I’m happy to share the Amish Way winners with you today.  It was a lot of fun to run this contest and I much enjoyed the interview with authors Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher (if you missed it: Part 1 and Part 2).

I amish way book coverparticularly appreciated the point they make about shunning–that it is the “flip side to the community barn raising that outsiders celebrate.”  I think that idea can get missed when we take an overly rosy view of barn raisings or an overly critical one of shunning.

Before announcing the winners I wanted to share one last excerpt from The Amish Way.  The following is one of the vignettes of Amish life which open the book.  I found it a good reminder that life choices–religious, occupational, familial, educational–involve trade-offs, no matter the culture we come from:

A few years ago we visited one of our Amish friends in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, an older man who has since passed away.  Abner was a bookbinder by trade, repairing the old or tattered books that people brought to him.  He was also an amateur historian who founded a local Amish library.  A warm and engaging person, Abner had many “English” (non-Amish) friends stopping by to visit.

One summer evening, sitting on lawn chairs, we talked about our families.  “So where do your brothers and sisters live?” he asked, and we ran down the list: one lives near San Francisco, another in New Hampshire, and still another in northern Indiana.  “Come with me,” Abner said, and he led us around his house and into his backyard.  His simple house backed up to the edge of a ridge, giving him an expansive view of farmland to the north.  “Let me show you where my family lives,” he said, pointing across the landscape.  “My one sister lives there, and another right over there.  And you see that road? I have five more relatives living along there.”  And with a sweep of his hand Abner showed us the homes of his fellow church members as well.  “This is one of the things I like about being Amish,” he said, and we stood quietly for a moment as we surveyed the fields and homes of his kin.

Abner didn’t have to say more to make his message clear: the choices we had made as scholars, and the choices our siblings had made as professionals, had pulled our families apart, geographically and in other ways as well.  Abner was a scholar too, of course, and we often asked him questions about Amish history.  But his way of being a scholar didn’t require moving across the country to pursue a Ph.D.  In fact, pursuing that sort of life is forbidden for the Amish, who end their formal education at eighth grade.*  Thus, for Abner, becoming a historian meant reading books in his spare time and asking lots of questions.

Abner clearly enjoyed talking with non-Amish people.  Could it be that he lived vicariously through his educated non-Amish friends?  Perhaps his backyard commentary that evening was a way of reminding himself, as well as us, that Amish life had its advantages.   Still, if there was a message from that evening, it was this: our way of living, just like Abner’s, comes at a cost.

Later in the book, in a sort of cost-benefit balance sheet of Amish life, the authors review the potential costs of living in tight-knit community–or at least what might be seen as costs by non-Amish:

Still another cost is loss of personal privacy.  We’ve described the Amish Gmay as a community where “everybody knows your name,” but it could just as easily be tagged as a place where “everyone knows your business.”  One of our friends who converted to the Amish told us that giving up his car was easy compared to losing his privacy.  Accustomed to a life where no one cared what he did, he found it hard to live where everyone did.

These two excerpts I think do a good job of illustrating the book’s balance, which is one reason I appreciated it.

Amish Way Winners

Without further ado, the 10 winners of a copy of The Amish Way.

Winners, I just drew you using the random number generator after tallying all the extra Facebook and blog entries everyone sent in. If you commented more than once that is completely fine, but for contest purposes I just counted the first one.  Here you go:

Mary (comment #40)

Janet Thompson (Janet’s Treasures Blog)

Csarina (Silver Sewer Blog)

Alice Aber (Facebook)

Donna Devoy (comment #107)

Mary Ann (comment #56)

Donna Scott (Facebook)

Barb Abel (comment #120)

Kristin Jager (Facebook)

Kathy (Kathy’s Musings Blog)

A big congrats to all!

If you are a winner, please email the address (to amishamerica@gmail.com) where you would like your copy of The Amish Way mailed (and, forgot to mention–a big thanks as well to Jossey-Bass for providing the books!).

And thanks to everyone who participated.  I highly recommend picking up the book if you did not win, which you can do here.

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