I remember an incident that happened maybe four years or so before I got married. My parents and I were attending a seminar. We were the only Mennonites there amongst a sea of strangers. During a break, a lady struck up a conversation with my dad. She had the usual questions about our denomination, what we believed, etc. Then she wondered, with a knowing nod, "Do you homeschool your children?" My dad said no, that we had our own church school. She clearly seemed surprised and a bit puzzled by this.
Turned out, she was a homeschool mom. Being a Christian (I don't remember denomination), there was no way she wanted her children under the influences of public school. She couldn't quite understand why we wouldn't have chosen homeschooling as well? "We find that even in sending our children to Sunday school they encounter many of the same influences they would face by going to school! Isn't it that way for you?" Welllll....um.....no! Not that there would be no influences in a church school or in Sunday school, but the same ones as public school? No.
How do you even begin to explain the difference in our culture? The common ground that is shared across the board, the instant oneness you feel with another Mennonite without ever having met before, the unheard of idea of knowing you could call up any Mennonite in any state you were visiting and they would welcome you for the night........ How does one even completely realize the vast difference, when it is so normal; so everyday; so common place; so taken for granted?
There is no question that many, many on lookers find something attractive about the Mennonites. Even the most cynical among us would have to admit that there is something that draws those who are seeking to the unusual and set apart culture of the Mennonites. Sadly, our biggest blessing often turns out to be our biggest curse.