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When a college educated son joins the Amish


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I thought is was an interesting perspective...this blog post was submitted by a mother whose son went from being a student at Virginia Tech to joining the Amish. Methinks the mother has some issues with this, despite coming across as a conservative Christian.

 

http://amishamerica.com/when-a-son-joins-the-amish/

 

 

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One of our readers, Anne, has a son, Ed*, who was fairly recently baptized in the Amish church. I’ve been corresponding with Anne for some time on the subject, and hope to share more with you in future.  Anne and her husband have had an experience unlike most, in watching a college-educated son with a modern upbringing join one of the more closed religious societies in the country.

 

From what I’ve gathered from Anne it’s been both a blessing and a challenge. There is a lot of discussion here and elsewhere about what an individual goes through when seeking an Amish community, but less from the perspective of family members that have experienced a relative joining.

 

I’ve never had a family member who sought the Amish, though a few years ago my brother seriously considered joining a religious order which would have meant limited contact with his family for the rest of our lives. I remember the conflicting emotions I went through as he mulled that decision and it began to look like he was headed in that direction (a direction he ultimately did not choose).

 

Anne and her husband have seen a similarly consequential step actually taken by a child.  Although they do see each other, adopting an Amish lifestyle necessarily alters the type and frequency of contact you have.

 

Certainly not completely though, as you’d think must be the case when you are bridging two worlds with parents on one side of the gap.   As an example Anne shares that “he does not actually “pose†for the photos, but he does put up with us, as parents who just won’t give this part of life up!† You can see Ed doing his best non-pose here.

 

Anne writes that Ed “was raised by a family who takes their Christian calling very seriously, especially in terms of being salt and light.†Furthermore she explains that “I am glad Ed is living a life of Christian integrity, and I’m glad he will be able to raise his own children far away from the worldly system that is so enticing.  But I’m very sad his kids won’t have opportunity like he did: to study whatever their passion leads them to, to learn an instrument and relish the historic music of the church especially…to read great literature without worry of being censored.â€

 

Outsiders at an Amish wedding

Ed was married last year to wife Ruth* in Wisconsin.  Anne and family attended the wedding.   She writes the following about the experience, along with a question for readers:

 

One thought I wanted to pass on to you, is the struggle we’ve personally had with adjusting expectations, in areas where there are clear differences. For instance, at the wedding, the elders had decided previously that the entire 3 hour service would be in Penn. Dutch. We found out later that this was somewhat controversial in this community, as there were some who recognized the implied dishonor this could mean to Ed’s family (about a dozen came, all from far away and at great expense).

 

And they were right! This was a very difficult thing for us. My husband’s parents, both in their 80’s, traveled the long distance from Texas to attend this ceremony. To sit for so long and not understand one word that was said, seemed like an insult to us. (They were not offended; they are too sweet and supportive of this beloved grandson to take offense!).

 

By way of more background, Anne adds that:

 

His own group DOES use English when there are visitors, or at least, has someone translate quietly, verbally, as you are listening.  That’s what we were expecting with this.  But at the wedding, all we got was some hastily scribbled notes from the poor friend of Ed’s who was trying to assist us.  No way one can write down everything that is being said!

 

Finally, Anne wonders:

 

Was this a (surprising) instance of this community breaking the command to “honor your father and mother� We were VERY surprised at this, and I’d love to know what your readers would think.

Edited by OnceUponATime
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It sounds as if the elders of Ed's Amish church would really like him to shun his parents and family but cannot do that, as they were not Amish who left. They probably hope to make the family feel so uncomfortable that they will not visit and tempt Ed and his bride to go back into the world.

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So many thoughts running through my mind.

I guess it's because I haven't had breakfast yet that my main question at this point is,

"In a culture devoted to simplicity, how can a wedding service take three hours?"

I'm not being snarky (this time). Srsly perplexed.

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I'd have a hard time with any type of 3 hour service...

I don't know if it's dishonouring his family - my husband's church does not hold any services or sacraments in English (Ukrainian only).

(one of the reasons we're not officially married - that and too lazy to seek out another Ukrainian Catholic church).

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I'd have a hard time with any type of 3 hour service...

I don't know if it's dishonouring his family - my husband's church does not hold any services or sacraments in English (Ukrainian only).

(one of the reasons we're not officially married - that and too lazy to seek out another Ukrainian Catholic church).

Yes, I've attended an Orthodox church where it seemed like the priest was conducting trilingually! Very confusing, except that the liturgy is so close to the one used in traditional Lutheran services.

Y'know, that brings up another question. Did the young man have to learn the Amish community's version of German? True immersion method, eh? ;)

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Yes, I've attended an Orthodox church where it seemed like the priest was conducting trilingually! Very confusing, except that the liturgy is so close to the one used in traditional Lutheran services.

Y'know, that brings up another question. Did the young man have to learn the Amish community's version of German? True immersion method, eh? ;)

I imagine he had to, yes, if that's what his community speaks day to day. As an adult, that is going to take some time, even with immersion and even if he's completely sincere.

The language barrier is one of the things commonly brought up to show just how difficult it is to join (or marry into) certain very closed groups, including both the Amish and some fairly Yiddish-only Jewish groups. Even if people speak English (somewhat), the various social talk is going to happen in the community language and it can be hard to truly "fit in."

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So many thoughts running through my mind.

I guess it's because I haven't had breakfast yet that my main question at this point is,

"In a culture devoted to simplicity, how can a wedding service take three hours?"

I'm not being snarky (this time). Srsly perplexed.

I went to one Amish wedding (and a small handful of Sunday services), but can't say if that wedding was typical.

The regular church services I attended were 2-3 hours, so for the wedding service to be the same length of time didn't seem abnormal to me. The wedding service was just like the church services in that it was conducted in a mix of high German and the local low German dialect. Hymns were sung in high German, except for the last hymn of the service (with six verses!) which was sung acapella in High German, low German, and Englisch. Really I would probably describe the wedding service as being more accurately described as "a regular church service, and there was a wedding".

Not sure if that helps at all.

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Yes, I've attended an Orthodox church where it seemed like the priest was conducting trilingually! Very confusing, except that the liturgy is so close to the one used in traditional Lutheran services.

Y'know, that brings up another question. Did the young man have to learn the Amish community's version of German? True immersion method, eh? ;)

I've read varying accounts (then again, not a lot of people join...and fewer are able to stick with it!)

I think most learn the language, but the author of Grace Leads Me Home never really learned to speak it (though she says she can understand it) and her family and friends use English when around her.

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Ok, thanks, srsly! If the Amish consider a wedding ceremony a church service with a wedding in it, then, yes, I can see how it lasts that long. Traditionaly, Lutherans consider a wedding in the same way, though most I've been to don't last the usual hour of the weekly Lutheran service.

Also, learning a new language as an adult. He has my admiration; daunting task.

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I went to one Amish wedding (and a small handful of Sunday services), but can't say if that wedding was typical.

The regular church services I attended were 2-3 hours, so for the wedding service to be the same length of time didn't seem abnormal to me. The wedding service was just like the church services in that it was conducted in a mix of high German and the local low German dialect. Hymns were sung in high German, except for the last hymn of the service (with six verses!) which was sung acapella in High German, low German, and Englisch. Really I would probably describe the wedding service as being more accurately described as "a regular church service, and there was a wedding".

Not sure if that helps at all.

That is what I have heard from those in the know and from what I read.

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That's really interesting.... I never heard of any (recent) converts to the Amish. I'm from Pennsylvania originally, so I've been to 'Amish Country' in Lancaster more times than I can count.

I wonder what inspired him.

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