Amish have many admirable qualities -- hard work ethic, self-reliant, and determined. Like many country residents, they garden and provide food for their family. Children are assigned chores and expected to contribute to the family.
There's also something deeper. Ominous.
I was taught:
If I lie I will go too Hell,
If I cheat I will go too Hell,
If I disobey Edward and Katie [parents] I will go too Hell,
If I curse I will Go too Hell,
If I don't stay Amish I will go to Hell,
If I'm not Baptized I will go to Hell,
If I drive a car I will go to Hell,
If I did anything that the Amish Church said was wrong I would go to Hell!!!!!
I left the Arthur Amish community and moved to Indiana, where I started going to a Mennonite Church, I would go to Hell.
writes former-Amish Andy (last name deleted to protect his identity).
Having lived the life, Andy admits "it was hard to put away these things" after leaving his settlement.
Is this what it's really like?
I thought I "got it" from my experiences with Mosie, Harvey, Josh, and the others who said, "Everything is a sin." But Andy pulled back the curtain and gave me a "feel" for its oppression. Reading his words, I felt frustrated. Trapped. Hopeless. All the emphasis was on the outward -- behavior.
I'm unsure which order Andy came from - there are so many. Some of the liberal Amish orders are lenient on the rules and
restrictions. Some have their church services in English and allow Bible
studies outside the home. Swartzentrubers do not.
Often outsiders look at the Amish and think they "all look the same" and their life is charming. Simple.
But as Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre said, ❝The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple.❞
What's it really like?
Free or fearful? My answer is . . . it's both. Yes, there's fresh air and quiet nights, a self-sustaining lifestyle, living without the frustrating dependence on computers and smart phones, and Yes, there's forced conformity, dread, and fear of God and hell.
Question: Looking in from the outside, what do you think Amish are like? Leave your comment below. What do you think of Andy's words?
(c)Copyright 2014, Brenda Nixon