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Tongue Screws and Testimonies

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0836195194
ISBN-10: 0836195191
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

I finished Tongue Screws and Testimonies with my heart strangely warmed. I was especially moved by observing three generations of writers engaged in the common task of re-interpreting for today the book that stands at the beginning of Mennonite history and literary and visual art. More than any scholarly essay, these provocative poems, narratives, and essays refresh and make relevant a book now in its fourth century of use.
--Ervin Beck, editor, Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing

Three-hundred-fifty years after its first publication in the Netherlands, the Martyrs Mirror still has the power to evoke awe, fear, inspiration and horror. This remarkable collection of poems, stories, essays, and artwork is microcosm of contemporary Mennonite culture refracted through the prism of this powerful text. Original and creative, Tongue Screws and Testimonies is a witness to the collective memory and spirituality of a people. Read it to be informed, stirred, and possibly even provoked.
--John D. Roth, professor of history, Goshen College

It matters now, as it always has, how we think about violence perpetrated or accepted in faith. It matters what we make of the religious violence in our past or the past of those we love, have as neighbors, or hear of (supposedly) far away. Allowing artists to help us in this work is essential. So dive in--let this collection provoke you and make you squirm. Be amused. You may even jump up and shout 'Amen' a time or two.
--Nancy R. Heisey, undergraduate academic dean, Eastern Mennonite University and author of a dissertation on Origen's Exhortation to Martyrdom

From the Back Cover

Tongue Screws and Testimonies is a dynamic conversation among writers alternately inspired and bewildered by spiritual ancestors whose lives seemingly make both perfect sense and no sense at all. Here, in this astonishing compendium, the writers offer diverse perspectives on how any of us might continue to regard and respond to the Anabaptist martyrs' testimonies in our own time.
--Hildi Froese Tiessen, Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo

These writers show how a faith heritage can be enlivened by doubt, humor, delight, embrace, critique, reverence, and just plain feistiness. These poems and stories and meditations will assist contemporary readers in consuming the nourishing if sometimes nauseating soul food found in the Martyrs Mirror.
--Gerald Mast, professor of communication, Bluffton College

Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Herald Pr (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836195191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836195194
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,593,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kirsten Eve Beachy teaches creative writing and journalism at Eastern Mennonite University. With her husband, Jason, she raises Muscovy ducks, backyard chickens, and honeybees in Briery Branch, Virginia. She likes to talk politics with her cat, Pierre.

She received degrees in philosophy & theology and theater from Eastern Mennonite University and an MFA in creative writing from West Virginia University.

Beachy's stories and essays appear in literary journals including Shenandoah, The Tusculum Review, Relief: a Quarterly Chrisitian Expression, Rhubarb, Dreamseeker, and others. Her shortest fiction can be found in Norton's anthology of Hint Fiction. She is a contributing editor to The Tusculum Review. She is the editor of the anthology Tongue Screws and Testimonies: Poems, Stories, and Essays Inspired by the Martyrs Mirror.

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This substantial collection, underpinned by Kirsten Beachy's superb essay "Me and the Martyrs," provides the reader a crash course on the early Anabaptist movement and its effect--or not--upon the current crop of Mennonite- and Amish-descended thinkers. Some manage a cavalier take, others not at all.

A story by Canadian novelist Rudy Wiebe, for example, subjects the reader, sparely, to a stark, sick scene--the machinations of a smithy come to a 1600's Antwerp, Belgium dungeon to inflict upon a jailed heretic the tongue screw's torture. It will get you to sucking your mouth in, holding fast to your own safe tongue. But there's also David Waltner-Toews' hilariously garbled piece in which Tante Tina tells young Haenschen about the plight of the Selbstschutz Mennonites during the Russian Revolution. Tante divulges that "they not fighting were, only self defending by shooting and very fast running and then being shot." During that period of terrible hardship, Felix the cat got made into soup, but more pressing in Tante's mind is the macabre family photograph snapped after her mother died, with other family members in a rush to emigrate.

Indeed, more basic than their quibble about baptism was these forebears' principle of not engaging in violence. Is John Ruth being foolish, though, in his "Lecture for a Limited Audience"? Defending the notion that there exist two kinds of people in the world? Holding to an obsolete, ignorant, parochial-bumpkin view such as this? Alas, he cleanly marks out the camps: those who will kill, and those who won't. Nothing could be bleaker, more terrifying.
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