Lately we’ve seen many articles, books, and even TV programs about Amish leaving their communities.
Below, a video interview of brothers John and Joe Yoder, who recently left their Texas Amish community. The Yoders’ former home is the only Amish presence in Texas, in the southern part of the Lone Star State.
Why so much interest in former Amish?
On the one hand, there is something compelling about an individual who bucks the system. Especially when it’s such a strong group as the Amish.
The rebellion story is a classic. It’s inherently a dramatic, conflict-filled thing, requiring a level of courage (or, some might say arrogance and pride) to reject authority and strike off on one’s own. Spiritual conversion stories are doubly compelling.
I’d imagine it also has something to do with the limits of reporting on Amish.
If you’re looking to write about Amish spirituality, it’s much harder to get an Amish person to talk to media, especially about church issues. For someone who has left, speaking out can be cathartic. It might also be seen as part of a newfound evangelical mission.
In the video, the brothers talk much about being guided by experience, and finding the Truth, with a Southern Colonial home renovation project (true to the Amish craftsmanship tradition, the brothers are builders) as a backdrop.
John, who has an almost preacher-like manner, points again and again to the Bible; “modern stuff,” he stresses, “has nothing to do with it”. At the end, John leaves the door open to being led by the Lord “back to an Amish community”.
What struck me was their conviction that what they did was right, and, sadly, how they seem to speak of their family at points in the past tense.
The weakness of most such stories is, of course, that they are told from just the one standpoint.