Human inheritance is both blessing and curse. And in religious inheritance this paradox is acute…. What curses do we need to shed, in the process of growing up? What can we hold to as blessing?           –Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Wedding Picture of Loretta and Bill, 1985

Me with my new husband, Bill Haney, Berkeley, 1985.

I am a former teacher; a student of religious history and thought; a descendant of Mennonites whose history stretches back 500 years to the Netherlands and the Protestant Reformation. This Mennonite heritage feels like a precious gift, one I treasure even though it has not been an unmixed blessing. It has required work, the hard work of sorting blessing from curse, spiritual and intellectual wrestling, wrestling that in mid-life led me to the formal study of theology.

In 1977, when my two daughters were both in college, I quit my job teaching high school English and drove down Highway 5 from Seattle to Berkeley, California to begin an MA program at the Graduate Theological Union. My time there was wonderful—a golden time that allowed me to question and reflect, sit quietly and let new meanings grow. I came out of that time with a new understanding of my religious heritage as well as the more worldly reward of two academic degrees: the MA in Philosophical Theology and a Ph.D. in Theology & the Arts.

I also acquired a husband in Berkeley—William Haney, an architect who was in an M.Div. program at one of the member schools in the GTU. After his graduation Bill became the pastor of a church in Columbia, Missouri, and  I had the opportunity to teach sociology of religion classes at the University of Missouri in Columbia as well as theology and church history classes at Meadville-Lombard School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2012, Bill and I moved to Bellingham, Washington, where both my daughters live. My time in Bellingham has been spent gardening, enjoying my daughters and writing a trilogy about my religious heritage. The first book, The Gift of Laughter: The Story of a California Mennonite Family, is about my father’s family. It was published on Amazon in 2017. The second book, Child Bride, published on Amazon in 2019, is about my mother and her family. I am currently at work on my own story, the story of living and, at times wrestling, with my family heritage.