This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Ruebens and pacifism

On a Wednesday night quest to find a rueben sandwich for my wife (Rainbow Mennonite Church Pastor Ruth Harder), I stopped by Browne’s Irish Marketplace in Kansas City. It was late, and the place was practically empty.

As the guy behind the deli was making my sandwiches, he was talking to the only other person there about where they went to high school. The other guy looks at me and asks where I went to high school. I shrugged and told him I was from central Kansas and he’s never heard of it, but he asked where, so I told him I went to Newton High. Close to Wichita.

He told me he knows Newton. He went to Bethel College, in fact. He said he grew up in Junction City and followed a girl to Bethel.

The first day of class another student was looking at his shirt. He thought this meant he’d have to fight him, even though he was a big farm kid. So he gets all in his face and yells “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? YOU WANT TO GO?” The other kid looked horrified and said no, he was just trying to read his shirt, he was a pacifist, and he didn’t want to fight.

“THAT’S RIGHT YOU DON’T” my new rueben friend said. He acted tough, but was pretty relieved. Later he went back to his roommate and asked “ . . . What’s a pacifist?”

My rueben friend said he grew up fighting, but Bethel taught him a new vibe.

Jesse Graber is married to Ruth Harder, who blogs at, where this post originally appeared.

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