January 2020 Update


Shortly I’ll be giving a paper at the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre that summarizes much of my research and sets forth a paradigm for my work in Mennonite Studies (see here for the presentation). The forum at TMTC allowed me to consolidate and summarize much of my work, and I’m grateful to Kyle Gingerich Hiebert for his efforts in showcasing Mennonite-related work around Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton.

As far as future events are concerned, I’m quite excited for the Mennonite/s Writing Conference in Goshen this coming October, especially since I have begun reading Daniel Shank Cruz’s book Queering Mennonite Literature. Cruz’s book does something unique with Mennonite identity that I’m very interested in following, and I am looking forward to Grace Kehler’s forthcoming review of it. 

I’ve also received exciting news about the book by Robert Friedmann that I edited in 2017. It has recently been reviewed in the Mennonite Quarterly Review by Justin Heinzekehr (whose excellent book The Absent Christ has also just come out [see my review here – 2020/04/11]). See here for a PDF of the review, courtesy of John Roth, and below for an excerpt:

“Editor Maxwell Kennel has provided us with a new window into Friedmann’s thought with the publication of Design for Living, a manuscript that originated as lecture notes from an undergraduate course taught in 1954. This book reflects Friedmann’s attempt to articulate a meaningful philosophy of life by translating the values of Anabaptism into a public, secular context. As such, Friedmann builds an argument for a life oriented toward values of regard, concern, service, and love without assuming a prior commitment on the part of his audience.”
– Mennonite Quarterly Review 93.3 (October 2019): 569-570.

With Friedmann in mind, as well as Heinzekehr’s recent revival of the question of metaphysics for Mennonites, I am also working on expanding the 1989 “Philosophy” entry in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. It has been exciting to look back further than I did in my 2017 article on the topic, and to discover philosophical writing by Dutch Mennonites like J.A. Oosterbaan (for example, his article “The World and its Wisdom” and his dissertation on Hegel).

I have also been thinking more about the relationship between Religious Studies as a discipline, and the sub-field of Political Theology – especially the normative tensions in both discourses. And so in the next few months I will be writing a review essay for Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses  that compares two recent anthologies in Political Theology (Wiley-Blackwell and T&T Clark) and considers how this conversation intersects with Religious Studies.

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