Menno in Athens
An Anabaptist-Mennonite finding a home, not in Jerusalem, but in Athens? Cavorting with ancient pagans? Placing Greek poets and playwrights next to Hebrew prophets? Imagining peacemakers in the heroic age that celebrated prowess in war? And, finding inspiration in the writings of the French mystic, Simone Weil?
Menno in Athens stages such encounters while blending memoir and meditative travelogue where the wisdom of ancient Greece and the tenets of Anabaptism meet.
Menno, the narrator, undertakes a pilgrimage to Greece, where he visits sites once home to ancient poets, sages, playwrights, and philosophers. Along the way, an imposing coincidence with Menno's Anabaptist heritage reveals itself in voices that draw attention to the true cost of violence and discord-voices reiterating an aspiration for peace, and even love.
"Menno in Athens: A Novel. A quirky charmer & unusual travel book & exploration of Greek myths and Christian origins via a young Mennonite. Yikes, naked statues!" - Margaret E. Atwood, on Twitter. July 29, 2022.
"This enthralling novel takes us on what might at first seem to be a quixotic pilgrimage to the sites of ancient Greece to validate a vision of how free people can live and thrive in harmony - a vision that two thousand years later found an echo among Anabaptist Mennonites. When the hero, aptly named Menno, leaves the Mennonite town where he grew up he is strenuously warned by his stepfather that he is pursuing false gods. But what Menno unearths in his pilgrimage among the pre-Hellenic Greeks is a record of their scorn, not their celebration, of private wealth and martial glory. And what else but a latter-day version of a polis were those agrarian Mennonite settlements in Russia, Paraguay, or Canada, where small, radically democratic communities could aspire to live a life that was pleasing to God in the midst of warring nations and empires?" - Erwin Wiens, retired professor of English Literature, and author of To Antoine: A Novel .
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