Monday, December 31, 2007


From the New Era
Amish taxis get close look from state PUC

Is this more of that indifference? The Amish regulate their own adherants, down to an exact measurement of the size of their hat brim, why can't they be more conscientious about our rules?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The Amish don't benefit from literature and film in the way the rest of society does because their issues are not examined. Example..... Witness was about the problems of a big city cop. The Amish were just props. Sure, the Amish were portrayed well, but what if Peter Maas' only tried to portray NYC well when he wrote Serpico. I'm not suggesting that there is corruption among the Amish in need of an expose. But that there's a lack of awareness about the consequences of exempting oneself from the evolution of thought that has occurred in western culture as a whole. Their position on tobacco and the havoc created by it, is an example of their inability to resolve a moral dilemma with an intellectual competence equivalent to the contemporary thought, most of us take for granted.
Today's medical science leaves no wiggle room on whether tobacco is a benign substance. The Amish church's failure to define their doctrine to respect that fact is a grotesque error suggestive of centuries old thought. It's the formal position that's important for the argument I'm making, ie; failure of members to conform to church doctrine isn't as damaging as an indefensible doctrine. It's this Dark Age mentality that contributes to the ugly turf wars that frequently plague Amish society. It also leaves Amish adherents vulnerable to proselytizing that is little more than what could be expected from Dark Age barbarians.

As a child I watched my older brother dramatically withdraw from our family, in large part because of an encounter he had with a neighbor, who managed to persuade him of the inferiority of our family's faith and way of life. ( How, "four centuries ago." )The irony is, we were Amish. The same people who are currently revered world wide for how they dealt with a horrible tragedy in one of their schools. And yet, it is very likely my thirteen year old brother was told that if he doesn't reject and Dis-associate from most of what my family was and did, he would burn in hell for all eternity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


From the Sunday News

Amish plow a new field as city landlords

Though Stoltzfus is generally diligent about maintaining his units, housing
inspector supervisor Butch Vega noted, "When we have a problem with him, we have
a problem."

The Amish promote an anti citizenship ideology, that's going to hit the fan at some point. Puppy mills are a good example, the reason they're as big of a problem as they are is because the Amish are so defiant of the law and popular sentiment. This indifference and general F U attitude has a way of getting turned back on them. During my sons' junior year in high-school at a school assembly called to celebrate a successful fund-raising event, faculty divided into two teams and competed to guess the most popular responses to survey questions solicited from the student body prior to the event. The third most popular response to the question, "what's the worst thing about Lancaster county?" was "the Amish". When the teams of faculty faltered in guessing the correct response, the students prompted them, shouting from the bleachers "the Amish, the Amish". My sons Amish identity aside, the failure of the faculty and students who organized the event to recognize how inappropriate that response was going to be as a part of the event was bad, but it's not nearly as damning as the fact that an event like that could occur and nobody stepped forward to mitigate it and to clarify that it was not a view school officials wanted to promote. When I called the school to complain the principal denied any wrong doing had occurred.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


From the New Era

Mercy for Amish boy's killer

Why are the Amish trying to influence our judicial system? Either they are separate and apart or they aren't. It's one thing to be generous towards the perpetrator and completely another to advocate on her behalf in a system they have rejected in the first place.

I suggest they stay on the porch or join the system like everyone else.

If they really care about the judicious functioning of our society as it relates to them, why don't they advocate for an independent review of the police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting? Maybe if they fessed up to the sexism that lurks in patriarchal societies, they would find it easier to fight for equality and justice for girls instead of just seeing them as great martyrs. On the other hand it doesn't look like our super evolved non-Amish society sees little Amish girls as anything other than great martyrs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


From the Sunday News

A rare coalition of Amish and English farmers has vowed to keep pursuing a proposal for an ag security area axed last week by East Lampeter Township

The merits of the ag security area aside, Participation in government is a watershed issue for the Amish. The aspect that is the most problematic for them is that they're willing to participate when the issue effects them financially. Somehow business issues are exempt from the "separate and apart" dictum. It would be nice if the esteemed sociologists that are so famous for their work on the Amish, stopped treating them like laboratory mice, and wrote about this issue in a way that the Amish could benefit from it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Book on pacifists during the civil war. found here

In looking at this event, the authors covered the relationship of
faithfulness and relevance and responsibility and idealism involving the conflicts Mennonites and Amish faced to emphasize that their positions were not without their own set of difficulties.

The book serves as a good reminder that not all churches immersed
themselves in super-charged patriotism for either the Confederacy or the Union and, according to Nolt, highlights the stories of Christians who did not accept war as a means of solving deep conflicts. “We wanted to add to the wider Civil War literature the story of conscientious objectors and the role of religion in questioning war,” Nolt said.

Is it to much to ask, where is the press on this subject currently, why do we have to wait for historians to write about it?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


From the Intell.

The Amish get something many American Christians seem to have a
hard time grasping: We are citizens of God's kingdom first. As such, we have loyalties that may very well put us at odds with the state.

Are we going to take citizenship serious or not? What many references to the Amish response to the Nickel Mines tragedy fail to grasp is the extent that the Amish renounce citizenship. Failure to take this into account leaves attempts at deriving meaning from the Amish response to the shooting in a fairyland similiar to a Rorshach test, (ie; it's what ever you want it to be.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


From the Intell.

The Amish, on the other hand, look to the Gospel for mandates
on guidance how to forgive, love their enemies and trust in God's providential care for them.
For Christians who struggle with the way their faith can be
diluted and warped in cultural practice, the purity of the way in which the Amish responded to last October's West Nickel Mines school shootings offered a lesson in cultural and religious integrity.

(sigh) And so the clap trap is promulgated

. What purity and what lessons? The best she can do is cite Kraybill? It's all hocus pocus and further exploitation.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


From the comment section on a forum in Topix

Richard Laird was a tattooed, loud-mothed biker who self-medicated
for his untreated ADHD and organic brain damage with small quantities of meth. He had far more problems than Ed Gingrich had. Laird and Chester both got the death penalty. Yet, this Amish man - Ed Gingrich - who abused his wife and ended up beating her to death and then proceeded to gut her like a deer on the kitchen floor in front of their children got a slap on the wrist. He served less time than people who write bad checks!

La de da, tum de dum, nothing wrong here, birds singing, crickets chirping, keep on smiling, keep on smiling!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


From the NYT

“In the evangelical church in general there is kind of a push back
against the Republican party and a feeling of being used by the Republican political machine,” he continued. “There are going to be a lot of evangelicals willing to vote for a Democrat because there are 40 million people without health insurance and a Democrat is going to do something about that.”

Now where is the Mea-culpa from my peeps? Where is the local press on this? They were willing to cover the Amish fawning over Bush. Are they going to ask the Amish if they still support him, and if they will vote for Giuliani? BWAA HAA HAA


What does the Ed Gingerich case tell us about how the Amish fit into our society? Is it an anomaly or does it point at larger fundamental flaws about the Amish , nonAmish relationship?

Ann Rodgers at the "Pittsburg Post Gazette" did an extensive piece on Gingerich in April 2007.

Edward, a paranoid schizophrenic, kicked his 29-year-old wife Katie
to death. His children Enos, 4, and Mary, 3, watched, while 5-year-old Danny ran for help. Ed Gingerich gutted his wife's body like a deer carcass, removing her internal organs with a kitchen knife.

In 1994 he was convicted of involuntary homicide but mentally ill
and sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in a prison psychiatric ward.
In 1998, with his condition brought under control by medication and his term served, he was released from state prison. His terrified Brownhill Amish community asked that he be locked up forever. Other Amish, saying he should be forgiven for a crime that he committed while insane and that he deeply regretted, helped move
him to an Amish mental health facility in Michigan.To outsiders, all seemed quiet until April 18, when his daughter Mary, now 17 and living with her grandparents, was reported hijacked from a buggy. Five days later she was found safe with her father and other members of her family in McKean County.

Mary is back at her grandparents farm. Her father, 42, is jailed on charges of conspiracy, concealing the whereabouts and interfering with the custody of a minor. If convicted, he could be sent back to jail for up to 22 years, according to the Crawford County district attorney.

If someone were to write a novel based on this case and do it from the perspective of the seventeen year old daughter, what kind of social critique could be made of the Amish and the non-Amish? My scripture recall isn't very snappy, but somewhere there's something about being judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us. I can't imagine the verdict on this one is going to be pretty.

Friday, October 26, 2007


How does the Eli Stutzman case compare with the scenario in my last post?

Gregg Olsen on the Stutzman case. found here

Olsen said he is convinced Stutzman killed his wife,

"There are so many people there who wanted me to solve this crime
(of Ida Stutzman"s death),

Olsen continues to harbor hostilities against Wayne County
investigators, who, he said, listened to Stutzman and initially ruled the fatal fire was an accident.
Then-coroner Dr. J.T. Questel "really let Ida down," Olsen said. "She
deserved a full investigation. It makes me really angry."
Olsen maintains had Stutzman been convicted of killing his wife, he would not have had the opportunity to kill others.

The relationship between the Amish and our government is clearly, whatever happens to be convenient at the moment. Which brings me to the police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting. Can we please, review this incident in a way that will remove any question that this incident was handled and processed as if it had happened to your child or mine. More on the Stutzman case here


From the Cleveland News

While police elsewhere in rural Ohio focus on meth labs and wife-beaters, Middlefield's cops have a curious fetish for busting the Amish.

In 2000, Geauga County Amish leaders asked police to help curb public
drinking. Albert, now a Geauga County Commissioner, was happy to take the job. "He'd always cuss out the Amish when they were caught drinking," Tina says. If an Amish kid walked into Albert's courtroom, he or she could be sure to spend a weekend in jail. Albert says he was simply honoring elders' wishes.

The Anabaptists who gave their lives for their faith (largely due to an unhealthy "church, state" relationship) must be turning in their graves.

On the other side; what about all of those who gave their lives for the idea embodied in our constitution?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


From the A.P., at TPM

University of Florida police were justified in using a Taser
against a student who refused to stop questioning Sen. John Kerry on campus last month, according to a state investigation released Wednesday.

If we believe we need the police to forcefully intervene each time some jerk is obnoxious, we have truly crossed a line that we will regret having crossed. If I wanted to live under an authoritarian regime I could have stayed Amish.

Monday, October 22, 2007


By Amishlaw

So, it was that I found myself at O'Hare Airport this weekend with
a need to use the bathroom. And I found myself being reluctant to go in there, now that my eyes have been opened as to what's really going on in airport bathrooms. Might I discover that some of the noises I hear are not coming from the relief of flatulence but baser activities? And what if some undercover cop spotted me doing something that I didn't realize was a secret code? Maybe putting soap on my hands before I wet them is some kind of signal that I didn't know about.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Tim Wu on our laws.

just because they are laws we shouldn't forget that they are also,
in the end, experiments. They're like furniture in the living room of the
nation-state, they are supposed to make our lives better.

But if they don't
work, they should be abandoned, or changed.

Conservatives have used the Amish to advance their "less government is better" agenda. I don't disagree in principle with the idea that less is more. Growing up on a farm and being the youngest of eight boys, the first thing my father taught me was to stay out of the way. It's good advice, not just for the sake of safety, but also for the sake of productivity. If something is working don't f**k with it! That said, It's under Republican leadership that the Amish are using more farm subsidies than ever, which begs the question. Who is the bigger phony?
But my real concern is the guise under which the legislative "hands off" approach has been sold. Which is along the lines of, the less the Amish have to deal with the government, the closer we are to what America was meant to be. The problem is that these laws are only for the Amish, and as Wu suggests, they're just experiments. Who's going to pay the price if it turns out they were a dumb idea. Could it be that Republicans are guilty of what they scorn democrats for, social engineering?
Might a little opposition be a good thing, so Rep. Pitts thinks things through before he fucks with my people?


From the Sunday News

Montagues and Capulets?
Her star-crossed lovers belong to the Fisher and Yoder clans

In her latest novel set here, Lancaster County native Beverly
Lewis mixes sect history with the usual chaste romance that is the trademark of this Christian writer."The Parting," Book I in her new The Courtship of Nellie Fisher series, is set in the midst of an actual church schism that occurred in the 1960s.

The Romeo and Juliet similarity is appropriate if Lewis is willing to portray the brutality that's inherently a part of these schisms. If not, then it's just a shameless attempt to associate her work with pop culture for financial gain. Oh right, that's not any different from what she does with the Amish.
How does it feel, to have your cultural reference points frivolously degraded and marketed for personal gain?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I'm the proud grandfather of two pre-school age girls, who in the near future will, very likely, attend a small church sponsored school. As a citizen of Pennsylvania, should it be of any interest to me whether the Nickel Mines incident has been reviewed, and what ever lessons that may have been learned, will be implemented?

the Amish and our laws

There's an article in Slate about the Amish that details their relationship with our legal system. Here's a line that defines it all for me.

It is by nature messy, awkward, and informal.

Sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. With the Amish population increasing and a growing fondness for more and more exemptions, the pooey is going to hit the fan at some point.

Smart Remarks also posted on this

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


From the New Era
Demand grows for raw milk, but is it safe?
·As ag panel reviews regulations, some farmers, health professionals debate safety of unpasteurized, unhomogenized products.

Let the debate be fair and thorough.

Some Plain-sect farmers even fear their religious beliefs are
threatened by the requirement to get a permit to sell raw milk.

Our government has taken a carte blanche approach to religious freedom and the Amish in the past. Let's not repeat that.

Here's how an exemption to child labor law was handled

The minority views attached to HR 221 reveal no hearings were held where opposition views could be presented, the Department of Justice was not given enough information to make a decision on the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and it was stuck onto the end of the year Omnibus appropriations bill (HR 2673) which ruled out debate and an up or down vote on its own merit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


From the updates and needs page of "Light Of Hope Ministries

In October or November there will be a team of people taking healing and hope to Iraq. When the team was there in April of this year, the people from Kurdish Iraq expressed an interest in receiving teaching on forgiveness from the Amish.

Am I out of the loop, or is this loopy?


From the New Era
How George W. Bush can learn something from Amish
By DAVID DIETZ, Special to the New Era

We don't need our President to be more like the Amish. What we do need is for people of faith to not allow their faith to be hijacked for political purposes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Using the word preach here is an idiotic move if you're trying to make friends with the Amish.

from the
Henry Beiler, an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, has preached the value of the
programs to others since donating development rights to his three farms in 1987.

The article says there is resistance within the community to these programs. Language like this will hand Beiler's opposition an opening to accuse him of mixing the secular with the sacred, (which is the ultimate faux pas.)


Amishlaw writes of a reader who wonders whether the Amish celebrate Christmas. His aunt Tillie responds

I hope, Friend, that you have a Happy New Year, and before you ask, no, I'm not planning on staying up until midnight; I don't have a television so I won't be watching the big ball come down at Times Square and I won't be drinking any champagne. If our throats feel scratchy, (or might be getting ready to feel scratchy,) Abner and I might just have a little nip of Kentucky bourbon before we go off to bed on New Year's Eve, but one nip is it. You don't want to be in bed with a drunken Amishman at my age, believe you me!

Read the rest of here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Looks like I'm not the only one.

By Amishlaw, book report; "Girls of Riyadh"
I am sure one reason I liked this book is because, like the Amish,
the conservative Arab society is misunderstood by ordinary Americans, judged
mainly by its severe rules and the pronouncements of its most extreme
practioners. It is refreshing to read a book that does not romanticize its subjects, but shows their common humanity.

Preach it brother.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


From Tom Murse at Capital punmanship

Bush recognizes Christ Blank, an Amish man from Nickel Mines. He
praised the Amish for their ability to forgive and embrace Marie Roberts, the
widow of gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV. “I’m honored you’re here,” Bush said to

No incongruities here. Torture, war, forgiveness, pacifists, it's all one seamless entity.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


It's a bogus story. Come on, say it. It's a bogus story. The media hyped this thing, and now nobody wants to get down off of a pony that rides.

Listen to the dude
From the New Era
Is forgiveness automatic in our society? Of course not. It must be
developed. In any incident, forgiveness must begin through acceptance.

Perhaps the most astonishing subject the media pounced on was the

See, he thinks they pounced. You get that, pounced

Forgiveness must be honest; recycled forgiveness doesn't seem kosher. In
our Amish world, it isn't automatic. Even we can struggle with anger and doubt.
But forgiveness must be granted to continue on in life.

Honest or forced I'm not sure which it is. But, did you get that part about it not being automatic? Or should I repeat it?

Here's my theory. If the non-Amish folks would've kept this story in perspective, as in not going ape shit over some magical hooey like, instant forgiveness, but paid attention on a human level. That would have required some actual soul searching about how we live, but we weren't up for it. So we latch onto something that is completely and totally removed from what we might actually apply in our own lives, allowing us to continue doing what we've always done.


From the New Era

This ought to generate some blow back.

Is it asking too much to put the Lord's Prayer and Bible-reading back in
public schools and teach proper Christian virtues?

Bwaa haa haa haa. Maybe if we stopped jerking ourselves off over how wonderful the Amish are, they wouldn't be getting uppity and telling us how to live. Bwaaa haa haa haa.


From the New Era

Almost overshadowing the shootings, the forgiveness the Amish immediately
extended to Roberts and his family transfixed a world more accustomed to
vengeful responses.

In the wake of massive media interest immediately after Oct. 2, the Amish
feared that writers and filmmakers would sensationalize the story. That has not

Is the first sentence compatible with the second sentence? Ya'll know my opinion on it. History will tell.

Monday, October 1, 2007


From the York Dispatch

"I'm proud of the police because there would have been a lot more people
injured if they hadn't charged the scene," he said

Is this guy an expert on this?


From the Christian Science Monitor

News of the instant forgiveness stunned the outside world – almost as much
as the incident itself did


From ABC News

Even before their own five daughters had been buried, the victims' families
were showing Roberts' family kindness, condolence and compassion.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


This Zook is a bit of a wanker, eh? found here

Whatever their faults and vices, the Amish communities have a
couple of enormous strengths it more worthy of study than

My contempt over forgiveness isn't about the Amish. It's appropriate that forgiveness was a part of the narrative for the Amish in response to the Nickel Mines tragedy. But their use of the word forgiveness was a poor choice to honor what their faith asks of them, not that it mattered for them. They knew what actions their faith expected of them, and they executed.
The issue is, why did the non-Amish community latch onto the word forgiveness, and attribute meaning to it without a rational examination of context, history, and whether it did justice to the intent of the user? What would have happened if the Grandfather who was asked if he had forgiven, would have first of all, chided the reporter for asking such a dramatic meaningless question? And then said; I hope, with Gods help to be able to honor what my faith asks of me, namely, to not engage in retribution or vengeance, but to act with kindness and grace towards others. I do not believe it is possible for me as a human being to fully implement this love, that was exemplified by my Lord, but none the less, I accept and embrace that I am called upon to try. As for forgiveness, If someday, my community and I can truely move beyond the hurt and loss which has been inflicted upon us, truely embrace each new day without our memories invoking pain, but only acceptance and grace, then we will be blessed beyond what I can even attempt to imagine right now. How can you taunt me of such an elusive and distant prospect in my moment of overwhelming pain and loss? (to borrow someone elses words) Have you no sense of shame? Have you no sense of decency?

Saturday, September 29, 2007


"The Happening, Nickel Mines School Tragedy" by Harvey Yoder

How did I know he was going to shoot? I just
felt it. That and because of all the racket outside,

We heard a pounding on the double doors in the back.
Something strong was being used! Would they rescue us?

Then the shooting started.

If a disturbed man with a gun has taken your child hostage, is this how you would want the police to respond? It's time for an independent review of this incident.


"The Happening" by Harvey Yoder is the most unadulterated writing on the Amish I have ever read. The beginning and the end have some mediocre to seriously problematic elements and the cover is kitsch. But, Wow! at some point the authenticity just screams off of the page and envelopes you. As you are pulled along, there is no point in which the writing becomes so obviously fake and contrived that your connection with the narrative is broken. I've never experienced that with writing about my people. I should be ambivalent about my joy in being an intimate confidant of Yoder's Huck Finn-esque portrayal of unspeakable horror, but I can't help myself. I've never felt so honored. Thank you.

More on the book and where to buy it

Friday, September 28, 2007


ER doctor reaches out to first responders
New Era Staff Writer

"There are still a lot of people hurting."


Troopers talk about horror of Amish school tragedy
By JANET KELLEY, Staff Lancaster New Era

"I can say 100 percent, absolutely, that I stand by the way we
handled the incident," Hegarty said, his jaws clenched. "I just wish we could
have saved all 10."

If the Troopers that were at the scene are the only ones evaluating this, we've already gone over the edge.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


You heard it here first, will Mr. Preemption chill with the "love your enemy" peeps, next week when he he comes to town?


Anniversary a painful reminder for Nickel Mines
By JACK BRUBAKER, Staff Lancaster

After instantly forgiving Roberts — and stunning a world more accustomed to
a vengeful response — the Amish attended Roberts' funeral

Repeat something often enough and eventually it becomes reality... Right?

The Amish immediately forgave a man who shot 10 of their children in the
head, killing five, before he killed himself nearly a year ago.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Some thoughts on the use of the word forgive by the Amish in response to the Nickel Mines school shooting.

What if the Amish just screwed up in their choice and use of words? It's not unfathomable, after all this was an extremely unusual event, and they don't cultivate a definitive use of language in the way western culture does, especially in defining their faith. Their authoritarian nature doesn't lend itself to debate or precise examinations of language for rhetorical purposes.

So lets examine each reported incidence of the use of the word forgiveness.

1. The State Police Chaplain has said that, upon meeting an Amish elder in the school yard, presumably within several hours of the shooting, possibly within minutes, the first words out of the elders mouth were, "we forgive him". Is it possible to respect where he was coming from without attributing to much meaning or weight to the statement? First of all he was reacting to an unimaginable situation. His words were potentially more about connecting with another human being (the chaplain) than they were truly definitive of what he and his congregants had done or were going to do. While I trust that, his intent to convey what his faith demands of him was sincere, his choice of words lacked the sophistication needed to do his intent justice. Using the word we in this instance to inform what had already been achieved is irreconcilable.

2. The media reported members of the Amish community expressing forgiveness to the Roberts family within hours of the shooting. What were they forgiving? My authentic Amish instinct immediately flagged this one. I could easily envision someone from the community reaching out to the Roberts family, but the language was suspect. I even got into a hissy fit with WGAL over whether that word had actually been used, they claimed their reporters cross reference their stories, bla bla bla, I still don't believe them. Especially not after they told me their reporter had interviewed a Grandfather of one of the victims and he used the word forgive, when in fact, it was the reporter that interjected it into the interview.

3. So there you have it, a couple bumbling references to forgiveness and the God damned fucking press has a story. There are no words in the English language to discribe how inhumane it was for that reporter to ask that Grandfather what she did in the way she did, and the whole fucking world was so impressed. Well if that's your idea of inspiration, you can all go fuck yourselves. How dare you? How fucking dare you, take someone in his situation and ask if he has forgiven? Do you believe, in that sick deranged mind of yours, that what he is going to say, means anything at all?

Sunday, September 23, 2007


from the Sunday news

Amish grace
A book takes a behind-the-scenes look at Nickel Mines tragedy a
year later and the soul-searching it took for a people to forgive what seems

By JON RUTTER, Staff writer Sunday News

Published this month by Jossey-Bass, "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness
Transcended Tragedy" is both lyrical and empirical in its

Empirical my rear end! None of the statements of forgiveness made by the Amish has been given the barest minimum of rational review. Ie; when was it said, what was the context in which it was said, who said it, and what is the historical context that influenced the speakers use of the word. It's not surprising that the Amish used the word, but the association and meaning the non-Amish community attributes to that use, is demeaning, abusive, and farcical.

Their gentle response to unprecedented carnage was thus sincere and
instinctive, said Kraybill, an Elizabethtown College sociology professor and
nationally known expert on the Amish.

Why doesn't Kraybill talk about how the Amish response is inherently and inextricably intertwined with their co-dependent relationship with the protective authority of the U.S. Government. How would we view their passivity in the absence of that protection, Ie; If Roberts were to come back the next day and the next day, and the next day, and repeat what he did on the first day, and they would still just forgive him, would we still be impressed?

Amish people believe in justice and punishment but reserve the
authority to discipline their own wayward church members, the authors write:

This is incoherent gibberish, something one might expect from myself. What the hell are they saying?

What would have happened if George Bush had been Amish?" The
question is simplistic, Nolt asserted. "If George Bush had been Amish, he
wouldn't have been president."

The relevant question is; How can supporters of our President's policy of preemption look upon Amish forgiveness with anything other than disgust and disdain?

But it does provide a vantage point from which to view modern culture
and to ponder changing it for the better

As I've posted before; modern culture is worth trying to improve, the Amish? "fa get a bout it" they're on their own.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


From the AP

Amish School Boys Struggle With Memories

The story of forgiveness inspired people around the world, but the
book describes a process that was not as simple as it may have

Who in their bleeping right minds would have made this seem simple in the first place? I don't think it was the Amish.


The lack of public dialogue over the police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting, suggests we are willing to allow the police to determine the narrative that evolves from this incident. It is possible to honor their heroic efforts, and at the same time question the policy and protocol which they were enacting. In fact it is our duty as citizens to do so. If we don't question the narrative fed to us by our civic authorities, we run the risk of being manipulated for their gain, instead of being served by them. If they (the police) don't have to explain, defend, and justify, the effect of their actions, on one group of people (the Amish), does anyone think for a minute that they won't try to act with imperialistic impunity towards another group?
Who is next? There is a famous quote that goes like this, "once there is no one else left, they will come for you".

Friday, September 21, 2007


From the Intell

Troopers credited with heroism
BY MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press

The narrative here is the heroism of the Troopers, and rightfully so. But my question is, what would have happened if the police would have stayed back further on their initial approach? I asked this of a Trooper at a forum on the Nickel Mines shooting at Etown college. His response was that, "they didn't go in soon enough". This avoids the question. What if the police presence was the catalyst Roberts needed to be able to kill an innocent child? After all, if he was a deranged killer, why didn't he just open fire upon entering the school? If his goal was to molest little Amish girls, he picked a dumb way to do it. He was familiar with the Amish peoples' routines and habits through his work. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that molestation wasn't his main priority. So what was? I would say, a confrontation with the police is a reasonable assumption of what his objective was.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WHAT? WHO? **%$##*????


Sheriff Defends Armed Escort At Amish Community

The Jefferson County sheriff said he and his deputies received several
death threats from an Amish bishop with regard to a child custody dispute,
prompting him to have the regional SWAT team on standby Tuesday.


If someone wrote a play about a current issue affecting Amish life, what would it be about? What if it were a comedy? It could be about a pacifist group that voted for a war monger. (if you don't laugh you're going to have to cry). Or how about this group that loved their kids so much they lobbied their government for an exemption from child labor laws, so their kids could participate in a dangerous work environment. Nah, that's not funny. What about this group that sizzled with entrepreneurial vitality, they bred and raised sickly house pets, causing an entire movement to organize just to rescue the feeble animals. (cymbal crash) Sh*t, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


If the Amish are such astute business people as Kraybill says they are, why don't they employ "the customer is always right philosophy" in regards to their puppy mill problem? It's true that they are farmers and dogs are animals but there is no way they're going to win this one. Their only recourse on this is to comply with a standard of care and conditions that are beyond reproach.
The only question is, why haven't they done it yet? My answer is, because they aren't the close knit community they used to be. Individualism and greed is what's stopping them from solving this. If they approached it the way they approach a barn raising they could kick this thing in no time.

uh this isn't going to make it any easier
from a forum in topix

An Amish man was beating the horse’s hindquarters forcefully with a
large object like a pipe or something like it

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


There are three informative articles on Amish farmers and the economic pressures they face in the New Era. here, here, and here.

The collective revelation from these articles is the focus and the intensity the Amish are willing to bring to bear on being successful as farmers. I would compare it to an Olympic athlete, or a Rhodes Scholar, only it's executed by families that include young children. The most significant issue here, other than the way the children are involved, is that the effect of this will be to introduce classism among the Amish. Just like an Olympic athlete, only a few will be able to perform at the level required, and since farming is a revered endeavor, those few will garner a status untouchable by non-farming folk.

As for the involvement of young children, everything will be fine for the strong and well adjusted. But what happens when a half a million dollar investment is on the line? Is there room for anything other than flawless execution?

Monday, September 17, 2007



Amish civic involvement grows with urban sprawl
Associated Press - September 17, 2007

Separate and apart just ain't what it used to be

Sunday, September 16, 2007


From the Sunday News

Nickel Mines legacy, a year later
Future historians are going to have a field day over our fascination of Amish forgiveness, juxtaposed with our foreign policy that touts preemption.

Making a big deal out of the Amish response to the Nickel Mines tragedy is demeaning of Amish faith. It is the antithesis of the very core of their faith to spotlight whether they have forgiven Roberts. The practice of their faith didn't begin with Roberts and it doesn't end with Roberts. It's about salvation for them and from their perspective, betraying what their faith calls them to, is every bit as possible over some petty incident as it may be in a horrific one like the school shooting. While the shooting was a monstrous and cataclysmic event, forgiving a killer isn't the quintessential definition of Amish faith,in spite of how much we may want it to be so.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


via Religion News Service

Growth of Evangelicals Has Some Amish Leaders


About 35 to 60 families, the equivalent of two church districts,
have left or are considering leaving the Old Order, according to a number of
estimates. And because bishops traditionally "clean house" of strident members
ahead of twice-yearly communion services, as many as 12 more excommunications
could be coming, said one Amish man familiar with the situation.

Here's another news org giving these guys coverage and legitimacy

from an earlier post

The local paper has repeatedly reported on three young Amish families who recently left the Amish church. The coverage referred to their efforts to evangelize the Old Order community they had just been expelled from. Contention over religious purity from people leaving the Amish church is common. What is unusual is the grandiose intent of this groups effort. They are holding an event called, "The Glory Barn", basically a revival meeting that is running non-stop 24\7, for fifty days from Easter to Pentecost. A mission statement on their web site envisions bringing a purer form of Christianity to all the Amish in the U.S. and the accompanying request for funds to enable them to personally fulfill that mission.Also promoted on the web site is their intent to promote emotional and spiritual healing. What bothers me is, being ex-amish myself, I am aware of allegations that this group mistreated an Amish relative of mine whom they were trying to minister to. I contacted one of her siblings to ask if he would confirm the allegations. He strictly adhered to Amish custom of refusing to speak ill of others. I tried to explain the legitimacy of public interest in knowing the track record of a group who was garnering news coverage and publicly asking for support for a mission in which more innocent people would be entrusted to their care and influence. He proved himself a loyal Amish man but not a good defense attorney, by informing me that the family had an agreement with the health care provider, that assessed his sister after her stay with the "Glory Barn" folks, to not report her condition to authorities.So I called the editor of the paper that ran the Glory Barn story, he informed me they were aware of the allegations. I wonder if he would take the same approach if his paper were covering a group of Pagans under similar circumstances. Given the popularity of fundamentalist Christianity in conservative circles in Lancaster, ( which is the purer version the Glory Barn participants want to convert all the Amish to.) this situation doesn't pass the smell test.


Stevick writes of her Christian faith in "Beyond the Plain and Simple". (P. 120) I wonder how she reconciles her cozy fraternization with Amish leadership in her writings, versus her Lord's relationship with the religious elite of his time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


All societies have an Achilles' heel. Only the societies who face theirs can avoid being crippled by it. If Kraybill and Stevick cared about the Amish in the way they care about their own culture, then they would be willing to help the Amish see their Achille's heel. If they're not willing to do that, their work just exploits the Amish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


On one year anniversary of Nickel Mine shooting, Amish girls'
parents talk of loss, faith, survival

By CINDY STAUFFER and AD CRABLE, Staff Lancaster New

There can be a temptation to wonder, "Why our child, why us?" a
father says.But he adds, "We're not better than anybody else. Why couldn't it
happen to us?"The families readily say they are still learning about
forgiveness. The families' grace towards Roberts and his family in the
weeks after the murders stunned the world.In fact, some people told the families
they could never forgive Roberts if they were in the families' shoes.That was
hard to understand, one mother says, adding the Amish don't fully grasp the
grudges that some folks hold toward others. The families say they didn't make a
sudden decision to forgive Roberts. The notion already was in their hearts,
nurtured by their belief that as Jesus forgives them, so must they forgive
others.It has not always been easy. There have been times they even struggled
with their faith."You have to have a will to forgive," one mother says. "You
have to want to forgive and that's the first step."A father says that as they
"released" Roberts, they released themselves from anger and from
bitterness. But not from pain.His wife says quietly, "Just because you've
forgiven doesn't mean you've forgotten, and that it doesn't

This is a humane portrayal of Amish forgiveness. Thank You.

Once more

Nickel Mines Accountability Committee releases report Committee
says 1/3 of $4.3M spent on victims By STAFF REPORT Lancaster New

The forgiveness extended by the Amish community to the Roberts
family was noted around the world. The Amish did not wish such publicity for
doing what Jesus taught and want to make sure that glory is given to God for
that witness. Many from Nickel Mines have pointed out that forgiveness is a
journey, that you need help from your community of faith and from God, and
sometimes even from counselors, to make and hold on to a decision to not become
a hostage to hostility. It is understood that hostility destroys

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Here's Pauline Stevick in the introduction of "Beyond the Plain and Simple".

Finally, through some unusual circumstances, he was
introduced to a prominent member of the local Amish community, who then
introduced him to some of his friends. When his association with these Amish
people became more widely known, other Amish persons assumed that he was
trustworthy, and one friendship led to another. This is typical. If an English
person gains the confidence of leaders in the community, doors will
open-literally- in other settlements as well.

Do I need to say anything more about whether Stevick is also, just a mouth-piece for the Amish leaders?

She ends the introduction with humble-pie gibberish about "seeing through a glass darkly", but that doesn't stop her from writing page after page after page of intimate articulate details that show the Amish in a positive light. Then she feigns objectivity with a one sentence mention of somthing that might not be all peaches and cream, but dosen't elaborate at all.

Monday, September 10, 2007


From this mornings's Intell

Prohibition does not work; To the Editor by Robert E Field

Bob Herbert's
column, "Vegas and the exploitation of women" (Intell, Sept. 6), correctly
describes the atrocities resulting from illegal prostitution but fails to
identify the core cause:

Open debate, freedom of speech, the average person voicing their opinion. Try living without it, or at least have the decency to not glorify a people who do.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


From Nickel Mines to Va. Tech

These were strange people. We had never met them before. Still, we
had the same experiences. We could feel for each other," recalls a father who
lost two children in the Nickel Mines shootings

In her book "Kitchen Table Wisdom" Rachel Naomi Remen writes (p. 156) of a man she calls Yitzak who struggled to accept comfort and support from strangers. Upon hearing that things were improving for Yitzak because of a conversation he had with God, Naomi asked Yitzak what God had to say. Yitzak reported, "I say to Him (God, is it okay to luff strangers?) And God says, (Yitzak, vat is dis strangers? You make strangers. I don't make strangers.)"

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Check out Bob Herbert from the New York Times in this morning's Intelligencer Journal.

Vegas and the exploitation of women

Then imagine a world bereft of such a sober unflinching assessment of its' problems. That's the world I lived in for most of my life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


There's a blood, sweat, and tears need to put the Amish, non-Amish relationship into context. High-light the problem areas. Someone who knows what they're talking about. A really good work on this could be a Nobel Prize nominee, Maybe even a winner. Anybody?........ Nobody? Nothing........


Questions raised about Amish couple
Thursday, July 26, 2007 - Bangor Daily

CORINNA, Maine - A story featured on the front page of
Wednesday’s Bangor Daily News about an Amish couple’s cross-country trip to
Maine has raised some questions and concerns among readers.
Since the article
appeared, the BDN received calls not only from people wanting to help the
middle-aged couple, but also from some who claimed to have been taken advantage
of. And a Tennessee sheriff reported that Danl and Ruanna Yoder had used several
aliases along their journey.
"They aren’t any more Amish than I am," Ginger
Heath of Sherman said Wednesday. "They’re more like gypsies."

A couple rotten apples will ruin the whole barrel.


From a forum in Topix
I saw an Amish elder, fat from eating and nearly popping out
of his suspenders in the store. He stops in every sunday, and parks on the side
where his wife and children cannot see into the store. He stands over the trash
can, drinking coffee and stuffing the tastycakes in his mouth, poking them in
with his finger while it rains wrappers into the can. He then cleans his hands
and rounds the corner empty handed , where his wife and children are

Im sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner while choking on
the deisel fumes which the Amish guy next door has been pumping into our windows
for 2 years now. I hear a phone ringing with a triple ring, that would be the
identa-ring number to his fax machine, tied to an obnoxious outdoor ringer.

Today is a national holiday, yet I have a headache from the Amish
deisel generators which woke me up when they started this morning. I hear
tractor trailers blowing thier horns at 6:00 am trying to get the fat bastard to
come out of his shop. They burn plastic in piles, releasing large clouds of
toxic fumes. I guess this is thier idea of respecting the neighbors and living
by the set of rules wich they set forth for themselves.

This may not be representative of non-Amish people's sentiment towards their Amish neighbors, but if this discription is accurate and true, "uh, Houston we've got a problem"

Monday, September 3, 2007


From the Grand Rapids Press

'Mark of the Beast' drives away Amish
Sunday, August 19, 2007
By Pat Shellenbarger

All over Michigan, Amish farmers are resisting the state program
requiring that all cattle be tagged with the electronic chips before they can be
sold. Some say they will quit farming if it comes to it. Some say they will
leave the state.

A Supreme Court decision here, an exemption there. la-de-da


From the Altoona Mirror

Residents complain of Amish noise
By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Several Tyrone Township residents
want a Blair County judge to order their Amish neighbors to stop making so much

Uh, just one of those things, that uh, you know, we'll have to figure out, one way or another.


I believe the decision in Wisconsin Vs. Yoder that relieved the Amish of compulsory education requirements, will come to be seen as harmful rather than helpful for the Amish. It has exponentially enabled their isolationist leanings. So now, when our differences need a solution, the chasm is much bigger. A Supreme Court decision also lends itself to be seen as Holy writ, thus lulling us into believing, a just decision equals a positive effect. Our differences can be a positive thing, but I guarantee they won't be easy.

What's galling, is all the current gushing about the Amish on one subject or another, when I know damn well that when push comes to shove over our differences, the Amish are going to get thrown under the wagon, faster than you can say "snitz pie".

Sunday, September 2, 2007



Community Problems

Reported by: Dan Wells
Aug 28, 2007 @05:46pm EST
Residents in Rockdale Township say escalating
trouble in the Amish community maybe pushing many to leave the area. In recent
weeks...there's been a lot of talk about convicted killer, Ed Gingerich playing
pranks on fellow members of the Amish aimed to divide the community."Gingerich
went to a new religion of Amish and they're old style and he trying to convert
them. " - Dan Anthony, Lives on Dean Road - Rockdale Twp.
We're told the pranks include scarring small Amish children, releasing livestock
and more...

In 1994, Gingerich was
convicted of murdering his wife in front of their children he was found
guilty of involuntary manslaughter but mentally ill and served

probably 25 percent of the
established Amish who have been here for 15 to 20 years have now moved to
Shenango, New York and bought new farms. " - Bob Marzka, Rockdale Township
Supervisor"this whole community is moving to New York by next year they will be
gone...Because of concerns of Ed...yep." - Dan Anthony, Lives on Dean Road -
Rockdale Twp.

Moving to another community is a coping mechanism, for unresolvable problems for the Amish. This is an example that shows how the Amish have removed themselves from the larger culture in a way that is detrimental. There has to be a better way to respond to this situation, other than up- rooting the entire settlement.


From the Meadville Tribune

Trial of three Gingerich brothers moved to November term09/01/07 —

The trial of three Amish brothers, charged with conspiring to conceal the
whereabouts of a child, and other related charges, has been continued from the
September term of criminal court to the November term.

Atlee D. Gingerich, Edward Gingerich and Joseph Gingerich were
charged by Pennsylvania State Police following an incident in April when
Edward’s 17-year-old daughter was allegedly coerced into going with her father
against her will.

Pennsylvania State Police filed charges after Edward Gingerich
allegedly coerced Mary Gingerich to leave her grandparents’ home with him. Her
grandparents reported the teen missing; state police found the girl with her
father at a camp in the Allegheny Mountains near Kane on April 22 and returned
Mary to her grandparents.
Mary Gingerich has lived with her grandparents
since her father killed his wife, Katie, in 1993 at their Rockdale Township
home. Gingerich was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, but mentally ill, in
1994 and served five years and one day for that charge. He had been living out
of state until his return to the Amish community in Rockdale

Five years and one day! What the hell happened there?
Does anyone know whether this sentence was in line with say, a non-Amish defendant under similar circumstances?


I watched the "Nanny Diaries" this afternoon and realized that the movie illustrates what pisses me off about Kraybills' detached observer role. Throughout the movie Scarlett Johansson's character Annie (yea, so I drooled a bit.) makes anthropological comments in reference to other characters in the movie. But in the end, she steps out of her observer role and speaks directly to the other characters about what she has observed, thus creating change that couldn't have happened had she remained aloof and detached.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Anonymous said...
In this segment of writing, I have to
disagree. I don't see Dr. Kraybill as making a statement about whether this is a
good thing or a bad thing - he seems to be pointing to the reason, he believes,
the Amish successfully reap "compliant (read submissive) adults".

Here's Kraybill in the preface of "The Riddle of Amish Culture"

the following pages are both a venture in cultural analysis, that is ,
an attempt to understand the dynamics of Amish society, and an exercise in
social criticism- a reflective critique of contemporary culture

Note, that he only seeks to understand Amish society, but he is willing to critique contemporary culture. He not only, does the Amish a tragic disservice by only trying to understand them. But in his failure to extend to them, what all societies need, (namely honest and fair critique) he implies that they are unworthy, or not equal, (like laboratory mice) important only in relation to their usefulness in improving us.

Friday, August 31, 2007


This is a little off of the Amish, but only by several degrees. Local bike racing phenom and Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis provides a unique snapshot of "plain community boy meets western culture" in his book "Positively False". It's co-written with Loren Mooney.

It was easy to spot a Mennonite kid at the
public high school where I went, because we were the quiet ones in whatever
plain clothes our parents could find for cheap- completely outside of the world
of teenage fashion.

We pedaled up in sweat-pants, t-shirts,
and sneakers on our three-hundred-dollar bikes. Everyone else had bike shorts
and jerseys, biking shoes and three-thousand-dollar bikes.

"I don't know," I said to Eric one day.
"Do you think God really cares if I wear shorts?"

By being the best junior in the
country, I earned a spot on the U.S. team going to the World Championships in
Metabief, France.

Race day, it was pouring rain. The
guys who did well were the ones who were best at jumping off their bikes and
running when the mud got deep. My bike didn't have the right tires to race in
the slick mud, and I was exhausted from being out of my element. I finished
last. Not just in the last group of riders, but dead last. I started crying
before I even reached the finish line. I just wanted to go

Even though my parents and I don't see
things the same, I believe that our way of thinking are far more similar than
they are different. We both believe in honesty, fairness, kindness, and hard
work. Those are the important things, and I wanted my mother to know that I
understood that.

Buy the book and support his efforts to hold the governing bodies of cycling accountable.
Plus it's a good read!


Kraybill in "The Riddle of Amish Culture" P. 186

In many ways, Amish youth do not have a real choice because their
upbringing and all the social forces around them funnel them toward church

for the majority who do join, the illusion of a choice
serves a critical function in adult life. Thinking they had a choice, adults are
more likely to comply with the demands of the Ordnung later in life.

Without the perception of choice- the opportunity to sow wild
oats- adult members might be less willing to comply with church rules, and in
the long run this would weaken the community's ability to exercise social
control. Many rowdy youth are "reaped" later by the church in the form of
obedient adults who willingly comply with the Ordnung because they believe they had a choice. Thus,
the wild oats tradition yields a rich harvest for the church- a cornerstone in
the group's ability to develop compliant adults.

Kraybill is spot on in his assessment that Amish kids don't really have an option in whether they join the church or not. But it's where he goes with it from there, that's the problem. How he can (in good conscience) put a positive spin on, what would normally be referred to as deception and manipulation is beyond me. Considering he's a social scientist, Kraybill's failure to recognize, that what he is describing is a social time bomb, has to be a dereliction of his duty to science.
And yet, none of this takes into account the historic importance of "choosing membership" in the founding principles of Anabaptist doctrine. The real story is; how did a sacred component of Amish faith become an empty farce? Nothing more than the crass machinations to be expected from a "run of the mill" dictatorship.
And why is it that the Amish (being the good people, a lot of us know them to be) haven't been able, through reform, to address this issue?

Shame on you Kraybill, for portraying vitality where there's only empty decay!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Va. Tech President Defends Himself
By Hank Kurz Jr. And Vicki SmithAssociated Press Writers
Published: Aug 30, 2007 8:23 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - With anguished parents demanding his firing,
Virginia Tech's president bristled at suggestions Thursday that he bears
responsibility for the bloodbath on campus, calling it a crime "unprecedented in
its cunning and murderous results."
At a news conference where he was grilled
about an independent panel's conclusion that lives could have been saved had the
school warned the campus sooner that a killer was on the loose, Charles Steger
suggested there may have been nothing anyone could have done to stop the April
16 rampage by gunman Seung-Hui Cho that left 33 people dead

If there's no real opposition, the questions aren't asked, and then we will never know.


Report: Va. Tech Could Have Saved

By Kristen Gelineau Associated Press Writer

Virginia Tech officials could have saved
lives if they had quickly issued a campuswide warning that two students had been
shot to death in a dormitory and their killer was on the loose, a panel that
investigated the attacks said.

So where is the "panel" on the Nickel Mines incident? If the Nickel Mines incident isn't reviewed with the same rigor as other shootings, does that imply that the lives of little Amish girls aren't equal to the lives of non-Amish students?


Plain Sect farmers get county's attention

Intelligencer Journal

Today, the commissioners are expected to approve providing $50,000
over two years to Lancaster County Conservation District to hire a Plain Sect
outreach coordinator

"The primary focus of the position will be connecting Plain Sect
farmers to various programs, both public and private, that may be beneficial to
their farming operations," said Don McNutt, director of the county conservation

Will it also be okay for Amish people who aren't farmers, to avail themselves of other government programs, like welfare? Or are the Amish just a reflection of the larger culture they live in? ie; giving tax breaks to the wealthy is good, support for the less fortunate is bad.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I attended the conference "the Amish in America" at Elizabethtown college June 7-9 2007. At a session on agricultural safety, the presenter used a slide show with graphs showing statistics on injuries and fatalities of plain community children. Right at the moment a graph showed that, the disproportionate amount of those injuries are work related, the presenter told us how he wishes he could get his children to do more work. His entire presentation was a flippant dismissal of the idea that the government should be involved in farm safety at all.
I mentioned the aggravating circumstances that leave plain community children increasingly at risk, during the response period. He didn't respond to my question, but instead prattled on about something irrelevant. I confronted him afterwards in the hall, and the first thing he said to me was, "you're the guy that asked the embarrassing question".
What the hell is the purpose of an institution of higher learning? To give meat heads like this guy a platform to spout his propaganda?


The status associated with farming, property ownership, and entrepreneurial success in the Amish community is creating socioeconomic class disparity. Amish people who engage in these activities receive privileges unattainable by those who don't.
My father would invite us to go to my brother's farm for a working / social visit on a Saturday. This kind of inter-action is one of the Amish people's strengths. The dirty secret is that if you're living in a rental property, and work as an employee you are not very likely to be the host for one of those legendary barn raising's. The Amish haven't come to terms with the fact that they aren't solely agrarian anymore. So the paradigm that once worked well, is now setting them up for a classic fall from grace. To bad their authoritarian leadership has such a strangle-hold on dissenting voices. The fall wouldn't have to be so hard if they didn't.

Friday, August 24, 2007


About 5 years ago my now ex-wife's 80 year old father was missing for 24 hours. He left his home in Leola in the morning with a horse and buggy to attend a family gathering in Reinholds. It should have taken about an hour to arrive. He never showed up. He had become lost and wasn't found until the following morning. The family was distraught when nightfall arrived and he hadn't been found. A non-Amish friend and I spent several hours driving around looking for him. A severe thunder storm with torrential rain passed through the area around eleven PM, which made driving hazardous and limited visibility, so we went home, planning on renewing our efforts in the morning.

Because I couldn't sleep, and because I needed someone to talk to, I called another non-Amish friend. Even though it was now 1 AM, he generously helped me plan how to maximize our efforts for the morning. He counseled me to call the police, even though my wife's family had already reported Dad missing, he recommended trying to elicit a specific response of if and when they would issue a missing person alert and what additional measures they could enact.
I took his advice and was told by police that they had to wait for 24 hours to pass before taking any action. That decision, they told me, would be made by the officer coming on duty at 7 AM.

Having taken the "official response" part of our strategy as far as I could for the time being, I turned my focus to getting "missing person" fliers printed and distributed. The new day that was approaching was a Sunday, so I taped fliers to church doors and handed them out to early risers,wherever I found them.
At some point that morning I received a disorienting sequence of phone calls. First the day shift officer called to say they had put out a missing person alert, but they wouldn't be able to organize an official search. A short time later my friend called me to say he had just spoken with the police and they were dispatching several local fire companies to aid in the search. I didn't have much time to think about it at the time, but I recall saying "what did you say, that I hadn't said, to create such a different response?" Within seconds the officer called back to inform me of the revised plans.

So why was my non-Amish friend able to elicit a far greater response from the police than I was?

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Headline in this mornings Intelligencer Journal

More anguish over Nickel Mines

Read article here.


Will there be a review of the police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting?

Was hostage protocol followed?

Was the hostage protocol that was in place appropriate or effective for a one room school?

If a review is done, will it be available to the public?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One of the chapters in Pauline Stevick's "Beyond the Plain and Simple" is titled "An Amish Intellectual". In it she writes;

Reuben is unusual in that he is more perceptive than most human beings,
English or Amish, and I often find myself challenged by his intellect. His
education has obviously not terminated with his eight years of formal

he can't resist reading what is being written about his people. Sometimes
he responds in writing himself. When he does, the average reader may find it
difficult to discern that the critique has not been drafted by a person with
advanced degrees.

Reuben is often more adept at evaluating our way of life than we are at
understanding his.

Reuben demonstrates remarkable ability to communicate to groups as
well as individuals. He has been a speaker on at least two occasions to
assemblages at a local college. Once he addressed the behavioral science
department at a dinner, and another time he served on a panel with a lawyer and
a businessman, speaking to a group of over 250 students on lifestyle issues. A
professor who attended the session remarked afterward that his was easily
the most organized and articulate presentation of the

He sounds like a sharp dude. Stevick writes that Reuben is now a bishop. I wonder if he will give his congregants the liberty to pursue the development of their intellects, or will they experience the "arbitrary, iron-fisted, and totalitarian control" of which the existence of, Reuben dismissed in his letter to the producers of ABC's 20/20 "The Secret of the Amish."

Stevick excerpts the letter.

With perfect aplomb, the reporter tells us that 20/20's search for truth has
revealed a dark side of Amish culture that heretofore has been hidden behind a
facade of quaint, pastoral tranquility. And now, for the first time in the
history of journalism, the true, correct, and completely honest account of Amish
culture has finally been revealed for all the world to see: Amish bishops rule
with an arbitrary, iron-fisted, and totalitarian control, which leaves their
constituency with no meaningful choices in life; and Amish parents habitually
abuse their children.

His use of the word "constituency," is certainly not a fair way to describe the relationship between Amish leadership and their congregants. It is, representative of the "political spin meister" nature of Reuben's writings.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Pauline Stevick in "Beyond the Plain and Simple" does excerpts from the letters of an Amish man she calls Reuben.

Horse and buggy travel is not seen as a handicap. The Amish
are forced to travel wisely; a taxi may be hired if necessary. Businesses
start small. By design they fill a niche that large corporations over-look or
cannot fill. Electronic marvels are rivaled by creative mechanical ingenuity and a dedicated work ethic...As for schooling, victims of today's corporate downsizing are acutely aware that job security is not an automatic adjunct to a degree.

Kraybill is not the only one who has drunk the kool-aid.

The problems of an eighth grade education aren't just about employment and Reuben knows it, but does he say peep about it? Noooo.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Kraybill in the foreword of Beyond the Plain and Simple, by Pauline Stevick

Stevick takes us on an Amish journey that reveals the ways
that we share many of their struggles and concerns.
Perhaps most important is the sense of Amish
agency that emerges from the text.
We hear real Amish people talking about their delights and fears.
And as we hear them speak we realize that although we stand on the other
side of a cultural fence, all of us- Amish and English- share common
bonds of humanity.
That, perhaps, is the most important contribution of this
intriguing collection of stories that takes us
far beyond the plain and simple postcard stereotypes.

It's nauseating to see Kraybill refer to the common bonds of humanity between the Amish and English as important. When, from my perspective, Kraybill has taken great liberty to omit the human story of the Amish.

As a young man I realized that it was possible to learn from other peoples' experience and that basically the human story was my story. It was exhilarating to realize that the issues I struggled with, had been experienced and documented by someone before me.

Not that I'm a psychologist, but I suspect my newly minted solidarity with humanity, conversely heightened my sense of uniqueness. So naturally I ended up searching for writings that were ever more similar to my specific situation.
It's important to understand that at this point in my life I was (and had been for a long time) acutely aware of the lack of accurate portrayals in literary works of my people. So when I stumbled across Kraybill's "the Riddle of Amish Culture" I was astonished at his accuracy and familiarity of the Amish.

So I devoured it, practically in one sitting. I can still feel myself sitting at the kitchen table. (it's the most practical area for everyone to utilize one light source) Even after everyone else had gone to bed I didn't move to a comfortable chair or sofa. As the night wore on the sinking feeling in my stomach sank lower and lower. In spite of his intimacy with Amish life and his skilled observer role, Kraybill was only going to address certain issues, like a politician who can talk at great length and in great detail, but intentionally leaves something unaddressed.

After having endured my entire life with only the most ridiculous, ignorant garbage being written about the Amish, the one guy who finally knows what he is talking about, does a white wash.