How to Reach Out to Families of Inmates

December 4, 2015 Melodie Davis

Editor’s Note: Lauree Purcell is a freelance writer and mother of two teenagers in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Each November, I have brought a Christmas gift to my church for the child of a prison inmate, as well as some toothpaste and pencils for the inmates themselves. Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach here in Harrisonburg, Virginia, collects and distributes these items to inmates and their families. Who is helping prison inmates in your community? Are reentry programs available for soon-to-be-released prisoners? All the recent news about drug sentencing reform has made me more sensitive to the needs of incarcerated individuals. So I […]

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 2

December 4, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

The Hunger Games series slogs to an end with the second part of the Mockingjay. If you have seen the previous three films you need to see this film to bring resolution, which is what the producers were counting on when they split the third installment into two. That seems to be the standard approach with these epic stories, which in essence is what Katniss discovers as the series draws to a close and understands how both sides in this battle have attempted to manipulate her for their own purposes, just as we are manipulated to pay for one more […]

Hopes and concerns: Canada’s involvement in Haiti

December 1, 2015 Thirdway

By Rebekah Sears, MCC Ottawa Office policy analyst I love watching our Canadian political processes unfold: elections, tracking the promises, critiquing the results, the whole game of politics. In a time of transition – a change in Prime Minister and also a change in the governing party – there are endless things to watch and monitor: who is in charge of what file, what are the governing party’s plans and promises, when can we expect results? For us at MCC’s Ottawa Office, some of the files in which we are especially interested include those relating to Canada’s role in the […]

Four Weeks, Four Church Services: What I Learned

November 27, 2015 Melodie Davis

I’ve had an unusual four weeks this fall, sort of an accidental learning tour and congregational sampling that’s been fascinating. In fact, it’s been eons since I’ve been away from my home congregation for any extended period. I newly love the way the folding chairs in my own church form a semicircle where we can hear and see each other sing, smile, dab tears—and see who’s there! This happened because I was on the pastor nominating committee, searching for a new pastor. While it has been an intensely stretching experience, and a big time commitment, it is one I’m glad […]

The Peanuts Movie

November 27, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

A friend of mine went to see The Peanuts Movie at a matinee show and reported back to me that there was no one in the theater under the age of 30. Granted, there were only about 15 people present, but for the opening weekend of a major children’s release, that’s an interesting statistic. My nine-year-old daughter thought so too, especially since we went to a matinee on Veteran’s Day with a couple of hundred other families with the same idea. Kids ruled that theater. Why, my daughter wondered, were there no kids at the other showing? Charles Schulz used […]

Paris climate talks could be a turning point

November 27, 2015 Tammy Alexander

Tammy Alexander, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office During the next two weeks, we could see an important turning point in global efforts to address the causes and effects of climate change. From November 30 through December 11, delegates from 195 countries will meet outside Paris, France, and, for the first time in more than 20 years, attempt to create a legally binding agreement to address climate change. In the year leading up to the Paris talks, many countries have made pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal to keep the rise in the average global temperature […]

The Martian

November 20, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

The Martian came out more than a month and a half ago, but there’s a very good reason it’s still in theaters, with many available showtimes. Director Ridley Scott’s latest space effort is based on a 2011 novel by Andy Weir, and it has nothing to do with nightmare aliens or cryptic plotlines. Instead, this rare non–R rated adventure film deals with one man’s Robinson Crusoe–esque sojourn on Earth’s closest neighbor, a place humanity may visit in the not so distant future. After all, it is public goodwill that ultimately drives our reach for the stars. When a sudden storm […]

Can a Guy Learn to Cook at 93?

November 20, 2015 Melodie Davis

10EasiestRecipesSamplerOn my blog and in my newspaper column back in September, I shared the cooking adventures of 12-year-old Lizzy, who cooks almost every weeknight for her family. And loves it. “Do you have something to suggest for a beginning cook—when a partner of an aged person can no longer function as cook, and the other one has to take over?” But I never expected to receive a letter like this in response: Your column on Lizzy gave me courage to ask whether I could begin to learn to cook. . . . This is very late for a 93-year-old [man] to be […]

Steve Jobs

November 13, 2015 Vic Thiessen

A biopic about a computer genius doesn’t sound like the recipe for a spellbinding classic. But when you have Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay (based on the book by Walter Isaacson), Danny Boyle directing, and actors like Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, and Jeff Daniels at the top of their game, a masterpiece is apparently achievable. It is a stroke of genius on Sorkin’s part to write the story of Jobs in three isolated acts. With Sorkin’s gift for brilliant dialogue writing, it’s like watching a great play. Fassbender plays the man behind the MacBook Pro I am currently […]

A “Rejoice!” Breakfast (or Evening Reflection)

November 13, 2015 Melodie Davis

What, you may wonder, is a Rejoice! breakfast? The discipline of noting gratitude is actually shaping their attitudes about life. That is pretty remarkable! Most days I try to begin my morning the very same way my parents did when I was growing up—reading Rejoice! devotional magazine. Or perhaps the standard Mennonite devotional guide had a different name back then, but whatever it was, my father and mother would take turns reading it every morning, even if we were running behind getting on the school bus. We would snicker and smile through some of Dad’s pronunciations of Old Testament names, […]