My Fascination with the Amish

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by liberalogic, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. liberalogic
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    After the school shootings in Amish country a few months ago, I became intrigued by their way of life and beliefs. Yet, my personal opinion of the culture is deeply conflicted.

    On one hand, I respect their virtuous conduct in the name of Christ, their voluntary decision to exclude themselves from the inherent "evils" of mainstream society, and their restraint in forcing religious values on the outside world.

    But within this reclusive sphere of existence comes a lack of education (most of them stop school after 8th grade in order to help their families earn modest incomes) and a lack of exposure to the benefits that society can offer. I truly believe that education is a national (and should be a universal) right. Without the gift of knowledge we are unable to independently define and rationalize our existence.

    I've spoken to many of my friends at school about this and to my surprise (since I go to an extremely liberal and at times leftist university), many told me that it's simply another culture and that my Americanized perspective constituted a bias towards their way of life.

    If anyone is interested in responding to this, it would be greatly appeciated as I'm extraordinarily curious to hear what others have to say.
     
  2. Trigg
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    "But within this reclusive sphere of existence comes a lack of education (most of them stop school after 8th grade in order to help their families earn modest incomes) and a lack of exposure to the benefits that society can offer. I truly believe that education is a national (and should be a universal) right. Without the gift of knowledge we are unable to independently define and rationalize our existence."

    If you have ever lived around them, spoken to or gone to school with them, the statement above would never have been written. Amish do not leave school to help provide a "meger income". Amish are NOT poor, they deal in cash and since most now work not only a farm but also a business they are probably making as much as the average American.

    They are exposed to the "benefits of society", that is why they shun it. Amish men work in construction and carpentry, the women work in restaurants and sell quilts among other items. They arn't sheltered away from society, they just choose not to bring that society into their homes. Many Amish send their kids to public schools.

    As far as schooling. By 8th grade a child can read, write, and do math. They also have been taught by this grade American history as well as some world history.
    Yes, they usually quit school in 8th, but it's not a requirement, as you seem to think. In fact at about this age the teenagers are free to experience the "English" society in order for them to decide, for themselves, whether they want to embrace the Amish way of life. I think around %90 of the teens choose the Amish way of life instead of ours. I would say as a group they are very happy and content with their lives and they completely realize what they are giving up.

    In case you wonder, I grew up around and went to school with them.
     
  3. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    I've never met, or seen an angry Amish. They forgave the perpetrator of the murders of their children and extended the hand of forgiveness and friendship to his surviving family. They walk the walk, and I respect them greatly for it.
     
  4. liberalogic
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    Just for the record, I'm not trying to bash them or anything. I've just become extremely fascinated with their way of life.

    The Rumspringa usually starts at 16, a few years after the end of eigth grade. I think an education beyond eighth grade, which entails a more rigorous examination of literature and history, is necessary in order for kids to make a more, no pun intended, educated decision, as they will attain the tools necessary to grapple with self-examination in the context of the "English world."

    Regardless, though, watching their reactions to the school shooting and the compassion they showed for the victim and the dignity that they showed themselves is something more christian than I've ever seen in a conservative christian. I wish this part of christianity were more prevalent in mainstream society.
     
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  5. 90K
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    I'm not sure if bashing is the correct word to use here. Are there many Amish living in the rural areas of Jersey? But in Lancaster County in south eastern Pa they have a large population. They are the strictest group I've personally encountered. The English as we are called are looked at as money and rightfully so because we treat them as stupid souls and actually that is quite the contrary. Now in my area o Maryland the Amish are not as strict in regards to ways of making a living. For example they use tractors for work but the rubber tires have to be removed and metal wheels are used. They can only use these pieces of equipment to assist and not become dependant on them. They do quit school but I will say they are very wealthy in land and assets. Many of there homes are as nice as the ones being built in any neighborhood today. Just they lack certain things we have. I have a couple of Amish men I visit for certain business things I need. I've learned heaps about them over time. They are very educated in the news and politics they are very conservative, they know our music; they know our vehicles and what they cost. Many of them travel to places like Mexico for medical procedures because of the cost savings and the risks associated. I have wondered why they didn't go to Canada instead. They are naive to our world in many ways yet they continue to prevail in there world and the logic they use makes sense considering how they do business. Barter is a big tool they use. I personally don't ask a lot of questions up front about religion and such, but over time I have asked many things and have learned from their ways of doing things. I have at times given them rides, this will help them out on a daily basis to get supplies and get home to continue the daily chores they do. In return I could barter from them instead of taking money. They are clever in the ways of survival because they work on rich times and lean times, so survival is pretty much the way it is for them.


    In my area the women are home tending to those things and the men are carpenters or doing some sort of labor. The kids go to a local Amish school. But when you visit Lancaster County you'd see more integration into the English society.
    And BTW I've seen a few with cell phones so they too can be tempted in our world too.
     
  6. Trigg
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    A lot depends on the leader of their particular group. In Indiana they are fairly strict, but they do have gas powdered generators and gas lights. I had my greatgrandmothers quilt finished by an Amish lady and she did an amazing job. Many here work will work with a Minnonite partner, that way they get around the no computers or phone requirements if they own a business. Another thing they'll have is a phone on "common" ground for business.

    I've got nothing but respect for them as a whole. It has to be difficult at times.
     
  7. liberalogic
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    My only question is the experience that young kids have on Rumspringa-- is that enough to make an educated decision about whether or not to join the church? Because once you join, you are shunned if you leave. I've seen and read a lot about the Amish kids drinking heavily during this period (as would be natural after living under such restrictions for 16 years), but I just don't think the education they have at that age is compatible with the magnitude of the decision they must make.

    I actually do have respect for them, I just think the whole education thing doesn't make sense (even though they need to work to help support the families).
     
  8. nukeman
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    I bolded this part. Why do you think its against their religion to drink? The Amish around here keep the local liquor stores open. they have no prohabition against drinking. Just drunkeness, which I believe most religions frown upon.

    Quit going on the little information you obtain while searching the web. Go spend time with the Amish and actually get to know them personaly and you might be surprised how intelligent they really are.
     
  9. 90K
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    Well one misconception is because they get about via buggy they ain't got any troubles. Well they have drug usage, drunks, ones who cheat sexually and other things we too have to deal with. The real difference is their community is much smaller and they can see the issues much easier because of theclose knit community. But the Amish are clever folk about certain business dealings and they have had to use the "english" to excel in there world, because without us then they'd be in a real mess.
     
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    No that is true the Minnonites in our area are very savvy in modern gadgets. This one guy I know who builds mini barns has a Dodge truck and he tricked that engine to really pull. Upgraded banks turbo and 5 inch exhaust a real free breathing rig. And about the local phone I know the Amish teenagers will call dominos for a delivery on the weekends at the local phone booth. The Amish will hire a english family to drive them to certain places or to be used for medical trips and what not and in my area those are allowed by the higher ups. I don't know much about that part of the religion and frankly never asked.
     

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