Search Results for: Pacifism

A messy journey from military service to pacifism

February 8, 2018 Third Way

By Austin Kocher I did not join the military out of a duty to America (whatever that means), or because military service ran in the family. I joined because I wanted out of Ohio, I wanted college money, and I wanted to challenge myself as much as I could. However, it is important to say that there was nothing in my social and religious world at the time that would have challenged my decision to enlist. In fact, enlisting is an easy way for working class people to earn instant social capital in the form of respect, admiration, and deference. […]

Former German Army officer leaves legacy of Christian pacifism

April 1, 2016 Thirdway

By Amy Duekman, Canadian Mennonite correspondent in British Columbia. Siegfried Wilhelm Bartel was born in Prussia, now Poland, into a successful Mennonite farming family. Pacifism had ceased to become important to the Prussian Mennonites, and Bartel voluntarily enlisted in the German army in 1937, before the start of the Second World War. He moved up the ranks quickly. During the war, he was wounded twice and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. Bartel died recently at the age of 101; later in his life he would become an ardent advocate for peace and an influential Mennonite figure in Canada. […]


March 13, 2015 Thirdway

Jesus knew that people of faith would run into governments and societies that would not appreciate them. He said, “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Follow this link to read all of Matthew 5. “If we believe in the final victory of God over evil forces, then we should be willing to wait for it. We do not have to try to hurry up God’s victory by causing suffering to our present enemies, or by killing them.” –Lois Barrett, Mennonite theologian, in The Way God Fights, Herald Press, 1987 Early Anabaptists in the 16th century were frequently persecuted for their […]


August 23, 2014 Thirdway

Mennonites believe strongly that Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, which means that killing someone else, even in war, is not a Jesus-like response. Most Mennonites do not participate in the military or war making. Mennonites do encourage young men and women to give a year or more of their lives in service to the good of humankind, and for all to practice forgiving love as they live each day. There is a cost to following this path: Jesus ultimately died as a pacifist, and many early Anabaptist believers were persecuted and killed for their beliefs. See more in […]

Examine motivations

September 29, 2017 Celeste Kennel-Shank

It all began with a squash plant, a Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck, to be exact. Like all winter squash, it needs room to grow and many weeks to mature. Too late, I realized I had only ever grown winter squash in patches, and I couldn’t have told you where each plant started and stopped. Knowing the truth about ourselves begins with being honest about our innermost thoughts and motivations. Foolishly, I thought if we only planted one we’d have room in our small garden. The plant took over our entire lawn, producing 50 pounds of squash we harvested and ate all […]

Stories of Peace: A tradition of resistance

April 17, 2017 Thirdway

A tradition of resistance By Gordon Houser When Native people introduce themselves, says Erica Littlewolf, especially to other Natives, they speak of their tribe. They introduce themselves as individuals inside a larger community that involves a land base. In the same way, when I ask her about her passion and why she does what she does, Littlewolf says her work involves “continuing a tradition of resistance.” Her tribe, Northern Cheyenne, was held captive in Oklahoma over a century ago. “They knew they would be hunted by the U.S. government if they went to Montana,” she says, “but they did it […]

Peacemaking as a way of life

March 8, 2017 Thirdway

By Katie Hurst, intern for The Mennonite For Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian Mennonite, peacemaking is more than a concept; it’s a way of life. As a human rights lawyer in Israel-Palestine and the United States, Jonathan Kuttab knows the value of finding alternatives to violence as a means of solving conflict. And as a Mennonite, Kuttab recognizes the legacy of activism and social justice work that many Mennonites have upheld. Kuttab attends Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “Mennonites were radical,” he said, “and not afraid to stand up for what they believed.” Born in West Jerusalem, Kuttab and his […]

Hacksaw Ridge

November 18, 2016 Gordon Houser

It’s rare for a Hollywood film to portray pacifism. Gandhi (1982), The Mission (1986), and 2014’s Selma, among others, have depicted stories of real pacifists. While our culture produces many stories of war heroes or vigilante justice, we can’t seem to imagine pacifist actions. For that we rely on true stories. These intrusions don’t detract from the powerful story. Doss’s actions are indisputably heroic, and the film ends with portions of interviews with the real Doss, who died in 2006. Now we have another true story of a pacifist displaying great courage. Hacksaw Ridge (R) is based on the story […]

A question of priorities

October 19, 2015 Joshua Russell

By Joshua Russell How a country spends its money says a great deal about the direction it is going, the values it embraces, and which citizens are exercising the greatest influence. One way to determine a country’s priorities is to examine how it spends its money. In the United States, one of the largest and longest-standing budget priorities is the military. U.S. military spending is projected to come close to $600 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, which is by far the most of any country in the world. The United States spends almost three times more than China, the second-highest […]


April 15, 2015 Thirdway

We invite you to join us in discussion of Capital Punishment in our Table Talk section. Below is an excerpt of the early dialogue following this section’s posting. Joshua: I must start off by saying that I am generally against the death penalty. I think that it sends a very mixed message: killing someone to show them that killing is wrong. I have heard all of the arguments for capital punishment: it costs too much to imprison people, a life sentence is just too lax for their crimes, but I feel very strongly that we should not “play God.” I […]