I’m sitting in a coffee shop here in Newton, Kansas and I must say that this town is very, very cool.
I had to come up here today for an interview by the Mennonite Church’s Western District leadership commission (a very, very interesting experience. Overall pretty positive but it was definitely pretty intense to be questioned about what one believes) but now that the interview is done I’m kicking back and enjoying this town.
I first hit the Faith and Life bookstore (a Mennonite bookstore in downtown Newton), I got some interesting reads: Taking our Moments and our Days, An Anabaptist prayer book, Ordinary Time; Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Practices that transform us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun; and The Contemplative Pastor, Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson (the author of The Message).
After that I cruised around town some and then settled in at Moka’s coffeehouse (I was very tempted to go by the Ten Thousand Villages store, but I knew I would spend too much if I went in there). The town itself is pretty neat. Very clean and tidy with a cute downtown. There are tons of Mennonite offices and business (besides the ones already mentioned, there is Bethel College, the MCC Central States office, and Et Cetra thrift store, etc.) and the town has a bit of an artsy/bookish vibe. Also, and this is the best part, there are bicycles EVERYWHERE! I see older folks, kids, college students all over the place. Certainly this isn’t Portland, Oregon but is more bikes than I’ve ever seen in a small city this size. And the bikes you do see are being ridden right, the kids are on the sidewalks mostly while the adults are out in traffic, taking their lane (woohoo!) and being very polite and law-abiding. Also what is weird (but I suppose good), is that everyone is wearing bike helmets – kids, adults, pretty much everybody.
Anyway I’m sold on Newton. This town is pretty stinking cool.