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Hi - I'm From Mennonite Background


Fretbuzz
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My goodness - am I ever glad to have found this site! I cannot say how much the comfort in reading others feelings/stories has helped me in my journey .. but first - some context:

 

I am from Canada - the Fraser Valley in B.C. to be exact. I was born in 1968 into a Christian family - Mennonite to be exact: If you aren't familiar with the Mennonite people, you might have a look at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mennonite for a quick synopsis. The Mennonite people are pretty pacifistic, and refuse to go to war for that reason. I think this led to a lot of confusion when I saw my American Christian neighbours forming what they called "God's Army" as a teen. Violence really didn't make much sense in my neck of the woods. Anyways, my parents became disillusioned in the 70's and stopped attending church altogether. I noticed that they were reading many psychological texts of the time - incl Carl Jung - and this led them finding an old church friend who was now a psychologist. Now this friend was also a "re-born again" Chrisitian, and convinced my Dad to come back to church. As is custom in many Mennonite families, when big papa makes a change, so does everyone else!So my family started attending their old church, but found it "dead" for lack of a better term.

 

The time was the early 80's, and the big movement was "revival" - think of Hal Lindsey, Kenneth Copeland, Full Gospel Businessmens' Association etc. We started looking around for alternatives to the "Menno Morgue" and discovered the Pentacostal/Full gospel churches. Wohoo!! Word Faith, Name it claim it, Glossolalia etc . .. all very exciting to a young teen in search of excitement. I was also forming my musician sensibilities at the time, and was attracted to the Christian music of Phil Keaggy, Roby Duke, Degarmo and Key, Rez Band (o ya - I am a guitar player .. can you tell?), Petra, Steve Tayor etc. I was also secretly admiring Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and the metal rockers. This led to several interesting "Demonic deilverances", and the "laying on of hands" to deliver me from the powers of Darkness. My family also started to take in mentally ill people to help "save them" and probably to "imitate Christ" in the process. I often wonder if this is what contributed to a fear of mental illness I developed in my late teens ..

 

Anyways I graduated High school, worked a couple of years in odd jobs, and returned to College to study part-time. This was one of the best times of my life - there were so many options to me!I have a wise Aunt who at the time told me that I'd better do something musical, or I might miss the point of my life altogether .. I am so thankful for this (non-Christian) woman!I finished university with a Bachelor of Music, and became a teacher. I also married another Mennonite girl (which I vowed NEVER to do as a teen!), and had 2 beautiful daughters. I was attending church on and off again during these early years, but was becoming increasingly restless with my philosophical/mystical tendencies as a worship leader!

 

Then - something happened about 3 years ago: I heard Alan Watts.

 

Let me re-phrase that: I read, listened to, and watched videos of Alan Watts for the next 2 years. I had a 40 minute commute to work, so I would listen to his talks in my car every day. Something began to awaken in me that had always been there, but never allowed to express itself in quite this way. I also studied the works of people like Joseph Campbell and Ken Wilbur, as welll as other Buddhists such as Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hanh. I had NO idea of the ways of the East - to me they were always presented as poor and impoverished countries who were paying for their lack of belief in God. Now, they seemed far more insightful and wise than any Christian doctrine I had encountered before.

 

Well, these days my biggest struggle is that I am still a very spiritual person, but have no one I can talk to about these things. I have one friend who reads similar works (incl. Watts), but he comes from an abusive Christian background and quite hates anything to do with that world. I on the other hand, have a wife and family who are still quite devout, and find it really difficult to say anything without getting their backs up against the wall. I try to present thoughts/meaning in a non-threatening way (similar to how Alan convinced me - by playing on Chrisitian terms and allowing me to follow through all the way on these absurd propositions), but it is very hard not to start a fight. Most of the time, the conversation ends with something like "Well, you're not going to convince me to lose my faith - as it appears you have .." Lose my "Faith" or "Belief"?

 

You know, since I stopped going to church a curious thing happened.

 

I spent a considerable amount of time feeling the pain of letting go of my notions of Heaven, King God etc. and now I look at Christianity with different eyes. It's as though I was caught in a very clever illusion which had, at it's core, a threat of hellfire and damnation for those who dared to disengage. Kind of like tentacles hooked into one's flesh. This reminds me of the story of the princess and dragon:

 

A princess was doomed to marry a dragon. On their wedding night, the dragon insisted on sleeping with her as was his right. She was told by a wise woman earlier, to wear many layers of clothing for this night, and all would be well. So she told the dragon that she would remove one layer of clothing if he removed one layer of scales. He agreed, and went through the painful process of tearing off his scales as she removed articles of clothing. When he at last got to his last layer, he revelaed himself to be a dashing young prince.

 

That's how it is with me and Christianity - it's painful, but I feel lighter with each new day. I don't want to be hard on Christians - for goodness sakes, my wife and extended family all go to church - but I suppose I wonder how long the philosophical ones, like me, will cling to "The Rock of Ages" instead of living out a flourishing life? ..

 

It is weird to look at things like life/death in a different way, yet somehow it's becoming apparent that both are as natural as the day is long. Death doesn't have to howl with ghouls, nor does life have to be a series of dissapointments that things can't "just stay the same!" As one swims, so it is with our lives - to flow and ride the wave as it comes ...

 

Hey .. let's have a convention! :woohoo:

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Hey Fretzie, got to get a word in right away--I haven't even read your story yet. Another MENNONITE! Wow! Russian Mennonite, perhaps, if you're on the West Coast? I'm Swiss Mennonite, from a horse and buggy group in Ontario. Great to see another Mennonite on here. Welcome!

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Hey Fretzie, got to get a word in right away--I haven't even read your story yet. Another MENNONITE! Wow! Russian Mennonite, perhaps, if you're on the West Coast? I'm Swiss Mennonite, from a horse and buggy group in Ontario. Great to see another Mennonite on here. Welcome!

 

Yes - Russian .. from the Molotschna colony .. although we spoke low German - which is an odd mix of German and Dutch!

 

Wow - it is neat to talk to another Menno! :HaHa:

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I read your story now. I find similar lightness with every new layer of belief I let go. I find it impossible to explain this to Christians. They will conclude that my peace is from the devil. Well, if the devil can give this kind of peace I won't have to get right with god. God never gave me peace no matter how devoted I was and how sacrificial I lived. Again, welcome to the forums. Read some of the other testimonials. Most of us who deconvert find a peace we didn't know existed and that religion said was not available outside their brand of xianity.

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Yes - Russian .. from the Molotschna colony .. although we spoke low German - which is an odd mix of German and Dutch!

 

Wow - it is neat to talk to another Menno! :HaHa:

 

You're young (30ish maybe?--just going by your mention of kids) and you spoke Low German? You must be from a very strict old-fashioned group. I know a Russian Mennonite couple from BC but they don't seem to know German--well, maybe they know it but it never shows, they never speak it. Older folk.

 

Molotschna colony? I did a bit of a study on the history of Russian Mennonites at one point. That name sounds familiar. But I thought it was in the Ukraine. Are you perhaps first-generation to be born on this continent? Not that you have to answer these personal questions. You can use pm (private message) if you prefer. OR you don't have to answer at all. It's very unusual to meet an ex-Mennonite on here. Yet "ex-Mennonite" is the term that got me involved on these forums.

 

A friend wanted to help me and did an internet search on that term. That brought up the article of a former Old Order Mennonite like myself, but from the States. It was posted on the Main Blog of this forum. I explored a bit and got addicted. And many months later I'm still here. It's been a place of healing for me. Ex Southern Baptists have many of the same issues we do. As do some other exChristians. It just seems like, of the various denominations represented here, the Southern Baptists are perhaps closest to Mennonites.

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Welcome to the forum, Fret :wave:

 

Open_Minded is another person with whom you'll want to speak. She's a very liberal Xian, to the point that I'd consider her strictly philosophical. No stifling Xian literalism from her - about anything. You'll find her a wise and charming person to discuss with, as I have.

 

Most of us reject Xianity wholesale, even philosophical takes on it, but welcome those who adhere so heavily to non-literal interpretations of Xianity. I myself dabbled a little in it before I rejected Xianity entirely, but I think you'll have a good time here.

 

Just remember to keep your mind open and question everything you are told. It's the only way to find out what's right - or wrong.

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Welcome!

 

I'm glad you've been able to find your own path, and have found us in the process!

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:grin: Hi there Fretbuzz

I'm an ex-Mennonite ( by birth), ex-charismatic ( by my own delusions), and an ex-christian (sanity). I'm from Northeast Ohio. Went to Eastern Mennonite College in Virginia a couple of semesters. I've got 7 siblings, and all of them, including my parents as well, are all still "sheep in the fold". Ugh! Family get-to-gethers a such a wild orgy.

 

It is so nice to hear from someone with such a similar past. I'm married to an ex-New Ager, and I am so glad I've been "born again" into a life where I can believe what I choose, where my intellect is not in constant conflict with how I was supposed to live and believe.

 

...Menno Simons, head coverings for women, long homemade dresses, Sunday school, no movies, no TV, always different than your peers in school, and the constant dread that you might even think of something that would have you burning in hell for etenrnity. Oh yeah, not never getting my hair cut, not even bangs. Makes me shudder to think. :vent:

 

Then my brothers got into this Pentacostal stuff, which seemed a lot more fun than the Menonite stuff, so I started in with that back in the Jesus freak days. Begging for the baptism in the holy spirit...I eventually spoke in tongues because I got so tired of searching for thay magical moment when you start babbling incoherently.

 

Like I said, went to Menno college, then freaked out due to not being told what to do constantly. Went to furtherest extremes in reaction to first taste of freedom, with some really negative consequences. Finally, I realized that I was allowed to just be me, believe what I want because I want and not because some angry white-bearded old man in the sky was ready to smite me if I got my ears pierced.

:nono:

 

Whoo...sorry to go on such a rant, but I am still, after many years, dealing with the aftermath of what I now consider to brainwashing and unintended child abuse. Lots of therapy, lots of support from my husbad and friends, the clarity expressed on this website, all have helped me tremendously, but I am still working on what I choose to believe. Buddhism ( idolatry!) interests me.

 

I feel like I've escaped from a sealed box. The world is open and scary, but I just can't live "by the book" anymore.

Like I said, great to read your post, and I'd love to communicate more.

 

(Oh, yeah, I've learned to dance (sorta) and swear like a sailor when necessary). Can you just imagine? For shame!

 

 

:woohoo::woohoo::woohoo::lmao:

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My goodness, the Mennonite Church is shrinking rapidly around here! Welcome to Ex-Christian forums, Live and Learn!

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My goodness, the Mennonite Church is shrinking rapidly around here! Welcome to Ex-Christian forums, Live and Learn!

 

 

Thanks, Ex-COG. The funny thing is that there is such a small gene pool, the Mennonites may end up a dying breed. I feel fortunate that I don't have 5 ears. (Evolution is not an option, anyway, since of course it's not true, you know). There's like a very limited number of last names for Mennos. (Yoder is one example around here). A little inbreeding never hurt anybody.

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  • 6 years later...

Welcome back! I'm fairly new here, so I was curious to see this old thread pop up. (I haven't gotten that far back yet.) I would love to hear how your life has unfolded in the last 6 years.

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I'm fairly new here as well, but in any case welcome back! :)

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yeah I a curious too lol that's a cliff hanger =D Growing up in Alabama we took all our deer kills to the Mennonites they were the best at processing it in town =D. mmmm brings back memories of a summer with 30lbs of deer jerkey lol.

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I rarely post here, or even visit here for that matter.  But I had to log on just to say "hello" to Fretbuzz when I read his mention of Alan Watts.  I read him years and years ago, but I never really got what he was saying.  That changed about 13 years ago.  Watts is one of the clearest voices out there for explaining how things really are as opposed to how we imagine them to be.  You may not understand him at first, but if you can simply listen/read what he is saying without filtering it through the accumulated BS we've been conditioned to believe something truly transforming can happen.

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Fretz! Another Mennonite here!!

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Hello, I am new here. I enjoyed your dragon story!

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If you're back after a 6 year hiatus something must be up... Was'up? :D

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Hey Fretbuzz! Give us an update!

 

I attended a Mennonite private school. I will message you.....

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From Mennonite to Pentecostal? That's about the furthest extreme of Christianity on both ends. I used to like Steve Taylor, DeGarmo and Key, and Petra too. Now I find that stuff absolutely nauseating.

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