By Kevin Williams, Amish365.com Editor
Okay, I feel like I always say this, but there truly is a little bit of something for everyone in today's news, so let's jump in!
LEBANON LEVI, "AMISH EXPERT": Oh for Heaven's Sake. I put this in the category of (insert sarcasm) "gee, if it's in print, it MUST be true." Don't be fooled by the new book by Amish Mafia "star" Lebanon Levi, just because he writes a book about Amish culture doesn't mean it is accurate. Lebanon Levi from the show Amish Mafia writing a book about Amish culture would be akin to Quincy (SIGH, I am dating myself) writing a book about medicine. He plays a doctor on TV...I'm not going to read Lebanon Levi's book. His credentials are specious. So, no thanks. But you can read about his book here. I think what has me in a dander over this is how the New York Post falls for his book hook, line and sinker. There are many credible people out there whom you can turn to for information about the Amish, but Lebanon Levi is hardly on my list of sources I'd turn to.
HARD HAT AMISH: Interesting, on several levels. Number one, I thought this had been settled years ago. The Amish do enjoy a religious exemption via OSHA that allows them to opt out of wearing hard hats on construction jobs. That was settled by the courts some 40 years ago, but mining apparently has a separate regulatory body and they are insisting the Amish who work in mines wear hard hats. The second reason I find this interesting is I just didn't realize that mining was an occupation that had much Amish participation but apparently in pockets of Pennsylvania there are Amish miners. Ironic that such a traditionally agrarian group more accustomed to working above the land is now working below. A lot of this comes down to litigation. Workers are required to wear hard hats (let's not kid ourselves that it's all benevolent) not only for safety but also so that they are less likely to sue the company they work for in the event of an industrial accident. The Amish are generally not prone to filing lawsuits so this becomes a much more individual issue. Click here to read more.
GAY AMISH/MENNONITES: This is a timely topic given the circus that is unfolding in Indiana over the recent signing of a "religious freedom" bill aimed at businesses. As an aside, I take a very libertarian view on this topic: I don't really care who you love, just love. Or maybe that's a hippie view. I don't know. I guess I just don't feel like who you chose to spend your time with impacts me. Now if you smoke and Aster and I have to walk through a choking cloud of fumes to get into a restaurant because you're standing outside the door puffing away, THAT impacts me. Anyway, Plain churches are really struggling with the issue of how to handle homosexuality within the church. The Amish have a way of handling it: they don't. If you are a gay Amish man (or woman) you generally have three choices: 1) Marry and stay in the closet....2) Leave.....3) Live a bachlelor's/spinster existence. Mennonites are a more progressive church with some branches being quite progressive. The Atlantic Monthly has a superb article exploring the tightfope many, especially conservative, Mennonite churches are having to walk on the issue of whether to welcome or shun gays. It has divided the church. Click here to read a superb article.
HUTTERITES & TECNOLOGY: The Hutterite church, theologically, shares many similarities with the Amish. The Hutterites are sometimes referred to as the "third branch" of Anabaptist, the other two people the Amish and the Mennonites. But the Hutterite church evolved in a different direction with members living communally and embracing many technologies while still dressing and living Plain. This is an interesting article about how the Hutterites cherry pick technologies and use them primarily for business. Click here to read.
BUGGY CRASH: A well-written, but sad, article about a buggy crash in Michigan that killed an Amish father of four and someone who just sounds like an all-round great guy. A real void is left behind and illustration of how dangerous the roads can be when buggies and cars meet. Click here to read.
BREASTFEEDING AND THE AMISH: This is article left me exasperated. There were some nice nuggets of info and imagery in there but, honestly, I had to read it 3 or 4 times to understand what exactly the author was trying to say and I'm still not sure I know. Had she asked the questions she posed at the end, that could have made it very informative. Oh well, you be the judge. Click here to read.