12 thoughts on “Amish for Life: PART II

  1. As far as working hard from a young age, I can relate. I never grew up Amish and have spent my entire life living in the English world, however when my mom married my stepfather when I was 5, he began to teach me the importance of hard work by assigning me chores around the house. As, I got older, the chores became more intensive and began to involve helping rebuild an entire fence, putting up a tool shed, mowing yards, shoveling snow, scooping dog poop, cleaning the entire house, helping to cook and clean up afterwards. You name a chore in the modern world and I probably have done it. Mind you I am a female, so even among my friends, the work I was doing for my home was a bit unheard of. I still believe I worked hard for everything this far in my life, without ever being employed (except for babysitting in which one of the kids had Downs Syndrome, which really taught me how patient I can be).

    That being said, I don’t regret learning those things in my life because I know how to fix things most people my age don’t even have a clue about(my Stepfather even had me learn every part in a car engine before I was truly allowed to drive on my own). He is recently out of the picture of my mom’s life but, even though I admittedly resented him for making me get up at the crack of dawn to get a day’s worth of chores done in the hot, summer sun, I now look back and realize how strong and tolerant it made me.

    I could never be Amish because even though I admire them for not being materialistic and living without the luxury of modern advances, I am too accustomed to the life I know to make such a drastic, permanent change. Another issue is that I could never truly be Amish because I grew up half of my life being strictly Agnostic, or in other words, not knowing what to believe in but, also not denying that any religion could be right. I still struggle with it and thank goodness for my Grandma(who was Catholic and sadly passed away this year) for being so understanding of my search to find God in the way that makes sense to me. I do have a lot of Hindu values which is why I now-a-days consider myself to be an Agnostic-Hindu and my Grandma was seriously the best for being able to remain open-minded and accept my comfort in certain Hindu beliefs. (Although she baptized me when I was a baby.) I have attended several different churches in my life and have always been accepting and understanding of all religions because as you seem to agreee, we all have one common goal and that is reaching the Lord.

    My main point is an Amish life is an honest one and in order to live it, you must be a Christian and I can’t lie to myself just because some of their ways of life make sense to me and as much as I respect and admire them for being able to live such hard non-modern lives, it certainly is not the place I belong in this world. Co-existing will always be apart of me so if people continue to want to live Amish lives, I will respect their decision and if they choose to leave, as you did I understand why.

    One more thing I would like to say before I wrap this all up is that I did not have a very good understanding of other religions until I took Humanities at my college and my wonderful teacher taught us a very non-hateful,honest view on all religions and their branches. She included Amish and Mennonite life in her lectures and did shed light on the common misconceptions people have. I honestly never knew you were even allowed to leave. I thought the Amish were born and forced to stay Amish. I truly thank her for being able to shed light on the subject without making it sound too awful or too great.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog posts and for reading this terribly long message.
    Janae Lazar

  2. Mose I think you do a great job at expressing your thoughts. As I read this I can see and hear the joy and peace you had concerning the important parts of life, the simple things that bind family and community. Those are precious memories. And so very sad that no matter what you chose in or out of the community that you can not continue that bond. It truly makes me sad.
    I also believe the traditions of men and superstitions can often back fire with many people who are what I call “Thinkers”. And it saddens me because although I am not and never have been Amish, I have grown up in a very strict religious environment that as I began to “Think” made no sense to me except for the fact of “control”. And I could not live in that much “control” when much of it made no sense.
    I do not presume to know your feelings on this…but for me I had to get away as well and find a more conducive environment I could “think through” the why’s and find a way of reason. Not just blindly follow.
    I believe God makes each of us unique …with a specific purpose in His will. And even though Farming may not have been your God given purpose, you still learned much from it and probably have some fond memories as you have expressed. And lessons learned that will stay with you a lifetime.
    I enjoy reading your thoughts. Both pro and con concerning Amish Life. It is what has formed you in childhood. Things that are useful in this new english life. And in your character, integrity, honor be a shining example to the world. NOT perfect…that is not what I am saying. But someone with a solid foundation others can learn from.And even through this sharing you are “teaching”…the thing you enjoyed.
    God Bless you and your family. Look forward to new blogs.

  3. I have read many a blog and not many are as well spoken and thought out as yours. Ex-Amish, Amish, or English, I really believe most people yearn to just live their lives and be able to provide for their families without having to learn how to deal with this thing America has become -the machine. It will run whether you want it to or not, and run many a people over. We like to think we have a say but we don’t. So we live the best way that we can. Try to live without the beliefs most Amish are raised in. Some, like me, who have gone across the country and back with barely a dollar, and have struggled through horrible situations yearn for a simpler life. I really think that is why the Amish are so publicized right now. People want change. In some cases change means going back to basics. I appreciate your blog, and thank you for your time in posting.

  4. Mose I love reading your blog and appreciate the honest and respectfully written facts you share. My parents both left the Amish with only an 8th grade education and did ok raising a family of 5 children. We struggled like everyone else, but my dad worked long hours as an OTR truck driver. We belonged to a Mennonite church and still followed a lot of the Amish ways, so I can relate to much of what you describe. We’ve come a long way and are able to associate with relatives without shunning. Being out of the Amish family loop is a real lonely road, but I’m glad my parents made the decision to leave and that it all turned out the way it did. I am a high school graduate, two years of college, inherited some great cooking skills, gained a home taught second language (PA dutch) that I speak fluently. I want to add that my parents were strict and we got spankings, whippings, beatings or whatever you want to call it. Some would call it abuse, but it worked for us little heathens. Sorry if this sounds creepy, but all Amish are family even if they aren’t technically related and that’s what is missing in the English society. Us English don’t know our next door neighbors. I would drive hundreds of miles to buy a vehicle from you just because of who you are and where you come from. I know you are honest. I will admit I am one of those who would rather go to the dentist than to visit a car salesman.
    Keep writing…it’s great therapy
    Have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

  5. Mose, your words are beautiful. I have a college degree and still don’t quite “get” the vast realm that is the English language. My paragraph and sentence structure probably leave a lot to be desired as well. However, I feel that if you can get your point across so that your readers understand exactly where you’re coming from, you have succeeded as a writer. And Mose, you have definitely succeeded.

    When I was a little girl, probably no more than 7 years old, I hated taking medicine. I would say “I can’t take medicine. I’m Amish.” (Thank you, day trips to Shipshewanna, Indiana for your fine explanation of the Amish life. lol) As the years passed, I also claimed to be Amish when I didn’t want the radio on (to listen to the heavy metal my sister favored, and I hated), when I didn’t want to vacuum, or do other things. It might sound like I was raised to be a soft, spoiled child but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They never bought the “I’m Amish” excuse and in the end, I still did what was expected of me. I did maintain a fascination with the Amish, though, and I never did understand why. I’m still fascinated, and I miss your show very much!

    I was actually just wondering this week, with the holidays coming up, if there was anything that you or those in your community really missed about being Amish. Obviously, you were unhappy enough to leave and risk losing everything you knew and loved, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there weren’t good parts as well. This blog answered my question before I asked it, so thank you.

    In each of these 10 things you listed, I find a bit of my own childhood. We may not have worked from sunup to sundown, but we definitely pulled our weight from the minute we were old enough to do so. I am the second oldest of 6 siblings and by 10 years old, I was responsible for cooking every evening and I could do any chore in the house from mowing the lawn to doing the family’s laundry to bleaching the countertops to snaking a toilet. Back then, I thought it was mean. Now, I can appreciate it, and I am choosing to raise my 5 year old daughter in a very similar way. People, even family, call me mean because we have such high expectations for our daughter, and in the next breath, they praise us for her impeccable manners, her intelligence that blows her kindergarten teacher away, the fact that she’s ALWAYS smiling, and the way she can process and understand things that are beyond her years. To me, it can’t be “mean” to raise her that way when she has turned out so well. And not only that, she is HAPPY. You will never meet a child who smiles more or laughs more or gets more joy out of life – whether it’s a family vacation or a simple walk through the neighborhood to admire the neighbors’ flowers. While it’s true that in the English world, not many 5 year olds have chores that last more than a minute or two, we choose to instill the same value you learned – that nobody can do it alone and it takes EVERYONE in our family to keep the family going. So if that means that her friends do 2 minutes of chores twice a week while she does 20 or 30 minutes of chores broken up throughout each day, then I am proud to be “mean” because that’s the only way she will learn to take pride in what she does and learn that a family is not a group of people that do things for you – they are people who do things together for the good of all.

    I thought a lot about my own upbringing and my daughter as I read your post. While the methods may be different, the end result (I hope) will be the same – that I will raise a compassionate, hard-working child with a love of family, who can find happiness in the little things like singing. I do not know you, and I’m not under the illusion that you are perfect, but I really do admire you – not only for the person you’ve become, but for your desire to mix the good from your Amish life with the good from the English life and help others to see that, while neither world is perfect, neither is 100% evil either.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Mose. You have a lot to be proud of, and I know that those in your community who look up to you could never have gotten as far as they have, or been as happy as they have become, without you.

  6. Have a Christmas filled with Joy and Love from the family you have created and close friends.
    Sometimes a person just has to walk away, from a job, a love one or a parent. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. It just means that at this point in life you can’t be the person they are trying to force you to be. You are doing a good job.

  7. Mose: It doesn’t matter whether your grammar is perfect or not. You clearly speak from your heart and you are probably as articulate as anyone I have ever read in the doing of that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and the ponderings of your heart, for so long a period of time as you have done and I would like to encourage you to continue doing that in the future.

    I would like you to know that I have always been interested in the Amish. Not in the sense that I would want to be one of them but mostly out of curiosity I suppose. I have read several books about the Amish and watched many TV programs about them. But it wan’t till after watching the ten episodes of Amish: Out of Order, and reading your blogs, that I began to have what I call a “heart sense” of them. They are clearly, like the rest of us, humans who love, hurt and struggle. You have opened a door for a beginning to my understanding, and doubtless for many others as well.

    I am a recently retired school teacher and guidance counselor. It has been my privilege to work hard for nearly 40 years, to try to educate and advise many, many young people. I have received great blessings, trying with care and compassion, to make a difference in thousands of lives and and have had at least modest success. You were given the opportunity, through national television, to positively affect the lives of many thousands of people and you’ve done a great job. Thanks for taking the time to help us understand the Amish and for being brave enough to share some of your personal life with us. You are a blessing.

  8. I can relate to what you are saying. I am “English” and my husband and I joined a plain church 17 years ago. We left 2 years ago. Plain churches definitely have their own culture and no matter how hard you try, and how hard THEY try, you never truly belong. No one’s fault, that’s just the way it is.

  9. This is very educational and fascinating to learn about the different aspects. Thank you for taking the time out to do this, and educate the “English”.

  10. Having lived in the world’s largest Amish community for 20 years, I wholeheartedly agree with all 10 items. It’s all true.

    Just a few comments:
    #1: The food is, indeed, amazing whether we are talking about having dinner at the neighbors or eating at a local restuarant.

    #2: Our New Order neighbors have singings on Sunday night a time or two a year and it is beautiful. However, the old German hymns are not my cup of tea! Sounds more like groaning than singing!

    #3: A close knit community cuts both ways. People know your business, but there is also help, comfort, and safety in how close you are to them.

    #4: If you are Amish and disaster strikes, the help will generally be more than is needed. It is an amazing thing to see.

    #5: No doubt, the Amish are onto something with this notion of simplicity. It is perhaps the one thing that makes me envious of them.

    #6: More than anything, this is the big benefit I experience from living in their midst. We rarely lock our doors. My keys are always in the ignition of our cars. If you don’t belong, everyone sees you. It is not possible to blend in and do mischief.

    #7: Stable families are wonderful to live around. There are some horrible Amish marriages, and that is a shame, but on the whole husbands and wives find a way to make it work, and that is a good thing to live around.

    #8: The religion is perhaps the greatest problem I have with the Amish. Some of the man-made rules will never make sense to me. It is a religion of a little grace and a lot of sacrifice and good works – and all that buys you is a “hope” of maybe making it to heaven. It’s disturbing in a lot of ways.

    #9: I have done business for decades with the Amish. The times I have been cheated are so few it isnt even worth mentioning and we are talking about thousands of people.

    #10: The work ethic is very strong, although some older Amish people fret over the fact that most Amish kids are not growing up on farms, and they don’t feel that it is as strong as it used to be. Still, if you hire an Amish kid to help you with something, it is highly unlikely that you would be dissatisfied with the effort they give you.

  11. Thank you, Mose. I am enjoying your blog. I grew up Amish, left when I was 17 more than 60 years ago. Of course, I have many – probably hundreds – of Amish relatives.
    There are many good things about the Amish- I echo your thought about their honesty and good will, and their humor- I love the way the Amish laugh.

    Most of the things about the Amish that I cannot stand has to do with their attitude toward what I call ignorance. Ignorance- and not questioning what one is taught – was a large part of my bringing up. I felt that they just plain valued ignorance. It may be that they equated ignorance with innocence but frankly, I consider being willing to remain ignorant a crime against children. That, and the notion that if you disagreed with the prevailing view of the church that you were rebelling against God. In my view, that is nothing but harmful to children.
    Someday I hope you post your thinking about the differences between the Amish who leave the church and their siblings who remain in the church, both equally bright but with a huge difference in their desires and expectations.

  12. My grandfather was raised Dunker, as such taught all of his children who passed on to their children the importance of family. We gathered every month as a family, aunts, uncles, cousins for a dinner, was anything from soup to a pot luck, to a feast for the holidays. Us kids were all close and got along. When someone needed work done we were our own crew as a family. I visit the Amish area around Berlin several times a year and have even made friends with several of them. I never try to change any of them but lend help if needed. I am not cut out for the Amish life but still have many of the values instilled in them.

Leave a Reply