From last weekend’s Lancaster Sunday News:

And while they generally portray the Amish as admirable for their moral values and way of life, Weaver-Zercher says some challenge the Amish community-focused religious beliefs. This isn’t just her take, but the view of Amish she interviewed, she notes.

Say, at a crisis point in the fictional Sadie’s life, she has a feeling of experiencing God directly, outside the traditional church structure. After a spiritual struggle, she leaves Old Order life and deepens her faith. Or Sadie, sounding to Weaver-Zercher very much like an evangelical Christian, remains Amish but shares the “emotive, personal conversion” experience that now separates her from unenlightened Ordnung-following church members.

Weaver-Zercher has written that “when novelists fashion a fiction about a culture of which they are not a part, and those in the culture read and take pleasure in those fashionings, some measure of cultural evolution is likely to occur.”

To me this is one of the most intriguing aspects of Amish fiction.  How are these storylines and characters absorbed and processed by Amish readers?

Valerie Weaver-Zercher addressed this at the Amish conference earlier this month, and also explores the question in Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels in greater depth.

If you’re in the Lancaster area, Valerie will be discussing and signing copies of Thrill of the Chaste this Saturday at Aaron’s Books in Lititz (35 East Main Street).

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