23 responses to 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish
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    Comment on Books on learning Pennsylvania German? (June 9th, 2017 at 08:17)

    Books on learning Pennsylvania German?

    I noticed in the interview that the #1 challenge in remaining in the community was the language and that, “at the time there were no good instruction books….”

    Does this mean there are books on learning this now? Would anybody have any links or titles for these books?

    • Bryan there is a book called Speaking Amish written by a Lancaster Amish-raised woman. I think it could be a good resource to get you started in the Lancaster County version of the language.


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        Comment on 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish (June 11th, 2017 at 03:12)

        Thanks Erik! Just had a look at the link, looks good! I used to live in MO, pretty near Clark and once in a while give rides into town to a family I got friendly with. Long story short, later on I ended up living in Germany for a while, learned a bit of German, and now have a German wife. We’re moving back to MO and I’m quite curious to see how much I can pick up of the PA Dutch.

        Great website here! Appreciate the newsletter.

        • Thanks Bryan! I hope it goes well for you. If you have an interest in the language there is a new book by Mark Louden called Pennsylvania Dutch: The Story of an American Language. I’ve enjoyed it so far. He describes one area in Germany where the German spoken is most similar to PA Dutch (though the premise is that PA Dutch is separate enough that it is a different language, not just a dialect).

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            Comment on 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish (June 14th, 2017 at 11:08)

            Also here is a series of excellent Youtube videos that can set you on your way learning Penn Dutch.


            Doug Madenford is a great teacher.

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    Comment on Challenges (June 9th, 2017 at 09:19)


    I can imagine the challenge it takes to overcome the differences in a cultural group.
    I was raised a minority Anglo in a Mexican world, then moved to a mostly Anglo farming community that was so different it was a shock. Thankfully I had many families who were related and who knew me and my family that we weren’t held apart as much as true newcomers would be.

    When I was a young adult I could see myself easily becoming Amish but I’m too old for that now…I appreciate my creature comforts..

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    Comment on Within Someplace VS to Someplace (June 9th, 2017 at 11:27)

    Within Someplace VS to Someplace

    When I was a young searcher I traveled the country visiting monasteries. Joining a monastery is not that different than joining the Amish. Some similar factors are: isolation from the dominant culture, very regimented daily life, a singular and strict belief system, simplicity, meekness, god centered, community centered, etc., etc.

    In a sense, to become a monk is to give over your life in total, just as becoming Amish is an all-encompassing change which is largely unrealistic for most of us.

    Not realistic, and more importantly, probably not ‘your calling’. Very few can flourish within monasticism, and from my reading becoming Amish probably has a similar failure rate. You may be attracted to ‘the life’, but what exactly is the attraction, what bits and pieces of the total are truly calling you?

    This type of life commitment needs careful, very careful, self-examination. I would think a few years of extensive cross-examination via whatever type of soul searching techniques you have at hand is just a starting point: reading extensively, visiting, short stays, looking at all the alternatives, etc.

    If you are being honest to the bone/soul with yourself you will begin to detect subtle shifts, very fine levels of dissonance in your feelings, thoughts, emotions which you must attended to as sign posts. These are very subtle indeed, and can easily be ignored by an ego which wants to jump into a life change or otherwise is impatient for change.

    The more adept you become at ‘mining’ out these very quiet murmurings, discerning their meaning, and bring them to the fore of your rational mind, the more direct and true to your spirit your life direction will take.

    What you need is within, and not out there someplace. Community is very important of course, and the ‘problem’ with our dominant culture is that we feel incapable of remolding it, especially in today’s gridlocked political climate. Regardless – without first understanding the subtle murmurings of our inner selves, a still small voice which is trying to speak to us – then we can neither know where to go nor will we know what to change in our lives to create an inner resonance instead of a constant feeling of social-cultural dissonance.

    The mistake early on that I made was believing my well intentioned ego was actually my spirit/soul directing my efforts. This is a subtle distinction that a novice may not recognize. In order for us to have free will the spirit does not direct, and is far too easily ignored or not heard, being drowned out by a seemingly well intentioned strong personal will/ego. The deeper you go the more the problem becomes determining relative good, not the crud distinction of bad versus good, and relative good can be as misleading as evil itself to a soul which is far from finding its center – its home on this earth.

    Sorry for the truism, but if one is centered then one is at home everywhere, and then, may be in a ‘place’ to know the right place.

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      Comment on Wow! (June 13th, 2017 at 08:31)


      I was very impressed with how well-written and well thought out this response was. It mirrored my own wishes and desires over the years to “become Amish”, “become a nun”, become “something” more holy, more good, more like Christ. I have finally come to the wisdom that God calls us where we are. There were no convents in the New Testament. Even though it says that they “had all things in common”, there does not seem to be any indication that this was all-encompassing. I am not against convents or being a nun or monk, but I do feel that just as much good can be accomplished by individuals just living an ordinary life. The allure of joining a “community” is very strong, but it doesn’t make us any holier or more Christ-like”. Only Christ can do that.

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        Comment on Agreement (June 14th, 2017 at 08:31)


        I agree with you on all points.

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    Comment on Becoming Amish (June 9th, 2017 at 13:07)

    Becoming Amish

    I read the book about the Mosers, and felt that it was exceptionally well done. Concerning the language problem, I kept wondering how the Mosers’ spiritual pilgrimage would have turned out if they had joined one of the Brethren horse-and-buggy churches, where English is the language spoken and there are many converts.



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    Nach Shon
    Comment on language (June 9th, 2017 at 13:26)


    Old Order German Baptist, keep most/many of the same old ways, but here in Michigan, they no longer speak or understand any “German”. & the communities in Indiana differ from each other in having dialects. There are Mennonite churches in Missouri,that keep even less of the plain ways & no longer use “Deutsch”

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      Comment on Michigan?? (June 9th, 2017 at 17:49)


      I am not aware of any horse-and-buggy Brethren in Michigan. When you write “Old Order German Baptists,” are you thinking of the car-driving Old German Baptists? The Old Order German Baptists (Petitioners) are a separate denomination.

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        Comment on 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish (June 10th, 2017 at 10:27)

        There is another horse and buggy Old Order Brethren group: the Old Brethren German Baptist. They speak English only and live in Indiana and Missouri.


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    Comment on 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish (June 10th, 2017 at 10:23)

    Concerning the German language: As far as I know, there is no course book with which you can learn more than the first steps to Pennsylvania German. To improve my Pennsylvania German I read “Di Heilich Shrift – Pennsylvania Deitsh un English” i.e. a bilingual Bible.

    Knowing Standard German helps a lot to understand Pennsylvania German. An option is to go to Germany for one year and learn Standard German and then try Penn Dutch.

    The Virginia Old Order Mennonites are in many aspects like Old Order Amish but speak English only!


    The Amish in Unity, Maine are more open to outsiders. This is also true for the Noah Hoover Old Order Mennonites who are in many aspects more Amish than most Amish. Caneyville Christian Community is another option.



    By the way, Standard German is my mothertongue and I understand almost all Pennsilvania Dutch if it is spoken loud and clearly as e.g. Amish sermons. I can also speak it to some extend and normaly people understand me, but my Pennsilvania Dutch is far from being perfect.

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    Comment on Virginia OO Mennonites (June 11th, 2017 at 06:30)

    Virginia OO Mennonites

    The Virginia Old Order Mennonites differ significantly from the Old Order Amish in that the Mennonites use motorized equipment and now all three groups of them use “public power.” Of course, they also use English, although a few of them are fluent in Deitch.

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    Comment on First Time Hollywood Depicted Amish People? (June 11th, 2017 at 19:17)

    First Time Hollywood Depicted Amish People?

    Hi Erik.

    I thought you might like this. I stumbled on what might be the first depiction of the Amish in a Hollywood movie. A movie called Violent Saturday from 1955.

    Go to 5:23 in the film to see the Amish.

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    Comment on 5 Challenges of Becoming – and Remaining – Amish (June 11th, 2017 at 19:40)

    I should add that in the link to the 1955 film Violent Saturday posted above, the Amish appear in the film multiple times, including at 25:57.

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      Comment on Well, that's Hollywood for you ... (June 14th, 2017 at 00:10)

      Well, that's Hollywood for you ...

      Amusing that the film “Amish” use Thee and Thou and Wilt thou; all English derivative words rather than German or Pennsylvania Dutch words.

      I guess Hollywood not doing any research on a subject before portraying it on film is nothing new.

    • Thanks Aj, will check it out. I guess it will be amusing since as Oldkat has previewed it and shared that these are “thee” and “thou-ing” Amish 🙂 As far as Amish on screen, here’s a post on the Amish appearing in a 1980s television program you might know:


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    Comment on The tea cups... (June 14th, 2017 at 11:10)

    The tea cups...

    Somehow just by studying the Amish and reading this blog – I knew that wouldn’t fly having tea cups up on a wall as a decoration. Plain people are called plain for a reason.

    I really liked this article! Thanks for posting it.

    • Glad you liked it Judith, I thought they did a great job with it.

      Interestingly, in some (or many) churches that may be the case, though in others you might be surprised – Amish do have fine china in some communities and decor can vary.

      If you check the background of this photo you’ll see one example:


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