own experience as long as they make it clear that it’s only theirs and they’re not talking about all Mennonites
someone who attended a Mennonite Church for a while
someone who currently attends a Mennonite Church but doesn’t engage beyond their own congregation
someone who has been asked to speak on the behalf of their congregation on one very specific issue
someone who has a number of close friends who are or were Mennonite
someone who married into a Mennonite family and/or has Mennonite extended family
someone whose ancestors were Mennonite
someone who has lived in St. Jacobs, Steinbach, Lancaster or Goshen
someone who grew up in one particular subgroup of the Mennonite faith and then left before learning about any of the others
someone who grew up in one particular subgroup of the Mennonite faith, didn’t leave but still doesn’t know about any others
someone who grew up in the Kleine Gemeinde Mennonite Church and then went on to become a world famous novelist
someone who read about Mennonites in a credible work of literary fiction
someone who read a scholarly work about Mennonites and/or attended a single lecture
someone who attended a Mennonite high school or college
someone who knows the significance of zwiebach, borscht and verenijke or shoofly pie and scrapple
someone who can speak plautdeutch or Pennsylvania Dutch and knows the existence of the other
someone who went on a Mennonite heritage tour
someone who attends a Mennonite Relief Sale whenever possible
someone who has played Cards against the the Mennonites but not read any of the Drunken Mennonite blog
People who might, perhaps, have a right to speak in general about who Mennonites are, what we believe and how we live
someone who regularly attends a Mennonite Church and has attended at least one congregational meeting
someone who pastors a Mennonite Church
someone who has been asked to speak on behalf of a larger Church body and takes seriously representing the diversity of people within that body
someone who grew up in one particular subgroup of the Mennonite faith, and took the time to learn about some others
someone who has an advanced degree in Mennonite theology, history and/or culture
someone who was once a controversial Mennonite author but has since been given an award by at least one Mennonite institution of higher education
someone who has attended a Mennonite conference at the subnational, national and international level
someone who annually volunteers at a Mennonite Relief Sale and/or buys more than their own weight in fried food at said sale
someone who has read every post of the Drunken Mennonite blog
Yes, that last one is there just to give me a pass.
But also you.
Just go back and read my back catalogue and then next time you’re challenged over drinks about your Mennonite knowledge, you can just throw it back in the doubters’ faces by telling them you know that your Mennonite knowledge is good and true because you read it on the Drunken Mennonite blog.
That’ll ensure your credibility. Every time.
And speaking of drinks, today’s recipe is called the Qualified Speaker and is an adaptation of the classic Loud Speaker cocktail. I maintain that it is better to be qualified than loud.
The Qualified Speaker
- 1 1/4 oz gin
- 1 1/4 oz brandy
- 1 oz triple sec or cointreau
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 2 dashes anise bitters
Fill shaker halfway with ice. Add gin, brandy, triple sec and lemon juice. Shake vigorously until chilled and well mixed. Strain into cocktail glass and top with bitters. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel and drink like you have all the authority in the world.