One hundred and twenty years ago, Mennonites were part of a major migration of German-speaking folk from Eastern Europe to the plains frontier of North America. In this issue Mark Jantzen and John Thiesen offer windows into the context and the experience of that migration. Jantzen's article tells how nonresistant Mennonites in Prussia struggled with the rising demands of Prussian militant nationalism. Mennonites had contributed significantly to economic development in the Vistula delta region, but now the government required a contribution to the military. Faithful to their understanding of the gospel of Christ, many chose to emigrate.
The migrants of the 1870s to the western plains knew something about their destination. Thiesen's translation of Christian Krehbiel's travel report of 1873 reveals how advance Mennonite scouts evaluated prospective land for settlement, and how eagerly the American railway companies competed for settlers who would quickly get the land into production.
In this issue Ryan Nichols and Harry Huebner carry on a dialogue arising from Huebner's essay in our March issue on "Christian Education: The Question of Engagement." Nichols argues that Huebner has gone too far down the post-modern path of suspicion of reason and the Enlightenment. Does Huebner's essay reflect a Mennonite "endemic philosophobia"? The issues in this dialogue are substantive and deserve ongoing treatment. James Juhnke reports on another substantive dialogue in an essay on the Anabaptist martyr heritage, written for the current bilateral ecumenical dialogue between Lutherans and Mennonites.
This issue offers two opportunities to listen to the voices of Mennonite leadersa distinctive feature of Mennonite Life as an on-line journal. James Juhnke's interview with Rober Kreider about his autobiography was recorded on September 5, 2003. Robert Kreider's memoir of his experience in Kansas and Bethel College in the 1930s is chapter ten of his recently published autobiography, My Early Years (Pandora Press, 2002). Arnold Snyder's sermon on "The Peace of Christ" was a Sunday morning presentation prior to the 2002 Menno Simons Lecture Series at Bethel College, titled "The Rich Legacy of Anabaptist Spirituality." Heidi Regier Kreider, pastor of the Bethel College Mennonite Church, introduced Snyder. The experience of listening to these voices (and, at the same time, if the listener chooses, reading the text) lends a dimension of immediacy and personal authenticity to the encounter.
In addition, you may enjoy reading book reviews in this issue by John Sheriff, Merle Schlabaugh, Ardie S. Goering, Neal Blough, and John A. Esau.