“Why are the Amish using plastic packaging? I am so disappointed.”
The above is a comment someone left on the recent video on the Amish popcorn shop. Lot of plastic packaging in that shop, like in any Amish-owned store that sells food (or other products for that matter). I find this expression of disapproval interesting for a few reasons. I think it reveals a few possible mistakes or misconceptions.
One is that it literally suggests disappointment in the Amish. Thus it suggests the commenter idealizes the Amish in some way. The implication is that the Amish are expected to “live up to” a supposed higher standard by not using plastic packaging (and by the same token, one would assume other modern manufactured products).
Some of this disappointment might come from the incorrect image of Amish as eco-pure examples for the rest of us. Though the Amish consumption footprint has a different shape than the typical American one, it is hardly the case that they are ecological saints.
I’d say the fact they grow a lot of their own food (some Amish, anyway) would actually contribute to this image. Using horse-drawn travel suggests “all-natural” and eco-friendly as well. The general aura of “simple living” that surrounds the Amish also encourages this perception.
However, Amish actions that align with green goals are typically not motivated by an impetus to “save the planet”. It’s more about what “makes sense” to them or fits within their cultural framework and church rules (see also “Are the Amish environmentally-minded?“).
And on the other hand, they do consume fossil fuels in various forms, most of the farms are conventional not organic, and they have been implicated in pollution problems. Many are regular shoppers at Wal-Mart and other big box outlets, so they’re not really existing self-sufficiently outside the larger economy as some might imagine it.
This comment also might reflect the incorrect “frozen in time” perception of the Amish – the idea that they use strictly handmade and homemade products and implements, avoiding purchasing anything that’s mass-manufactured.
That’s also not the reality…maybe that was the case for the Amish of the 1800s, but not in the 21st century. Depending on the group, Amish use a lot of modern tech, they just adapt, restrict and repurpose it. They do what makes sense financially as long as it doesn’t pose a threat to the family or community in some way (for example, automobile ownership or smartphone use). And even in those cases, use of some of those technologies may be permitted with appropriate restrictions or adaptations.
Smartphones pose a danger for a number of reasons. For example, easy internet access on a concealable device brings in all sorts of wordly influences the Amish would rather keep out, available with a few swipes and taps. It opens up pathways to interactions outside the community, for example Amish youth with non-Amish via social media. It also encourages less dependence on the community (Google now answers your questions, not uncle Delmar).
The bag you put food in poses no such threats.
In other words, for Amish there’s not really a moral dimension to something as basic and mundane as a popcorn container.
But if you make these sorts of assumptions, you are apt to be disappointed when hit in the face by the reality of Amish life. What comes next are often the “Amish are hypocrites” accusations.
Amish people do of course use plastic in many forms, including packaging (and that includes the most conservative Amish as well). They also use many other mass-produced products, like other Americans do.
Anyway, my purpose here was not to pick on this person. I just found there to be a lot of interest to unpack in these 11 words. And I think the sentiment is not uncommon.
Eric, I enjoyed your perspective on this. Whenever there are outsiders looking at a closed cultural group, assumptions are made. This can result in surprises and disappointments. When you add the feeling of nostalgia people get for “the good ‘ole days,” then we’re not thinking clearly, especially without the facts. Thanks for sharing some of the facts.
Glad you thought so Jim! Good you mentioned nostalgia as well, that can factor in too when you hear “disappointment” expressed about the way the Amish live.
Oh my gosh…just the other day there was a comment on a local website concerning energy consumption, electric cars & the like. I made a reply that perhaps we should look at the Amish Culture when it concerns energy & how they deal with lack of electricity etc. A reply I got was shocking, but not surprising. The poster said that the Amish abuse animals & that I should “wake up”. My reply was that every culture, creed, race, color & religion abuses animals. Not that I condoned anyone doing that. But that specifically pointing out the Amish as a group was hateful. And that every culture has its criminals, but we cannot stigmatize ANY culture as being ALL abusers or criminals is just plain wrong. Plus she had to point this out on a thread that had NOTHING to do with animal abuse. I seem to be more & more “Amish bashing” on social media. Thank you for this post. It is very relevant to how we see & cancel people according to how our religious & political views…once sacred & untouchable in discerning who are “good” & who are “bad”. A lack of tolerance & giving people a stigma, a sweeping judgment, & a division.
There are definitely abuse cases among Amish, but some people just use any sort of content on the Amish to spam that blanket accusation. Seen it quite a bit.
Any clue what that gasoline engine in the Don Burke photo is belted to?
Maybe a washing machine?
I was wondering the same thing. Given the other cleaning stuff on the porch, I wonder if that door leads to what we English would call a mud room. I wouldn’t be surprised if laundry equipment would be in there. And, no, the Amish don’t wash clothes by beating them on a rock!
On the Belt and Pulley In the photo
Our local Amish tack shop where they make and repair leather goods uses a Belt and Pulley system like this that is strategically routed in and around the building to run heavy leather sewing machines, punches and such to make leather goods and repair horse tack. My Amish neighbors use a gas powered tag along mower behind a single horse or two-horse team to mow fields and even his lawn. When you live around them you see lots of creative ways to get their work done.
This one actually powers a shaft-and-belt system to run machinery for an Amish noodle business in Missouri. Here’s the original post: https://amishamerica.com/amish-noodle-business/
Erik, I think if you’ll look at the caption to that picture in the earlier article you’ll notice that it says something like “similar to.” I’m pretty sure that this picture was taken at a bakery in Jamesport (not the noodle maker), and is very likely used to power a commercial mixer they use there.
Ah thanks Don for correcting me on that detail. Close but not quite:) So in other words sounds like this type of setup is seen in at least some businesses in this community. Tbh I don’t believe I’ve noticed this specific mounted outside-the-window setup in other communities. I don’t recall it besides in this photo of yours. Though it might be more common than I think and I just need to open my eyes a bit wider.
Offhand I only think of the two businesses there in Jamesport where they use a through-the-wall setup like that, but then again I’m not thinking of any others that might have a use for it. But it seems safe to say that it seems to be a community that would not take issue with it.
I’ve also seen this same kind of setup at a bulk food store in Berne, IN. I only saw the outside of the setup — the inside was in more of an employees-only portion or the store. If I remember right there was somewhat of a deli section of the store, and the motor might have driven some of the equipment for food prep or the like.
I love that you used this simple comment to create this post and reflect about some of the expectations people have about the Amish. Sometimes we idealize something we don’t fully know and try to make it fit into this image that we want or need to believe. I think this kind of observations are so positive, since they help us to understand who the Amish really are instead of forcing them to be something they’re not. Such a beautiful post!
Thank you Sara, glad to hear. I might do some more of these if they’re of interest. I see similar ideas repeat and the perception of the Amish by “us” is an interesting topic to me.
“Why are the Amish using plastic packaging? I am so disappointed.”
I think the reasonable, well thought out responses posted here on an equally informative article are more patient than I would be.
As someone who is a member of a racial minority, being stereotyped and pigeonholed (and the injustices resulting from it) gets real old, REAL quick.
Yea I am writing this as an outside observer – but I can’t say I’d have the same response if something like that were directed at me regularly.
Stereotyping, and it’s negative impact, happens to everyone. And it is no less shameful when it’s done to one belonging to a majority group than to a minority group — after all, it is the individual that takes the brunt of it.
Fun fact: White people are only 8 percent of the world’s population. There are 1.4 billion Black Africans excluding the 47m Blacks in America and the millions in Brazil. 1.4bn. Chinese and 1.4Bn. Indians. The Whites in the world are ageing and only have one or 2 children. The Average age of a German is about 45. The Average age of a Japanese person is also around 40 years old. The average age of someone in Africa is 14. Native Anericans are around 3 percent of the United States and Canada. That’s nothing because there’s still full blooded Natives in South America. The real minorities are Aborigines in Australia numbering about 1million in the whole world and the 320 000 New Zealand Maoris in the entire world. You are not a minority. There are plenty of you.
Lara’s post was interesting, if somewhat provocative, however, much of it depends on definition of “who” is “what”. In Australia I think the definition of Aborigine is something like “one who self-identifies as Aboriginal and is accepted as such by others in that community”–in theory some “white” person could say “I’m an Aborigine” and have some “community” back them up. Many people in India are thought of as Caucasoid people, aka “white”. The definition of “white” your post seems to be using is generally those of “European extraction” in Europe, North America and around the world generally. The black people of Brazil you mentioned may not necessarily think of themselves as such inasmuch as “we” in North America would. Racial consideration in Latin America generally also has much more to do with class or station in life. It is entirely possible for someone “Indian” who might move up the socio-economic ladder to speak of him/her self as white and easily refer to their past as “when I was Indian”. The ideas of who is what in Latin America often comes down to pure guesswork, although with modern DNA testing more factual classification would be hard to avoid. I am “white” according to US census bureau definition and as such still belong to a “majority” of 57% of the American population, however, soon to become merely a plurality sometime this century. But we have dealt mainly with race in this discussion; the ideas and political interplay of majority/minority has as much to do with seemingly useless emotional perception as it does with definition. To conclude, I don’t know how this discussion has ranged so widely from something as basic as whether or not to use plastic bags.
Interesting point of view
I find it interesting that this person was disappointed in the Amish using plastic bags. Are they to use paper bags? I buy most all of my cooking dry goods bulk at the Amish grocery. I wouldn’t be too happy if they used paper bags for my sugar, flour, baking soda, pasta and noodles, and other dry goods. I sometimes come home and repackage it anyway into sturdier containers, but much of it goes on my pantry shelves in the plastic bags that their store packaged it in. The Amish are plain, but they are practical as all get out. They also cater to more than just the Amish in their businesses, I’m sure around my area they depend on English like me to fraternize their businesses as well. I know I spend a good deal of money at their stores. I will say they are very frugal and the twist ties on the plastic bagged goods are the tiniest lengths you will ever see, it’s hard to get them started untwisting. They cut them very small to save money I’m sure. It’s very unfair to assume that they must live in any certain way to meet the expectations of people who probably know very little if anything of their culture or life.
Love this…well said
“ It’s very unfair to assume that they must live in any certain way to meet the expectations of people who probably know very little if anything of their culture or life.”.
While I understand the point Erik made in his article clarifying the reasons for using plastic among the Amish, it still makes much better sense environmentally to use paper or some form of cardboard, at least in the popcorn store’s case, regardless of whose business uses plastic, Amish or not. Single use plastic bags are presently outlawed in eight states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont. If Pennsylvania or Ohio follow suit, and no doubt they may very soon, everyone, Amish or not, will have to abide by the law and as generally devout Christians I’m sure the Amish would “obey the law of the land”. The plastic accumulation in the oceans is going to take many years and many dollars to clean up; in the meantime it makes sense to eliminate the pollution at its source. This is where the Amish should pay attention, just like anyone else. Note that Hawaii is in the list of eight above. The Pacific plastic garbage patch or gyre which is larger than the state of Texas and probably larger than Alaska by now, is located not far from Hawaiian waters.
Sea turtles, and all living things are always of utmost importance to me. I care for many on a daily basis. When I am visiting a neighboring state, I must bring my own bags to the grocery store. When I shop locally, my purchases are placed in plastic. Many times double bagged, in plastic. Therefore nullifying any laws to save the turtles. On a grander scale, there are countries who have no interest in saving the environment. I believe there must be consistency and common sense laws across the board…otherwise, efforts are nothing more than virtue signaling on the part of bloated politicians.
With woman being raped and murdered while jogging, children dying from overdoses, suicide at an all time high, schools focused on pronouns over math, I’d say we have much bigger issues to address than the Amish selling popcorn in a plastic bag.
I couldn't agree more Ingrid
I’m quite sure that if you put the Amish side by side with the English, their carbon footprint would be at least half of what the English footprint is. The combination of their frugality and their lack of using modern conveniences for the most part ensures that.
You can’t bring your own bags when shopping locally?
Just an FYI regarding plastic bags in Maine
While the comments are drifting a bit afield of the original post, I live in Maine and can’t resist commenting on the cited plastic ban. Theoretically, “single-use” plastic bags are banned, but the major achievement of the ban is that the stores are now selling “reusable” plastic bags at a price (five cents each, tougher than the former bags but made out of plastic) that makes them disposable, practically speaking. So the ban has, undeniably, helped some it’s not a solution. We do have some Amish communities here… if they’re using plastic, they’re not the major problem.
If you don’t like the packaging, than don’t use/consume the product. It’s that simple. The Amish are surviving and thriving as they should be, by loving God, their families and community.
In reply to Ingrid Miller: personally accepting or rejecting the product does not solve the problem, so it’s not “that simple”. The plastic is still there and still being bought by others and still possibly ending up polluting the environment. Endangered Sea Turtles die when they mistake plastic bags floating around in the ocean for jellyfish, one of their foods. The Amish or anybody else can love what they want and/or “thrive” according to what their definition of “thrive” is, the fact remains that this planet is headed for disaster with droughts (witness Lake Mead’s all time low level, fires or floods due to rising sea levels or massive hurricanes dumping huge amounts of rain. We must all do our part to deal with this crisis which is here and now, including the Amish.
To learn more about the general topic of “Amish and Environmentalism” I read the book “Nature and the Environment in Amish Life” by David L. McConnell and Marilyn D. Loveless. It is one book in a series of Young Center Books
in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. I found it to be a very educational book and one that expands on understanding several of the misconceptions you have mentioned in this post, Erik.
Book on Amish & the Environment
Thanks for mentioning that Al, I also linked to a related post on it above.
And here’s a Q&A with the authors: https://amishamerica.com/nature-and-the-environment-in-amish-life-book-david-mcconnell-marilyn-loveless/
One interesting answer from it:
‘Amish America: When people ask if the Amish are environmentally-minded, what answer do you give?
David McConnell & Marilyn Loveless: We tell them that although many Amish practices appear to be, and sometimes are, “environmentally friendly,” they usually don’t have that intent. It’s the English who try to make the Amish into model environmental citizens.
The Amish believe that the natural world was created by God for human use. The Amish see no need to alter their behaviors to try to somehow protect the world they have been given, because God is in charge.
The Amish do pay attention to their natural surroundings, but they don’t subscribe to an environmental agenda. They usually don’t see that their behaviors have caused any problems. Although they mostly comply with regulations about manure management, food safety, and so forth, they generally regard them as unnecessary government overreach, costly and a waste of time.
The Amish we talked with were dismissive of the idea that we are experiencing an environmental crisis. They saw environmentalists as “tree-huggers” and “animal-rights activists” and felt they were guilty of worshipping the Creation rather than the Creator. Where natural resources are concerned, human needs should take precedence over preservation.’
It's a 2 way street.
Some Amish do play a part in creating an image that outsiders see and believe.
Many Amish are very self aware. Many know that the romantic image people have of them helps bring in money. Esp. in tourist areas like Lancaster.
Many know that their appearance and behavior can help bring in business.
I know pleny of Amish who dress and act a certain way when out in public, say at work. But when they go home, some will dress differently and behave differently as well.
So if some believe the Amish using plastic bags is somehow wrong, I can understand. To a certain extent… Because some Amish do make a point to present themselves a certain way to keep the business coming in. Including the all natural, organic, environmentally sound image. Some. Not all.
It’s all just about $$$$.
Is your life and home void of all plastics?
I would agree about there being awareness on how they’re perceived, and would also say there is probably a general “microscope effect” affecting public behavior as well, not necessarily attached to business. Though, yes Amish business owners are definitely aware of the appeal and may accentuate that in different and sometimes subtle ways.
How hard they lean into it is an interesting question, you do see examples of either direct or indirect references to being Amish/horse-and-buggy people in company literature/websites for example. And probably more with the tourist-facing and more sophisticated (in a marketing sense) businesses.
Let's go a little deeper...
A recent social media post showed a very cute Amish girl… the poster’s short comment was that when he saw an Amish child, he was struck by two things. First was their lack of good dental care and second was they were often barefoot. (If you looked closely, it was apparent the girl had some dental issues.) It wasn’t a surprise that the comment thread was long and controversial. One commenter noted that she had Amish friends who had great teeth… the original poster immediately retorted that he had more Amish friends than she did. He also made it clear that he loves children more than anyone.
I couldn’t resist pointing out that what struck me about the post (not the photo) was “someone has an axe to grind and a deep sense of superiority.” I further noted that the photo and post were unlikely to improve dental health among the Amish. What, therefore, was the point?
I do think what we’re sometimes seeing is a combination of jealousy and the need to establish superiority. So it’s not about solving a problem, it’s about demonstrating self-worth by attacking and demeaning others. The Amish are, in general, a humble group and, unfortunately, become an easy target.
Interesting example there Walter. Sounds like that post was more about demonstrating the poster’s perceived superiority in various ways as you suggest. I think you hit the nail on the head.
Plain people dressing differently at home?
My reply is specifically directed to the issue brought up by JOB’s comment above, which said that the Amish dress differently at home. As a plain Anabaptist person, someone who is not Amish but who has lived with and worshiped with the Amish, who has Amish friends and is a member of a plain Anabaptist congregation, and a person who others sometimes misinterpret as Amish based on my church’s “uniform” pattern of dress, I think I have something to add to this conversation.
I’m not sure what your specific example is based on. The Amish I know, as well as the Mennonites, Brethren, and other plain people tend to wear our good/newer clothing when we go to town or church, or places where we would interact with the public. If we’re working with the public, we wear our newer clothing that is not yet stained or ripped and mended, because that is more respectful and professional. If we are staying at home, and most especially if we are doing some type of dirty house work, gardening, working in the barn or field, cleaning, canning, baking etc- we just do not tend to wear our best clothing at home. This is not a decision made based on gaining business or impressing other people! We believe in stewardship, which includes wearing out our clothes, to not waste the money and time that has gone into making the clothing. If you are talking about devoted Christian people, who are members of plain Anabaptist churches, then our actions are primarily done to please our King, and to represent Him.
One specific example I can give is the white cotton head covering I wear when I go out in public or to church- it’s not something I wear at home. It is very easily stained, dented or ruined, and these coverings are quite complicated to make and keep clean. I am not able to sew them myself, and the one church sister I know who does this rarely has time to sew for others at present. So to be protective of my white coverings I wear a headscarf or bandana at home, in order for them to stay white and not be ripped. If people are camping, fishing, canoeing or hunting, or any other such situation where your covering might be bumped or damaged, many of us tend to wear a headscarf or bandana instead at those times. I mean, can you imagine milking a cow, butchering chickens or deer, cleaning out a stall and spreading manure on a field, or baling hay with a stiff & in many cases starched and ironed, pure white head covering on? I would only do that if I had quite a lot of them, and had some older ones which were already stained or patched.
Some churches dress code requires female members to wear a black bonnet over the white covering when they leave home, but not while at home. My church does not require this, but some of us do wear a bonnet especially in the winter. This is an extra thick layer which is very helpful in cold, windy winter weather! But if we are at home or doing outdoors work during wintertime, we will usually be wearing an additional thicker winter weight head scarf over our daily thin scarf, and the additional one will be tied under our chin.
Many of us also wear our older and mended/patched or stained clothing for work around the house/farm. Many of us will be barefoot at home, at least during warm weather. Some women will wear a different type of clothing item such as a canning apron or hooded sweatshirt/jacket when working at home, and depending on the type of work they are doing, in hot weather they may not have as many layers to their clothing when at home. We don’t see a reason to waste older stained/patched clothes if they can still cover us modestly while we are doing messy work at home.
If you have examined our clotheslines, you might see some shorts or leggings which women sometimes wear under dresses, especially in winter. But if we are members of our plain Anabaptist churches, we women will always wear modest dresses or occasionally jumpers/skirts, and our men will always be wearing long pants and shirts with sleeves, usually cotton type shirts with buttons rather than close-cut T-shirts or tank tops. You will not see our men working shirtless out in the field, and you will not see our women wearing tank tops or other immodest clothing while working out in the garden.
Again, our clothing choices are made for religious purposes, for modesty, and worn as a matter of personal conviction. Our Anabaptist specific clothing is not a costume put on to impress outsiders. We do not dress like English people, running around in tank tops and shorts at home. No, we are not all perfect. I am sure there are some unconverted church members, whose hearts are not truly in line with the teaching of their church or the New Testament. But rather than judge those people, I will pray for them. Thank you for listening.
Some Amish admitted they know their appearance helps bring in customers.
It’s more obvious with the youth.
Some youth admitted their parents/boss require them to dress in suspenders/dress/kapp for work.
But when home, out come the shorts, tank tops, and so on. (Yes, we know some youth are allowed more freedom of dress and behavior)
I always felt it strange to see an Amish girl in dress and kapp for work. Soft spoken.
Then at night, she’s drinking beer, taking a selfie while half naked, and posting the picture online with one of her boyfriends making a sexually suggestive gesture.
As for the parents. Well, I could tell you about the time an Amish mother yelled at me. Or how some parents behave and dress when on vacation. But those are FUN stories for another time. 🙂
Once again, this is ‘some’ Amish. Not all.
Amish clothes at work and home
I live far away in South Africa and don’t know any Amish people. However, as someone who wore a green dress with knee socks and who had to tie my hair up with no make up and jewellery, for High School, I can assure you, wearing an outfit does not make one a good or bad person. I don’t see how the Amish, especially the teenagers, would remain sane wearing Amish clothes at school, work, home, church, shopping, entertainment etc 24/7. They MUST take a break from it eventually. I remember at 16 breaking all the school rules on appearance and coming home to wear make up and jeans outside of school and to a Methodist church and Youth Group. If Jesus is in our hearts, we have nothing to fear. Appearances can be deceiving and sin is from our hearts. God bless.
And the problem is...?
Dressing differently for work is not unique to the Amish. Many restaurants require certain dress. Health care workers wear scrubs. As Sister Su points out, there are practical considerations as well as social ones. We all are “guilty” of dressing differently depending on where we are going and what we are doing–I often change my clothes before “going into town.” I see no value in holding the Amish to a higher standard and implying hypocrisy.
The point is they admitted they dress Amish for work to bring in customers. It’s part of the attraction and nothing to do with it being work clothes.
Again, these Amish admitted this. They know that ‘Amish’ helps bring in customers.
That ‘Amish’ has become a business brand……For some. Not all.
They don't dress "Amish" for work, sheesh....
Are you implying they dress differently when at home? I live amongst the Amish, I see them every day at their homes. Other than not wearing their “best” clothes, they dress no less plain, no more revealing at home than when they are amongst the public. Women still wear head coverings, long dresses, no skin showing on arms. They reserve their older worn clothing for working at home and wear better clothes when going out. It has nothing to do with impressing anyone or putting on a show for the public. It’s out of self respect and following the rules of their community. I don’t often wear my holey stained farm clothes when I go out for errands, that’s out of self respect. They are no different.
There are plenty of Amish who show skin on their arms. When on break they sit outside, take off their shoes and socks and get a tan.
Plenty of Amish youth go to the beach and put on bathing suits.
Some Amish parents/boss do want the youth to dress Amish/conservative when at work because the appearance can be good for business.
Then when the youth go home, some put on jeans, shorts, other clothes.
There are many different Amish groups. Some more strick than others. Sometimes this can be more easily seen by what limitations might be placed on the youth.
There are plenty in Lancaster who when off work, you wouldn’t know the were Amish by how they dress and act. Especially when driving their truckS. 🙂
You're Speaking of Rumspringa I assume?
Young people are not yet Baptized and are not technically under the authority of the church until they are. We see young people doing things like driving, wearing English clothes, and acting like English on occasion, they are sowing their wild oats, as it were, before they commit to the authority of their religion. Adult women where I reside do not show their arms ever in front of outsiders, yes their feet are without shoes at times, you took too literally my saying they don’t show skin. I go to the river often and have never seen adult Amish folks wearing bathing suits, maybe where you live they do. I realize that there are many different groups and some are more lenient than others. But you make it out like they live a fraudulent existence and I don’t agree with that. Nor do I have expectations for them or place them on a pedestal, they are just people like the rest of us doing the best they can to live in this increasingly complicated world.
We know about Rumspringa.
We are talking about some, not all Amish, encouraging the youth dress Amish for business purposes and not as basic work clothes.
Here are the numbers to help with the context:
In Lancaster in 2021:
Over 9 million visitors helped bring in over $2 BILLION DOLLARS!
This should help with the context and why ‘some’ parents and bosses want workers to look Amish. Even a teenager on Rumspringa can be encouraged to dress Amish for work even though they may be allowed to dress in jeans or shorts.
In my opinion, some Mennonites are also leaning into the Amish appearance for business purposes. I am refering to Mennonites who can wear shorts, jeans, own television, drive cars.
Here is a link to show how big a business Amish tourism is in Lancaster.
How is that different from celebrity endorsement contracts – except that the ‘endorsers’ get PAID.
Lara…I can relate. I grew up Catholic & worn a uniform. At 19 I moved to SC & became a Southern Baptist & a few yrs later a Sunday School teacher to teenagers. Some kids came to class drunk &/or hungover. I recognized their rebellion. So I rebelled too. One Sunday I dismissed my reguarly scheduled class requirement (which I knew no one ever studied for class)… & I had the sheer audacity to loudly play John Mellancamp’s “Hurts So Good”. Yep…the accordion style room barriers didn’t work so well & I knew it. I had 2 siblings who had just lost their mom to cancer. They were alone, confused, in grief…& drunk. Their dad had told them to never speak their mothers name again. Cause he was getting remarried. Well…I played it loud. First go round, they were in shock. Second go round, we danced. Third go round I asked them what they HEARD. What they FELT. Oh it was a breakthrough for most. A few remained scared of the repercussions. Funny thing though…the next week after being chastised, I had a much larger attendance. And we discussed openly the Sunday before. The next few weeks I adhered to the regulation class teaching. And everyone came prepared. In the next month, though getting much pushback from the congregation, I asked for & was granted a youth led Sunday evening service. It was ENTIRELY in their hands with only a simple outline. What that church beheld…WAYYYYY beyond even my expectations was miraculous. It wasn’t about me. It was about their PERSONAL expression of faith. Not all of it was pretty. There indeed was some grit. But the pastor allowed this youth led service to continue once a month. It proceeded to get more beautiful. Sometimes raw. It was needed. My husband was a deacon. He left me for my best friend. He had donated a new organ to the church. I had only led the teens to themselves & their true faith. I was “excommunicated”. My husband came the next Sunday with his girlfriend. None of the adults batted an eye. The teens openly protested. They are my kids to this day. Lara…you are heard. HEARD. Don’t worry. There are no straps or chains to adherence to rules in religion. No matter what is required by dress or sanction…only your personal relationship to God matters. And no ritual can ever take that from you. Cause you are HEARD.
How severly did hurricane Ian hit the Amish in Pinecraft?
I know this is off topic, but I don’t know where else I can maybe get an answer.
How severely did Hurricane Ian hit the Amish and Mennonites in Pinecraft?
I saw some maps that seem to indicate that there was flooding, water coming in through the Phillippi Creek.
A posting about hurricane Ian and Pinecraft would be very interesting!
I can’t give you a lot of detailed information yet, but from what I have heard most of the damage in the Sarasota/Pinecraft area was from wind and trees blowing down. Some signs are also down, and trees damaged several things when they fell. There is damage to roofs and fences, and a few vehicles. Power was only out one – two days, so destruction in this area was thankfully very mild when compared with the Punta Gorda area further south.
For more detail I would recommend checking with Sarasota newspapers online; and if you’re very interested possibly subscribe to the Budget newspaper (out of Sugarcreek Ohio) where you can read local weekly news from Amish, Mennonite and Brethren scribes all over the world.
Thanks a lot for your detailed answer!
This was really a thought provoking article! Isn’t it so easy to idealize someone or something and to see the grass as always being greener on the other side of the fence? When I do that – and it happens so often – and then stumble upon the realization that such a perceived utopia is much closer to my existence than the Eden I’d imagined I often find myself disappointed! The reality is, though, that it seems highly unlikely that any person or group could actually live up to the imaginary creation in my mind. Personally, I appreciate the realization that Plain communities “have problems” or aren’t the “perfect” society I often imagine them to be. Although it can be disappointing at first it speaks, I think, to how much more alike than different we really are and provides a certain realistic perspective that sometimes I just don’t think one can get too much of. When I idolize others I do both they and myself a grave injustice setting both up for an imminent – not to mention often painful – fall from the heavenly pinnacle upon which I’ve placed them back into the reality of life as it truly is.
Thank you Greg. You hit the nail on the head. Many years ago I worked in a furniture store & as an introduction to our new line, Burkholder, I, (part of my job was Event Coordintor), we had the Keim family come in from Southern Indiana with a grand display of a buggy in the inside entrance full of quilts, & then in our refreshment area we had Amish ladies sewing quilts by hand & an enormous about of baked goods. Mattie’s daughters went home every night to bake all night cause no matter how much they brought, we would sell out within hours. The son Levi was entering Rumspringa. He brought me a pitchfork one day as a gift & during a very interesting conversation he said “Miss Paula…why are the English so fascinated by us”. Part of my answer was “maybe for the same reason you’re fascinated by the way we live & want to explore all of the sins of our world. Stay where you are Levi…you’re not missing a thing”. Yes…I have wanted to become Amish myself. My observations are pure contentment. But as I told Mattie at her kind invitation…”I am too much in the world. And I need my hair dryer”. We both had a hearty laugh & understood. Once then I discovered that my ancestors were a long line of Mennonite ministers from Germany. I no longer have to wish for anything, because I already had everything I wished for. I just didn’t know it.