Teenagers, Popes, Mennonite Conferences, & Nonogenerians


My wonderful teenage granddaughter

“Teenager” brains can convince teens  that they are always right and that they know better than their elders what to do.   They are dead wrong about that, as they will acknowledge later when the brain changes, and they discover how much Dad or Mom knows

A teenager can be wrong, but when this nonagenarian needed help with an iphone he asked his son for help. His son said he would bring his teen age daughter with him because she’ll know what to do, he said.  And she did.  A teenager can be so right!


A Pope washing feet

A pope is thought by some to be infallible under certain circumstances.  But the passage of time oft proves a pope to be wrong and a successor may correct his missteps by edicts of her own.

There was a time when the Virginia Mennonite Conference in its passion for separation from the world ruled that no family in the conference could own a radio.  So, the conference lost members and whole congregations who felt that the conference and its bishops were wrong.  So, in time the conference admitted it was wrong and relaxed the rule.

After the invention of television, a leading Virginia bishop wrote to a Lancaster Conference bishop urging that the Lancaster conference not make the mistake about television that the Virginians had made about radios. The Lancaster Conference did not heed the warning, and banned televisions anyway. After losing members and congregations the Lancaster conference admitted that it too was wrong and relaxed its rule.  I wish a historian would stumble over that letter.

(Do you see any connection between past conference actions and present actions relating to the suspension of Isaac Villegas?)

Even acting as a recording secretary for bishops can be tiring.   I quote the following from My Faith Journey:

J. Irvin and Ruth Lehman

J. Irvin and Ruth Lehman, my mother and father

“My father was the secretary of the conference and often met with the bishops to record their actions. Nervous anticipation related to this work caused his beard to sometimes stop growing in spots. (I know because I watched him shave at the kitchen table with his straight-edged razor.) He regularly had an upset stomach as the annual conference sessions approached. My mother called it his conference stomach. This must have caused my distaste for divisions in the church to seed and begin to grow.”

Nonagenarians are oftimes wrong. They need their children and grandchildren and their friends and neighbors.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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3 Responses to Teenagers, Popes, Mennonite Conferences, & Nonogenerians

  1. carroll lehman says:

    Oh, Martin, I remember well that photo of your parents. It is just like I remember them. I was always so impressed and respectful of them.

  2. Miriam Showalter says:

    Conference stomach=>message to son=>something wrong with this discord.
    Seems so often what folks learn from us is less about what we say and more about how we live.

  3. Merle Cordell says:

    I love your memory, Martin. I followed your father as secretary of the same conference and served through changes and divisions. It has changed me also.

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