Reviewing Part 3 of A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World. “Opening Up Toward the Future.”

I finally got a bit of what I was expecting when I began to read this anthology of Anabaptist bloggers. I was expecting diversity of authorship and provocative writing on contemporary topics by younger voices. I do not know the ages of any of the writers but of the six authors in this section three were women, one was an African American, one was a Swedish Pentecostal, and the last one called for separation from the American Beast in Schleitheim style. I definitely got variety!

Drew Hart in “Anablacktivism” offered a much needed challenge to this middle-aged white man who works as an academic. “The praxis, habits, and speech of [21st century Anabaptist] communities have primarily been done in dominant cultural spaces.” I have heard it said before that “the greatest white privilege is not to have to think about it.” This article forces me to begin to think about perspectives other than my own privileged one.

Although Hannah Heinzekehr’s “Hospitality and Justice” does not directly address the current wildfire issue of welcoming LGBTQ persons in Anabaptist communities, she does offer some good descriptions of what constitutes hospitality. “Hospitality is the work done at the margins to bridge the public and private spheres, and to dismantle hierarchies that privilege certain genders, classes, races, and other identities.” “[Hospitality means that] it will be imperative to begin to understand, celebrate, and work within the differences and pluralities that exist.”

I am a fairly staid and conservative practical theologian; I appreciate my feathers being ruffled from time to time by younger thinkers with new thoughts. I hope that if there is a second volume the writers will be as varied as they were in the last section and that they will tackle some more controversial contemporary topics that present and future Anabaptist communities need to address: abortion, gay marriage, veganism, treatment of animals, assisted suicide and other end of life issues, climate change, immigration and deportation issues, militarization, Christian Islamic relations, etc.

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