The Anabaptists of the sixteenth century were so sure of their convictions they were willing to die for them. At the same time, they were involved in a grand experiment of faith and church. My experiment this fall should not even be compared to that—the only connection is that it relates to my Anabaptist History and Thought course that commences next week, and I had to think of some kind of hook and segue!

My experiment is to link my students with the larger Anabaptist world of today by posting a question, quote, excerpt, or anecdote from the class on my website and then having them, and those who follow my blog, converse with each other online. This is not so much social media—I do not have a Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account—it is simply one way to respond to some important issues and to foster conversation beyond the classroom. I still plan to have class discussions, but sometimes introverts need more time to process or prefer writing to speaking, and so this is a way for more people to engage. The nice thing is that this little risk will not involve anyone being burned at the stake for their convictions. I hope there will be lots of dynamic yet respectful dialogue in class and online.

Let me begin by commenting on something that happened yesterday. One of the things Anabaptist/Mennonites are known for is their commitment to the way of peace. Thus, I have been praying for peace in Gaza this summer because of the violence going on there. I was praying for this in my tranquil suburban house in Canada and yet when the cease fire was signed I was skeptical that it was genuine or would last. “Oh ye of little faith” is what should be said to me. Why should I not celebrate with the children in the streets of Gaza because they can now go to school with less fear of being blown to bits on the way? Speaking of school, I hope that the BC government and the teacher’s union will also sign an agreement so that the children in our province can go back to school next week. In both cases it is innocent children who are the victims of powerful warring forces.

What does all this have to do with Anabaptist History and Thought? Come to class and follow my blog to find out. I’m excited about the privilege of going to classes next week.

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