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 […]

As the Tables Turn, Again

October 16, 2015 Melodie Davis

I realized the tables were again turning as I asked a daughter who was home for the weekend, “Have you girls started having conversations about things you worry about as your father and I get older?” That’s when it helps to remember that none of us—neither parent, grandparent, child, sibling—are perfect. We all have blind spots. I remember the time when I had gone to my parents’ home for a few days and recognized the challenges the passage of time was presenting in my parents’ lives. A man who had been renting their basement apartment had given them cause for […]

Highlights of the Edmonton International Film Festival

October 16, 2015 Vic Thiessen

I had the privilege of spending the first 10 days of October watching 20 films at the Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF). The EIFF is quickly becoming one of the continent’s better festivals, with a top-notch selection of foreign and independent films scheduled for release over the next few months. Below you will find capsule reviews of eight of the most important films I watched (in alphabetical order): My favorite film at the Edmonton International Film Festival is an extraordinary filmmaking achievement. Made by German director Sebastian Schipper, Victoria was filmed in one shot lasting 140 minutes. Bikes vs Cars […]

The Irony of the Cross

October 9, 2015 Melodie Davis

You may recall in early August I shared the story of D. J. in Florida, who had sent handmade crocheted crosses to the Mennonite Church USA convention this past summer via her pastor. She had wanted to offer her “gift” in this way, and she frequently gives crosses in her church’s offering basket instead of money or a check. (See the original story here.) I do not know if I would have had the guts those women who accompanied Jesus to the cross had. I offered the crosses to readers, who sent me messages detailing the touching ways they planned to […]

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story

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October 9, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

Like its protagonist, the documentary A Brave Heart remains upbeat and positive throughout. Both could have justifiably wallowed in the pain, which would create empathy in many viewers, but would not win our respect. In an age obsessed with appearances, Lizzie lives fully in the body she has been given. From birth, Lizzie Velasquez has suffered with a rare syndrome, actually undiagnosed until she was an adult, which gives her unusual facial features and makes it almost impossible for her to gain weight. When Lizzie was in high school, she discovered a YouTube video titled “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” which […]

When Loneliness Is Eating

October 2, 2015 Melodie Davis

Meet Bud (all names changed to protect privacy). Bud is an elderly widowed friend who lives by himself and can no longer drive. Indeed, he is almost blind, but he has various people that look in on him, officially and unofficially, and while we don’t see him nearly as often as we’d like or we should, we try to keep in touch. I hope you’ll consider ways you can connect—whether inviting them to dinner, taking over a hamburger or even a simple dessert, or just going out for some cheap fast food. So recently we offered to bring a hamburger […]

Slavery By Another Name

October 2, 2015 Gordon Houser

On Sunday, Sept. 13, Jeanne and I walked from our home in North Newton, Kansas, over to the Bethel College campus to attend a showing of the documentary Slavery by Another Name, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and had its national broadcast on PBS on Feb. 3, 2012. KIPCOR (Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution) sponsored the showing and the discussion that followed. President Teddy Roosevelt looked the other way, not wanting to displease his wealthy supporters. After all, this penal servitude, unpaid labor, was good for business. Slavery by Another Name is a powerful film, […]

Differences We Tolerate

October 2, 2015 Celeste Kennel-Shank

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and State Street attract people from around the world for pleasure shopping. Stores selling designer shoes, trendy clothes, high-end accessories and more line both sides of each street. . . . opposing consumerism is far from prominent in the minds of many U.S. Christians when they talk about standing against the whims of culture. I work a few blocks from these shopping corridors. I won’t say I’m never tempted to stop in a store and buy an item or two, and I don’t begrudge visitors their enjoyment. But if I’m passing through with extra time on my hands […]

From war survivor/refugee to Mennonite administrator

October 2, 2015 Thirdway

From war survivor/refugee to Mennonite administrator By Bonnie Price Lofton In her wildest dreams as a middle-class person in Yugoslavia, Amela Puljek-Shank never thought she would be in a war. Never thought she would be a penniless, hungry refugee. Never thought she would be married to an American. She crossed each of these thresholds, one at a time, before she turned 30. At last she came to Eastern Mennonite University where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees to prepare herself for returning to her home region to work for peace and justice. Randy Puljek-Shank came from Ephrata, Pennsylvania.  After high […]

The Streamy Awards

September 25, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

If you were caught up in the excitement of Sunday’s Emmy Awards—or overly excited about the Media Matters National Mid-year Music Day Awards in July—you may have blinked and missed the Streamy Awards last weekend. That’s pretty much the show: two dudes choosing a topic, talking about it, or in the show’s best episodes, experimenting with a topic. The lesser-known Streamys honor online entertainers, or basically the biggest stars streaming on YouTube. As with any entertainment medium, flash-in-the-pan Internet stars come and go, but then there are proven commodities out there, ones that have made a living by gaining subscribers, […]