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Re: GG and Mennonites

Again, off-topic, but I can totally relate to the peace-minded orientation
of the Mennonite world outlook  The "balance of terror" that modern
biological and nuclear weapons have created is not the kind of world I want
for my daughter, and certainly not the kind of world that Gould (or any
rational person) would have enjoyed living in.  After years of upping the
anti with the Soviets ("binary," negative zero-sum-game approach to creating
"peace") we have to find another way.   Focussing on the beautiful, and the
beautiful in music, is not easy in a world such as ours.  That surely has to

John Grant

WTC 1 part 2:
WTC 1 part 1:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bradley P Lehman" <bpl@UMICH.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2002 9:45 AM
Subject: Re: GG and Mennonites

> On Wed, 3 Jul 2002, Harding.Matthew wrote:
> > Where I went to university (in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada) there is a
> > big Mennonite community. I remember reading about a Mennonite family who
> > had a daughter killed by a drunk driver. Throughout the sentencing and
> > court case, and afterwards, they kept in touch with this person and
> > frequently invited him over to supper to spend time with them and their
> > other children.
> >
> > I remember (at the time) wondering what type of person would basically
> > invite their daughter's murderer over to supper. I couldn't get over the
> > complete absence of revenge in the Mennonite psyche. But your comments,
> > Bradley, put that in place quite nicely. I think now that I'm older (and
> > have children) I can put it into perspective. But what type of person
> > can be so pure to their principles that they can do this??? I think
> > you're right, Bradley - this would  hold great appeal to GG.
> Yes.  [I *will* bring this back around to GG by the end of this posting, I
> promise....]
> Mennonites tend to deal with things like that in ways other than societal
> norms.  That is, outside the typical system of legal justice, punishment,
> revenge, reparations...Mennonites try to practice the biblical "turn the
> other cheek" response rather than taking a retaliatory action against an
> offender.  (But Mennonite lawyers do exist, too.)  Sometimes it works,
> sometimes it doesn't.
> There are "Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs", mediation services,
> counseling, and other ways to try to resolve such situations.  The idea is
> to get people to understand one another's sides and to come to resolutions
> as a way to move on.  Pretty tough.
> There's also a lot of simply turning away and processing things over and
> over and over for years, internally, in ways that can become
> destructive..."passive-aggressive" reactions and long-term grudges.  The
> ideal of not striking back is held up so high that victims (and families
> and friends) sometimes end up victimizing themselves further, with all
> that internal processing.  It's a problem.
> Back in 1996 there was the rape and murder of a Mennonite woman whose
> family is from around here.  Investigations have gone on ever since then,
> both by civil authorities and in the perpetual rounds of Mennonite talk.
> This week there have been attempts to tie this together with the suicide
> of a man who also allegedly abducted and killed three younger girls later:
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5625-2002Jun30.html
> Regarding this incident, I think that a lot of the frustration in
> Mennonite circles over the past years has been that there has never been
> an opportunity to locate or confront the offender...it's always been an
> unsolved mystery, so it's hard to just move on.  If this guy this week
> really was the one, again there's no way to do the typically Mennonite
> things because he's dead.
> -----
> Here's another example of a Mennonite response to events.  Soon after the
> terrorist attacks in September last year, two men from our congregation
> put together a story and song, a dream for a "third way" that Mennonites
> and others can respond, instead of adopting the societal responses that
> blitzed the media.  Their idea has been to appeal to teenagers through a
> CD and live storytelling, encouraging them to learn Arabic and develop
> friendships with teens in the Middle East and to think outside the
> political tendencies of retaliation.  Some websites about this (including
> the complete text) are:
> http://www.dreamthelight.com/DreamTheLight/
> http://www.peacevox.com/spoken_music_dream.htm
> http://www.emu.edu/communications/news/dreamlight.html
> One of these men, John Paul Lederach, is a big player in international
> conflict negotiations and peacebuilding, and for years he has been a
> driving force behind a master's degree program in Conflict Transformation
> and a Summer Peacebuilding Institute at one of our Mennonite universities:
> http://www.emu.edu/ctp/
> Meanwhile, back in September, I did my own web essay about extremism and
> finding unconventional solutions to things, and I shared it with these two
> and with other friends and family (mostly Mennonites, though this essay
> may have made some rounds outside that, I don't know).  It draws together
> Bach, baseball, chaos theory, physics, and history.  I'm just as critical
> of "anyone who sees swift and forceful retaliation as the only possible
> solution" as I deplore the terrorists: it's to me two sides of the SAME
> problem, and that problem is a binary way of thinking about issues.
> There are always "third way" alternatives if people can have the
> reflection and the presence of mind to think of them.
> http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/why.htm
> Looking back at that essay now I think, yes, I've been well trained to
> think in those ways growing up as a Mennonite.  :)  To abhor violent
> actions and reactions, and to step off everybody else's path to try to
> find more suitable responses and understanding, from a position of some
> separation.  I suspect I've also been conditioned to think like that by
> listening to Glenn Gould for 20+ years....
> -----
> I apologize that most of this posting hasn't been about Gould much yet.
> I think that Gould would have thought along these lines, however.  He was
> the type who looked for unconventional ways to respond to things: his
> musical interpretations, his non-musical projects that he took on, and the
> lifestyle he chose for himself.
> As Gould admonished us in his composition "So you want to write a fugue?",
> "Never be clever for the sake of being clever, for the sake of showing
> off!"  Being different has to come from personal convictions, from a
> personal sense of integrity.  That is why (in Gould's way of thinking) an
> artist should be outside mainstream expectations: to have a valid thing to
> say from a position of observation.  That's why Gould was attracted to do
> a documentary about Mennonites, resonating with that idea of separation,
> and finding creative "third ways" to opt out of the norms.
> Bradley Lehman, Dayton VA
> home: http://i.am/bpl  or  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
> CD's: http://listen.to/bpl or http://www.mp3.com/bpl
> "Music must cause fire to flare up from the spirit - and not only sparks
> from the clavier...." - Alfred Cortot