Jean-Luc_Picard_as_BorgI hesitate to tell people I’m Mennonite because of the pause and obvious cognitive dissonance that follows.

Not always. If I’m anywhere close to Winnipeg at the time, it’s not a problem. The Mennonites around there tend to look like me.

And elsewhere, there are always lots of people who have never heard of Mennonites. Or they think we’re Mormons.

But, in my neck of the woods, people tend to think that Mennonites are all plain-dressing folk who live on farms and get around in horse-driven buggies.

And so the people I meet struggle to fit me into a category.

“You must be a Modern Mennonite” they say (I consider myself postmodern, thank-you very much). Some prefer the terms liberal or progressive but those terms are more about politics than the distinctions between Mennonite subsects. Plenty believe I am fallen-away.

These days, the preferred term among Mennoscholars and such is Assimilated. This is meant to differentiate the groups of Mennos who isolate themselves from The World from those of us who consider the World our friend and neighbour.

I don’t know if anybody actually likes to be called assimilated, though. Having come of age in the era of Star Trek TNG, I developed a strong visceral reaction to the very word “assimilate.” Resistance is futile, the saying went but we learned time and again from our trusty leader Jean-Luc Picard that it was not futile and that assimilation was just about the worst fate possible.

Mind – it’s all really about who gets to play the part of the Borg hive. Those isolationist Mennonite communities have stronger Church discipline practices than my group and, though none in them would identify with the Borg drones either, there’s certainly more uniformity among those non-assimilated groups than there is in my assimilated one. Not as much as is sometimes thought, but still.  They are more successfully communitarian than my group. More like a hive.

For the label to work for us, the Borg hive needs to be mainstream society. But what’s that? I can’t imagine any representative of mainstream society happily accepting the label of Borg. Nor would any self-respecting Borg have us. Any of us who have spent any time out here in the so-called mainstream know that it’s pretty disorganized as far as hives go — full of a bunch of messy individuals trying pretty hard not to be like everyone else.

We assimilated Mennonites might wear mini skirts or jeggings and sip cocktails before heading out the hymn sing but we’re each of us interpreting our relationship with the hive that is mainstream society. Like everyone else I know from every other religious and cultural group in Canada.

And so, with Jean-Luc, I resist assimilation despite the Mennonite taxonomists’ insistence that I am already lost to the figurative Borg collective.

But I’ll drink a cocktail to the idea. There are a whole lot of Star Trek themed cocktails out there. The Borg-themed ones just don’t appeal to me but the Jean-Luc Picard cocktail is a tea-based cocktail and that has a certain resonance for me. Picard’s favorite tea was Earl Grey but Mennonites tend to favour the less “fancy” teas — basically, the Orange Pekoes that come cheap in big, plain boxes. My mother used to take frugality in tea to its greatest heights by barely dipping the tea bag into the pot, saving it in a saucer on a windowsill and then reusing it every day for a week. This recipe honours that tradition by calling for weak tea. Adding a good dash of Limoncello, it does risk tasting a bit more like a cold remedy than a cocktail.

But, after all, it is cold and flu season. Drink up.Assimilationist

 The Assimilationist

  • 1 oz limoncello
  • 4 oz weak hot tea
  • 1 slice lemon

Add the limoncello to your tea cup. Top with hot tea and a slice of lemon. Enjoy. Don’t forget to save that tea bag for cocktails to do you through the week.