Amish Hackers (Podcast)

Here’s episode number 5 of Donald Kraybill’s “What I Learned From The Amish” podcast. This week he focuses on “Amish hackers” – Amish who “work around certain church regulations without breaking them”. These workarounds represent a form of progress but still respect church rules. Their hacking “boost[s] efficiency, production, and convenience in certain areas of Amish life.” These are the innovators of Amish society.

He credits hackers not only with providing greater convenience or economic gains, but with something more profound – even saving their communities from going extinct.

In this episode, Don looks at the hacking of Amish mechanics to work around the ban on public electricity in nearly all Amish churches. He goes through Amish rationale on not using public electricity, and reviews five main alternatives Amish have come up with to replace public power in their lives and work.

He shares examples of how Amish manage to operate appliances and tools like cake mixers, printers, and shop equipment without public power. We also hear about examples of ways Amish wash and dry clothes through a variety of appliances, among other solutions – including refrigeration, office equipment, and more. He ends with a couple of interesting conclusions about hacking in Amish society.

Listen to the episode in full here, as well as at Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Podcasts.

Donald B. Kraybill is professor of sociology emeritus at Elizabethtown College and senior fellow in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. An internationally recognized scholar, he has published many books and professional essays on the Amish and other Anabaptist communities in North America. His most recent book, What the Amish Teach Us is available from Johns Hopkins University Press and Amazon.

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