When people who don’t know a lot about American Christianity hear that I am Mennonite, they sometimes ask if it’s the same as being Mormon. No, I say, and add a stock reply: other than starting with the same letter of the alphabet and being inscrutable to outsiders, the groups are quite different.
After reading Joanna Brooks’s memoir The Book of Mormon Girl, I will no longer answer with such alacrity.
A Thousand Lives
The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
My fifth-grade son used to walk around the house pretending to be texting. Rehearsing what has become a central practice of 21st-century life, he would move his thumbs across a cast-off cell phone that no longer worked. Finding no solace in the fact that he had the rest of his life to be beholden to gadgetry, he had decided that feigned distraction was better than no distraction at all.
As part of a tradition noted for its thrift, I can be a little sensitive about the word cheap. One friend swears she remembers her missionary parents receiving some of the proverbial used tea bags, and I too have been known to regift. But while washing out plastic bags or shopping at thrift stores is one thing, believing that weak chamomile water constitutes a gift is another.
Having buried close to 200 young people who were killed in gang violence, Gregory Boyle could be pardoned for a lot: despair, cynicism, or at least unremarkable prose. But Boyle re quires no such absolution.
Nightwatch: An Inquiry into Solitude
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
Growing up in a Mennonite conference in Pennsylvania that didn’t ordain women, I met plenty of folks like my mother: women and men who resisted the patriarchy of their church but who couldn’t bring themselves to leave.
Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction
America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life
A certain casualness often overtakes modern conversation about addiction. Here in Oprah nation we’re proud of our semantic acumen, batting around words like withdrawal and detox and always at the ready with “Hi, my name is Bill” jokes.
The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok
"Water to wine” is the image that journalist Greg Barrett uses to describe the transformation in the lives of children living at Mercy Centre, an orphanage in a Bangkok slum. Most of the children have been abused, neglected, malnourished or sold into sex slavery, and many of them have AIDS.
We had a new bunk bed delivered recently, and our sons spent a happy afternoon—albeit a dangerous one—wielding socket wrenches and screwdrivers as we put it together. Buying this bunk bed allowed us finally to move the youngest out of our bed, where he has happily parked for the last three years, to his older brothers’ room.
Writing family history is a notoriously fraught enterprise. The reputations of the dead, the memories of the living and the artifacts that threaten both combine to make it a problematic literary task that most writers avoid—or else disguise in fiction.
Kate Braestrup’s memoir is all about bodies: living and dead, lost and found. A chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, Braestrup writes about search-and-rescue missions to find hikers and hunters lost in the forests, mountains and bogs of the state.