Home » Amish for Life: PART I

Amish for Life: PART I

Hello Mose. I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life. They seem to lead such a simple, peaceful life. I am sick of my life, and I am ready to start over. I have always felt connected to them, and I feel like I am supposed to be Amish, and that most of my troubles would be over if I joined the community. You’re the only Amish person I know. Could you please help me become Amish?
First let me say that this is actually an excellent question. I can easily grasp why someone looking in from the outside would get this impression, and view the Amish life as a worry free dream life. I suppose the best way for me to “get you” on this topic is by putting myself in your shoes.
My dream is to move to Switzerland. When I was young, I read the book “Heidi”. A book written by Johanna Spyri. It is about a girl who was adopted, ended up living with her gruff grandpa up in the Swiss Alps, through a sequence of events, befriends a crippled girl, Clara, who is 12, and eventually gets Clara to move up into the mountains with her and Grandpa. Between the fresh mountain air, goat’s milk, and out from under the strict household confines of Fraulein Rottenmeier, a miracle is born. Clara actually gets healthy, and for the first time in her life begins walking.
If you haven’t read the book, I strongly encourage you to do so. I have read it numerous times, and I find a deep inspiration between it’s covers each and every time I do so. Obviously the Swiss Alps were romanticized a little bit. The power of goat milk was probably exaggerated some. But to a child, it all made sense. When I had a sister who always had health problems, and the doctors never could diagnose what was wrong, to me it seemed like it was a no brainer. Take her to the Swiss Alps, get her away from it all. The influences of the Amish community. The quack doctors who kept recommending homemade theories. Like dandelion stew, raw uncooked foods, and The list goes on.
To this day, the Swiss Alps hold a magical mystery to me. A mystery I must certainly explore. It would give me a fresh start, a place where I don’t know one soul, where I can start all over, become a Hermit up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, and never have to worry about being social with the world again. That’s a dream of mine. An adventurous dream that will never happen, but it is fun to fantasize and live within the unrealistic realms of it.
Of course by now you know exactly where I’m going with this. Of course by putting myself inside this dream, I can easily see why someone without the proper information, would view the Amish life the same way.
Part of the reason why you don’t have all the inside information, and also coincidentally why right now their are so many television shows about the Amish, is because they are a very private people. So private, indeed, that they remain one of the few cultures of people of whom the world knows little about. And they live right among us, here in good old America.
It is my opinion that the mystery surrounding the Amish, what they do, how they live, what they believe, and what motivates them to maintain the simple life, is also the exact same reason why so many people want to exploit, uncover, or open these mysterious people and their lifestyle, be it in books, films, or newspaper articles.
My personal goal with my role in the films I have done, has always been to do inspirational films while educating the viewer in an accurate manner about the Amish. If I can do this for the right reasons, the ratings will come. I am aware that there a lot of misconceptions out there about the Amish that can hurt them and their lifestyle.
I have always felt like education is a good thing. A lack of knowledge can only lead to misconceptions, and also make it more believable for viewers when other Amish shows come along that are all about creating controversy, drama, misconceptions, untruths, and exploiting the Amish for ratings and money. Proof of this is when numerous viewers of the films I’ve participated in, email or write me after watching what I’ve done, and call other Amish films scripted or fake.
Now that I have randomly gotten off the original subject, and mused out loud my thoughts, let’s get back on track. Could you be Amish?
I was born and raised Old Order Amish in one of the strictest Amish communities in the United States, and remained until I was almost 23 years old. I don’t pretend to know every detail of what they do or believe in. When I write out my thoughts on whether or not you, born and raised in the outside world, could make it long term as an Amish person, I am specifically speaking for the Amish communities within the Midwestern states that I am familiar with.
Now I would like to explain here that although Amish communities vary dramatically across the board in beliefs, such as farm machinery, styles of buggies, dress code, and numerous other man made items, they do remain very similar in their religious beliefs and theories about Heaven and Hellfire. They all preach the King James version of the bible, have a strong desire to keep their children within the Amish community, to have them marry and die within the community.
Although some stress this issue less than others, if you dug deep enough, each and every one of them would feel that if one of their own ventured out into the world, lived outside, and died outside, the hope for this person’s salvation is questionable. Like I said before, if asked, most of them would deny that, and tell you that that is not for them to determine or judge, but again, if you dig deep enough, you can eventually get the real truth.
Therefore, I will tell you a few of the reasons why I am no longer Amish, and why I would probably not be capable of ever being Amish again. My goal in this blog is to give you, the reader, 10 Pros and 10 Cons about being Amish. Since that would be a very long Blog, I will divide it into two parts. “Amish for Life, PART I”, and in 2 weeks, post “Amish for Life, PART II”. The idea being that in the end, you can make your own choice on whether or not you could become “Amish for life”.
There is a fine line for me in describing my experiences as an Amish person, in it’s truest form, while preserving and not tainting the heritage or reputation of the Amish. A fine line that I intend to try and walk. If any reader, during your time reading this, thinks I am being too blunt, or too critical of the Amish, I probably am. My goal in this two-part blog is to give you, the person who so desperately wishes to join the Amish, the proper information. The downside is that you can read this PART I, and possibly walk away with a few negative feelings, since PART I consists of the top 10 reasons why you may not be cut out to be Amish.
Bear with me, PART II will be much more Charming.

The top 10 reasons why becoming Amish may or may not be for you. I want to make it clear that this does not necessarily apply to every community across the board, but rather the communities in the area where I grew up in, and what I am familiar with. Every once in a while, I hear rumors that some far Eastern communities, who have been established longer, are allowed in moderation, to do some of these things.

1. Electricity: No electricity means no technology. Speaking for myself, If I go for a weekend without checking my email, Facebook, Twitter, Fox Sports, World News, my cell phone for messages, voice-mail or text, I start becoming depressed. Call me a victim of the world. It doesn’t matter how miserable you are with your life, or how much you are ready for a change, my question is, are you prepared to give up every single means of communication with the outside world, every friend you’ve ever made, including immediate family, even if you may or may not be fighting with them right now, for the rest of your life? When you, in 3 years, have a strong desire to just go visit a long lost friend in the city, and spend the day, watch some TV, just for old times sake, and you cave in because the Amish life has lost some of it’s charm and fascination, are you prepared to face the consequences of the Amish community and the church for slipping up just once?

2. Superiority: Usually it is the Female gender that is requesting to go into the Amish community. This portion is specifically for you. It is no secret that for the most part, within the Amish community, the man is the indisputable leader of the household, and the woman is expected to listen and obey him. The man decides what the money will be spent on, among most of the other decisions that are made within a household. I do want to be clear that there are many decisions where the husband and wife make decisions together. Which community to move to if you are unhappy in the community you live in. What to name your children, etc. But are you prepared to be a submissive housewife who says “yes sir” to not only your husband, but also the church and the elders in it?
For the men, although you are the man of the household, you have many superiors above you that control what you do. I will get into that later when I talk about rules to follow within the church.

3. Birth control/children: In every Amish community I knew when I was growing up in, any means of birth control were not allowed. When you think of the perfect life within the Amish, are you taking into consideration the fact that we are probably talking about having kids as fast as possibly natural, until you are beyond the child bearing age? The alternative being that you remain single to avoid having a dozen kids. This would mean no active sex life, as doing so would be punishable within the church by excommunication if it happens out of wedlock. (I have heard of birth control or forms of protection being allowed in the very upper Amish communities)

4. Personal Hygiene: In my community, specifically in my family home, we bathed once a week on Saturday nights. When I was a child, I have memories of every Saturday night, taking the aluminum tub down off the basement wall, while mom started a fire under an 80 gallon kettle. My siblings and myself would carry buckets of water to the kettle, fill it to the top, and the fire below is what heated up our bath water. After the chores were done and supper eaten, one by one, each member of the family would take their turn down in the basement, dipping 3 or 4 gallons of boiling water into the aluminum tub sitting on the cold concrete basement floor. After that you’d add cold water form the basement water spout until the water was the right temperature for you. After you had your short bath, you tipped the tub over and it went down the drain, and it was the next person in line’s turn. Sometimes the last few people in line slept until it was their turn because it may be the wee hrs of the morning until it was their turn. (there was mom and dad, and 13 children)
In an Amish community, it is frowned upon for a woman to try and impress a man. In other words, she is not allowed to shave, (anywhere) use makeup, paint fingernails, wear deodorant, wear skin tight clothing or for the most part, do anything that may look like she is taking pride in her personal appearance. To do so, probably will turn a man’s head, but you would become the talk of the community in ways that you would not be thrilled about. If you went to high school you should know the reputation of the one girl who always wants to stick out, or be the one getting all the attention.
The men, who work in the fields, milk cows, get cow manure on themselves, in the hair, beards, etc, still only bath once a week. I look back now in disbelief about how on Sunday mornings, after my Saturday night bath, we’d do all the chores in the barn, load all the cow and horse manure by hand into the manure spreader, spread it in the fields, milk cows, climb up in the silo and throw silage and ground corn down, and do numerous other activities, and after a quick breakfast, and a quick wash of hands and face, off to church we’d go, and because of my weekly bath the night before, I’d still feel sparkly clean.
Also, in most of the old order Amish communities, there is still no indoor bathrooms. Imagine in the cold winter sitting out behind the house on a frozen 2 holer Moon-house with newspapers to wipe with. This was the place for the women. The men usually used the barn as their bathroom. Sitting in a calf pen, and again the use of newspapers is the source of wiping. For a man to be caught in the outhouse behind the house, is like a man being caught using the women’s restroom in a restaurant. It is understood that the outhouses are for the women.
Although the men are allowed to use shavers to shave above the jaw line, they are not expected to shave below that area. So no mustache or cheek hair, but otherwise, let it grow.

5. Physical work: Everything is done by hand with manual labor. For the women this would mean gardening, quilting, butchering chickens, washing tons of dishes 3 times a day, by hand, with water that was warmed up by a wood burning stove, wood that was usually carried in from the woodpile behind the house by the women, doing all the laundry once a week, on Monday morning, with a gas operated washing machine, where you manually fed each piece of clothing through the ringer washing machine and than hung it on the clothes line in the yard for the wind and sun to dry it, keep the house clean, and have prepared 3 solid meals a day for the men when they come in from the fields or the barn from the chores.
Obviously there are many, many other chores, but for the most part, these are the biggest things I noticed since I was the one working in the fields and sawmill.
For the men, same as the women, the work never stops. In my entire childhood, there was never one moment, where we had all the work caught up on the farm, and we had nothing to do. With a dad and 8 of us brothers, this may seem difficult to believe, but between a large sawmill operation and a 255 acre farm, there was never a break.
Sunday, the one day of rest, was always a welcome break. Although I would now consider myself a hard worker, and am very proud of my childhood, and the values and work ethic that were instilled in me, I resented with every pore in my body, at times, how much work there was, and how little time for me, as a child to go fishing, or to play.
In an Amish community, you have no childhood. From the earliest memories I have, I was working in the sawmill, fields, and doing chores in the barn. When a lot of people think of the Amish, they have a romanticized idea of doing some work, but mostly walking dreamily around lakes, fields, riding horses, fishing, and occasionally doing some gardening, laundry, or some work in the fields. Not to dampen your spirits, but if you aren’t always getting your hands dirty and doing some form of work, you are considered lazy, and lazy is not a good reputation to have among the Amish.
On another note, do you want your kids growing up without a childhood, without hardly any toys, only an 8th grade education, with no possibility of going beyond that, not being allowed to know their relatives in the outside world, and working from their earliest childhood?

6. Freedom: A misconceived idea and a mistake often made with people who wish to become Amish is that your worries will miraculously disappear. That it is a place to start over, leave behind the people who have been bothering or mistreating you in your life. Go to a place where people will forgive everything you do as fast as it happens. A place where everyone loves God and life is carefree.
In order to best explain this one I will make a contrast. In the outside world, I discovered early on that you can be the biggest loser imaginable, and not a soul will do a thing about it. You can live in an apartment and live off the Government, and play an X Box all day and order in pizza and never leave, and as long as you are within the boundaries of the law, no one will raise a hand or force you to become somebody.
When you are Amish, everything you do, wear, drive, build, to only mention a few, gets regulated and monitored in detail. From your dress code, in detail, to the length of your hair, or beard, where you work, how much you work outside the community, how much bling is on your buggy or horse, how your house or barn is built and the belongings inside or outside of it. Besides the visible things, you are also reprimanded on how you talk, believe, and actually, believe it or not, often even how you think and feel about something. When you are Amish, you may not know better, and this may be acceptable for the majority of the people who grew up that way. However, there are always the small percentage of us that question this authority, or even resent it. Especially when it is supposedly based off the bible, but after reading the bible from cover to cover, you discover that it is more a man made tradition, and that you are actually being controlled by something often not bibically based. Couple that with a highly energetic kid with A D D, and you have a Mose…

I could do several topic on things like control, humiliation, or even child or animal abuse. Now is not the time, and also, some of them, like animal or child abuse, you are accountable for in your household, and not anything that is encouraged within a community.
The humiliation comes if and when you do something that goes against the church rules, and you have to confess your transgressions before the whole church, to see if you can be forgiven, instead of confessing to one man in private, like the Catholic people do. Again, now is not the time or place to get into that these topics.

Where I came from, I knew little to nothing of the outside world and what was in it. I didn’t know anything about American history, who is President, who famous actors or singers are, except for a handful of country singers. Because of a lack of knowledge, I had no appreciation for our troops keeping the people around me and myself free and safe. The list goes on, but the point being, the change from such a sheltered, monitored, controlled environment, to an outside world, is so drastic, that it is often impossible to remain in the outside world. Even if you like what the world has to offer, even if you hated your Amish life. The lack of support or lack of leadership if you leave, is often too much to manage.
In the same breath, I would speculate that the difficulty of changing from one such culture to another would be magnified a thousand fold if you go from the outside into the Amish community. Think of the culture you are familiar with, that has the strictest religious beliefs you know. Now take that and multiply it by about 6 or 7. If you think I am exaggerating, hear me out. The Jehovah Witness, who, bless their hearts, I have received a ton of emails from former members, feel we have a ton in common. We probably do, but I can think of about 100 things in 5 minutes that they have that would make it easier being a Jehovah Witness then being Amish.
Vehicles, Electricity, Gas heat in their houses, birth control, the freedom to come and go as they please, are just a few that come to mind.
The very fact that you have taken the independent approach of saying, “the heck with this life on the outside, I will go Amish”, already tells me that you are too independent to bow down to a culture who thrives on molding you to a good, obedient, humble, modest, “Amish for Life”.

7. Divorce: In the outside world, and I am not judging anyone even a little here, but let’s face it, the percentage of couples that get married and remain together forever, are right around the approximate 50% bracket. For whatever the reason, it would appear that the good old days are gone where couples live happily ever after…… not that I am sure they all did back then either.
Contrary to popular belief, Amish couples are not hand picked and force married to each other by parents or elders of the church. Rather, both the Amish girl and boy can decide right up until they say their I DO’S whether or not they wish to be married to each other. Both the girl and the boy can, at any point during the relationship, break up with each other and move on to another partner, and nothing much gets made of it.
However, once you become married, there is no backing out. No Annulment, no money back guaranteed. You are absolutely and certainly stuck to each other for life. Yes, there are rare instances. if one of the two decide to leave the Amish. In such a case, the one who remains home, can’t ever, EVER become married under any circumstances. However, if your spouse were to die at any point, Amish or outside, you are free to become married to another Amish person.

8. Speaking the language: Let’s face it, learning to speak another language is difficult, and I can assure you that until you learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch fluently, you will still be somewhat of an outcast within the community.

9. Entertainment: This one is kinda lame, and I am certainly becoming repetitive, but since I already know what I have for number 10, and I am trying to fill in the last few until then, this one seemed like a good fill-in piece. So let’s say that you have even a few artists who you love, or you have even a few movies you have a soft spot for. You loved all the Batman movies, and your highlight is going to see the new release when it comes out, or you have a crush on Justin Bieber, and buy every album he has. Are you prepared to completely block out all those things forever. Yes, I know you say you can, and at the moment it may seem quite do-able, but I can assure you that after you haven’t heard a radio for 6 months, and you hear that first musical instrument coming out of those speakers, your heart is absolutely overjoyed, and even the artists you disliked the most, and always switched stations on, sounds like heaven, and move you to tears.

10. Amish for Life: And finally, I want to make myself perfectly clear on this topic. You can not go try out the Amish for a trial period, and if you decide after a month, that the life is not for you, you can run back into your old comfort zone that was the world. If you think of the military, boot camp, the grueling workouts in the rain, etc, as tough as that might be, you can still take comfort that you can always throw in the towel and drop out at any moment. Even if you choose to stay in for several deployments, and you have served our wonderful country, and come home a hero, you are still not required to remain in the forces and fight for life.
The Amish will not accept you into the community, baptize you into their church, and give you a chance, unless they are convinced that you are committed to remain, live, and uphold there every value, rule, and tradition, for better or for worse, and commit to being, “Amish for Life”.
Based upon everything I have told you above, even coming from someone who grew up within the community and was unable to make it, so you are getting a perspective from a “burnout”, are you prepared to give up your life, family, internet, phone, electricity, TV, friends, security of the law, fast food, and all the other things that at this current point in your life, you just take for granted? The things you are convinced you are done with, you are possibly sick of.
If you are convinced that God has spoken to you, and it is your destiny to become Amish. If you have Amish dreams, and wake up sad because you are still English. If you had a bad break-up with a partner, are a high school drop out with no potential in life, have fallen upon hard times in life, financially, or whatever other reason that I’ve heard, are you confident, absolutely, positively, 100% convinced that the Amish life is for you, and that your determination can prevail? Do you fall into the .001% bracket of people who grew up in the outside world who dream of becoming Amish, and actually succeed, disappear into the community, never to be heard of again, and become, “Amish for Life”?
Forgive me for being extremely blunt in this blog. I am only one person, with one opinion, and in fairness, you probably need a second or third opinion, but I shoot straight. I tell it as I see it. I have struggled more with writing this blog than any other I have written. I found my inspiration in the mass amount of emails I receive from people who wish to join, and my desire is only to educate you on what you may be in for.
I will post PART II of “Amish for Life” on Thursday, Dec 20.

To Be Continued………….

19 thoughts on “Amish for Life: PART I”

  1. While I totally agree that being in the military isn’t a lifelong commitment….unless you die while serving, there isn’t a trial period there either. You can’t go up to your superior in boot camp or whatever and say, “Hey, you know what, I was wrong. I wanna go home.” The closest we had to that in boot camp was an attempted suicide. After your 4 years is up, contract is over, can you always go home? Nope. Stop loss. My husband tried to get out after 12 and was told no. Stop loss. At that point, he said fine. I’ll do my 20 and you can pay me for the rest of my life. Did his 20 and they almost stop lossed him again. But yes, he was able to get out and he is a civilian now, but there isn’t a trial period or an easy out.

    1. My apologies. Coming from a family who has no forefathers who have served in our armed forces, I had no right to use the Military as a comparison.
      I suppose it is a dose of humble medicine for me, since I also am strictly going by what I have read in romanticized war movies or literature.
      Thus, I post a blog, trying to educate people who are misinformed about the Amish, because they read about it, but haven’t lived it, and am caught red handed, doing the exact same thing with our Veterans. Go Figure.
      Again, my apologies.

  2. Mose, I live in north central Missouri, not far from Jamesport, and I have heard a lot about how the Amish are and live. Some of what you wrote in “Amish for life: part I” are what I have heard. I enjoy my daily showers too much, to go to only once a week. I wouldn’t be able to give up the freedom I have now. Thank you so much for your blog and God bless.

  3. You were probably a toddler back in the early 1980’s when I became interested in Amish after seeing a few in our Ky community and reading a Christmas story in Guideposts magazine about an Amish Shoo-fly pie. We also rented and saw the Amish themed movie The Witness with Harrison Ford. And yes I romanticized the Amish until I discovered an abundance of books about them in our local Bible College. It was studying these books that opened my eyes by revealing many of the things you have shared in this post. I remember feeling especially bad for the women and the back-breaking labor with no modern conveniences and the children too with such a limited childhood and education!

    Now up to the present day and I live in Ohio now. Recent trip to the Columbus Zoo and a group of Amish families there. Hot day…maybe the weekend bath had been skipped, I don’t know…I don’t mean to be ugly but even my Grand-kids noticed the heavy body odor, when passing the group in the food court. It is hard to explain to those that haven’t lived that life. But for some reason I had always thought they were cleaner…the ladies “look” clean. And you see lots of pictures of Amish laundry. I cannot imagine the back breaking labor of washing all of those clothes only to put them onto a body that is not scrubbed clean and perfumed daily. I am sure they are all used to the smells or so I’ve read, just as our ancestors were.

    The reason I think that so many think that they want to be Amish is because of the abundance of Christian Amish Fiction…which they should always remember is “fiction”. An English person’s point of view, the authors put their own Christian view-point and spin in many of them. Real Amish probably don’t even think or act the way many of these Amish novels depict.

    So far you are the only TV personality that I trust on this subject. I think you have been called to open people’s eyes and to help them understand this “private” culture.

    Bless you and all that you do for others. Also a Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. Thank you Mose! I appreciate your straight forward writings on this! I do appreciate some of the simpleness of Amish Living. But NO….I could never live it as an Amish for Life.
    I did grow up in very similar circumstances. Very legalistic/rigid religious laws. I grew up with wringer washers, hauling water, heating it for bathing, coal stove for heat, outhouses, etc.. More because of dysfunctional family one was not allowed any original thought of their own and one certainly did not speak it if you did,,,love was withdrawn immediately until you complied.
    So even though I imagine it was far worse in Amish life….I can relate to much of what you speak.
    It is why I am so interested in your story and information you can share. I know it had to be a hard transition in many ways…and the shunning has to be so painful.
    But Gods Grace….Freedom IN Christ…is so much better. Serving our God out of love rather than trying to appease an angry God. God bless you! And your family.
    I am so please you have a wonderful family. I know your wife must be so supportive.
    Look forward to Part 2. God Bless!

  5. Hi Mose. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I loved the analogy of thinking of the Swiss Alps as a happy haven full of magical goat milk. When in reality, there are pros and cons of living there, just as anywhere.

    I was reminded of the time when I thought it would be simpler to join a convent. And I wasn’t even Christian, I just wanted to hide from my own problems and join what I thought would be a warm and welcoming community.

    I look forward to part 2!

  6. Mose,

    I recently caught several episodes of Amish Out of Order. I have never seen any shows on the Amish before. I’ve only seen commercials for several Amish reality shows and have never been drawn to them as they seemed somehow disrespectful to the Amish. Now, I am not Amish, nor do I know anyone who is, but I am a Christian and ‘smearing’ these people is not what I want to see. Yours is the first and only series on the Amish that I have seen. (I didn’t see your first series as I didn’t have cable/dish back then and didn’t even know about it.) I was so very happy to see how you handled yourself on this series. Clearly, you left for strong personal reasons, but I truly appreciate how graceful you endeavor to be to those people still in those communities and to that culture.

    I confess that I had a little of that ‘romantic’ notion of what an Amish community might be like. I am grateful to you for your graceful honesty about some of the truths about this. You were very gentle and open with Michaela when she was so interested in entering that lifestyle. I have learned a lot from you.

    I hope that you might have an opportunity to do another series. But if that does not happen, I’m glad to have found you on facebook and this blog.

    Thank you.

  7. wonderfully written Mose. enjoyed reading this aspect of Amish life. hopefully any young boy or girl with confusion about where there life is headed will have at least a better understanding of there choice.

  8. Mose,
    I wish to firstly thank you for the informative insight you have provided the community with regarding the typically private Amish community, I also strongly agree with your views on the importance of education and thanks to you numerous individuals will be able to make educated decisions on possibly joining the Amish and removing many misconceptions surrounding the community; not to mention your tireless work with the ex-Amish community. Please excuse my gushing but I wanted to ask about the Amish communities access to health care; you mentioned you had a sickly sister, was she treated solely within the Amish community or could she seek treatment from an ‘English’ Doctor? What would happen if someone required an operation? I recently had an extremely vivid dream in which God told me I was destined to complete my medical degree and to join an Amish community to provide help to people who needed me ( I do not advise anyone to fall asleep to a marathon of Amish: Out of control whilst studying for exams)
    Thank you again

    1. I am no expert, but as a child, my mother worked at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She told me many times of an Amish child who needed medical care and were brought to the hospital. The Amish were always able to pay for the care in cash, due to the community of Amish taking up a collection of some sort to pay, since Amish do not believe in insurance. I was always very impressed by that!

  9. I think you have passed on really accurate info here. I would apply the hygiene issues only to the lower groups, but the rest applies across the board.

    The romaticized view of the Amish has these peace-loving people who avoid problems by living simply. They are always happpy and are uniformly good. The truth is that these are flesh and blood people who have pretty much all the same problems everyone else has and struggle like all humanity does. Like any group, there are some of the best people in the world among them, and there are some who are among the worst. It seems funny, but it seems to help people if you lay that out there because there is this tendency to look at the clothes and the buggies and think these are some higher grade of people. They are people. No more, no less.

    The bottom line is that it is rare for an English person to make the transition to the Amish life. We are conditioned early on to see life a certain way, and being Amish will bring one into conflict with how we have been conditioned. It is so much easier for someone raised in an Amish home to join the church.

    Just one’s education will cause problems. One of the central things education does is to give us critical thinking skills. We are programmed to ask “Why?”. Amish people (the content ones) do not and cannot ask that question when it comes to the rules and practices of the church because the answer is often “Because that’s what the bishop and ministers say” or “Because that’s the way it has always been.” A critical thinker will never be satisfied by that.

    The language is a huge issue. I knew an English family with a Catholic background who tried to convert. They never really mastered the language and could never really assimilate. They have now left the Amish, but are still seeking a plain life.

    The plain and simple life of the Amish is appealing. There are some very good things about it, which I’m sure Mose will do a great job of describing. But there are many hardships, sacrifices, and frustrations for an outsider who wants to get a piece of what they have. If you aren’t born into it, you probably can’t live it – and if you understand the +’s and -‘s, you probably wouldn’t choose it. But to each his own!

    You can be Amish and be a very happy and content person, but seeking happiness and contentment by being Amish is, like Granddad used to say, bassackwards. :)

    1. What an excellent reply. It is why even in my own Faith background I had to find a place to be able to ask questions that deeply concerned me, because in most this was just not allowed. God made us to think. And HE is not offended by it or intimidated by it. HE wishes for us to seek His will for our lives. For it to fit together, make sense.
      Great Post !

  10. That was an interesting post, Mose. I’m sure that many people are so interested in the Amish way of life is how it is portrayed in all of the Christian Amish fiction novels. Everyone is so nice, so clean, so efficient and so helpful to one another. As a woman, 70 though I might be, I could never be that submissive to any man. I find it disturbing that a bishop and the elders could establish the way a woman dresses, wears her hair, etc.My husband could testify that I have my own mind and I don’t hesitate to use it! I live about an hour away from Holmes County, Ohio and I know many of the Amish in that area are very New Order. There are also Amish groups about a half hour north of me in Ashland County. They are very old order and not very sociable or clean. Let me just say that I would not feel comfortable buying their baked products nor would I stop and buy eggs from them. I am not being “snooty” as I feel the same way about any English. My dad took us on drives to the Amish areas before they became “Amish Country”. I love the area there because of the hills and farmland. But now it is so commercialized that it isn’t as much fun anymore. There is one restaurant we frequent in Berlin, Boyd and Wurthman, that has been there “forever” and still seems like a nice Amish restaurant. The “Amish Flea Markets” have too much stuff made in China to suit me. And I can’t even go into how I feel about the puppy mills. I just can’t believe any good Amish person could go into that business with a good conscience. I read Lots of Amish fiction but read it with an open mind and am aware that the story is very romanticized. That sells books. I have read stories about people who have left the Amish and it’s not pretty. Right now I am reading Dale Cramer’s third book on a story of an Amish man who took his family to Mexico in the 1800’s to establish a new settlement their. It is based on a true story of a family in Holmes County. They went because because of their belief in their education system and also to escape child labor laws. Mr. Cramer has based his story on the writing of David Luthy”s book, The Amish in America-Settlements that failed 1840-1960. I do want to read that book.
    I have enjoyed reading your post and look forward to part 2. You are an interesting man, Mose, and I really like reading your point of view. My husband and I are looking forward to seeing what you have to say about the Amish Mafia. We watched in with tongue in cheek, finding it hard to imagine that an “Amish” man would hold court in a barn, have his henchmen “teach lessons”. and collect payment from the Amish businesses to “keep them safe”. It just seems a little farfetched. I’ll look forward to your take on the situation, knowing you already know if there is an Amish mafia! Take care and have a lovely, Merry Christmas with your family.

  11. Hello from Australia Mose! I love your show, your story and the work you are doing. I have just finished watching your Christmas episode with the memorial to Cephas. That was a very moving and beautiful tribute. I was so upset when he died as he was working really hard to make a decent life for himself – just doesn’t seem fair, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes I guess. I really like the fact that you present your story so impartially – the audience really feels the turmoil when you have to make the choice as to whether your decisions or actions may harm the Amish community. I also like the fact that you still have respect for the culture you were brought up in. It has been a very educational journey. I have enjoyed watching your own personal growth ad well as seeing you guide and interact with the others. You have handled Michaela very openly and thoughtfully. I just love Esther, what a beautiful heart…she would fit the romantic version of Amish very well…I am so glad she has family support, it seems to make all the difference. I saw the program was a year behind so I ‘googled’ to see if there was any updates and found your blog. I will check out the site at a layer date but love this Part 1 as a starter…I too fantasised about living in Heidi’s world…whenever I hear wind in pine trees it reminds me of that story! You have a beautiful wife and kids along with your ex Amish family – have a wonderful Christmas.

  12. Mose,
    You nailed it. You told the truth. I have been around the amish for the past six and a half years. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of the outside world. It is a rough way of life, some good and some bad. I’m so glad that the younger generation is starting to break the vicious cycle. They want a better way of life and a chance to think for themselves. Instead of being told what to do ,think,wear,buy,build their homes and as you no the list goes on. You have set an example for them. You can live in the world but as you know you don’t have to take up the discusting things that are not good for you. Keep on educating the ones that have no idea as to what kind of a life it is to live the life as an amish person. I have seen it first handed and it breaks my heart to see what they have to go thru. The lack of education is so unfair to the children. Such a disadvantage for them. Especially in this world that we live in.
    You were very kind in your speaking about the Jehovah Wittnesses, yes there are somethings that are similar. But one thing for sure is that we Do Not follow any man. Only our heavenly father and what the bible says. Thank you for your kindness. Alot of people are not educated about us either, only what they have been told which is never accurate.
    Keep up the good work and keep telling the cold hard facts. There’s nothing wrong in telling the truth. That’s the only way to do it. All the lies that have been told to try and hold on to the people is herific. Sure don’t want to be in their shoes. Cause as you know, God hates a lier.
    Looking forward to seeing Part II. I’m sure it will be interesting.
    Take care and keep up the good work that you have been doing. Are you still thinking about some kind of a counciling center for the ones that have left the amish? Hope so. They will need it.

  13. Pingback: Amish for Life: PART II - The Blog of Mose Gingerich | The Blog of Mose Gingerich

  14. If you are sick of your life, maybe a better approach would be to try and discover what in your life is making you upset. If there is some underlying issue that you are running away from I can promise you that it will follow you wherever you go. Until you can deal with YOU no change of venue will make you happy. Deciding to be Amish is a lot like deciding to enter the convent. I did that. For two years I lived the life of a Franciscan nun and while I was not unhappy, I realized that I was running away from ME. I had a lot of soul searching and healing to do and my decision to suddenly completely change my life from being out in the world to being in the enclosed, restricted world of the convent was not really based on a true vocation but rather just me trying to hide from an overwhelming life. I hope you find your happiness, but please think long and hard about this. You are not going into an episode of “Little House on the Prairie”. You are considering joining a very strict, closed, religious sect that will demand your loyalty, obedience and soul.

  15. I’m an American and my husband was English. He worked in Switzerland for 9 months with me there. The thought of staying there forever was quite scary, so his mother in law said we should move to England in a small town. We did but after a year I didn’t like it. I was there for 8 years. Not being near my family and America was torture. Though they speak English in England, it was still a different culture. Visiting it is good, but living there for life, wasn’t my thing. My husband passed away and I was waiting for him to come to the America. He never made it. I’m so much happier living in America, though I do miss my husband, the times we had and my friends I made.

Leave a Reply