Thursday, July 21, 2005

U of O Talk

This morning I drove down to the University of Oregon and spoke to an ESL class about Amish and Mennonites. They had just watched the movie "Witness" and were studying melting-pot vs. salad-bowl cultures.

I have never seen Witness but was told that in the book version as the girl is getting ready for bed she pulls off her white lace cap and her hair goes cascading down her back. Don’t these people realize she needed about 15 hairpins as well? So I hoped to clarify a few delusions.

There were two teachers and maybe 20 students in the class, hailing from Japan, Korea, Mauritania, Togo, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. It was a great chance to sneak in the Good News because of course I had to explain that our salvation comes from Jesus and not from these things we do.

I talked for 15 minutes or so and then they asked questions. Why don’t we get politically involved if we could do some good that way? If you don’t wear rings, how do you tell married and single women apart? (My answer: married women look old and tired.) What do you like best about being part of a community? How do we relate to people of other religions?

The guy from Togo was obviously a Christian—"How can you live in these isolated communities when Jesus tells us in Mark 16 to go and share the Gospel with the world?" So I talked about the growing awareness of the need to evangelize and the difficulty, at times, of reconciling outreach with protecting our families from bad influences.

I don’t know how much I clarified things for them but I do know I renewed my admiration for foreign students. They are respectful, mature, dedicated, and focused.

And an extra perk: the teacher in charge is going to see if there are any Kenyan, particularly Luo, students this fall that we could have in our home now and then to keep Steven’s native languages alive.

Quote of the Day:
"That’s the whole point."
--Ben, when I told him to quit doing stuff that makes Jenny scream


  1. I Love the point about married women looking old and tired!! I think I fit that description today!!

  2. Yeah, I know me too! . . . often times I think to myself (about the young single girls who in their minds don't ever want to look harried or worn out) just you wait . . . someday you might be in my shoes and then you will understand.

    I'm become more understanding these last few years! Experience is a wonderful teacher!

  3. I have a question. This has puzzeled me a long time. If expierence is wonderful teacher, why do women keep having babies? Don't they realize, after having the first child, that it is a painful expierence???
    By the way, expierence is a good teacher....

  4. Anon--I learned in a psychology class once upon a time that after a painful experience the brain dulls the memory of the pain. The textbook claimed that if this were not so, no one would have more than one child.
    (In my case, it was morning sickness..."You know, maybe it wasn't really THAT bad..." And then, lo, it was worse.)

  5. Oh Ben,
    You will probably get in trouble!!!

  6. So married women look old and tried out your way? Not an inspiring picture of what married life does for a "plain" lady. Wouldn't there be a better word picture?

  7. I saw Witness years ago, with my cousin. Neither she nor I thought the characters dressed in Amish clothes acted at all Amish. Especially the lead female character. Just dressing people in plain clothes does not give them the appropriate responses and manners. I don't really think this is a great introduction to the Amish, for foreigners. (Like movies in general don't portray Americans accurately, to the rest of the world.)

    Amish is not skin deep, it's to the bone.

    Anyway, it sounds like they asked you very intelligent questions. Great opportunity for both sides to learn.

  8. Lighten up, anonymous. The "old and tired" statement was off-the-cuff and tongue-in-cheek.

  9. Hi Dorcas,

    I was just surfing through and saw this posting. Looks like you ARE reaching the world through your blog. Well done!

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