I love the paradox of this title. There is great complexity behind the façade of the simple Amish life.
Frequently I'm asked about the Amish Anabaptist heritage. Amish and Mennonite are religious cousins - both coming from this 16th century European movement. At that time, Anabaptism was a radical Protestant departure from the dominant Roman Catholic Church, where the bishop was both the secular and spiritual ruler.
One Anabaptist thrust was separation of church and state. "State" meaning secular government and "Church" meaning the assembly of the redeemed. Well, that didn't go over. Anabaptists were persecuted, tortured, and terrorized by Roman Catholics and some Protestant states.
(The real meaning of our U.S. Constitution's separation of Church and State is protection from the government imposing one religion on its people. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.")
Interesting to me is most Amish have reverted back to a church/state oneness similar 16th century Europe in that they're a religion and a culture, where the bishop is the behavior and spiritual ruler. It's also interesting to me that the ex-Amish tell me they know nothing of their church history, when the Amish migrated to America, or why they keep certain traditions today. Although, they've told me that sermons always include stories of their ancestors' torture and suffering.
I found this cultural commentary, The Real Complexities of the Simple Life, which explores a book by a conservative Mennonite woman. Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets The Glittering World is the author's memoire of her tension between Anabaptist nonconformity - separation - from the world and its allure.
Question: Why do you think the masses today hang on to the "simple life" image? I have my own thoughts but, want to know yours. Leave your comments below.
(c)Copyright, 2013. Brenda Nixon