Sherry Gore on NBC Left Field (Video)

NBC Left Field has produced a video report on the Amish relationship with technology. They interview Sherry Gore as the main contributor to the piece.

You might remember Sherry as the author of Taste of Pinecraft among other publications. She is a member of an Amish Mennonite church, and lives part-time in the Pinecraft Amish & Mennonite community of Sarasota, Florida.

In the clip below, Sherry discusses the challenges Amish face regarding technology, spiritual “seekers”, and other topics. We get footage from an Amish settlement at Newburg, Pennsylvania, and Pinecraft as well.

So the issue of the Amish and technology is a lot greater than a 6-minute video can do full justice to. That said, there are some interesting things in this video:

  • Sherry mentions automatic washing machines which some Amish in the more materially progressive churches are now using (vs. the classic wringer washers)
  • An Amish woman, Wilma Fisher, also appears briefly. She has some frank comments on the danger of online access (to men especially)
  • The video notes a projection we’ve looked at here before – that on current trajectory the Amish population will hit 1,000,000 by 2050.  That date is not too far off. Pretty impressive growth when you consider there were only about 5,000 Amish souls on the planet in 1900. Of course, certain factors could slow that growth.
  • Sherry notes that Amish in some communities forbid visits to Pinecraft, seeing the community as “a playground”

This topic seems to be of particular interest in the media recently (the NYT did a piece on the topic last autumn), perhaps due to our own struggles with the pitfalls of technology.

And at the end of this video, the interviewer raises this question: “There’s always more and more, and more is always better. But here’s this community that says ‘no, we’re going to take this, but not that.’ And I wonder if we don’t all crave that kind of control sometimes?”

What do you think?

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    1. Jay W

      Seems as though some of the Amish are becoming more English as the line between the two has certainly blurred. It begs the question, if they are willing to embrace just a little bit of English technology and lifestyle, then what is stopping them from going all the way? The “slippery slope” argument is certainly taking form here. Yes, it is becoming more difficult to isolate themselves from the outside world. However, many appear to be walking toward the English lifestyle. Not away. I can only imagine what other English influences will take hold on their lifestyle by 2050.

      1. What will the Amish look like in 2050?

        Good question Jay, all Amish adopt change, even the most conservative, though the rate of adoption is quite different. So that’s why you see such contrast between say the Swartzentruber Amish and the New Order or mainline Old Order in Holmes County. I remember a mainstream Amish person once telling me he felt closer in some ways to English people than to Swartzentruber Amish. That struck me. It’s also a question of mentality and I think this is what he was getting at in his comment.

        There is always a more conservative and more progressive element and while we can expect more technology to be adopted by 2050 among Amish, and also some Amish churches losing their Old Order identity, but with the high level of growth among the Amish in all groups I think you’ll still see the progressive groups, those in the middle and the conservative ones. An interesting question is where the “baseline” will be then.

        I don’t expect that Amish will widespread adopt the big symbolic and obvious technologies (cars, public power), but it’s probably going to be the less visible (and potentially more threatening) things like the smartphone (and who knows what else will come down the pipeline in the next 10-30 years) that make their way into and become embedded in some communities.

    2. me

      last post

      i didn’t get to finish the video but frankly livibg outside of the world is not so true as they sell tobacco and other crops to corporations. they are more in the world than many as they do so and continue to judge others. i admired their lifestyle but not the judgment. they are in pics online, on phones and they live in the same world as other people do, even fellow christians and they don’t appreciate seekers but don’t mind selling stuff to them. guten tag amisher america