It’s safe to say the past few years have seen increased interest in the Amish. We can see this, among other ways, by the sheer amount of cultural offerings–books, TV, films, and so on–appearing on the scene.

This Washington Post slideshow provides a brief listing of reasons why.  It accompanies a column on Amish interest which takes as its jumping-off point the popularity of the Amish Mafia TV show.

Here are 6 reasons people are so fascinated by the Amish, according to the WaPo slideshow:

1. “The non-Amish have nostalgia for a life without technology.”
2. “They’re our neighbors, but we hardly know them.”
3. “From farming to craftsmanship, many of the skills of the Amish remind us of a bygone era.”
4. “A yearning for old-fashioned simplicity”.
5. “We love the idea of the Amish rumspringa.”
6. “The Amish have given us incredible examples of Christianity in action.”

I have heard more complicated explanations, but we seem to have many of the most-commonly cited reasons here.

My interest (a partial explanation)

I can relate to most of these, though I’d say much of my interest is rooted in #2.  In well over 400 places in America and Canada, Amish are neighbors to non-Amish. This will only increase with time.

Neighbors of different cultures and values will hit rough patches from time to time.  And conflicts stemming from Amish/non-Amish differences often lead us to issues important to society as a whole.  Examples include controversies over school busing, patriotism, child-rearing, and public health.

amish-fascinationOn the other side of that coin, I have a soft spot for stories of cultural coming-together.  Amish and their non-Amish neighbors give us plenty of these as well, as seen when English support Amish benefit events, or when Amish do disaster relief work.

I also have an interest in geography, which ties into #2.  I first learned about the Amish firsthand, traveling to the nooks and crannies of the country, and only later read the books and heard the lectures on them.  The Amish for me are tied to obscure places on the map you’d never know of otherwise.  And the Lodis and Beevilles of America are of as much (or more) interest to me as the New Yorks and LAs.

Do the above reasons describe why you are interested in the Amish?

Are any of them better at explaining public fascination with the Amish than others?

What could be added to the WaPo list?