We’ll never get enough of our listeners’ letters of growing up in whichever religious community they did. And this week we had TWO Mennonite stories, a Jesus alter, and
Here are the letters we read on the podcast:
From Anonymous Mennonite:
Hey Karen and Bonnie!
I just want to say I LOVE your podcast! It gives me way more life than Jesus ever did.
Over the years my family attended basically every kind of church in search of God’s will for us: Methodist, Presbyterian, a Non-denominational mega-church, a small Southern Baptist church that met in a public school, charismatic churches, a Pentecostal church….so many sometimes I lose track! I guess we were chasing the anointing or something. God works in mysterious ways.
However the crowning jewel in my church attendance tiara is the two years when my family became Mennonites. My parents were not born Mennonites….that’s just what they felt God was calling us to be.
We actually moved STATES to begin this new lifestyle. We visited two churches to get a feel for which would best fit us. The first church we visited turned out to be too conservative for our comfort. If we joined this church, we could still drive a car, but it had to be painted black (to avoid being gaudy) and we would also have to remove the radio (to get rid of the temptation of worldly music). We women could only wear certain colors, though which ones have escaped my memory, and the ankle-length dresses could only be solid colors (no patterned fabric). We decided to try a different church.
The next church we ended up sticking with! It was more lenient in its standards. No required car colors, we could keep the radio (though you really should only listen to classical music or hymns sung a cappella), and dresses could be any color or patterned fabric! Just no red–red is the color of harlots.
I have to say, my favorite memory of our time there was when my parents and I told them we “went to see the orchestra.” We really went to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert, but we were NOT supposed to listen to that evil genre of music called *rock*, so we had to leave out a few convenient details to get babysitters for my young siblings. I mean, it wasn’t technically a lie, right? There was a mini-orchestra!!
Anyway, I am no longer a Mennonite, nor do I attend church of any kind. In fact, I’m about as far from Mennonite as you can get! I have piercings and purple hair, I wear shorts and leggings, and I have a baby with my boyfriend. The most scandalous part is probably the shorts though.
Thank you for the podcast, and I hope this letter brought some entertainment!
From Anonymous Mennonite:
So I grew up Mennonite, the kind that isn’t allowed to drink, dance, smoke, watch movies or have sex, but can wear regular clothing. A post-modern mennonite, if you will. Anyhoo. It’s the mid-80s and I’m at bible college where I have a few really fun friends but am actually kinda shy with a healthy dose of social anxiety. One evening, the whole campus worth of us Christian kids are told to drive to the riverbank a few miles away for a whopping good evening of wholesome fun. To get there, we had to carpool but I hadn’t made any pre-plans for this so I had to run around searching for a free seat in any car I could find. I walk past full car after full car.and I am in social hell right there. Finally I find a car with space for me but with 3 relative strangers: The driver, a devout but desperate for a wife Mennonite farmer boy; a girl who was once pranked with a muffin served in a jock strap, and she ATE IT; and a boy whom I was familiar with because of his spectacular zit collection and poor oral hygiene. And guess who I got to cram in beside. Yep. His leg was resting against mine – perhaps a bit more than necessary, but it was a little Honda Civic so I let it go. He also seemed a bit fidgety but I thought nothing of that either at the time. And anyway, it was a short drive to the river; this awkward foursome would disband soon. Or so I thought. So we get to the river bank and yada yada a good time was probably had by some, but then, when it was time to drive back to campus, we all crammed back into our rides and gun for campus but one minute into the ride back our car ran out of gas. (Remember the 80s, when we could throw a $5 in the tank and hope for the best? Ya. Didn’t work out too well that day.) We watched as car after car drove around us to get back. No one stopped! To this day I can see retreating tail lights in the dust and hear myself whisper yelling NOOOOO! COME BACK! So we sat there for a few long minutes expecting someone to realize we hadnt returned. Minutes turned to HOURS. Evening turned to night. It got cold. At one point FarmerBoy suggested that we get out of the car and stand to pray for help. Zit guy, whom I will now refer to as AssItch got an itchy ass and started scootching his but against the seat, so I was 100% in on getting out and calling on Jesus to help get me outta there. We got out of the car and stood in a circle while FarmerBoy called out to Jesus in his most reverent pray-voice. We got back in the car. We sat in silence. AssItch scootched his itchy butt. Farmer boy tried to turn the car on to warm us up, but no gas. More butt scootching (And as crammed in as we were, when he was itching his butt against the seat, he was itching it against me too). The driver called for us all to get out and pray again. So we get out and call out to the Lord for salvation. Aaaand back in we go. All is silent except for the sound of denim against car seat, just rubbing away. More hours tick by and now it is very cold and not as dark outside. Farmer boy suggests we all get out and pray again. I say, “I’m pretty sure God can hear through metal,” because as gross as AssItch was, I was freezing. That logic did not sit well with FarmerBoy. He got out to pray all by himself, at which point the sun was coming up and he realized there was a driveway to a farmhouse about 10 feet from our stalled car.. I said ‘well shiiiiit’ at the same time as JockMuffin yelled ‘praise the Lord!’ (Different perspectives, I guess.) AssItch and Farmerboy went to fetch some help while JockMuffin and I waited like good menno girls. When we finally got back to campus everyone else was heading into first class. I bumped into my roommate, who beamed a sweet smile and said, “Oh! I was wondering where you were!” This experience confirmed to me that I was totally expendable even to my Christian friends, and no one would notice or ever come looking if I went missing (and actually, leaving the church proved this theory to be right on the money.). Too bad I hadn’t been in a car with some hot guys, a bottle of vodka and some Marlborough’s – I wonder what THAT would have done for my theology. Anyway I wish nothing but the best for JockMuffin, I hope AssItch got some relief, and hope that FarmerBoy find a good wife and a full tank somewhere out on the mission field. As for me today, I never leave home without a solid pack of smokes and an empty bladder. Oh – and I have a husband with a squeaky clean butt. #thingsthatbecomedealbreakers #mennolife #adooverwoulddefinitelyincludeVodka
Stay classy you two! Thanks for the chuckles!
A couple of weeks ago I was with a group riding bicycles across Missouri on the KATY Trail (Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, MKT or KATY). This was a 5-day adventure during which I caught up on the podcast and listened to many episodes. Somewhere abound mile 150 I decided to write and tell my story. So here we go.
To start, here are a couple anecdotes about how goofy the Catholic Church was in the 60’s.
I grew up Catholic in Northeast Indiana and went to Catholic schools for 12 years in the 60’s and 70’s. In elementary school all students went to mass every school day before classes started. This was back in the day when all girls had to wear a head covering in church. If a girl forgot her little lace head covering (looked like the doily under a cake), one of the Nuns would bobby-pin a tissue to her head. I guess wearing Kleenex on her head made all the difference.
Prior to 1964, a person was required to refrain from eating or drinking anything (other than water and medicine) starting at midnight before receiving communion. So here we were, a church full of children who hadn’t eaten since the evening before trying to be devout and pay attention to the same service we attended yesterday and would attend tomorrow. Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964 reduced the fast to a period of one hour.
So on to my specific story.
I am very left-handed. Well, this was a problem for the Nun teaching 2nd grade. As we were learning cursive writing she would constantly force me to use my right hand. She took particular enjoyment in calling me a “child of the devil” because I was left-handed. After a few days of this she started smacking my knuckles with a ruler whenever I used my left hand. One day after being smacked so many time my knuckles were raw I snatched the ruler from her hand, broke it across my knee and screamed: “Stop hitting me Bitch!”
She dragged me by my ear up 2 flights of marble stairs to the principal’s office where they called my Father. While waiting for Dad, the Monsignor (basically the senior pastor and head of the school) arrived and was glaring at me too. I was sitting in the principal’s outer office scared out of my mind when Dad arrived. He walked past me into the inner office and closed the door. My Father was a relatively soft-spoken man but when he talked it was a good idea to listen. Through the door I hear him say to the teacher, the principal, and the Monsignor: “If you ever touch my son again, I will tear this building down around your ears.”
Dad and I walked out together, got in the car, and drove home. The only thing he ever said about the incident was: “I understand your motivation but I don’t approve of your method.”
I learned much later that Dad was left-handed in his youth and ran into the same problem in school. Needless to say, I learned cursive with my left hand.
That is just one of the many stories from my Catholic school days.
Thank you for the great podcast and the community you have built. Listening to you made bicycle riding across Missouri a lot more enjoyable.
I went to film school at a private Christian University 5 years ago where they taught us to make films for Jesus. One time, one of my classmates ran into a 7th day Adventist wandering around campus on their way to class. (I don’t know why one was on a Christian campus. I don’t think they would be converting anyone.) They handed him a postcard with a picture of white Jesus on the front. He brought it to class with him and we all started laughing about the stereotypical whiteness, cuz we were “woke” Christians that knew Jesus couldn’t possibly look American. Anyway, we ended up passing the image around the room, and everyone added a doodle or signed it. In the end, we had Jesus (Who had his hands open upward in the TV carrying position), wearing headphones, smoking a joint, and had fire bursting from his hands. We hung it up on a billboard in the main building area and created a shrine to white Jesus. He has been up there for several years now.
Karen and Bonnie, love the podcast! It has been a huge help to me personally as I have been walking through deconverting from Christianity. It is nice to know there are other people out there going through the same thing.