Saturday, August 20, 2005

Eyes on the Prize

The buzz around here is of course Paul’s nephew Byran and his New Meaningful Relationship (Girlfriend). Paul, who is not the most sentimental soul in the world, wonders why we are all fluttering about it and calling each other. I mean, most young men eventually get girlfriends.

Well, Byran is special, and he—and we—waited a long time for this. He has always had a way of making us feel involved in his life, as though he valued our input in his life, which is a great way to earn points with your aunt and uncle.

Which makes me reminisce about when I was dating and marrying Paul, because he also had a whole list of people in his life who thought he was someone really special. I can think off hand of three preachers and an English teacher who let me know that this guy meant a lot to them and that I was really getting a prize. They also had a disconcerting way of looking me over sternly as though they were evaluating whether or not I was really good enough for him.

The English teacher was especially intimidating, and I honestly think she was in love with him herself even though she was at least 20 years older. And I don’t think I quite passed muster with her. We visited her once after we were married and she talked to Paul for about three hours while ignoring me.* I still don’t quite understand all this, because she was an absolute stickler for grammar and punctuation and spelling. Paul is a math and science guy, and English is probably his weakest academic area.

When the day comes that we meet Miss Amy, I hope she won’t feel like she’s under the microscope, and I hope we all can let Byran know that he got a prize as well.

*I was a bit annoyed, but not jealous. After all, he married me and not her.

Quote of the Day:
"If so, we’ll just call you Nostrodorcas."
--Matt, when I predicted that Byran would find a Special Someone at the Faith Builders college students’ seminar. I didn't mind being wrong. FYI, Nostrodamus was a famous guy many years ago who made lots of strange predictions that seem to have come true if you have a big imagination.


  1. hey dorcas,
    love your blog. think maybe i'll have to get mom a computer. when she found out you have a i had to fight tooth and nail to get back on! Just kiddin' but she was sure soakin it up! She loves your book about Ordinary Days too. Anyhow, keep it up.

  2. Tony, I'll have to show my age here and ask who you are. No, who your PARENTS are.
    Thanks for the encouragement and hello to your mom, whoever she is!

  3. Grant and Arlene are my parents. we moved back to Pa in '98 so you probly wouldn't remember me. My Dad is Floyd's son and Mom is Victor Kropf's daughter. So i'm a "double Kropf" :-) btw, my blog is not up and running really as of yet. hope to get it going shortly.

  4. Ah, now I know exactly where you belong. And you used to live just down the road from where we live now. We moved into Wilton and Anne's house in 2000.

  5. yeah I heard. Anna used to babysit us now and then. Still remember being at that house listening to her read "The Three Little Pigs". :-) Funny how memories stick.

  6. Dorcas, these comments are a good representation of the "Mennonite Game" that most Mennonites play. It seems that we have to place everyone with their parents in order to "know them" or at least that is the way it appears to me. Since I am "from the world" and not a Mennonite family, yet chose the church and married a Mennonite, I do not play the game very well, but my children learned to play it and do it quite well. Some times I wonder if we make outsiders a little put off by our "game," but I realize that it is only a "family" thing we do. I am not saying that this is wrong, but I do wonder if we alienate others that do not have a "Mennonite" name, yet are members by choice rather than birth? I don't mean to start an argument, just thinking out loud. {:^)

  7. Truthseeker, I don't play this game with everyone, but I looked up Tony's bio and found that he used to be from Oregon. And apparently his mom knew me, so I had to know who he was.
    However, you have my sympathies with not fitting in with the Mennonite game. I'll never forget the sight of my non-Mennonite brother-in-law backed up against the wall at my grandma's Amish funeral while black-clad women came up to him and said, "Now who are you?" and "Who are your parents?" When he, bewildered, replied, "Um, well, I'm 'Rod Bowers' and my parents are 'Jim and Sandy Bowers' from Seattle, Washington," they looked at him in utter I-don't-have-a-category-for-this confusion and said slowly, "Oh..I don't know them."

  8. Was Nostrodamus the guy who wrote about the "metal birds", and who the people with "big imaginations" said must have been predicting 9/11?

  9. Yeah, that was Nostradamus. The "people with big imaginations" were also able wring the rise of Napoleon and Hitler, and the use of the atomic bomb from his writings.

  10. Dorcas, as far as the "game" goes, it doesn't bother me, but it does catch some new believers off guard as it did me at first. I have learned in thirty four years that it is not a real issue. My children grew up in the "system" and adapted as children will. Of course their mother was there to train them in this important part of our "culture". {:^)

  11. hey truthseeker,
    I know what you're talking about and actually I'm not a big fan of "the game" either. The reason I said what I did is because my Dad is Paul's (Dorcas's husband) 2nd cousin and I knew she would know my parents but probly not me since I was fairly young when we left Oregon. But I know exactly how you feel about the "Mennonite Game". I work with some Amish and Horning people and I get sick of it (even though I am a Mennonite), so yeah I can identify. Just thought I should explain myself. Thanks

  12. No problem Tony, I fully understand. Sometimes we have to establish our bonafides.

    My "problem" with this "game" is it is rather exclusive to those out of the loop and continues to build a wall around our Mennonite culture as just a culture built on just our families. (I have a blogging friend that just cannot stand our attachments to the many "traditional" aspects of our Mennonitism. She keeps me straight on these issues.) {:^)

    I recently read an article by Val Yoder in the SMBI Quarterly Newsletter on establishing a, "Mennonite Vision for Twenty-first Century" and I like his balance on preserving our heritage/culture while extending ourselves into missions as we are commissioned to do. I recommend it to all Christians if they can get a copy. e-mail

    To sit around and focus on our bloodlines is ok at times, but let us not become focused on it as the means to an end, or it may just become one.

    End of Rant! {:^)

  13. Don't we all, though, seek to find connections with people we meet? I once had a British friend and she claimed that when people found out she was from England they would say, "Oh! Do you know George? He was from England and I went to college with him."
    I frequently get emails from people who connect with something I write about and feel compelled to tell me. Maybe they grew up in Minnesota or they went to school with Paul's aunt or their third cousin's husband was Amish.
    Closed cultural groups are more tightly woven than the culture at large so have many more connections among themselves. Another example, besides Mennonites, would be the Native Americans on the reserves of Northwestern Ontario.
    So I think this is a universal tendency, but you've challenged me to make sure I don't make others feel excluded.

  14. I know I'm coming in late here but I do think this Mennonite game is part of why "once a Mennonite you're always a Mennonite". I can go anywhere in the Mennonite church and am easily accepted because I can play the game with bona fide names. I mean, my maiden name is Swartzendruber! Whats not Mennonite about that! Lol I've always said that being a mennonite is a little like being a Jew; it's not only a religion it's a bloodline.