Scattering Point

The World in a Mennonite Eye

By Jeff Gundy

Subjects: Religion
Paperback : 9780791456583, 192 pages, February 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456576, 192 pages, February 2003

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations



1. Cathedrals, Churches, Caves: Notes on Architecture, History, and Worship

2. Fantasia with Raspberries, Baby Chicks, Wine and Roses

3. Scattering Point

4. Scatter Plots: Depression, Silence, and Mennonite Margins

5. The Notebook in My Back Pocket

6. Where We Live: Two Scenes from the Black Swamp

7. The Sparrow in the Mead Hall: On Birds, Souls, and the World

8. "Would You Have Left All This for Waldo?": Notes on a Partial Pilgrimage


Works Cited

Creative non-fiction by a Mennonite poet that blends the history of the Amish and Mennonites, family history, and his own life story to look at how he might live in harmony with the Mennonite ideal to 'live in the world but not of it.'


Part memoir, part family history, part meditation on history and the present, this work of creative nonfiction allows Jeff Gundy to ask what it should mean to "live in the world but not of it," as the traditional Mennonite saying recommends. As Scattering Point moves through time and space, it repeatedly questions how a modern, assimilated Mennonite poet and professor might live with some kind of fidelity to his tradition and to the promises and griefs of contemporary life.

Scattering Point takes its title from Scattering Point Creek, which has its source on the author's family farm in Illinois. This book explores that place while also ranging widely from it and the Amish and Mennonites who have been associated with the area for nearly the last century. It traverses the Illinois prairie to churches and caves in Europe and incorporates family stories, soil geology, the architecture of cathedrals and churches, reflections on depression, and Mennonite martyrdoms and schisms. Scattering Point speaks of the great questions of history and religion, the quiet lives of Amish and Mennonite men and women whose histories are almost forgotten, and of our lives today.

Readers of all backgrounds will see something of themselves in Jeff Gundy who writes, "I must admit it: I do love this world and, many, though not all, of the things in it," and whose quest is always for understanding that will allow us to "go back into the world more able to undertake the difficult work of loving it as we should."

Jeff Gundy is Professor of English at Bluffton College. He is the author of A Community of Memory: My Days with George and Clara, as well as three books of poetry, Rhapsody with Dark Matter: Poems; Flatlands; and Inquiries: Poems.