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Amish: A Secret Life (BBC Documentary)


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Hmmm, maybe it was because I have already seen so many documentaries about the "Secret Amish", but I found this to be a bit "meh".

Summary: Born again evangelical Christian Amish couple invite the BBC in to film their daily lives. They talk about the usual Amish stuff: plain clothing, simple living, with a side-serving of the Gospel. Both parents seem fairly naive and attractive on the surface, and the usual fundie undercurrents are not really explored in any depth by the BBC interviewer.

Scary highlight: Super smiley Amish mother talks openly about hitting her children with a wooden spoon that she calls a "smiley" because she has drawn a happy face on it. She gets it out to show the cameras and beams as her baby son clutches her leg and says "Don't paddle me".

Towards the end of the filming, the Patriarch takes the film crew to the creek where they and several other Amish have recently been baptized to mark their new Evangelical beliefs. Later scenes show the family secretly eating and sharing fellowship with former members of the Church who have been excommunicated for their evangelical beliefs and activity.

Film ends with the Patriarch explaining that the reason for allowing the cameras in is in order to share the gospel and let viewers know that the most important thing in life is to accept Jesus.

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Yeah I found it a bit 'meh' too...

Some other things I noticed:

The Good:

* They went ahead with filming despite strict rules forbidding it. Although if it is against Amish rules to watch Television perhaps nobody will find out?! ;)

* Loved it when the little boy was asked what his favorite part of church was and he said "The last song" :lol:

* I thought both David and Miriam are very hands on and loving with their children

* They did go to Pizza Hut :)

* In general they seem almost like realists

* They still hang out with other members who have been excommunicated despite being obliged to shun them

(At some point in the interviews Miriam admits that by doing this the people that she loves may shun her – avoid her, not invite her and in fact cross the street to avoid her. At this point she gets very upset and puts her head on the table and cries)

* They apparently are more 'evangelical' Amish, in the film they say that one of the last commandments Jesus gave was to "Go and tell the World"

The not so good / bad / strange:

* Miriam's permanent smile :shock:

* They don't answer a lot / some questions :roll:

* They didn't actually know there was a new Prime Minister in the UK, but then again a lot of people don't care / know :roll:

* Miriam did mention that "happy is the man that has a 'quiver full'. :evil:

* They had 1.5 years of courtship, apparently Miriam wanted a 'hands off' courtship but it almost seems like David wanted it another way ;)

* Miriam talked about wearing modest clothes so as 'not to bring out their womanly figure' and also talked about how David had 'a battle' with seeing women with low necklines and and showing their legs' etc etc.

* The interviewer made a big deal about Miriam getting up at 4.30 exclusively to get her husband breakfast but I don't really see a problem with that... :?

* Miriam mentioned that the Bible calls for women to be submissive to their husbands. :cry:

* Favorite quote from Miriam "I feel so privileged that he does mention my weaknesses. I just want to be thankful that he points them out' :evil:

* The 'rod' for paddling is a bit odd with the smiley face on it but then again she claims to only give a tap here and there :o

* Why they can have a phone on the property but just not inside the house escapes me - seems pretty inconvenient! :roll:

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* The 'rod' for paddling is a bit odd with the smiley face on it but then again she claims to only give a tap here and there :o

I didn't hear her say she only gives "a tap here and there". The only reference she made to giving a "tap" was in the context of saying she hits them mainly on the "seat" but will also "tap" them on the hand with her wooden spoon if they touch something at the table after she has said no.

She said:

In Proverbs it says "Any foolishness shall be driven away with the rod". And I have seen good results with using the rod. .... I have a small paddle, it is my baking tool.... depending on the transgression it'll be just a light tap.... but, er, for instance if they wouldn't tell me the truth it might be a hard paddle. [she laughs as she says this], This is what I use [holds up wooden spoon with face drawn on it]. I call it my smiley and it often brings a smile in the end..... I like to watch for any signs of rebellion and then I'll address it.

The children are aged from age 6 down to age one.

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Basically all the thoughts everyone else has said....

His battle with women who have a lot of leg, or low neckline, exposed rang alarms for me! Shocked how the wife just accepted that and even went to that 'cop-out' of that's how God made them, to lust etc. Further saying that women can help that by how they dress/act etc and that she never realized how hard it was for men until her husband told her, *eyeroll*

Seriously sick of people saying that kind of thing, to me its a cop-out for men and a way to guilt women. If you're struggling with a boner from simply seeing a bit of cleavage or leg... then clearly you never progressed past your teenaged years!

She's the Queen of the house...err... k, Ms whacky smile.

Amusing that she is Thankful to her husband for mentioning her weaknesses even though she can get offended by it.

The smiley/paddler thing for sure was a bit freaky with her saying she is "watching for ANY sign of rebellion".

The whole idea of the Father wanting the daughter to be his nurse in old age seems rather ridiculous and like he wants to keep her home to be his new wetnurse all along, which seemed a little freaky to me!

To be honest the whole thing was just awkward, right from the get go, to the final scene! Just something odd about them, and a bit unsettling for me. Don't know why.

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I didn't hear her say she only gives "a tap here and there". The only reference she made to giving a "tap" was in the context of saying she hits them mainly on the "seat" but will also "tap" them on the hand with her wooden spoon if they touch something at the table after she has said no.

She said:

The children are aged from age 6 down to age one.

Sorry if I was unclear I was tired and maybe put the 'wrong smiley'. That's what happens when you post from your phone I think... In any case what I said regarding spanking was said with a side of sarcasm. So, I actually couldn't agree more with you.

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Sorry if I was unclear I was tired and maybe put the 'wrong smiley'. That's what happens when you post from your phone I think... In any case what I said regarding spanking was said with a side of sarcasm. So, I actually couldn't agree more with you.

No probs, and sorry if I appeared to be ranting at you... I was already writing up a post and cross-posted with you, so ust altered the start to respond to what you said too. :)

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No probs, and sorry if I appeared to be ranting at you... I was already writing up a post and cross-posted with you, so ust altered the start to respond to what you said too. :)

Daz cool :D

Anyway, overall I found it quite disturbing, but it was an interesting way to waste some time on a Sunday arvo.

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I started this last night but faded quickly and didn't get to the paddle part. I think the Amish have sold a brand to lots of Americans. Because of that brand folks don't want to believe they hold some of the same values as other xian fundies.

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I wonder why they had an electric meter on their house? And it looked like there was some kind of light switch in the kitchen. Maybe a garbage disposal?

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I haven't seen this (don't seem to be able to get it on my US cable system or Netflix), but have seen others, and aside from the Mose Gingerich one (National Geographic) they seem to focus on Amish people who have become evangelical Christians--even if they have not yet been booted out of the Amish Church.

There is a huge movement to convert Amish people to evangelical Christianity---it's like Jews for Jesus (a project of the Southern Baptist Convention), you immerse yourself totally in a culture and then use your knowledge of that culture to get converts--in this case, targeting Amish people who are unhappy (not saying they don't have a right to be) with their own culture and then using the aspects of the culture that they are familiar and comfortable with--with the Amish, it would be Jesus, simplicity, clannishness and distrust of outsiders, shared patriarchal values, and so on--coupled with playing on their discontent--who are they to tell you you can't know Jesus?--to get them into the fold.

This is just to say that I'm not romanticizing or defending the Amish, but that it seems that most of these documentaries involve disaffected people who have adopted evangelical Christianity--very much NOT a part of Amish culture, which doesn't proselytize--and who want to spread the word--there was another one called I think "Amish Out of Paradise' (which is on youtube) in which the family gets "real" religion, gets booted out, and the main thing I took from it was the guy standing on street corners with his kids accosting people, including obviously distressed people, and harassing them about Jesus and handing out tracts.

While these people may retain aspects of their Amish culture--the look of the "brand" that someone else insightfully mentioned--they are not Amish, they are ex- or soon to be ex-Amish who have embraced evangelical fundamental Christianity and who allow themselves to be filmed because that's a way to spread the message. I don't think we are seeing the secret life of the Amish in this kind of documentary (don't jump on me, haven't seen this specific one, just so many of what I suspect are the same ilk). We are seeing people who exhibit the outward signs of belonging to an Amish culture while having the agenda (being used by more sophisticated people who have the agenda?) of bringing people to the "truth" of evangelical Christianity. Different dress, same crap.

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Well there goes my evening. The mother's smile is already starting to scare me, and I'm only on part 1.

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Just finished the documentary. I still find them more tasteful than the average fundies, and whoa I got to see a man carrying a child in the last scene! For all their enforcement of traditional gender roles, that guy's involvement in his kids' development was refreshing compared JimBob.

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Just finished the documentary. I still find them more tasteful than the average fundies, and whoa I got to see a man carrying a child in the last scene! For all their enforcement of traditional gender roles, that guy's involvement in his kids' development was refreshing compared JimBob.

I didn't find anything refreshing about his explanation that he wants to have a close relationship with his daughter so she will nurse him when he is old.

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I haven't seen this (don't seem to be able to get it on my US cable system or Netflix), but have seen others, and aside from the Mose Gingerich one (National Geographic) they seem to focus on Amish people who have become evangelical Christians--even if they have not yet been booted out of the Amish Church.

There is a huge movement to convert Amish people to evangelical Christianity---it's like Jews for Jesus (a project of the Southern Baptist Convention), you immerse yourself totally in a culture and then use your knowledge of that culture to get converts--in this case, targeting Amish people who are unhappy (not saying they don't have a right to be) with their own culture and then using the aspects of the culture that they are familiar and comfortable with--with the Amish, it would be Jesus, simplicity, clannishness and distrust of outsiders, shared patriarchal values, and so on--coupled with playing on their discontent--who are they to tell you you can't know Jesus?--to get them into the fold.

This is just to say that I'm not romanticizing or defending the Amish, but that it seems that most of these documentaries involve disaffected people who have adopted evangelical Christianity--very much NOT a part of Amish culture, which doesn't proselytize--and who want to spread the word--there was another one called I think "Amish Out of Paradise' (which is on youtube) in which the family gets "real" religion, gets booted out, and the main thing I took from it was the guy standing on street corners with his kids accosting people, including obviously distressed people, and harassing them about Jesus and handing out tracts.

i remember that one

the father sold his farm and gave all the money to the church, and his family stayed in a van or something :(

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I didn't find anything refreshing about his explanation that he wants to have a close relationship with his daughter so she will nurse him when he is old.

Yeah, that was icky.

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I'm watching this right now. Am I the only one who is itching to attack Miriam's unibrow and upper lip with hot wax? :oops:

Me too!

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  • 3 months later...

I just watched this.

I have noticed that the Amish seem to be moving towards an evangelical influence. ( I am sure that is not the proper terminology). I have seen another documentary about a family leaving the Amish to be "closer" to Jesus.

I have no words for Mr. Smiley.

Edited to fix auto correct.

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