While scholars and writers gather at Goshen College this weekend for the 2022 Mennonite/s Writing Conference, another gathering is taking place across the city with an entirely different purpose.
“Mennonite writers are the bane of our existence,” said event organizer Jakob Burkholder. “If it wasn’t for all those writers airing our dirty laundry all the time, we’d have things a whole lot easier around here. Therefore, we’ve decided to take a close look at all these scholars and writers gathering there at the college. Seems suspicious. The last thing we need is another Rudy or Miriam or Rhoda Janzen on our hands.”
The Mennonite/s Shunning Conference, as Burkholder is calling it, has gathered a list of all the presenters at the Writing Conference and will be excommunicating the worst offenders.
“We’ve got your names, book titles, and church membership records,” said Burkholder. “Any literature that’s the least bit critical of Mennonite traditions is going to get a serious look by the authorities. Our main concern is to make sure the writing doesn’t offer any new perspectives or challenge us to think differently in any way.”
Burkholder and his team of grumpy Mennonites have already gathered a set of essays by Magdalene Redekop, Julia Kasdorf, Rob Zacharias, and Hildi Froese Tiessen, and plan to spend all weekend poring over Sofia Samatar’s The White Mosque, Casey Plett’s A Dream of a Woman, and Rachel Yoder’s Nightbitch to look for content they might find objectionable.
“With that last one, the title alone is reason for concern,” said Burkholder. “But I’ll let my highly trained team of borderline illiterate men with 5th grade educations provide the final verdict.”
The shunning committee said they also bought a copy of “some book by Patrick Friesen,” which they plan to use as a “how-to” manual.
(photo credit: Jonathan Konrath/CC)