Learning from the Mennonites

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Learning from the Mennonites

fschmidt
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The Islamic world is not in good shape today.  Muslims lose wars, have bad governments, produce little in science or engineering or other fields, and generally do not produce successful societies.  And even worse, Muslims in the West are often corrupted by modern culture.  What can be done?

My answer is simple.  Copy what works.  Islam today lacks a strong sense of community.  Where is a strong sense of community found?  I have found it in Mennonite churches.

I believe that the key to Mennonite success is in their organization.  There is nothing wrong with Islam as a religion, the problem is in organization.  So one can take Mennonite principles of organization and apply them to Muslim communities.

The purpose of this post is to encourage Muslims to at least investigate this.  Visit a conservative Mennonite church and judge for yourself.  You can find a church here:

https://www.pilgrimministry.org/congregations/map

For more on Mennonites, read:

https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Old-Order-Conservative-Mennonite/dp/1561481017/

Please remember that the purpose of this visit is to learn about Mennonite organization, not religion.  Learn how they maintain a strong community and avoid corruption from modern culture.

Here in El Paso where I live, I plan to start regularly visiting the nearest Mennonite church which is here:

https://www.pilgrimministry.org/churches/sunshine-mennonite-church

My plan is to go to the mosque for Fajr on Sunday and then drive to the church.
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Re: Learning from the Mennonites

Ibn Ghassan
How can one be highly organized in complete and almost total isolation? the highest litmus test of an entities organizational ability is at the level of an empire or a multi-continental state, how many empires or states have the Mennonites constructed?

Organization is tested on a mammoth scale when people of different races, denominations, religions etcetera come together and then succeed in building up civilizations. Mennonites, by living in obscure locations and shunning the outside world(even if it is modern culture) take away the basic tenement of organizational acumen...and that is the ability to stay on course despite massive gigantic challenges. Do please watch this video:

https://binged.it/2qtfeBm
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Re: Learning from the Mennonites

fschmidt
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I have watched that video which attempts (and fails) to be anti-Mennonite.  I have also visited many Mennonite churches myself before I looked into Islam, so I know how they really are.

My view is that the highest litmus test for a society is durability, not size.  The Mennonites pass this test.

I view the modern world as basically pure evil, so I am thrilled to see even tiny communities that are good.  I don't think about empires.  The Mennonites have to be rural because of a basic flaw in Christianity which is an obligation to love everyone.  This is impossible because modern people are completely unlovable, so Mennonites can only maintain the delusion of universal love by avoiding real modern people.  Orthodox Judaism doesn't have this problem since they view non-jews as animals, so they can maintain a distinct culture around modern people.  A Muslim community could take a middle position and just view modern people as misguided, not to be loved or hated, but just to serve as examples of what not to do.

I wrote a much longer post than the one I posted above, but didn't post it because I just wanted to invite people to see for themselves.  But I think the reasoning is relevant to your objections, so I will post it below.

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The Islamic world is not in good shape today.  Muslims lose wars, have bad governments, produce little in science or engineering or other fields, and generally do not produce successful societies.  Why?

I will use Christian history to answer.  Islam today is similar in many ways to medieval Christianity.  In medieval Christianity, faith was strong but society was weak.  It was the Reformation that made Christianity strong, so let's consider how this happened.

When people today speak of "reformation", they think it means reducing religion and increasing liberalism.  This is absolute nonsense that reflects historical ignorance.  The Christian Reformation strengthened religion, making people more religious.  There were a number of aspects to the Reformation.

The Reformation was a reaction against the Catholic Church.  One aspect of this was to reject the innovation in religion made by the Catholic Church and to emphasize the study of scripture.  In this respect the Reformation was similar to the Wahhabi movement in Islam.  If this aspect was the key to Christian success, then the Wahhabis would have achieved similar success.  Since they didn't, I don't believe that this aspect is key.

Another aspect of the Reformation was a change in the organization of religion.  The Catholic Church was centralized and corrupt.  It had large cathedrals.  So the Reformation went in the opposite direction.  It was decentralized with small churches.  This caused the small churches to become meaningful communities.  It is my opinion that this was the key aspect to Christian success.  This opinion is partly based on the book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism which describes how these churches worked.  This opinion is also based on my personal experience with Mennonite churches.

Religions are started by prophets.  A prophet clearly makes a good leader and his community grows.  Governance is not a problem since it can be entrusted to the prophet.  In the case of Islam, the people who took over after the prophet died were generally good people who led well.  This kept the community strong which allowed it to grow.  But growth eventually destroys the community because human communities simply don't scale up well to a large population.  Corruption increases, trust decreases, and the sense of community is lost.  This happened in Christianity and in Islam.  The only solution is to form small communities within the religion where trust and sense of community can be re-established.  The Reformation did this in Christianity.

But within the Reformation, there were various approaches to this decentralization, so we can compare them and see how well they did.  The two main movements in the Reformation were the Protestants and Anabaptists.  The Protestants were more individualistic, speaking of a "priesthood of all believers".  And they rejected hierarchy, so each church was largely self-governing.  The Anabaptists were less individualistic and they implemented a bottom-up hierarchy where churches voluntarily joined together to form conferences which then governed the churches in the conference.  The Protestants were more successful initially and they produced much of Christian success.  But they were also more easily corrupted in their religion, so they have mostly become part of the disaster of modern Western culture.  In contrast, the Anabaptists managed to maintain their religion and not be corrupted by modern culture.  I consider their churches to be among the strongest communities in the world today.

Applying this to Islam would mean a reformation in organization, not in religion.  No change is needed in the religion of Islam.  Even the mosques can remain large and serve as centers of religion since they are not centers of corruption as Catholic churches were.  But within the Muslim community, Muslims can organize themselves into small groups comparable to Anabaptist churches.
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Re: Learning from the Mennonites

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
This is an interesting video that shows how Mennonites deal with technology as a group:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlu5R_PLDmY

Also here is a glimpse of a typical Mennonite church service:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRty645Iis8

(They emphasize singing.)