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Anabaptist Ways of Knowing
A Conversation About Tradition-Based Critical Education

Sara Wenger Shenk

Foreword by Nancey Murphy


Summary: The conversation about education recorded in Anabaptist Ways of Knowing grows out of a concern that practices which shaped faith communities in the past are rapidly being discarded and replaced in a haphazard, unexamined way. Shenk contends that by revitalizing core practices and the powerful substratum of knowledge they provide, educational endeavors can renew the wellspring of community life.

Here is a resource for any who care about the recovery of faith-based educational practices that are part of a church-school-family ecology. Shenk’s aim is to present a strong rationale for tradition-based, critical education that incorporates core practices for strengthening faith communities into its theorizng. The book offers a viable proposal for the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith community often featured in the discussion. And it serves as a model for reflecting on educational theory from any particular Christian tradition.

Comment: "Tapping the wisdom of Plato, the early Anabaptists, and contemporary thinkers, this superb study shows how daily habits shape our personal and communal character. A major, groundbreaking contribution to Anabaptist understanding and practice. A must read for parents, pastors, and educators." More. . . .
—Donald B. Kraybill, author of The Riddle of Amish Culture and Senior Fellow, The Young Center, Elizabethtown College

"Sara Wenger Shenk invites us to a dinner table set with the best. The crisp linens come from the gospel narratives. The china is imported across centuries of time and many cultures, a different plate at each place, representing great thinkers about knowing. The silver awaits its function as a tool for selecting the best thoughts for the right task. The goblets glisten with the wine of the resurrected Christ whose knowing and loving are one. Together, this table offers us elements of Anabaptist identity for which many of us have been waiting. Come and dine!"
—Shirley Hershey Showalter, President, Goshen College

"Drawing on a wealth of current resources, Shenk has devised an approach to education that draws its strength from the particular, the practical, the timely, and the local. This pedagogy recognizes its indebtedness to tradition, understood as the social and critical embodiment of the community’s formative texts."
—Nancey Murphy,
in the Foreword

"This book is a creative work of practical theology that enhances our understanding of Christian formation from an Anabaptist perspective. Readers are invited to join the conversation at the table with the purpose of refocusing educational vision and revitalizing the teaching ministry in the settings of church, family, and school. This is a wonderful and timely contribution!" More. . . .
——Daniel S. Schipani, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

The Author: Sara Wenger Shenk, Harrisonburg, Virginia, is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Christian Education at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. An author of four books on themes related to family spirituality and culture, she is a frequent speaker on educational themes. Shenk’s negotiation of much cultural change has contributed to her reflection on the intentional shaping of a wholesome, identity-forming culture. She grew up in Ethiopia and, with her husband, began a family while studying and working with theological education in the former Yugoslavia. She is founding pastor of Immanuel Mennonite Church in northeast Harrisonburg, a multi-ethnic congregation with significant neighborhood ministries.

Quote: "As the children left for school, I would say to them, ‘Remember who you are!’ I never said it without feeling a quiet joy, grateful for knowing something about who I am. And I said it thinking that perhaps our children would also be reminded that they are ‘somebody’—somebody with a special history, with an identity worth celebrating. . . . As I reflect on why I would remind our children of this, I think I was inviting them to call to mind several aspects of their identity. I was reminding them to remember . . . that we belong to a distinctive community of faith, a community that shares a special history of pain and hope, recognizable practices, and a confession of faith. . . ." —Sara Wenger Shenk, in the Preface

Market: Educators; scholars and college or graduate students; church leaders and pastors; groups or individuals interested in a thoughtful guide to how tradition-based practices can revitalize educational practices in faith-based communities and in turn reenergize the communities and traditions within which such education is grounded

Shelving: Education—Religious, philosophy of; Theology—Anabaptist-Mennonite, of education; Ethics; Rebecca Chopp; Nancey Murphy; Michael Polanyi. BISAC: Religion, Social Sciences. RTM: 690 Religion/Ethics, 750 Sociology

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House (the new name of Pandora Press U.S.)
Copublisher: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA (not yet confirmed)
Publication date: June 2003
Pages: 212
Format: 6 x 9 trade paper
Prices: $21.95 US, $34.95 Can.
ISBN: 1-931038-16-3


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Copyright 2003 by Cascadia Publishing House
06/11/03