“This is not a sales pitch for the Amish team, but an invite to tap some of their communal wisdom.”
I’m happy to share that Donald Kraybill has a new book coming out soon, called What The Amish Teach Us: Plain Living in a Busy World. It’s a bit different in its approach than his many previous books on the Amish:
It sounds audacious, but it’s true: the Amish have much to teach us. It may seem surreal to turn to one of America’s most traditional groups for lessons about living in a hyper-tech world—especially a horse-driving people who resist “progress” by snubbing cars, public grid power, and high school education. Still, their wisdom confirms that even when they seem so far behind, they’re out ahead of the rest of us.
Having spent four decades researching Amish communities, Donald B. Kraybill is in a unique position to share important lessons from these fascinating Plain people. In this inspiring book, we learn intriguing truths about community, family, education, faith, forgiveness, aging, and death from real Amish men and women. The Amish are ahead of us, for example, in relying on apprenticeship education. They have also out-Ubered Uber for nearly a century, hiring cars owned and operated by their neighbors. Kraybill also explains how the Amish function in modern society by rejecting new developments that harm their community, accepting those that enhance it, and adapting others to fit their values.
Pairing storytelling with informative and reflective passages, these twenty-two essays offer a critique of modern culture that is provocative yet practical. In a time when civil discourse is raw and coarse and our social fabric seems torn asunder, What the Amish Teach Us uproots our assumptions about progress and prods us to question why we do what we do.
In a series of podcast episodes paired with the book, he discusses different aspects of Amish life. The first episode of “What I Learned from the Amish with Donald Kraybill”, is on community, and it includes a conversation with Amish friend Ben. There will be nine episodes. Here’s the “Community” episode description:
Professor Kraybill explains how the horse-driving Amish, can teach the rest of us in a me-first world a lot about community. An Amish man describes the pros and cons of his Amish community. This is not a sales pitch for the Amish team, but an invite to tap some of their communal wisdom.
And a snippet from the episode:
“So, no matter how many troubles beset an Amish family, their church-community takes care of them to the end of life. It’s sort of like our modern, continuing care communities for retirees. Think about that. When young Amish adults get baptized and join the church, they are covered by their “continuing care community” for the rest of their lives without paying a dime for an entrance fee. That’s a pretty good deal in my book. Sometimes we might think that we can make it on our own, we might think that we’re smart enough to figure out everything by ourselves, and think that we have the stamina to go it alone. Going it alone has its freedoms, but they get stale after a while; they wither over time, and too often, loneliness waits at the end of the road. The Amish have taught me, that personal well-being, requires a proverbial village. We all need a village of one sort or another.”
We’ll be sharing several more of the upcoming episodes, and having a Q-and-A with the author in the coming weeks. What The Amish Teach Us is scheduled for release October 26th.
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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