By Kevin Williams
EMMA GINGERICH: There have been a spate of people who have left the is Amish in recent years and then have penned books about their experience and "escape" and acclimation to non-Amish life. Interestingly (and this is in no way a judgment of any kind, simply an observation) it seems like it's almost always women who tell their stories. I think there is probably a complicated mix of reasons for that relating to gender roles within Amish society itself. I am not casting doubt on any of these writer's stories or experiences. But I will say that they are writing about their own experiences and I think that's all you can extrapolate from it. Each person's Amish upbringing is different, just like each person's upbringing in any given church (Amish or non) is different. So the people that leave are fleeing their individual family environment more than Amish culture as a whole. I think each person's story may touch on some larger issues within the Amish church (i.e. gender roles, etc), but their reasons for leaving are largely individual. Emma Gingerich, a young Texas woman, writes about her experiences in her new book. She appeared on Good Morning, America (that is what impressed me more anything else about her story, she obviously has some great PR people in her corner) to tell her story. Read more here.
AMISH TAXI DRIVER: The Old Order Amish are generally not permitted to drive (some Plain churches on the "edges" of Old Order Amish life are now allowing one or two people in their church to drive and a van is purchased for the church...in that way the church can "take care of itself" without relying on outsiders, but this is by far the exception and not the rule) yet in our rapidly changing society when local country doctors and Mom and Pop shops are disappearing the Amish do need to get to town on errands or for appointments and horse and buggy is not always practical. That is where the "taxi driver" comes in hand. Read about this Lancaster County man who has spend 40 years, almost his whole adult life, driving the Amish. Wow, I bet he has some amazing stories to tell, only of which a few were shared in this article. Click here to read more.
AMISH ASTHMA: Apparently there are few instances of asthma among the Amish so a group of researchers in Tuscon are going to go to Amish country and study the dust particles in Amish homes to figure out why. I'm dubious of this study. I'm not a scientist, but dust in Amish homes wouldn't seem to be much different than dust in other homes. In my opinion, if there is an incidence of lower asthma among the Amish it might have more to do with their agrarian or agrarian-ish lifestyle in general and not that their dust is different. Click here to read more.
AUBURN, KENTUCKY AMISH HORSE STINK CONTINUES: Six more Amish were issued citations over the weekend for failing to clean up horse waste in town. Click here to read - and listen - to an excellent piece about it on Kentucky's NPR affiliate.
GERMAN BAPTIST ANNUAL MEETING MUSINGS: This is kind of an interesting - very local - article from a columnist in a tiny Indiana newspaper. I'm not sure if the author is German Baptist herself or just closely connected. I think she is a member. Anyway, her column talks more about the Old Order German Baptist Brethren and the theological underpinnings behind Annual Meeting. Interesting read. Click here to read her column.