Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I Was In a Hurry ..."

That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. We were in the library and I was skimming the non-fiction shelves when I saw "Mennonite In a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen Henry Holt & Company 241 pages $22

In my haste, my brain saw "Mennonite" but told me "Mormon." Mormons have always been a source of great curiosity to me and since I have so far been to lazy too google or wikipedia them, I still don't know much.

Au contraire Mennonites. My mother's people were Mennonites; in fact most of the communities around Wichita, KS, were, too. Generalizing I'd say the faith is designed to promote hard work and pride in hard work, which provides a source of strength to the individual and the community; thrift, pacifism "There's never been a good reason to go to war," and just in general: "Be nice."

Janzen's book details her reaction when her husband of some 13 years abruptly leaves her for a guy named Bob he met on She quickly blames her faith, indicating that all Mennonite women are non-confrontive, unwilling to "rock the boat."

She should only have met my Mennonite maternal grandmother who ruled the roost (gentle, dreamy husband and eight kids) with an iron fist and a shrew's nagging mouth.

It takes most of the book for Janzen to come to grips with her own passiveness, caused solely by her own self. Despite long passages of wailing and gnashing, it's a funny book. Janzen has a good sense of humor and laughs at herself as well as others. Few of us would describe our own mothers as "having no neck; just a head sitting on shoulders" or say of our fathers, "This is probably the first mention in print of my father's attractiveness.."

It was a good enough read (go for the humor) just don't do what I did. Clearly, unmistakably Mormons and Mennonites have very different religious styles.

Desite long passages of wailing and gnashing

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