Magical Memoir Moments

Grandson Owen, tree climber.

The Purpose of Memories: The Question I Am Carrying from May

The month of May zipped by so fast. It was a full month. It was a busy month. Let’s start with this man and his talk at the Family History Conference: New Arrivals in a New Land, in Lancaster, PA, on May 20. John L. Ruth, historian and storyteller, told how three ships came sailing…

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MJ Sharp: A “Sparkplug” Who Lived and Died for Peace

Perhaps you read about him or heard about him on the news? The young United Nations peace worker who was kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 12, 2017, and whose body, along with a colleague’s, was found in a shallow grave on March 26? His name was Michael Jesse Sharp. He…

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Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1999. Photo by John L. Ruth

What Hath John L. Ruth to Do with Hillary R. Clinton?

Mennonite historian and storyteller John L. Ruth doesn’t usually wade into national politics. So I was surprised to find the photo below on p. 376 of his book Branch: A Memoir with Pictures. Not since H. S. Bender announced Marilyn Monroe’s suicide at the 1962 Mennonite World Conference has a more surprising juxtaposition occurred. In…

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Rest, Rock, and Roll: Some Thoughts about Rhythm from the Road

We’ve been a rockin’ and a rollin’ again! We don’t exactly jitterbug like these couples, but we are on the move! In fact, I’m writing these words in Indiana on the way to Ohio. Last week we visited Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. This morning we started out with breakfast with a dozen people who attend…

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Grandparenting: How it Helps Us to Simplify

I’m sitting at my desk, looking out at the mountains, and thinking about speaking to more than 100 Mennonite women this Friday night at the Amigo Centre, a place I know well, not too far from Sturgis, Michigan. The subject is Recovering Simplicity, a topic that Mennonites have grappled with for a long time and…

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Black Like Me: What I Learned by Listening to Black Voices Then and Now

Even though no black students were enrolled at Warwick High School in Lititz, Pennsylvania, 1962-1966, the years I attended, I was not completely unaware of the Civil Rights Movement. I had Mr. Price for my American history teacher. He urged us to read about injustice and imagine what it must be like to deal with…

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Taking a Turn Toward the Sixties, Mennonite Memoir Style

1966 That’s the year I heard the gravel crunch in the driveway of our Pennsylvania farm as my parents drove me and a few worldly possessions to Eastern Mennonite College. Today I’m suddenly curious about the world I lived in then and alert to the many other windows to the past currently online. Today I’ll…

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Does BLUSH Have a Sequel?: The Box in the Basement

Readers have been asking if Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World has a sequel. My honest answer is that I don’t know. However, this box has been whispering to me. “Come look.” From out of the stack of albums pictured below, a little voice squeaks: “Play me, Shirley, Shirley bo burley.” So, I am…

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Carpe Diem: A Tribute to Robin Williams

When I heard the news of Robin Williams’ death on August 11, 2014, I felt it viscerally, along with so many other people around the world. I’ve seen most of his most famous movies, but the one I thought of immediately was Dead Poet Society, a film I have often watched with English majors. The…

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On Being Not Quite Amish: A Mennonite Perspective

Last evening, as Stuart and I came into Union Station by train here in Chicago, we followed two young Amish families. They walked rapidly, carrying a matching powder blue luggage set without wheels, assorted other bags, and several babies. The men wore black hats. The women black bonnets, black hose, and long dresses. Everyone around…

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