Detective Bronco Novak looks across the table at pastor Noah Funk, and asks “Doyou really want your people be- hind bars?”
This brief exchange from “
Ordination,” the pilot episode of the CBC
drama series Pure, exemplifies the
show’s main point – when the faithful stop turning the other cheek and
turn on each other instead, we’ve
fallen as far as everyone else.
Critics argue Pure, which portrays horse-and-buggy Mennonites
committing crimes usually associated with biker gangs and mafiosi,
exploits the chasm between those
who live in strictly governed colonies and the secular world.
Is there really artistic legitimacy,
they ask, to portraying a largely
unassuming, peace-loving people
as greedy entrepreneurs who would
resort to murder and torture if it
means protecting their families
and business interests?
Others see Pure as an opportunity for the larger Mennonite community to raise awareness of the
principles they have steadfastly
held for hundreds of years.
Pure’s premise comes from “The
Wages of Sin,” a lengthy article that
appeared in the now defunct
Saturday Night Magazine in 2004, as well
as an investigative report that appeared on CBC’s The Fifth Estate.
These were explorations of the
criminal activities of a “Mennonite
Mafia” who ran a cocaine, meth and
marijuana smuggling ring between
an Old Colony Mennonite community near Leamington, Ont.,
and Cuauhtémoc, Mexico.
According to those accounts,
Mennonite drug producers and
OR EDGY FICTION?
The mixed messages of Pure BY JEFF DEWSBURY
Noah Funk (Ryan Robbins) is a captive on Eli Vos’ compound in Mexico in the final episode of Season 1 of
Pure, which aired on CBC this winter.