13 responses to Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman
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    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 3rd, 2008 at 02:24)

    Wow! Great questions, fantastic answers.

    I’ve always wanted to know the real world, bottom line take on shunning held by the Amish themselves. I was familiar with most of the scriptural passages, as a basis for this practice, that he quoted … but not all. I am also familiar with what I take to be the outside worlds’ view of shunning, but not what any of the Plain people actually think about it. Great insight.

    This just blows away any residual stereotypes that I may have been harboring about the Amish as a culture or a body of faith, though I had made a concerted effort to have none. I am a little embarrassed to have held views that I didn’t even (consciously) realize that I had, particularly about the analytical and communicative skills of the Amish. I must have been somehow been equating “plain” with “simple”. There is nothing “simple” about this guy! Anyway, I am very much in awe of your friends’ ability to shatter those stereotypes … whether consciously held or not.

    I’d really like to visit with this guy sometime, though I know that is not possible. Just so refreshing to see someone that can navigate through both cultures; plain and “mainstream” (whatever THAT is) so easily.

    Again, great work. Thanks so much for conducting this interview and posting to the site. I hope he agrees to further interviews in the future.

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    ann
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 3rd, 2008 at 11:20)

    I read this with interest… especially the part about shunning. Possibly the underlying intentions aren’t meanness or cruelty but that is certainly the way it is employed in some cases. Without writing a book, I’ll just say that I’ve read the verses mentioned and believe the Amish are misinterpreting scripture when they use them for defending the practice. My family left only when we became convinced that the Amish church as a religion could not be defended with the New Testament. A deep conviction that something is wrong prompted us to make that move. The result was ‘punishment’, being cut off from family, being publicly humiliated (in town as well as in large gatherings where Amish and non-Amish were gathered). A deep conviction that, although we were essentially launching out into an unknown world, we were doing the right thing also sustained us. When the thing you’re supposed to repent from is a conviction that the elders, bishops and church doctrine are wrong, it’s not even an option to ‘repent’. Only God can convict someone of sin- and we repent because of sin and because we’re sorry about it. If shunning isn’t an attempt by men to govern the faith of others, I don’t know what it is.
    We have a fairly good (although far from ‘cuddly’) relationship with our Amish family now- for one thing, we haven’t ‘gone to Hell in a handbag’ as they expected, my parents (especially my mom) have maintained as much as possible a peaceful relationship with their parents. Thirty years have made a difference and they have gradually backed off on most of the shunning- which in itself seems hypocritical- if it’s so right, then it should be maintained. We would, however, have no relationship at all if it weren’t for the determination of my parents to keep in touch with people who are our flesh and blood.
    I follow this blog with great interest because of my Amish background. I in no way intend to be disrespectful to the blog in writing this; but I do feel rather compelled to speak up as far as my own experience.

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    Helen Parnell-Berry
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 4th, 2008 at 09:27)

    Hello Erik; what a fascinating interview. He sounds like a very interesting chap. And very forthcoming with his answers. Keep up the good work; it’s brilliant.
    If I don’t comment before have a super Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year 😀

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    Bill
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 7th, 2008 at 19:04)

    Very interesting interview. I also like the new look!

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    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 8th, 2008 at 03:11)

    Hi Ann, thank you for your comments and very kind of you to share. I have heard from one or two people that have had perhaps similar experiences to what you describe hear. It is interesting about what you say concerning shunning being lessened later on. It stirred my curiosity about which community or general area of the country you grew up in. Of course feel free to leave that question alone if you like. My thanks again for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts.

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    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 8th, 2008 at 03:14)

    Helen,

    Great to hear from you as always and thanks for the kind notice of this piece.

    Best to you as well; in Polish we say ‘Wesolych Swiat’ at holiday-time!

    Erik

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    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 8th, 2008 at 03:16)

    Bill, muchos gracias. Glad you like the new blog design; I think it is maybe a little easier to read and hopefully more eye-pleasing.

    I thought about it for a long time and figured that after all, if the Amish could change, well gosh darn it so could the blog.

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    Comment on Amish stereotypes not always true (December 8th, 2008 at 03:07)

    Amish stereotypes not always true

    Oldkat many thanks for the nice comments. My friend, bless him, was very kind in sharing his thoughts so candidly, and I think he’d find (or perhaps has found) the reaction interesting.

    Just on a general note–on this blog and on a couple others that have linked to the interview, I have read with interest a few comments that my friend is maybe not a ‘typical’ Amishman, ie especially when considering his level of (self-)education, insightfulness and internet usage, for example.

    I think some people have also been surprised at what was revealed and perhaps by the very idea that an Amishman would do an interview for a blog, which I could understand–ie perhaps because of preconceived notions or stereotypes or just by the fact that we don’t often read candid 10-page interviews with Amish people; typically we get quote snippets in newspaper articles and not much else.

    As he said, there is a small percentage of Amish that do use the internet, and especially when you go into the business community, you begin to find more and more Amish that are a lot more savvy about life, street-wise, than we might think. Of course, Lancaster County is a more progressive community than, say, Adams County, Indiana; and it would probably be a bit harder to find someone like my friend there or in say a smaller more isolated settlement.

    I think the main thing is that sometimes we categorize Amish as being of a certain type, and while there are typical modes of thought and ways of approaching the world common among the Amish, there are certainly different personality types among the Amish–the stern and serious, the jokers, the introverted thinkers, gregarious types, etc., just as among any people, so I think it shouldn’t be surprising to find somebody that is as interested in learning and insightful as my friend here. (He is free of course to correct me if he happens to be reading this!)

    However, on the other hand I’d say that the theological/spiritual ideas he expresses and his devotion to the faith and his family are quite ‘typical’ of the Amish…again I am always wont to generalize and use the term ‘the Amish and I imagine someone could probably pick holes in something here if they tried hard enough…In fact I think I may need to do a post called “The Problem with ‘The Amish'” just to address the diversity issue one more time.

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    ann
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 8th, 2008 at 12:38)

    @ the question about which part of the country I grew up in- I don’t mind answering- Northeast IN, Lagrange County; the strictly enforced shunning was always in a district about 5 miles south of Lagrange; the Shipshewana people (about 3 miles east of Ship) were not all that interested, for the most part.

    You are absolutely right about the huge amount of diversity among the Amish- my 2 sets of grandparents lived approximately 15 miles apart- one near Shipshewana (an area known for being more liberal), the other from south of Lagrange. The differences in the 2 districts (not so much outward appearance as interpretation of rules- ie use of electricity, tractors, bicycles, method of heating homes, acceptance of public education; more recently their attitude towards computers) is startling at times. Going south to Allen County made us feel like we were among ‘foreigners’!

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    Comment on Amish parents of college students (December 9th, 2008 at 03:47)

    Amish parents of college students

    In northern Indiana–Elkhart/Lagrange–I ran across the very few instances I’ve found of Amish parents whose children attended high school. Also one ‘proud’ mother of a Purdue student.

    And Ann that’s interesting to hear. I have been all over both N. Indy and Allen Co and know exactly what you are talking about.

    In Amish Patchwork Steve Nolt and Thomas Meyers have an interesting rough map outlining the geographic differences in Elkhart/Lagrange Ordnung.

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    ülane
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 12th, 2008 at 13:44)

    hey erik, indeed this interview was extremely interesting… hope u are doing great. sending holiday greetings from cold estonia :)

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    ann
    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 12th, 2008 at 13:52)

    if you’d have met my aunt, you’d have met another proud mother of a university student. My grandfather on that side encouraged all his children to complete high school if they chose to (only 1 out of the 13 did); this particular aunt gave all of her children the same opportunity and 2 of hers did. In all 3 cases, the high school graduate went on to college- 2 of the 3 finished college; none of the 3 remained Amish.

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    Comment on Part Two: An Amish America Q-and-A with a Lancaster County Amishman (December 13th, 2008 at 14:30)

    Ulane, wonderful to hear from you over in cold estonia! All is well and hope the same with you.

    And Ann, thanks for sharing. Something tells me it would be rare for someone raised Amish who ended up going to college to be baptized Amish in the end. I don’t believe I’ve heard of a situation like that, but I suppose it’s possible.

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