Unto the Third and Fourth Generation:
J. Glenn Friesen
I. Multi-generational trauma
Perhaps there are genetic reasons for the number of cases of psychological illness on my mother’s side of the family: depression, schizophrenia, hospitalizations, and even suicide. But I believe that they are due at least in part to the religious conflict experienced by my mother’s father (my maternal grandfather) I.P. Friesen (1874-1952). This religious conflict was a result of his rejection of the teachings and practices of the Old Colony Mennonite Church , and his attempt to find a substitute for this religion and yet remain a Mennonite. It continues to affect even his grandchildren.
I.P. Friesen (1874-1952).
Both my mother’s family and my father’s family had significant disagreements with the Old Colony Mennonite Church. I am very grateful that both sides of my family freed themselves from its authoritarian rule. But on my mother’s side, there was a continuing dark side to the fundamentalist evangelical religion that I.P. Friesen substituted for Mennonite teachings.
William James distinguished between called “healthy-minded” and “morbid” individuals (the sick souls, the melancholy and depressed). Healthy-minded individuals are “once-born” in contrast to the “twice-born” religion of the morbid-minded. Healthy-minded individuals, like Emerson or Walt Whitman, are optimistic and look at the good in the world. They are not introspective:
They are childlike, and see God as Kindness and Beauty in romantic and harmonious nature. In his biography of James, Robert Richardson contrasts this with the morbid-minded:
In general, my father’s side of the family tended towards healthy-minded religion, and did not emphasize emotional religious conversion.
They were content with the more “progressive” Mennonite tradition as exemplified in the Rosenort Mennonite Church in Rosthern, Saskatchewan , which was led by “Bishop” David Toews after 1913 . This progressive wing later became part of the “General Conference of Mennonites.” It is therefore distinct from the Old Colony Mennonites, from the Mennonite Brethren , from the Old Mennonites and from the Amish . I believe that even the beliefs of this “progressive” Mennonite church have a tendency to cause religious melancholy and depression .
But this story centers on the religious conflicts of I.P. Friesen, and the long shadow that he cast on his family. He certainly tended towards the morbid side that emphasized the evil in the world and the continual need for conversion and forgiveness.
I will refer to my grandfather as “IP,” since that is the rather grandiose way that he referred to himself–by his initials alone. Perhaps he was emulating JP Morgan, one of the wealthiest men in the world in the early 1900’s. IP had a very successful hardware business in Rosthern. He certainly tried to act the part of a wealthy man.
IP Friesen, in automobile in front of his Hardware Store.
He always dressed in a suit and tie, even at home. And there is a story about him trying to impress Old Colony Mennonite villagers in Saskatchewan by driving around in his new Reo automobile. In 1906, a young girl in one of these villages was frightened by IP’s “horseless carriage,” which she described as having “huge balls of light which stuck out at the front sides.”  As he rode around the villages, IP’s brother George would sometimes write out a cheque for five thousand dollars; IP would set it aflame and then use the burning cheque to light his cigar. He wanted to give the impression that he literally had money to burn. The very fact that he owned an automobile was a provocation to the Old Colony church, which considered owning a car to be grounds for excommunication . But, he was excommunicated for a different reason–sending his children to public school.
IP was a successful businessman. But operating a business in a town was itself contrary to the teachings of the Old Colony Mennonite Church. We can see this from what happened to my great-grandfather Johann Driedger , as set out in a fascinating article by Leonard Doell Doell 2009).
Johann and Kathrina Driedger, and their five youngest
Driedger had a business at Clark’s Crossing, Saskatchewan. In 1910, because business there was slow, he took several loads of goods to the town of Osler, 18 miles away. But there was a snowstorm, and customers did not come. So he had to store the merchandise in a building that he owned in Osler. The building and its contents were destroyed in a fire. The neighbouring store, owned by Jacob J. Heinrichs, also burned down. Both Driedger and Heinrichs claimed insurance coverage under the Mennonite Brandordnung (Fire Insurance Organization). But this fire insurance did not cover Mennonites who operated businesses in railway towns; the church discouraged contact with non-Mennonites. Because they nevertheless made an insurance claim, both Heinrichs and my great-grandfather Driedger were excommunicated from the Old Colony Church. They were not allowed to enter the sanctuary of the church. If they did, the rest of the congregation would leave, resulting their being there alone. My father Menno remembers the story that even in a severe winter blizzard, Driedger was not allowed inside the church. Other church members were banned from dealing with either Driedger or Heinrichs. The ban was so effective that Driedger had to abandon his store at Clark’s Crossing. He bought another store in Osler, but it never did well because of the ban (Driedger 2000, 77). In 1914, Heinrichs sued the elder of the Old Colony Mennonite Church, Rev. Wiens for damages caused by this excommunication. On September 21, 1916, after two and a half years of litigation, Heinrichs was awarded $1,000 damages for conspiracy resulting in economic loss. This is a good example of how Canadian law played a role in assimilating the closed and communitarian Mennonite community to the individualistic and capitalistic ideas protected by Canadian law. Another example is how Canadian rights of property given to Mennonite immigrants as separate homesteads undermined the community’s right to build on such land, as they had done in Russia. 
But let’s return to IP. I am not the only one of his grandchildren to believe that we are affected by IP’s religious struggles. For most of his life, my cousin Dennis Bueckert struggled to make sense of IP.
My cousin Dennis Bueckert, a few weeks before his death
In his twenties, Dennis wrote a biography of IP as his honours thesis in journalism, and he continued to revise this biography until his death at age 57. It is a wonderful, almost myth-like account of the IP family history, full of irony, a mix of cynicism and praise. Dennis quotes from IP’s personal diary, where IP recorded his struggle with depression. For a time, I had an excerpt of this biography on my website, but Dennis asked me to remove it because he was embarrassed at how long he was taking to finish the project . I know from my conversations with Dennis that this biography of IP caused him a lot of anguish; when I met with Dennis a few weeks before he took his life, he was still trying to complete it, and he was still trying to understand the impact made by IP on his family. Dennis used to tell me what was said by another one of our first cousins: “The blood of I.P. Friesen runs like poison through my veins.”
Those would seem to be harsh words. For IP was elected a minister in the Rosenort Mennonite Church in Rosthern, Saskatchewan. IP became an evangelist, whose preaching resulted in 1100 members leaving one Mennonite Church in order to form another one, the Rudnerweider Mennonite Church, which later became the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference (EMMC). 
But although IP may have inspired and helped other people to find peace with God, he himself was a very troubled man. He suffered from depression and from extreme religious melancholy. He was obsessed with sin and death, fears of damnation, and the belief that the eye of God is always upon us all. He battled with the Old Colony Mennonite Church. And he feuded with Bishop David Toews in the “progressive” Mennonite Church. And as we shall see, although he intended to do the right thing, IP’s religious conflict resulted in both psychological and physical abuse of his children, including my mother.
The impact that a person can make on succeeding generations is a theme that can already be found in the Bible . Some psychologists claim that our neuroses often come from the unfulfilled quests and dreams, not only of our parents, but of our grandparents. C.G. Jung said that conflicts and tensions are sometimes passed on from grandparents. David Sedgwick summarizes Jung’s views:
The grandparents and great-grandparents “explain the individuality of the children far more than the immediate and so to speak accidental parents” (Jung 1954, 44).
Jung made these statements even though in his case, all of his own grandparents had died before he was born. Participation mystique is the idea of a pre-existing unconscious identity between the child and his parents, a mental state of non-differentiation and identity, an “a priori identity of subject and object.” 
For Jung (1911-12/1952, 1944), the entire unconscious is represented by the image of the mother, so a person in a state of ‘participation mystique’ is, in effect, still in the mother (Sedgwick 35).
Pathology in children does not only come from the parent; it is frequently the parent’s own illness. (Sedgwick 56, citing works from 1926 and 1931). Jung refers to these inherited complexes as ‘imps’, which are unassimilated lumps rolling about in the child’s unconscious:
In my own life, I carry these unconscious burdens of my mother and her father IP. But there was also a conscious burden placed upon me. I was born two months after IP’s death. My mother found his death most traumatic. My Aunt Amy remembers having to comfort my mother from her unrestrained weeping; did my mother’s grief cause intrauterine stress? After IP’s death, my mother changed her previously “worldly” lifestyle in order to honour his beliefs. She stopped drinking any alcohol, and she made a vow to God that she would no longer use lipstick. But in a legalistic interpretation of her vow, my mother allowed herself to use crayons instead of lipstick. And she began to try to live in accordance with her IP’s religious ideals. My sisters Dawn and Sharon, who are 6 and 8 years older than I, remember this abrupt change in my mother’s life. And when I was born, my mother tried to dedicate me to God. The nurses in the Catholic hospital where I was born told her that only I could make such a choice. Later, my mother told me that I would replace IP as a great evangelist and writer. So she consciously placed on me the burden of fulfilling IP’s dreams.
There is both a positive as well as a negative side to this shadow of IP cast upon my life. I will begin with the positive–his opposition to the Mennonite church, and his spirit of adventure. These have helped me to be critical of my own traditions, and have given me the enjoyment of travel to exotic places.
II. Mennonites and the Public Schools issue
IP was born July 6, 1873 in Rosengart, an Old Colony Mennonite settlement near Chortitza, South Russia. The Mennonites had been in South Russia since the time of Catherine the Great, who had encouraged them to immigrate to Russia from Danzig, Southern Prussia (now Poland). Catherine the Great had granted the Mennonites certain privileges, such as the right to educate their children in their own way, and the right to refuse military service. Beginning in 1860, Russia sought to remove some of these privileges (Abraham Friesen 2006, 10). Many Mennonites decided to emigrate from Russia to Canada, where they hoped that their religious rights would be recognized. In the same way that they had moved from the Netherlands to Prussia, and from there to Russia, they would now go to Canada, seeking a place where they could form their own society according to their religious beliefs. Later, when Canada turned out not to be the utopia that they had imagined, thousands of Mennonite families (about 8,000 Canadians) moved again to Mexico, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Mennonites were encouraged to immigrate to Canada because they had received a promise from the Canadian Government:
This promise is given by letter dated July 26, 1873. It is signed by John Lowe, Secretary for the Department of Agriculture. He would be the equivalent of today’s deputy minister for Immigration. The letter was affirmed by an Order-in-Council of August 13, 1873, signed by Prime Minister John A. MacDonald and Governor-General Lord Dufferin. But the Order-in-Council has significantly different wording:
There is a difference in wording between “by law afforded” and “as provided by law.” The second wording would appear to allow laws to change regarding education.
Already in Russia, the Old Colony Mennonites had set up their own education system for their children, up to the age of twelve or thirteen. They continued this practice in Canada. The curriculum was reading, writing and arithmetic; the texts were a primer (or Fiebel), the Catechism  and the Bible. Instruction was in German. The only education that the teachers had was their own education as children (Alan Guenther, 5).
IP’s family immigrated to Canada in 1875, when he was two years old. The family travelled by ship and then by rail, landing in Fargo, North Dakota. After one year in North Dakota, they traveled north on the Red River to Emerson. In Manitoba, they built an earth hut in Rosenort. IP grew up in Manitoba, but after his parents died, he moved to Rosthern, Saskatchewan, where many Mennonites had settled in 1892.
In Rosthern, Mennonites had always voted against getting a public school. But in 1899, an Englishman built a flourmill in the town. With the votes of his construction workers, he achieved a majority vote to set up a public school. In other Saskatchewan towns like Hague and Osler, the boundaries of the election district were arranged to get a majority vote for public schools. Bill Janzen describes this:
What makes the story interesting is that, although IP came to Canada partly because his family wanted the right to educate their children without state interference, it was IP who played a prominent role in removing the Mennonites’ right to educate their children. IP was one of the first Mennonites to send his children to the public school in Rosthern. This resulted in his excommunication from the Old Colony Mennonite Church. IP did not want to be excommunicated, because he believed that he would lose customers for his business. So he tried to voluntarily resign from the church. He visited the elder of the Old Colony Mennonite Church, Rev. Jacob Wiens. IP later told government officials:
Instead of being a member of the Old Colony Church, IP wanted to join the “progressive” Rosenort Mennonite Church in Rosthern. This church had shown an interest in higher education. David Toews, who would later (1913) be ordained as a minister of the Rosenort Church, had been a teacher; in 1905, he helped to establish a Mennonite high school in Rosthern . In 1909, this high school was incorporated by the province as “The German-English Academy.” Toews was principal of the school until 1917. The school was intended to train Mennonite teachers, and to preserve the language and culture of the Mennonites. It later became Rosthern Junior College. 
While still a teacher, Toews visited Rev. Wiens to ask about IP’s situation. But Rev. Wiens stood firm: once one was baptized into the Old Colony Church, a person could not be released, but only excommunicated. Rev. Wiens had reminded IP of the fact that when he was baptized, he had promised to be faithful to the teachings of the Old Colony community (Doell 2009). And so IP was excommunicated. This resulted in his being shunned by other members of the Old Colony Church. They were no longer to do business with IP. Even other family relatives were not to eat at the same table with him.
IP wrote to the Saskatchewan Government, asking the government to intervene, begging for “British justice and fair play.”  IP said that the vote for his excommunication had not been fair, and the question of his expulsion had not been properly framed for the congregation. He also suggested that if the government would take action, it “would make a lot of friends in this District for the forthcoming election” (cited by Alan Guenther 2009).
IP was not the only one to write to the Government seeking such help. So did Jacob J. Friesen (not related), who wrote to the Education Minister in 1908,
Premier Scott of Saskatchewan responded to IP’s letter:
The Saskatchewan Government set up a Commission of Inquiry. Hearings were held in Warman, Saskatchewan on December 28 and 29, 1908. The Commission heard from more than a dozen excommunicated people, and also interviewed Rev. Wiens and other Old Colony leaders. These leaders relied on various Biblical texts to support their right to teach their children, as well as on the letter from the Canadian Government granting them the privilege to educate their children.David Toews testified at the Commission of Inquiry:
In contrasting his church with the Old Colony, Toews said,
Later, Toews expressed his belief that the Old Colony church was persecuting people like IP:
The Commission asked Rev. Wiens how he had obtained his position with the Old Colony Church. The congregation had elected him. Wiens said that he had invited IP to convince him from the Bible that public schools were permitted. The verses relied on by Wiens to support the Old Colony position were 2 Tim. 3:15 and Deut. 6:6-7. IP testified as to his frustration with Wiens:
The Commission suggested to Rev. Wiens that this was a matter of interpretation of the Bible. Janzen says that the Old Colony ministers thought there could only be one interpretation–they believed that the teaching of the church was the plain, obvious meaning of the text.
Only the men in the Old Colony Church were permitted to participate in the decision to excommunicate members. This excommunication was also understood to eternally bar the excommunicated person from heaven. But IP testified that he no longer believed that the church had the power to send him to hell.
The Commission of Inquiry did not really solve the issue. The Commission threatened to take away the right of Old Colony ministers to solemnize marriages if they did not accept public education. But this threat was not carried out. No steps were taken until after World War I. At that time, the new premier of Saskatchewan, W.M. Martin, decided to close all German schools. Saskatchewan passed the School Attendance Act, which made public education compulsory for all children between 7 and 14. Parents who did not send their children to public school would be fined. Bill Janzen describes how this affected his family in Saskatchewan, who wanted to continue with the German language private schools:
The Government of Manitoba also challenged the Mennonites’ rights to educate their children in their own church schools. In 1919, the Manitoba Court of Appeal convicted a Mennonite, John Hildebrandt, for failing to send his children to public school. The court held that the Mennonites could not rely on the promise given to them by the Canadian Government when they came to Canada. The Federal government had no jurisdiction in education. Under the British North America Act, education was an exclusive area of jurisdiction for the provinces (Ens 1985). The Federal Government had not had any right to make the promise that it had made to the Mennonites, regardless of whether the promise had been “by law afforded” or “as provided by law.”
As a result of the statutes requiring parents to send their children to public schools, many Mennonites moved from Canada to Mexico, Bolivia and Paraguay, hoping they would be able to educate their children there without state interference. Janzen reports that in March of 1922, six chartered trains, carrying about 5,000 people, left Manitoba for Mexico. Many thousands also left from Saskatchewan, for a total of about 8,000 people.
Ironically, this exodus of Mennonites from Canada came at about the same time that there was a second wave of immigration of Mennonites to Canada from Russia. Unlike the Old Colony emigration to Canada in the 1870’s, these Mennonites had allowed their children to be educated in Russian schools. They were therefore a more educated group than the Old Colony Mennonites. On arrival in Canada, they also introduced a certain amount of outside culture into Mennonite life. For example, these Russian immigrants from the 1920’s introduced four part harmony singing, whereas the Old Colony church sang in unison, led by a Vorsänger–someone who stood in front of the congregation to lead them in a very nasal and harsh style of singing (Rempel 1950; Berg 2002). That is how the Old Colony Mennonites had sung in their churches in Russia (Hildebrandt 1981). No instruments were used in the Old Colony churches to accompany the singing. My paternal grandmother Katherina (Driedger) Friesen got in trouble with the Old Colony Church for playing a harmonica.
III. Other difficulties with the Mennonite church
There were other difficulties with the Mennonite church. In the 1920’s, IP’s brother Henry was defrauded of $5,000 by a recent Mennonite immigrant from Russia named Isaac Braun. The “progressive” Rosenort Mennonite Church took sides against Henry, and supported Braun. Even David Toews, who was then a minister in the Rosenort Church, took Braun’s side. There was a very lengthy series of trials, which I have described elsewhere (J. Glenn Friesen 2010). During those trials, both IP and David Toews testified. In his testimony in 1926, IP was cross-examined by the defence lawyer Bonnar:
The lawyer then asked IP whether he had ever been expelled from the Mennonite Church. IP replied he had not, although there were some people who believed that. Now why would IP deny his excommunication? That evening, one of IP’s children overheard how the defence was going to use this incorrect answer to try to discredit the Friesen family’s testimony. The next morning, IP asked the court for permission to correct his evidence. He said,
That “clarification” is hardly truthful, either. IP had been excommunicated, and the reason was not just that he had joined another church. This collateral issue had nothing to do with whether or not Henry had been defrauded by Braun, but it shows how difficult it was for Mennonites to tell the truth. Indeed, several of the trial judges commented how they had never heard as much perjury as they had in these trials, from all parties. This is a severe indictment of the Mennonites, who prided themselves on not taking oaths because they always told the truth.
Braun was ultimately held guilty of fraud, and deported to Russia, where he died in Siberia. IP’s brother Henry was vindicated, but some people in the Mennonite church continued to believe that he was guilty. Perhaps this was because of the relative wealth of Henry and IP. Their attempt to assimilate into Canadian life, with its individualism and desire for personal success did not sit well with those Mennonites who believed it was more important to have communal goals and a simple farming life (See Dick 2003).
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 Also known as the Reinland Mennonite Church, first established in 1875 in Manitoba. The church was known as “Old Colony” because it was founded by immigrants from Chortitza, the first or oldest Mennonite colony in South Russia. See Redekopp, Alf. (2004): “Reinlander Mennoniten Gemeinde (Manitoba),” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2004. Web. 07 July 2010. [http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R4575.html], accessed June 18, 2011.
 The Rosenorter Church was organized in the Rosthern district by Elder Peter Regier, who had immigrated in 1893 from the Rosenort church in West Prussia (now Suchowo, Województwo Pomorskie, Poland; it is the area of the Vistula delta that the German novelist Günter Grass writes about). The first congregation of these Prussian immigrants was in Tiefengrund (Epp 1962, 87). The Rosthern church was built in 1903. See "Rosenort Mennonite Church Group," Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia, online at [http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R67455ME.html]. So this church was not founded by Mennonites who had immigrated from Russia, unlike the Old Colony Church. There were no Mennonite Brethren immigrants to Canada in the 1870’s (Dyck 290).
 Mennonites do not have an Episcopalian kind of church polity; there are no bishops. Rev. David Toews (1870-1947), who was Chairman of the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization, was given the title ‘Bishop’ in order to impress the Canadian Pacific Railway, which facilitated the emigration from Russia to Canada of more than 20,000 Mennonites during the 1920’s. David Toews married Margaret Friesen, daughter of Abram Friesen, a minister, one of the Prussian Mennonites (Epp 1962, 87).
 The Mennonite Brethren had their beginnings in Southern Russia in 1860. They are distinct from the Old Colony Mennonites who immigrated to Canada in 1874-80. Old Colony Mennonite settled primarily in Ontario.
 The Old Mennonites and Amish
were of Swiss-South German descent, and did not come from Russia. They
were called ‘Old Mennonites’ in distinction from the “newer”
groups that split off from them in the U.S., such as the Reformed Mennonites
and the General Conference. See Harold S. Bender and Beulah Stauffer
Hostetler (1989): “Mennonite
Church (MC),” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online,
 Ruth Marlene Friesen: “A Godly Inheritance,” the history of her grandmother, Elisabeth (Friesen) Kroeker [http://agodlyinheritance.com/agi/2-twins.html].
 For a more complete discussion, see Harold Dick: Cultural Chasm: ‘Mennonite’ Laywers in Western Canada, 1900-1939,” Lawyers and Vampires: Cultural Histories of Legal Professions, ed. W.Wesley Pue and David Sugarman (Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2003). Dick discusses my grandmother’s nephew Elmer Driedger (1913-85), one of the first “Mennonite lawyers.” Dick points out that Driedger married a non-Mennonite, and was perhaps not as Mennonite as has been claimed. Driedger, from the “healthy-minded” side of the family, became an expert in constitutional law and legal drafting. His text on statutory interpretation (Driedger 1983) has become the legal work that is cited most frequently by the Supreme Court of Canada (Fodden 2007). Driedger was also Canada's main legislative draftsman when The Canadian Bill of Rights was enacted by the Diefenbaker government. It included protection of the rights of individuals. Driedger must have been aware of how this conflicted with Mennonite communal ideals. See also E.A. Driedger: "The Meaning and Effect of the Canadian Bill of Rights: A Draftsman's Viewpoint," (1977) 9 Ottawa Law Review, 303.
 The Rudnerweide Mennonite
Church was founded in 1937, and became the EMMC in 1959. See historical
note regarding Evangelical
Mennonite Mission Conference at [http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/archives/holdings/organizations/
 David Sedgwick: Jung and Searles: A Comparative Study (Routledge, 1993), 56. The reference at 1931g is to Jung’s “Introduction to Wickes’ The Inner World of Childhood,” (Collected Works, vol. 17). And the 1926 reference is to “Analytical Psychology and Education,” also in Vol. 17. The House of Atreus refers to the Greek myth of Tantalus. Because of his actions against the gods, a curse was passed down through generations.
 Sedgwick, 34, citing C.G. Jung: The practice of psychotherapy, p. 295: “The collective unconscious is a natural and universal datum and its manifestation always causes an unconscious identity, a state of participation mystique.”
 See Bill Janzen: “The 1920s Migration of Old Colony Mennonites from the Hague-Osler Area of Saskatchewan to Durango, Mexico,” Preservings (2006), online at ]http://www.plettfoundation.org/Preservings/Preservings_2006.pdf].
 Such high schools [called Zentralschulen] had been established by the Mennonites in Russia. The chortitza Zentralschule was established in 1842. The Russian government encouraged such secondary schools in order to teach Russian. But Russian instruction was not given in Chortitza until 1871, shortly before many of these Mennonites emigrated to Canada. Krahn, Cornelius (1953). "Chortitza Zentralschule (Chortitza, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, [http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/C46523.html], accessed June 18, 2011..
 My paternal grandfather John C. Friesen was a major benefactor of Rosthern Junior College. He was undoubtedly disappointed when I only attended Grades 9 and 10 and completed my high school elsewhere.
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Revised Jul3/2001. Added references
re E.A. Driedger.