Tag Archives: Ervin Beck

Books Acquired Recently: Half Queer, Half Mennonite Edition

Queer

As I have written here a number of times before, the “problem” with reading a lot of queer theory is that I am constantly encountering citations of other queer books that I want to acquire and read. I bought the three following books as a result of reading other queer writers. Cherry’s and Rechy’s books were specifically cited in my recent reading, and I discovered Brintnall, Marchal, and Moore’s book (which came out in November, but has a copyright date of 2018) while searching for some queer theology to read after a colleague suggested that I do so.

I purchased all three from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Brintnall, Kent L., Joseph A. Marchal, and Stephen D. Moore, ed. Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies. New York: Fordham University Press, 2018.

Fordham University’s main campus is in the Bronx, so it is interesting that they have their Press located in Manhattan. (They have a satellite campus in Manhattan, but the Press predates it.) The church I went to when I lived in the Bronx, North Bronx Mennonite, used to meet in a chapel on Fordham’s campus.

Cherry, Kittredge. Jesus in Love. Berkeley, CA: AndroGyne Press, 2006.

When my copy of this novel came in the mail I was happy to discover that it was autographed by the author.

Rechy, John. The Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary. New York: Grove Press, 1977.

Mennonite

One of my former college professors, Ervin Beck, sent me some Mennonite literature that was recently discarded by the College Mennonite Church (in Goshen, Indiana; I did an internship there nearly twenty years ago) library.

Miller, Levi. Ben’s Wayne. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1989.

Rich, Elaine Sommers. Pondered in Her Heart. Newton, KS: Wordsworth, 1998.

Rimland, Ingrid. The Wanderers: The Saga of Three Women Who Survived. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977.

I did a report on this novel in Beck’s 2001 Mennonite literature course, so I am excited to encounter it again. It is a controversial text because it implies that the Nazis weren’t that bad because they were German (note that some Mennonites in North America still hold church services in German), which is unfortunately an attitude that a lot of Mennonites in the 1940s shared.

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Ervin Beck on David Foster Wallace

There is a fascinating, impressively-researched article about David Foster Wallace’s relationship to religious faith by Ervin Beck in the latest issue of the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing. Wallace is one of my favorite writers, and Beck is a former professor of mine and one of the most important mentors that I’ve had, so I was very excited to read the article this afternoon. Despite its sectarian-sounding title (“David Foster Wallace Among the Mennonites;” Mennonites [including lapsed Mennos such as myself] love to talk about famous people’s connections with Mennonites, with Rembrandt being the most common example. Contemporary examples of celebrities who are either Mennonite or had/have strong Menno connections include Phyllis Diller, Newt Gingerich, Matt Groening, and the Canadian authors Rudy Wiebe, Di Brandt, and Patrick Friesen), the article is of interest for anyone who enjoys Wallace’s work or is interested in contemporary fiction. As is well known, Foster lived a tortured life, struggling with mental illness and constantly feeling that his work was never good enough despite its brilliance. Beck’s article does a beautiful job of sensitively addressing these issues and the role they played in Wallace’s interactions with his Mennonite acquaintances. This is no surprise, as Ervin is one of the sweetest, kindest persons I have ever had the privilege to meet.

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