Posts By: Merrill Ewert

Following graduate school, I served as a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) volunteer in Congo (then called Zaire) and had just attended a meeting in another province where we had been discussing rural development issues. I was booked to fly home on the national airline from the regional airport in that province but the return flight was cancelled while I was traveling. There were no other flights available for a couple of weeks. A missionary pilot stationed nearby told me that while he would like to fly me back to the small city where I lived, he couldn’t because the plane’s engine was scheduled for maintenance. Heavy rains had washed away a bridge in the direction that I needed to go

Bill Russell is arguably the greatest player in the history of the NBA. He was also a towering figure off the court for how he used his voice to promote justice, equality, and civil rights for all. I attended one of the last Phoenix Suns’ games before the NBA shut everything down because of the pandemic. The Suns were awful that season, so we were able to get amazing seats near the court. Just prior to the start of the game, people were moving down to their seats or going up to the mezzanine to get something to eat. I was about to follow when I looked around and saw that everyone who had been in the aisle, had stepped

Several times a week, people in Topeka ask me where we moved from.  On hearing “Arizona,” they nearly always suggest that we got it backwards.  Apparently, people are supposed to move from Kansas to Arizona, not the other way around.  They wonder why we did this and how Topeka differs from Phoenix.  The answer to the first question is easy (to be closer to family); the second is more complex.  In Arizona, javelinas walked across our patio during the day and then returned at night to rip the Christmas lights off our bushes and dig up the yard.  Cayotes and bobcats wandered freely through our backyard. In Kansas, ducks walk across our patio and wild turkeys, rabbits, birds, and squirrels make themselves at home in back of our house.  In

Earlier this week, the Arizona Cardinals’ star quarterback indicated that he will take a knee during the national anthem when the NFL season starts. Several of my friends have indicated that as a result of Kyler Murray’s announcement, they will no longer follow our team. I am compelled to respond: You have made Colin Kaepernick’s point—and done so eloquently. You have misrepresented his message and intent. Kaepernick has clearly and consistently shown his respect and appreciation for the United States, its flag, the armed forces, etc. He is protesting injustice in America, not desecrating a national symbol. He knelt to call attention to the structural racism in our society that treats African Americans, particularly young black men, differently than whites.

The COVID-19 crisis is not only a public health disaster, it is having catastrophic effects on the U.S. economy and the lives of millions of ordinary citizens.   U.S. Census Data: The U.S. Census bureau publishes a weekly report called the PULSE Survey through which it is measuring the impact of the pandemic on various social and economic indicators.  Among other things, the most recent survey data (gathered between May 7-12) examined the relationship between people’s educational levels and whether or not they had lost some of their household incomes during the pandemic.  This could include everything from losing a job, to salary reductions, or loss of benefits. The Findings: The data suggest that the economic impacts of the pandemic are not spread proportionately across

I deeply appreciated Edgar Stoesz’s article in the Mennonite World Review (April 6) showing how God has used the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) over the past 100 years to not only reach out to a needy world, but to also transform the Church in North America.  As MCC volunteers returned from overseas assignments, they brought with them a deeper understanding of the issues facing humankind, new intercultural relationships and competencies, and broader world views.  MCC has provided several generations of Mennonites with opportunities to serve and learn in ways that would not otherwise have been possible.      When my uncles and aunts served with MCC, their letters provided fodder for our family conversations and prayers.  Their stories, pictures, and gifts from around the world

When our community gym closed indefinitely, I decided that my man-cave would have to double as my personal gym so I went shopping for a weight bench and a pair of heavier dumb bells.  (I had lighter ones.)  At the back of a big-box sports store, I found what I needed, negotiated a discount, and told the clerk (who was 3” taller than I and half my age) who’d been helping me that I was ready to check out.  He asked if he could help carry my stuff to the counter in front.  “Please!” I said.  He grabbed the bench and walked away, leaving me to carry the two dumbbells (each one, much heavier than the bench) through the length of the store.   He set

I’ve watched higher education evolve throughout a career that included teaching, research and administration in four universities. Once considered a public good, many now see it as personal benefit. If you profit from a college education, you—not society—should pay for it. That has enabled many states to defund their public universities. Similarly, few denominations still provide direct financial support to the colleges they founded. Critics complain higher education has become liberal, elitist and disengaged from the lives of ordinary people. Shifting the cost of education from society to students and their families has left many with crushing debt. In my day, Tabor College classmates earned enough on summer harvest or construction crews to pay for the next school year. No

Thunder shook the ground. As the lighting flashed across the midnight sky, I could see the churning clouds and palm trees bending in the wind. The hot, humid air signaled the arrival of a tropical storm. Standing under the open night sky, outside a small village in Africa, I had nowhere to go. The day had started 18 hours earlier with a flight on a small Cessna airplane from one Mennonite mission in Congo to another. I had just attended a meeting of community development workers and was now returning home. The national airline offered weekly air service between a regional airport near our meeting place and the small city where my wife and I served as Mennonite Central Committee

We have just gone through the longest and ugliest presidential campaign of my life! Every time I thought it couldn’t possibly get worse, it did. A week before the election, I concluded that my friends, neighbors, Facebook buddies and even my fellow parishioners were so passionately and irrevocably divided that some relationships might not survive the election. And then, Ben Zobrist laced a double down the left field line in the top of the 10th inning in the seventh game of the World Series to give the Cubs a lead over the Cleveland Indians they never relinquished. I could hardly believe it; the Chicago Cubs were World Champions! That’s when I knew our nation was going to be okay too.