JAPAS: Volume 2, Issue 2 Now Available

I learned yesterday that the latest edition of the Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies is now available.

JAPAS LogoThis is a free online journal featuring scholarly articles and book reviews on the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and other Plain Anabaptist groups. Read an interview with editor Cory Anderson here.

Previous readers may have been wondering when the latest issue would appear. This one is labeled Autumn 2014, though it arrives a bit later than the last autumn edition.

Volume 2, Issue 2 Contents

Of this issue’s six pieces, three cover Old Order Amish-related topics. I’ve gotten to two so far.

One is on how new church district lines are decided in Holmes County, Ohio. The second is a symposium review of The Amish, which includes the authors’ responses.

The next one I’ll read is on Amish and Plain Anabaptist communities in Kentucky.

The other three articles are on Old Colony Mennonite digital technology usage, child weight and feeding patterns in an Old Order Mennonite community, and on conservative Mennonite storybooks and “evangelical separatism”.

Here are the six articles’ titles and authors:

Old Colony Mennonites and Digital Technology Usage
Turner, Kira pp. 165-185

Amish Church District Fissioning and Watershed Boundaries among Holmes County, Ohio, Amish
Long, Scot E.; Moore, Richard pp. 186-202

Child Weight and Feeding Patterns in an Old Order Mennonite Community
Garrett-Wright, Dawn; Main, M. Eve; Jones, M. Susan pp. 203-214

The Growth of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Communities in Kentucky
Donnermeyer, Joseph; Anderson, Cory pp. 215-244

Conservative Mennonite Storybooks and the Construction of Evangelical Separatism
Anderson, Jennifer; Anderson, Cory pp. 245-277

Symposium Review of “The Amish” by Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt
Bogden, Megan; Reschly, Steven; Zeller, Benjamin; Coletti, Tom; Kraybill, Donald; Johnson-Weiner, Karen; Nolt, Steven pp. 278-302

An announcements section at the end tells us that the next issue (Spring 2015) will have a special focus on Plain Anabaptist education, in addition to other topics.

There is also info on an upcoming symposium on Plain Anabaptists in July, at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany.

Access the latest issue of JAPAS in full here.

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    1. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Child weight & feeding patterns? Church district lines & watersheds in Holmes Co.? Someone studies these things? Really? I just don’t understand why this is important and what the benefit is. What am I missing?

      1. Why all the studies?

        I think for various reasons a lot of academic study ends up focusing on obscure topics and fields. It’s true there is probably not a ton of *immediately* applicable practical value in many academic papers.

        But any insights found in this or that study may at some point lead to another discovery or actual useful knowledge, that could have a tangible impact on people’s lives. It could be something that helps another researcher understand a community or topic to more effectively do their own study, say on a medical issue that affects a sub-community. Or something completely different that brings a benefit somewhere down the line.

        Even though I sometimes scratch my head at the ultimate goal of doing the more obscure studies, I try to see it all as building blocks that may come together in ways that we may not see until much later. Of course there’s no guarantee that any given study will have any tangible impact, but one may very well lead to another that does.

        There is also something to be said for simply gaining a better understanding of a topic. I know that in Amish society this kind of investigation is not a point of emphasis, but I think Amish people also benefit directly or indirectly from the work of researchers. I think the problem is we don’t always see the immediate benefit which makes it hard to judge which ones are “worthy” or not. That’s how I see it at least.

        1. Jonathan Edwards


          Good point, Erik. The Amish benefit from a whole lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.

          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            I’m sorry if my comment sounded rude, but I really am surprised and don’t understand why someone would actually spend time and/ or money to research things like this.
            You are probably right about the benefits we get from research like this, but it is still surprising and I am still wondering about why such things are important.
            This was discussed at work by coworkers who are Old & New Order Amish and Mennonite and the reaction of the others was also surprise and wondering why these things are important. I don’t have higher education but I do have a lot of interest in people but even so, it’s still surprising what kinds of things have been researched and written about. My question “what am I missing?” was real. Thank you, Erik, for your explanation.
            So… what does an Old Order person sound like? Apparently not like me! Maybe I should consider exchanging my steel wheels & curtains for sliding doors & rubber tires! 🙂

      2. Jonathan Edwards



        I read your reply to my query earlier today.

        But I just found it too hard to believe. I kept refreshing the screen to check whether I had misread your post. Or if you had bumped a few wrong keys and would correct it later in the day. Or perhaps you hadn’t drunk your morning coffee yet.

        I cannot recall any time that your post sounded like it was written by an Old Order person. But I applaud you on this one. You sounded exactly like someone from an Old Order background. Congrats!

        1. I respect Mark’s opinion as an individual. I don’t really feel the need to comment on what he “sounds like” and whether it fits what I suppose it should.

          1. Jonathan Edwards

            This is a live conversation in Amish circles. In the communities where I have resided we regularly discussed Biblical interpretation, ethics, religious ritual, and the implications of certain cultural habits on an ‘Amish-Anabaptist-Christian’ life (or perhaps I should reverse the order…Christian-Anabaptist-Amish). And of course identity and boundary making factor into this larger discussion. Perhaps it is rarely spelled out in such formal terms but this type of discussion is ongoing, even in the most tradition-minded orders.

            I registered surprise that Mark isn’t New New Order. I cannot recall the last time I was so completely off the mark.

            My ‘congrats’ were sent tongue-in-cheek. The reason those ‘congrats’ could function as a bit of humor is because Old Order people have certain expectations when it comes to patterns of thought and expression. If they didn’t have any expectations, then there would be no Old Order people to talk about.

            Although the Amish would never approve of the recent attacks in France, the editors would be considered vile for publishing obscene literature. And ‘standing together’ with secular liberals ‘to honor the dead’ would be completely out of the question. So at the end of the day, the Amish do not fit into a tolerant, post-modern box.

            Perhaps I could have worded my previous post a bit different. After all, Philippians 4 encourages us to make our gentleness (not humor) evident to all.

            1. Fair enough and understood, but, with respect, sometimes the humor you use comes off as snark. It may “sound” different when you write it than it appears on the page. Frankly even if you intended it as humor it came off as rather condescending especially your last few lines. I think Mark asked a fair question and if we continued in that direction it could be an interesting discussion.

              All in all I’d prefer not to make it personal towards Mark and, like any other commenter, let him feel free to discuss any issue he likes without making him feel too under the microscope as an individual, unless of course he wants to lead things in that direction (and the same goes for any other commenter here).

              This shifted from a discussion about academic papers to an observation on someone’s comment history and how he does or does not fit the mold, and I don’t want to speak for anyone, but imagining myself in his shoes a comment like the one you left might make me uncomfortable.

              I appreciate your contributions but based on 8 years of running this site I’m also sensitive to making sure this is a welcoming environment. Over that time we’ve kept a good community here where I hope all feel comfortable to engage.

              1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                Thank you, Erik, for both comments.

    2. Naomi Wilson

      It may be called, in the case of the two articles you mentioned, “Survey and Analytical Review of Graduate Level College Students Seeking Research Material for Imminent Degree Completion.”

      My experience with thesis writing was working under immense pressure to speedily find a topic of study that 1) had already been covered in detail by other researchers so that you have a nice, big selection of material in your Review of Existing Literature, but also 2) had some tiny aspect that had not already been covered by someone else. For example, a student in health sciences is trying to research the (common sense) correlation between nutrition and lifestyle and obesity. Student has access to Hoover Mennonites? Bingo! No one else has written about that!

      Studying watersheds and community growth for a major in agricultural sociology? No one has as yet covered the Holmes Co Amish. Whew! Found a topic.

      1. Jonathan Edwards


        I hope I’m not a balloon-popper. But the article on child weight and feeding patterns in an Old Order Mennonite community was co-authored by not two but three professors from the School of Nursing at Western Kentucky University. Nothing here about kids playing in the sand or upper-level students piggybacking on the work of previous undergrads. This finally answers the question I’ve had since I was a boy, ‘How many professors from Western Kentucky University does it take to write an article on child weight and feeding patterns in an Old Order Mennonite community?’

        So to try a little different twist on your idea…perhaps they were more like academicians going through mid-life crisis, anxious to secure their pensions, hoping that by publishing one more article with a long-winded title it would push their CV onto page 113. So it might have been more like retirement planning.

    3. Jonathan Edwards


      My apologies for being snark, condescending, and insensitive.

    4. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading all of the articles. I’ve already read the article on Amish/Anabaptist Growth
      in Ky. and found it interesting, especially the listings at the end of the article. On my “bucket list” is the goal to visit all of the Amish communities in Ky., so the listing with all of them in chronological order is helpful. It will take me several years to make these visits and it will be interesting to see how many new Amish communities have begun by the time I’m at the end of the current list. I’m going to share this article with a couple of Ky. Amish friends.

      1. I’m just reading it now. Fifty-three Amish communities in Kentucky now, with over half–27–begun since 2000. This is an article especially for you, Al in KY! 🙂

    5. Katherine

      Now there’s an article for the next JAPAS: What do Old Orders Sound Like?
      Some of the Old Order authors I have read, met and liked, like David Kline, Delbert Yoder, or Linda Byler, are Old Order and have great writing skills. Like the people I drive around as a taxi driver. Some of them are very smart and sound very educated even though they only went to Grade 8. Others sound not as polished. Kind of like my English friends & family. One Amish guy we drive for uses words I usually only see in print like nefarious and obligatory. 🙂 He reads a lot of news magazines and sometimes knows better than I do what’s going on.

    6. Naomi Wilson

      I really appreciated the article on conservative Mennonite storybooks. It gave me a lot to think about. And I hope that my previous comment didn’t come across as offensive. It was based purely on personal experience with academic research, and was not related to the content of any of the articles.

      1. Re: your earlier comment, speaking for myself it did not bother me, there is something humorous about how the nature of academic research can lead one to some pretty obscure corners, and I think academics with a sense of humor can appreciate that. That is not meant to denigrate or demean their work, and like I expressed in a comment above you never know what research can lead to, or what pieces of the puzzle–the puzzle you think you’re working on, or a different puzzle entirely–a new study can bring.

        I plan to read the piece on conservative Mennonite storybooks too, even though I haven’t given any thought to that specific topic ever before (though since I sold Bible story books to Amish for four years, I am sort of in the ballpark! 🙂 )