Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tis the season

I do a lot of bitching about what I don't like, here's a couple things that I enjoyed!

Chet Williamson does a parody of the Christmas classic "Twas the Night before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore called "Pennsylvania Dutch, Night Before Christmas". It's illustrated by James Rice 
(see if we can get a couple verses in without ver-hutzen the Copyright police)

It vas night before Christmas, und all over the farm,
Nothing vas schusslich,* no cause for alarm.
The socks vere all hung by the chimney chust so,
Vith the hopes they get filled up from ankle to toe.

The nixnootzes schnoozing vithout any sound-
In their heads clear toy candies been dancing around.
And Mama and me , vell, ve outened the light,
Crawled under the covers, and schnuggled up tight.

*schusslich  (SHUS-LICK)- moving around

I could maybe get in a twist about the translation of "schusslich" not being accurate but I guess I'm going soft in my old age. I was reading to the grandkids the other day and since it's Christmas time I thought I would read them the original version of "Twas the Night before Christmas". So I asked my wife if we had an illustrated book of it and she said "no, but we have a Pennsylvania Dutch version of it". My heart kind of sank because I really didn't expect it to be any good. (I'm just so fricken used to being disappointed when it comes to writing about the Amish) But to my surprise it turned out that I liked it! I think the grandkids liked it to! 

Some dude named Belsnickel has replaced Santa Claus. I grew up Amish and had never heard of him so that was just a tad foreign for me, but for some reason, replacing the reindeer with cows was infinitely charming for me. The whole damn schtick is hokey to begin with, so why can't we have a hokey story that's hokey our way? 
(a couple more verses)

Four cows and four steers-they vere harnessed somehow,
And vere dragging behind them an old-fashioned plow,
And there, chust behind it, as sour as a pickle,
Vas a fella ve knew had to be the Belsnickel!
"Now Jakie, now Becky! Now Rachel, Josiah!
On Menno, on Sarah! Esther! Obadiah!
And vatch vhere you're going! There's nothing unviser 
Than stamping your hoofs into stray fertilizer!"

The realism of the fertilizer reference is superb. Williamson makes use of the weight difference between cows and reindeer to use this line "I'll send over Stolzfus your broke roof to fix."
The idea that "our Santa Claus" would know Stolzfus and would tell him about our broken roof, personalizes the myth for me.  Even though I'm unfamiliar with Belsnickel, Williamson has him behaving so like one of us, that I can't help but recognize him. 

(talking about side stepping cow shit, for Gods sake! and passing along a message to someone in the community because he's going that way. Meanwhile the dude is Santa Claus, try holding that picture in your mind!) I Loved it!

Not to mix apples with oranges here but there's this person posing as an Amish girl on Twitter. I'm pretty sure that it is not an actual Amish person who's leaving the posts. But having said that, the posts are Amish oriented and I think they're actually quite funny. Enjoy

Friday, December 19, 2008

npr does it, why not me to?

Want a safe bet in the mortgage world? Try the Amish

The entire planet's mortgage crisis could have been so easily averted. If only all of us were Amish.

The original article romanticized the Amish. This one does it even more brazenly. How about mentioning what else we would be missing out on if we would all be Amish? Like Polio vaccine, or something really simple that even the Amish use, but wouldn't exist if we depended on them for it, like children's Tylenol.

The problem here is that the Amish are being related to as if they weren't really a coherent viable entity. Like, say for example, someone who isn't very health conscious might relate to one of those milkshake drinks that are supposed to be good for you. The thing is probably going to get pitched after a couple of sips or just flat out forgotten.

That's in direct opposition to what the article conveys at face value, which is the idea that our lives would all somehow, magically be better, if only we were more like the Amish.
The author never bothers to understand the Amish and our relationship with them and vice versa, enough to know whether the references used have any validity or make sense.

What contempt she must have for the Amish?

What concerns me is, when will this blatant indifference towards the Amish start showing up in public policy towards the Amish? Or has it already?

npr poops on the Amish

NPR does the typical erroneous portrayal of the Amish here.

Don't get me wrong, there's some scary stuff going on in the financial world and if Amish farmers are making their mortgage payments and that contributes to the banks staying solvent, I don't mind hearing about it!

That said, this piece so distorts reality that it should never have made it past the editor's desk in it's current form.

The producers of this piece submitted wholeheartedly to the old canard that the Amish are somehow impervious to the things that effect the non-Amish. The message was unmistakable, (stability vs. chaos).

Convenient omission number one. Over 50% of the Amish in Lancaster county aren't farmers. What about their mortgages or incomes?

Omission number two, the money that pays off the loans for the farms? Where do you think it comes from? Let me let you in on a little secret, it's not because people are paying $20.00 a gallon for bessie the cow's milk! Simple fact, the money that pays off the farm is not being generated on or by the farm!

The money that's paying for those Amish farm mortgages is coming from tourist trinkets, quilts, manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, if the general economy goes south, so will those Amish loan payments.

The implied message of the article is that the Amish aren't effected by the financial crisis the way the rest of society is. Whenever they're covering the Amish the media reaches for this theme like a drug addict reaching for a crack pipe, they absolutely, positively, can't help themselves.

There was a time when an agrarian life to some extent shielded the Amish from western culture's convulsions. The violence on campuses and civil rights protests during the sixties, or earlier labor disputes that got really ugly are examples, of what one could say, the Amish took a raincheck on.

But they're not isolated anymore. It will be of little consequence how well they or their bank is doing at this point, if our economy implodes there's no way those Amish farm loans won't be adversely effected.

So exactly what was this story about?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Using the Amish

"The permit itself might not be so bad, but to change your lifestyle to have to get one, that's against our convictions," Borntreger said as he sat in his kitchen with his wife, Ruth.

If his convictions were important enough to him, he would seek a solution other than just defiantly ignoring a law he knows his neighbors are required to abide by. He's turning the teaching about "going the extra mile" on it's head if you ask me.

"They just go ahead and don't listen to any of the laws that are affecting anybody else. It's quite a problem when you got people next door required to get permits and the Amish don't have to get them," said Gary Olson, a county supervisor in central Wisconsin's Jackson County, where Borntreger lives.

This defiant posture is particularly out of character for the Amish whose faith asks of them, "to be like strangers in a foreign land, towards civil authority". It makes me question whether the Amish in these cases are being "coached" or egged on by non-Amish acquaintances, who want to push back against zoning regulations and are using the Amish to advance their cause.

The recent political atmosphere has repeatedly produced a marriage of the conservative agenda and the Amish.

Here's a letter to the editor I wrote that highlights the incongruities of such a relationship;

"the Amish have, only recently, successfully petitioned Congress for an exemption to child-labor laws prohibiting people under the age of 18 from working in woodshops. Amendment HR 1943 sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts and signed by President Bush in January 2004 permits Amish children, ages 14 to 18, to work in woodshops but prohibits operation of machinery.

It makes little sense that a community known for its generous charity to each other would seek, through a child-labor law exemption, to gain access for their children to work in an area known to be fraught with injury and death.

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.

A chilling display of Republican arrogance and disdain for the deliberative process. Conservative ideology agrees with Amish belief when it insists government interference is always bad. But Republicans have a track record of passing legislation that favors the rich and powerful while leaving the weak and the poor to fend for themselves.

Are these the kind of values the Amish community wants to be known for?"

We're expected to buy this argument that the Amish are unable to practice their faith because of the big bad zoning requirements, and yet, there has never been a time in all of their history in which they've enjoyed such a cozy relationship with the civil authorities.

Here in lancaster county President Bush has repeatedly had these "spontaneous" (yeah right, these things are never spontaneous!) private, no press allowed, meet and greets with the Amish.

Here's my take on it. I smell a rat, and it's not wearing a broad brimmed hat!

Friday, December 5, 2008


I like what John Ruth had to say about the application of Matt 18 which is the model of church discipline. When Jesus spoke about the one who rejects the counsel of the ecclesia
(church community) he is to be unto us as a heathen and tax-collector.

Before we take this to mean that we are to despise such persons, we should remember that Jesus himself socialized with tax-collectors and had friendly relations with Non-Jews. So what he means in his statement regarding the person who rejects the counsel of the circle is that he may be told, ‘We’ll be neighbors, and we’ll treat you as fairly as anybody but we won’t call it church’.

In effect, you are not in the church if you don’t listen to it. Just as, if as batter you want to call balls and strikes yourself, it’s not baseball. What ‘shunning’ is about is how to relate to someone who on bended knee has promised in the presence of the covenanted circle to obey Christ and the Church and then leaves that particular covenant. End Quote

I think the umpire reference reveals the archaic, subject versus ruler, reality of the Amish church member. There's a lot of happy talk by folks like Kraybill, that the ordnung is mutually agreed upon. It's all a bunch of shit! There's no debate, no discussion, no dissent, nothing that could ever be construed as being an open forum. Sure everyone agrees, but can it truely be said that it's not under duress?

Holding that thought, he contradicts himself here

It is important to remember there is no sacramental value on the ban to the point a banned one is considered as going to hell. The Lord is still the final judge.

If they're not going to hell;

And as to what it is like when somebody does return. The parable of the lost sheep in Matt 18 is very descriptive. Many tears are shed and there is a feeling of restoration.

What are all the tears for? If the bitch ass, black sheep, mother fucker would've just stepped out for some air you wouldn't be bawlin your fool head off, now would you?
(sorry, sometimes it just all comes out at once.)

Sometimes I wonder if the Amish haven't become a very close reflection of western culture. And shunning is just one of those tricks (like the corporate world uses) to dump their dregs, leaving them with a sexy bottom line.
We're starting to understand that when Walmart uses an accounting gimmick to deprive employees of health care insurance eligibility, we as a society pick up the tab.

The Amish peoples practice of shunning may have a price that's being paid by the rest of society also.

The main character in the documentary "Devil's Playground" ended up in jail for drug related offenses.

How many ex-Amish people are wards of the state? Mental institutions, prisons, homeless, on welfare, whatever. Do they really take care of there own?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peace, Love, and balin hay


none of the Amish are planning on spending any money to make sure we get good coverage.

The more serious and authentic coverage can even help some of the Amish understand themselves better.

And also there is kind of an awareness that the tone of the media coverage is usually somewhat more respectful and sympathetic than it was 50 or 75 years ago, especially in the academic circles, for which there is an appreciation amongst the Amish.

And that really is what this conversation is about—to better understand and appreciate each other

Ain't it grand how were all just all one happy family? I'm bout ready to burst into tears!

One of the comments gets a little to close to the truth
I can see that this Amishman is a bit more educated and aware of world happenings than the average. I wonder how the response would be from the "average" Amishman

Far be it from Eric to associate with the rif raf of the Amish world. He likes to hang with the elite and the ed-you-ma-kated types.

(back to the interview)
A computer in a home just simply would not fly. I personally have no desire to have one at home largely because of the problem of monitoring who sees what with the children.

It's called a filter, but then again I've always said that "the wife and kids, they just don't need to know what's going on, ya know, that's a man's job". Yeppers!

Some wish for more intense spiritual expression, in other words they do not appreciate the quiet and deep spirituality that can come from traditional methods of worship.

Oooooh man, you stepped in it now! I'm not religious enough to give a shit about these things, but somebody's gonna bitch slap yo ass on that one!

Had I said "circle jerk" yet?
another comment;

This is a fantastic interview, amazing in fact. A very articulate and educated individual was the subject of your interview. Very impressive indeed.

I'd say your friend is probably a little more astute than many of the Amish that I have met, but then again he seems to be more astute than most of the non-Amish I have met as well!

Ya know, they're over there just gushing over this interview, and maybe there's something to it. But I'm getting the sense that what they're doing is the same thing that happens at a museum. They're ogling at a specimen that's behind glass.
This interview was probably the staged equivalent of Sarah Palin's convention speech. If the Amish guy had to perform in his admirers' world at a level worthy of the accolades being showered on him, he'd probably crumble like a museum piece that's subjected to the elements after being behind glass for a century.

It's kind-a sad, you know. A testimony to the truly oppressive nature of the Amish community. Some blogger manages to roll one out from underneath a rock, and people are AGHAST! LOOK! they scream, "it can even talk!"

Saturday, November 8, 2008


A federal lawsuit is being filed against the Town of Morristown by a Washington, D.C.-based legal organization on behalf of nearly a dozen Amish men facing building code violations.

So the town of Morristown is supposed to buzz off? Then what happens? The Amish will have been granted a "special privilege" that the rest of the citizens aren't privy to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

poppa doc

Seven photos down

Guess, etiquette requires that I don't use names bla bla, but I think we've actually got a bishop at the McCain rally. So who the fuck am I to say what's on the approved list.

I still would call him out of his ever lovin fuckin mind trying to reconcile Old Order Amish faith with attendance at a McCain Palin rally, but at least the head honcho is willing to but his neck on the line.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Some reasons Poffenbarger offered for Amish choosing not to vote include that they believe running for office is arrogant and does not fit with their values of humility and modesty. He also said holding office would violate their desire to separate themselves and their community from the rest of the world.

Andy Weaver, an Amish man who lives in the Somerton area, was a customer at a sawmill owned by another member of the Amish community one recent morning. He and mill owner Dennis Miller said their religious beliefs prevent them from taking part in elections; however, both are paying attention to the process.

Miller did not express a preference for a particular candidate.

"We just stay home and pray that hopefully we'll get the right guy," Miller said.

But Weaver, who had read about the presidential race in that morning's edition of The Intelligencer, knows who he would support if he were to vote.

"I like Obama," he said, noting he prefers the demeanor of Illinois Democrat Barack Obama to that of his Republican opponent, John McCain of Arizona.

"When he got blasted, he didn't waiver off his course," Weaver said of Obama. "I think he's the man we need."

Weaver added that he, as a member of the Amish community, generally opposes war and believes Obama has the better plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

Okay, so he does indicate a preference. Note though that the interview isn't taking place as he's leaving a political rally, and the entire emphasis of the article is that participation, even as a voter is a violation of their values.

Friday, October 31, 2008


After McCain and running mate Sarah Palin appeared at Franklin & Marshall College in September, the Scribbler talked with one of the handful of Amish men who attended the rally.

The man didn't mention McCain.

He talked about "Sarah.''

"She rocked the corners'' is what he said.

He was referring to Palin's ability to extend her personal vibrations to the corners of the crowd.

An Amish guy talking like this about some flash in the pan political celebrity is sick. These slimy son of a bitches! They don't select women for leadership roles in their own community! Attending a partisan political event isn't on the approved list either, so what the fuck! It is my opinion that it's an extremely unwise move for the Amish to become involved in partisan politics. Their faith is very clear on this, they are to be like "strangers in a foreign land" with regard to civic authority. It's not like they don't have non-partisan options in the civic arena, for example, registering voters. But that's getting down into the weeds too far. What's obscene here, other than the vibrating broadfalls, is the omission (to the point of spit in your face vehemence) of the barest minimum of interest or regard for the subject.

The Amish like Palin because she talks in plain language. They especially like her because she talks plainly against abortion and gay marriage, key issues to the Amish.

Since when are abortion and gay marriage key issues for the Amish? Neither of those issues are even remotely on any Amish persons mind on a daily basis. This is a complete and total farce.

A man in a buggy and a woman who rocks the corners.

Strange bedfellows.

Let's call it what it is, an Amish guy that's out of his ever lovin fuckin mind if he thinks that his sentiments about "Sarah" won't infringe on his vow to be "separate and apart" from the world.

and a reporter who plays dumb ass while the Amish guy hangs himself. You think you're so god damned sophisticated with your lack of objectivity! You know what Jack, Fuck You!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


a reporter from one of Poland's largest dailies, traveling through the US hot on the Obama/McCain trail, has dug up an Amishman who apparently had no idea that the elections were going on right now.

'But I never heard of Obama' is the name of the article (translated from the Polish),

So if he is that clueless, Where did he hear of Sen. McCain?, Or is he just taking his place in the right wing chorus that is portraying Sen. Obama as (the other, foreign, or unknowable)?

Maybe you're the one who's getting duped! Just like you were willing to innocently pass along the teenager's disapproval of Obama, now you want to feed us this cock and bull story that clearly falls into the script of Obama being the outsider. And the Amish, oh  they're just these innocent bystanders? You truly are the biggest jack ass of all! 

"We rarely speak with them about anything other than jams", he admits. "People are different. Some of them are no good, which you can see by the way their women dress."

You glibly pretended that you had a casual interest in how the Amish might feel about a woman as Veep or President in your previous post. Come on! don't bull shit me now! Reconcile the statement above with whether he would approve of a woman as chief magistrate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


What kind of vapid drivel is this?

I've sometimes wondered what the Amish would think of a female veep or even president, but have thus far failed to get a reading on that.

Oh yeah, sure! let's pretend that this is a deep thought! One of the great unfathomable mysteries one might encounter while studying the Amish! You're such a total pile of a shit Eric! If Sen. Clinton were the candidate you wouldn't have any trouble eliciting a response. Come to think of it, you quoted an Amish guy here Who said "Old HIllary...I just can't find myself clapping for anything Hillary does."
the 14-year old brother of my friend Abe sort of had a general impression of what was going on in the election and could say that he didn't really like Obama. What he was basing that upon, I'm not really sure.

So the whole post you're going on and on how the Amish are apolitical. Yet the 14 year old kid manages to get a partisan dig in. What the fuck? Do you just naturally come up with this bizarre twisted shit or do you have to work at it?

But again, Amish tend to keep their noses far from the political sphere. In truth, most would probably take the 'you guys pick him, we'll pray for him' approach

As cousin Vinny  said "don't forget about these guys" not to mention your own words

it seems to me that there are some closet political junkies among the Amish out there. I've been listening to interviews with Amish business owners I did in September for an upcoming book, and on more than one occasion our conversational digressions led into the political sphere.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


In at least one curious instance, however, an Amish churchmember reacted quite the contrary to heavenly will. In a historical piece in Family Life, David Luthy describes a now-defunct Amish settlement in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, which had already been experiencing church difficulties:

"The story has been related of one ordination where the lot fell on a young man with little ability. When the truth of the situation seemed to dawn on him, he jumped up in a frenzy and started to run for the door with several men in pursuit. One man grabbed him while he clung to the door kicking at his pursuers. He would not submit to ordination."

Typical reaction? Not likely. Although, even though it may seem comical, this man acted out what some Amishmen must feel when faced with the heavy burden of leading their congregation of souls.

So if it's not typical, why put it in a post on ministry? Is this some twisted attempt at "fair and balanced"? You do have sources that can enlighten you on what it's like.

The position of bishop is probably the most demanding. I was recently on the phone with an Amish friend in Ohio, already a minister. His church had divided earlier in the year, and an ordination had taken place a couple weeks earlier. Among other things, he expressed relief at being passed over for bishop. He describes dealing with church issues as more taxing than anything else he has to handle, including running a business with a dozen employees.

(nice name dropping there, Eric. I'll bet your fellow Amish writer wanna bees are green with envy! Aren't you just hot shit? You're on the phone with an Amish minister and he's a business owner to boot! Toot! Toot!) and "among other things"?, sounds like he poured out his heart and soul over that phone line! Har har, ya really got the inside track on that one. What the hell is he spilling his guts to some English lacky for? Could it be that you're sucking up to him just a wee bit?

Nah, it couldn't be that.

And yet, with all that bull shit you just fed us about your fucking personal relationship with this minister, you couldn't give us one little snippet of personal narrative from his ordination? Not some "parting of the sea" moment, but just a little tid bit that would reveal a fellow human being. It would've been very easy to come up with something better than the cartoon caricature Luthy peddled. But you failed to deliver. You're a fucking embarrassment!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lovin the Amish, (culture war edition)

And sometimes with certain people it even seems animal life becomes more valuable than human life. In my opinion that is unfortunate.

The under lying message here is that it's wrong to care about puppies, it's okay to care, "just don't care so much that you might actually do something that might help the ones that are being neglected." He loves puppies, but I'm not hearing his plan on how to show some love to the ones that ain't gettin it.

This commenter gets more specific just in case you might miss his point.

Makes no sense to me. Society gets all up in arms over these "puppy mills" - yet thousands of unborn HUMAN BEINGS are slaughtered every day without a second thought.

I'll worry about shutting a "puppy mill" down just as soon as the abortion clinic down the road gets shut down.

Regardless - we recently considered getting our daughter a puppy and drove around to a lot of the local breeders in my area. We probably visited a dozen Amish farms in the process - and we saw no sign of abuse whatsoever. In fact the only difference between the Amish breeders and the non-Amish breeders were that the Amish dressed funny and didn't have electricity. They were no different than the "English" families we visited who had a single litter of pups for sale. The Amish were the only folks that would guarantee their dogs and give a refund and pay any vet costs if their was a problem with the pups.

After looking at all those dogs I'm thoroughly convinced the Amish have got a bad rap with this whole puppy mill thing.

Got that? The Amish don't mistreat puppies and even if they do you're not allowed to care because abortion is much worse, (i guess, or something) any way the Amish are good and wonderful just because I said so and don't you dare make them look bad!,,..and....and


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

unfair labor practices

So there's this story

Dan Grinols, a contractor with a business based in Hornellsville, is in the early stages of organizing a meeting to object to Amish workers bidding on state jobs and taking on local work. He claims they are stealing work from contractors that are required by law to pay for insurance and prevailing wage on state jobs. He says this is unjust and he is tired of watching it happen.

and then there's this one

The Amish population continues to explode, growing 84 percent from 1992 to 2008,

Stay tuned


It's no secret that a puppy breeder is out to make a profit. Which is why it is stupefying when protesters attempt to portray all pup breeders, or at least all Amish or Mennonite ones, as operated in the same manner as the few shoddy ones that have been caught and pilloried (rightly) in the media.

It's overplaying one's hand and there's also a good bit of prejudice or profiling or whatever you want to call it, involved. The Amish are plainly conspicuous, and are loathe to get involved, say, by responding through the media.

He's carrying a lot of water for the Amish here, with a lot accusations and no substance. Sounds a little like me, Ha Ha!

I do like to crack myself up! HA HA HA!

And as the Amish are something of an in-joke in many quarters, and one that seems largely unprotected by the PC-umbrella, it works a lot better than if they belonged to another, more 'sensitive' ethnic or religious group.

I agree, western culture does treat the Amish as if they were a joke, and yeah, they do it with impunity, but on the puppy mill issue the Amish don't need defending!

Also quite a few comments (in the comment section of the post) lamenting about the innocent Amish getting blamed along side the guilty Amish. The suggestion that this is important implies that the writers are projecting their values onto the Amish. The communal values of the Amish have more of a sink or swim together emphasis. If Amish leadership condones puppy mills and the public sees them as a negative, it is inherent in Amish values that they universally share the blame. Were there a good faith effort made by leadership, to make peace with the public expectation over conditions and care, this dynamic would change.

But there is also the issue of, "so if they aren't all abusing their dogs, does that mean we can't talk about the ones that are?" and "isn't the way to remedy this to set standards?" and "doesn't the current circumstance imply that the good guys haven't been doing their job?"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Scared of the Amish

Seems pretty straight forward

Ronald E. Piester, director of the state division of code enforcement, said the requirements are clear: one- or two-family homes must have smoke detectors under the New York state building code.

He said state officials appreciate that code enforcement might be a sensitive issue, particularly where religion is involved, but added that local officers are expected "to rigidly enforce the code."

Except to the guy who has to do something about it

In Jefferson County, where officials estimate some 100 Amish reside, there has been a greater reluctance on the part of local code enforcement officers to prosecute them.

Instead, local officers say they are waiting to see both how the Morristown case concludes and whether state officials will step in to resolve the issue.

"It's a state problem," said Michael L. Kieff, Jefferson County senior code enforcement officer. "It should be addressed in Albany and applied everywhere in the state."

Mr. Kieff, like other local enforcement officers, said he has no desire to put Amish residents in jail or take them to court over code enforcement issues like smoke detectors.

These guys are scared shit less of the Amish! Just fucking, throw them the hell in jail if they violate the law! Ya know, we're not bashful about throwing our other fellow citizens behind bars, when they get ver hutzt mit dee ordnung. What the fuck, why be prejudiced against the Amish? Let's let them in on this great American privilege!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Changing Storyline?

What happened to all the hoopla of forgiveness transcending tragedy? It's two years later and were now using phrases like "pain that lingers", "emotional scars that won't heal", and "working hard on forgiving"?

And there's more;
physical and psychological distress, (snip) still has vision problems, (snip) still recuperating. Each has had additional surgery and therapy.

(snip) Many of the 15 boys Roberts ordered out of the classroom feel responsible for leaving their friends behind. Some have suffered profound psychological pain.

"In the long term, some of the boys have had serious medical issues,'' says the health care worker. "Other boys, who weren't even in the school but live in the neighborhood, have had trouble.''

Acknowledges the parent of a school child, "Some of the boys are emotional. I don't know that the pain will ever go completely away. These children will carry scars for a lifetime.''

And last but not least;

They were at ground zero when the unbelievable occurred. They constantly support each other as unexpected aftershocks hit home.

"The journey is a long one -- to work on how to deal with a loss like this and the ongoing pain,'' says Bontrager. "It means working on forgiveness over and over, among other things.''

Would it make any difference if I said "I told you so"?

But what of the implications of why it took two years for their humanity to get a decent portrayal? Are they like dolls which we play act with for a moment before putting them back on the shelf?

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's He Selling?

He just has to say shit he has no damn business saying!

"They're coping very well," said Kraybill, who heads the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.

So, are they doing well? On what basis are we supposed to accept his statement? Or is he just spouting propaganda? Whenever the subject might reflect negatively on the Amish, he's a paragon of the detached impartial observer, but here he gives us no specifics about any individual and yet makes a sweeping statement, that reflects positively on the Amish. And what about the individual that may in fact not be coping well? Did he interview every last person? The whole fucking world thinks they forgave the shooter on day one. Now we're told they're coping very well! What purpose does this portrayal serve? Who is it for?

Do us a favor Kraybill, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not willing to pay the price

Mast is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed this month seeking to stop the government from tagging the ears of cattle with computer chips, chips that Mast and others say violate their religious freedom and may represent the biblical "mark of the beast," condemning those who comply to eternal damnation.

So if they believe this, why aren't they willing to stop having cattle? Since when is "following Jesus, made easy through exemption" their new slogan? Why are we supposed to risk our lives so they can be true to their faith? I thought they were supposed to be willing to give up their life for their faith.

The bitch of it is that, there is no way the Amish guy is doing this of his own volition. Some outsider is helping him, some son-of-a-bitch who cares not a wit how badly the Amish guy is betraying his faith by doing this.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bla bla bla

The Amish approach business with an attitude that holds lessons for the non-Amish world, says Erik Wesner, a researcher who is writing a book about Amish business practices.

yea yea yea. It's so damn chic to critique our own culture! What about the Amish? Are they worthy of the honor of critique? Based on the evidence, apparently not. Real nice of them though, to serve as lab rats in our quest for a better society.

Wesner is the college's Fall 2008 Snowden Fellow and has been conducting research at its Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.

It sounds legit. But, how many of the books are going to be purchased by business people, or is he engaged in unadulterated voyeurism? Is his work going to be legitimate science, or will it only pose as science, while exploiting the otherness of the Amish?

"Mine is more of a business wisdom according to the Amish [approach] with a transference to things the non-Amish can do," he said.

If we are transferring lessons from Amish culture to our culture, we have to first evaluate how our values differ from theirs. In the Kraybill school of thought, a spade in non-Amish culture never transfers into a spade in Amish culture. What's an accepted negative in our world gets passed off as benign in the Amish. The resulting portrayal is that the Amish live in a wonderland world. Now we're going to use those fantasies to critique our business world? Horse poop! This is nothing more than the most base form of voyeurism masquerading as scientific research!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

well well well

David Weaver Zercher in an interview on Amish America

it seems to me that the extension of Amish forgiveness allowed observers who were disturbed by the violence to bring “closure” to this senseless act of violence when in fact quick and superficial closure was not warranted. And the media was more than happy to provide their consumers with a “happy” ending. I myself would have hoped for less closure and more reflection not only on forgiveness, but on the violence that occasioned the Amish response.
Many tourists, however, are not all that interested in learning about Amish life.
I would suspect that Americans are both more informed about Amish life and more misinformed at the same time. That may sound like a contradiction, but I think it’s possible to have a greater familiarity with a group and, by virtue of that familiarity, possess more incorrect information about them.

It's great to see some intelligent dialogue, but I call chicken shit on both the interviewer and Weaver Zercher for their silence on whether the police acted appropriately in their response to the Nickel Mines school shooting. The above quotes reveal a rare insight into the Amish, non-Amish relationship. Armed with that insight, how is it possible to not also be aware of the questions relating to the police response? Ignorance is bad enough, indifference is vile!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

blatant disregard of reality

Given a free and open chance to leave the sect, four of five Amish young adults elect to stay.

Amish kids do not have a free and open chance to leave! What will it take slay this myth? This portrayal is an attempt to identify an aspect of Amish life which western culture can relate to. What is more sacred in western culture than choice? (see, they're just like us!) Too bad it's all projection on our part.
The Amish are first and foremost an authoritarian community. They're doctrine is very clear, leaving is a ticket to eternal damnation! If you're seventeen years old and have been immersed in an all encompassing propaganda that promotes that view point, how valid is the idea that you have a choice?
I applaud promoting our commonality, but doing so with utter disregard for their reality is demeaning. Erroneously projecting our values onto them is arrogant on our part and reveals a contempt for their real identity. To top it off, the over all gist of the article pretends to cast them in a favorable light. What a crock of hoooie!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Members of the conservative Swartzentruber Amish sect have rejected a possible agreement about the disposal of sewage from two outhouses at the group’s Barr Township school.

There was a time when municipalities were heavy handed about everyone kowtowing to regulations. Now the roles seem to be reversed. It is one thing for libertarians to push back at the reach of government, but a completely different ball of wax for the Amish to do it. The political right wing has frequently used the Amish as props to further their "less government agenda", all the while pretending that these efforts are compatible with the Amish people's best interests. Nothing could be further from the truth, they are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Some religious folks are recognizing that they've been played

I am confident that Mrs. Palin is a delightful, sincere, thoughtful, and capable woman with many commendable virtues. But in fairness, there is nothing “traditional” about mothers of young children becoming career moms, chief magistrates, and leading nations of three hundred million, nor is this pattern the biblical ideal to which young women should aspire. At a time when motherhood and marriage is so under attack, the message Republicans are sending is this: Winning political elections is more important than the following proposition given by the Lord: “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5).

Would that my peeps realize that being props for a political party is a betrayal of everything their faith asks of them. But in a culture where rational thought is frowned upon one can only hope.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

feed back

you do cuss a lot. maybe it feels like it adds
weight to your points. in
fact the opposite is true, especially in
print. to the reader it feels like
just so much off-gassing. the
commentors are right that it has more to do
with your issues than
"the amish and us".

you're angry, elam. who
are you really angry at

"cranky expatriot"

So with a little therapy everything will be okay? Fuck you "expatriot"! Genteel language and even handedness in the face of injustice is the refuge of those who don't want to fess up to what 's going on. If you really think I'm full of hot air, why don't you engage me on the issues instead of patronizingly dismissing me? Tell me, if a heavily armed and disturbed person has taken your child hostage, do you want the police to pound on the door of the room they are in? What possible good can come from our public servants operating by a different set of rules when they are dealing with a certain part of the population?
The police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting isn't the Amish peoples' problem. It's up to the government and its' citizens who commissioned those officers to determine whether they performed according to the expectations and protocols that have been established to regulate them. If that doesn't happen, it sets a clear precedent, ( even if it turns out the police performed appropriately, but we'll never know, will we?) that the Amish aren't important enough for us to bother to live up to our own values. If an event as big as the Nickel Mines school shooting can be swept under the carpet, what else is happening in which the Amish are being treated like second class citizens?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

equal under the law?

Kerosene recall raises questions about Amish woman's death

The fire was ruled accidental and New Wilmington police Chief Carmen Piccirillo said Thursday after learning of the recall he still maintains that ruling.

Nobody's making an allegation of any criminal activity,” he said. “This really isn't a police matter. None of it is.”

Some one died! Possibly because of a wrongly labeled product and there is no criminal investigation? What! Someone is just going to come forward and say, "Whoops, my bad!"

It would serve us well to keep in mind that we don't know how William Penn's experiment is going to work out in the long run. Unquestionably the citizens of our nation live under two different sets of rules. How is that going to work? Maybe a criminal prosecution isn't of essence in every case, but who will decide? And what happens once someone discovers that this is a situation that can be exploited? (stayed tuned!)

oey vey!

Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down! So LNP ran a letter to the editor in which the writer referred to the two men who shot eighty dogs as "savages"! Ya know, what they did was brutish. But I think savages is more than a little over the line! There are shades of grey in this issue. Our dietary habits require the slaughter of animals and Americans embrace and idolize the use of cars for transportation which is responsible for the maiming and killing of countless animals. Who among us is going to give up their cars for the sake of protecting animals? By the way, more than a few of those animals getting run over by cars are someones pet!
It's not like they choose to randomly kill animals for their own perverse enjoyment. Would LNP run a letter that referred to the soldiers who carried out this mission as savages? I don't think they would, but like I said before, when it comes to the Amish it just fucking doesn't matter!

I don't in any way condone what they did. I do think the greater wrong for them personally is that they were well aware of how callous their actions were and they did it anyway, in spite of how it would play out in the larger culture. Their defiance is a hideous assault on what there faith asks of them.

The last thing they should be engaging in is a defiant critique of the larger society, but I do wonder whether they aren't right, (if as I'm suggesting, their actions were the equivalent of "fuck off! and don't tell us how to live our lives") however boorish and inappropriate their behavior was, our behavior may in fact not leave us with a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing theirs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Words of wisdom

Crockhead's aunt Tillie checks in

But I think our bishops are going to have to get together and talk about
whether allowing members of our churches to have puppy mills isn't more sinful
than allowing them to have colorful clothing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Flames lapping higher

This should turn the heat up a notch!

Under a full moon, more than 100 people gathered on a country road here
Friday night for a somber candlelight vigil to remember 80 dogs shot to death by
two Amish farmers late last month.


Author, psychologist and animal welfare advocate Jana Kohl has vowed to
wage war on Pennsylvania's Amish tourism industry by exposing inhumane treatment of breeder dogs by the Amish and Mennonite communities.


"A lot of people with a lot of money and resources are prepared to venture
into a campaign like this," she said. "It's going to be a bigger and more
embarrassing campaign than people expect, and it's going to shock."

What a train wreck! The plain community is profoundly dependent on the goodwill of the larger society for the peaceful and mutually beneficial co-existence that they currently enjoy! Their failure to get this monkey off their back reveals an epic flaw in the viability of their social structure. Think about it; plain community doctrine demands, and receives unquestioned fealty from it's adherents over mundane issues like the width of their hat brims. Shouldn't they be able to recognize that this issue needs a remedy and bring their famed communal strengths to a solution?

Sunday, August 10, 2008


If this is supposed to represent nuanced and intelligent dialogue. (He apparently fancies himself as an unofficial spokesperson for the Amish.)

The intellectual incoherence of his positions are almost too numerous to mention, but I'll try.

1. Using language that evokes physical violence (cut a gash) is unbecoming for a pacifist.

2. I agree that someone is going to burn in hell over the financial structure of our health care system, (that is, if there is such a thing as hell, and in this case I'm hoping there is!) but the separate and apart dictum embraced by the Amish precludes involvement, so unless he wants to sink or swim with the rest of us he needs to sit the hell down and shut the fuck up! Not to mention, the critique he is engaging in isn't tolerated in his own community, so if he believes in criticism why the fuck doesn't he advocate and promote it in his own community?

3. There's an adversarial tone of thinly veiled threats one might expect from a political lobbyist or a corporate litigator,

Surely the Plain folks gave the Lancaster County tourist industry a
substantial amount of business. For more than 70 years, the Plain lifestyle
seemed to be one of the county's main attractions. And just suppose all the
Plain folks hooked up to the electric grid. Eastern Lancaster County might
experience a mini blackout. Suppose we unhitched all the horse and buggies and
horse-drawn farm equipment and depended on fuel power instead of oats: Maybe gas prices would go up much more.

Consider if the Plain folks would decide to send their students to public
schools. School taxes would go through the roof.

how can that tone be reconciled with the "strangers in a foreign land" posture Amish faith demands?

4. If it's so awful for Amish folks to have their name in the paper, why the hell is his name in the paper?

To the extent that this guy represents Amish leadership or is condoned and given free rein by Amish leaders, his writings under score what I've been saying here for sometime, that there's going to be social discord between "the Amish and us". Meanwhile the folks who could be educating us on the issues that will need to be addressed are still portraying the Amish as this cute amusement, unworthy of serious dialogue.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I would like to say this is a good article, but it's not! Omitting Amish taxi use in the equation is too big of an error. Once that cost is included it becomes painfully obvious that the horse and buggy is an archaic decoration that serves no practical function. But, God forbid someone point out the obvious. Fuck-em, fuck-em all!
There was a time when maintaining a horse and buggy blended seamlessly with farm culture. Today's non-farming Amish have the additional cost of a barn which they otherwise wouldn't use. Comparatively, a car takes up a lot less space than a horse and buggy, plus hay and bedding. Fuck, a car can be parked on the street! Someone needs to look up the definition of "research"!
If he wants to redeem himself he could write about the disproportionate burden these costs have on lower income non-farming Amish.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Straight talk

It's time to recognize that marrying near cousins can create genetic
disasters that cause great suffering for children and staggering hospital bills
for parents.

Why should one group be singled out for special treatment?

Monday, July 7, 2008


In other words they're making shit up!

Weaver says Amish "Dutch'' not only has added English words but has altered
German words.
"From generation to generation, each of them speaks a little
worse and that's how language deteriorates,'' she says. "They think they speak
German, but it's not. It's their own invention.''
The Amish place little
emphasis on proper terminology, she says.
"This is not a criticism for the
Amish,'' she explains. "It's purely from a linguistic point of view. The way
they say things is their own kind of Bird-in-Hand language.''

It's no secret that losing your language is a grave threat to your identity, but, oh no! nobody dares to say the obvious, that the Amish are doing something really stupid! The hack that wrote the article could have interviewed someone knowledgeable on the impact of not maintaining language, but instead we'll just have a circle jerk about how hunky dory things are with the Amish. Fuck him! And everyone else that enables this romantic bull shit!

Monday, May 19, 2008


How many million words were printed to convey the tragic events of the
Nickel Mines school shooting? Was there one tiny reference to whether
the police handled things appropriately?
The two definitive naratives that emerged were the heroism of the
police and the forgiveness from the Amish. Both were portrayed as
beyound reproach. I believe the Amish and the non-Amish would be well
served by taking a second look and asking some hard questions. One
question the Amish need to answer is, since the police were willing to
risk their lives for them, is there anything important enough that is
worth putting our lives on the line for? If there is nothing, then the
Amish have become a ward of the State.
Nothing could be more detrimental to the authenticity of their faith.

Good Bye Cruel World

Harvey Yoder, the author of "The Happening", gave me a verbal
confirmation this morning that his portrayal of a "pounding on the
door, something heavy was being used, then the shooting started." was
accurate. He even went further than that in stating that, "the police
were breaking in, when the shooting started". The State Police
Commisioner Jeffery Miller has publicly denied this version of events.
So who is right? Does any one even care? I can't fathom that this
event wasn't horrendously mis-handled by the police. But when the
Amish are involved it just fucking doesn't matter. Create what ever
God damned reality you want, everyones a hero.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Amish protest state crackdown on midwife

Why are the Amish constantly asking for an exemption for one thing or another? The only way for the Amish to maintain there "separate and apart" status is if they remain inconspicuous. Showing up at the State Capital by the hundreds to petition for special privileges doesn't cut it.

Here they showed up to support a child molester. Like a friend of mine would say "real fucking cool, real fucking cool".

Here, their taxi drivers are running afoul of the law. You would think they would be a little more sensitive about our laws, considering how legalistic they are.

Here, they want to dump their sewage on their fields in spite of being asked not to. What can I say? Where the hell is their public relations guy?

Here, they're in an ongoing public relations debacle over building codes. My understanding of the situation is that they could very easily attain what they want by applying for a variance at the state level. If they want to be different, let them be different, but have them achieve it the way any one else would. If outside groups succeed in creating a privileged status for them, there's going to be hell to pay and the sonsofbitches that made it happen aren't going to be around when that debt is paid.

Oh, and just in case you thought it's not going to get worse

In terms of being a public relations disaster, none of the above have the perfect storm qualities of this. Check out the comments here, here, here, and here

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Found here

Unadulterated Amish expression is hard to come by. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The Thursday presentation included a timeline of the Nickel Mines event, as
well as information regarding emergency medical response, criminal
investigation, handling the media, community concerns and lessons learned. The
workshop was developed for a law enforcement audience, and attendance was
restricted to include law enforcement officers and school administrators

Lessons learned?

Restricted audience?

Are we being a bit cautious about where and when we'll talk about about this?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hi de ho hi de hum

What's one more exemption?

Critics say Amish religious rights violated by upstate NY town

Sunday, March 2, 2008


found here

Can the Amish be libertarians?

On the surface, my beliefs are obviously different than theirs. However,
after reading about the Amish, I know that we both understand that relying on
government is a dangerous and spiritually undermining way to live. In fact, I
might even call the Amish libertarians.

I'll have to think about this one. Mostly because it could be a useful comparison.


From the Toledo Blade

One popular party site in Geauga County is hidden deep within the woods,
the dirt path barely visible from the road. Nearly half a mile into the woods,
an abandoned campfire site is littered with beer boxes and cans. Deputies once
came upon 200 buggies when they broke up a party there.When Lieutenant McCaffrey
does find a drinking party, he knows how to handle it.A few years ago, he was
called to an outdoor party of about 300 Amish revelers."I got on the radio and
said, `Find me a bishop, any bishop,'" Lieutenant McCaffrey recalls.With a
bishop by his side, Lieutenant McCaffrey approached the bonfire party.The crowd
got very quiet, turned off the music, and started speaking in German.

Is the State pushing religion onto these kids? From the perspective of the kids, has the State formed a special alliance with the Amish church? If so, does that alliance constitute promotion of a religion?

If the answer is yes, then WTF. If the answer is no, would it still be no if the Amish weren't a minority?


From the Tribune Democrat

EBENSBURG — An Amish schoolhouse in Barr Township has unpermitted outhouses that are illegally emptied onto farm fields, sewage enforcement officials

Whatever happened to "if you're in Rome, do as the Romans do"?

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Don't know if this has anything to do with his Amish heritage, but I thought it was a hoot.

(full disclosure), Stephen is my son.

Then again, maybe his sentiment is on target.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This is the third or forth time LNP has covered these folks. I've sorta used up my four letter word quota in the post below, but hell, is LNP turning into a church news letter?

What needs noting is that this oft repeated story is only the tip of the iceberg. LNP's failure to report on the larger context of longstanding tension between Evangelicals and Old Order Amish practices, reveals a bias that favors Evangelicals. There's a struggle being waged for the identity and soul of the Amish church. Failing to report on the effects this saga is having on the lives of our fellow human beings is a disgrace to journalism.

Here's a couple examples of what LNP is not telling you about this subject.

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.

promoted on their 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.

From where I stand, a head line like this deserves a couple four letter words.

Shedding 'Light' on the Amish BY LORI
VAN INGEN, Intelligencer Journal Staff

Friday, February 22, 2008


This is old news, but I didn't realize he had actually addressed the Amish kids

Pitts also made a plea to Amish teens, asking them not to participate in
the show.

Church and state getting a bit cozy, eh? Who the fuck is he to tell Amish kids what to do? They have the bishop breathing down their neck and as if that wasn't enough their fucking congressman needs to get in a couple licks to!
From the Hawk

Yet, it takes a level of confidence to be able to look this world of
temptation in the face and treat it as nothing more than an offer that you will
never be accepting.
The Amish children interacted with the "English" college students without
the slightest inquisitiveness. When asked if they had any questions, the
children were uninterested in participating, even though they were happy to
answer questions about their many pets or family vacations.

Wouldn't this be referred to as "brain washing" under any other circumstance? And what happened to all the nonsense about making a "choice" in their "rum-springa" years?

An Amish boy on the cusp of release from childhood, Jacob will never engage
in most of the conceptions of fun held dear by his competitors. Instead he will
aim for contentment in the alternate existence which has been laid out for him
since birth. Even an outsider from the world of absurdity, difficulty, and
confusion that lies just miles outside his schoolhouse can see: That kind of
conviction is something to be proud of.

Absurdity, difficulty, and confusion?, Wow! Your world must just be awful. I guess it's just so damn chic to lambaste western culture, especially in conjunction with references to Amish life. As someone with an insider perspective, it's also a surefire indication that the writer is insincere and truly doesn't care about their subject.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Had Landon and his producing pal Brian Bird strived to break free of the
strident Jesus jonesing, had they allowed their characters to act like human
beings instead of physiological parables, Saving Sarah Cain might have worked.
As it stands, it's a dull, underdeveloped drone.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Did the media create a story that wasn't there?

If no one except the shooter was responsible, Then the reporters question about "anger at the shooter's family" is devoid of significance. The shooter is dead. There is no history of violence or grievance between the victims' and the perpetrator's surviving relatives. So the only forgiveness that has any relevance at this point, is the slow, middle of the night, agonizing personal journey kind. So how can you explain the idea that forgiveness transcended tragedy?

What was all the hew and cry over forgiveness about, if how the media portrayed it had no rational relevance to what was actually happening?

Was the reporter's question, "Have you already forgiven them?" akin to rape, because of how inappropriate and violently intrusive it was to the Amish grandfather?

In "Amish Grace" The authors illustrate the development of a culture by comparing it to a musician's repertoire.

A repertoire is a set of musical pieces that a performer knows especially well
from frequent practice. It reflects an artist's background and training, and
serves a performer in a situation when there is no time to learn something new.

Using this analogy, is it safe to assume that the Amish grandfather was unprepared in several key areas?

No.1 Having his granddaughters slaughtered.

No.2 Being interviewed at 5:30 in the morning by a TV news crew.

No.3 Being questioned on camera about a crucial component of his faith and whether he is complying to its dictum's.

Number three is the kicker. For her to question whether he is living up to the expectations of his faith, at that moment, is about as vile and offensive as any scenario I can fathom. But she does it under the guise of the newsworthiness of what he's purportedly capable of doing, revealing and epic misjudgment in cultural sensitivity. Amish faith is first and foremost "walking humbly with their God", asking this grief stricken man to exhibit, what seemed to all the world like a special trick, was asking him to defile the essence of what his faith is about.

An excerpt from "Amish Grace"
For the Amish, genuine spirituality is quiet, reserved, and clothed in humility,
expressing itself in actions rather than words.

Since her question had no relevance, not only was she creating something that didn't exist for her own selfish needs, she defiled his faith by asking him to put it "on display".

Monday, February 11, 2008

From "Amish Grace" by Kraybill, Nolt, and Zercher.

At about 5:30 on Wednesday morning, two days after the shooting, the
sleepless grandfather of the two slain sisters was walking by the schoolhouse,
reflecting on his loss. A little more than twenty-four hours earlier, he had
made grueling trips to two different hospitals only to see the young girls die
in their mother's arms. Suddenly TV cameras caught him in the glare of
floodlights, and a reporter stepped toward him.

"Do you have any anger toward the gunman's family?" she asked.


"Have you already forgiven them?"

"In my heart, yes."

"How is that possible?"

"Through God's help."

What relevance does "anger towards the gunman's family" have here? Of all the possible questions that she could have asked, why this one?

Was it an appropriate question to ask? Would she have asked it of someone from her own culture?

The Amish are a private people. Prying at their faith at a time of unfathomable pain and loss is a heinous and despicable act. Why was this story even run? Why does she still have her job?

David Shuster and Don Imus got their asses kicked when they stepped out of line. I guess the Amish just got the short end of the stick again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

who's projecting?

A line from "Amish Grace" by Kraybill, Nolt and Zercher.

These simple acts of Amish grace soon eclipsed the story of schoolhouse

No one except the shooter was in any way responsible for the carnage, So how did the generosity shown by the Amish to the shooters family carry so much weight? It certainly was a generous and humane gesture, but for those gestures to legitimately out weigh the carnage, they would have to be chosen as an alternative to retribution. Since the shooter acted alone and there was no history of reactionary violence between any of the players involved, there is no way to equate the kind of nobility to these generous acts in the way nobility would be awarded to forgiveness that stops a cycle of revenge killings.

I have contended that the Amish didn't push the forgiveness narrative, that in fact, to have done so, is the very antithesis of what it means to be Amish.

an excerpt from "Amish Grace" by Kraybill, Nolt , and Zercher.
Mary, a young mother, explained, "Often at a viewing many people just shake
hands and don't say anything. I often say, 'We will think about you a lot.' I
don't say, 'I'm praying for you,' because that would sound to proud."

How can you reconcile the subdued tone revealed in this quote, with the idea of extending forgiveness to a mass murderer before the victims blood has dried? Isn't that a proud, even arrogant position to take? I propose that it was in fact, the police showing up with their guns and Roberts' response to their presence that evoked the dramatic forgiveness language from an otherwise passive and subdued people. I've attended a public meeting where the State Police Chaplain who responded to the shooting recounted approaching an Amish elder in the school yard. The Chaplain related that the first words out of the elders mouth were, "We forgive this person". I question whether the intent of the elders' statement wasn't more about disassociating his people from what had just happened, than it was about forgiving the perpetrator. (aside from how weird it is that he is speaking for his people about such a personal journey) Did he deduct that, (because they had called the police) they, (the Amish) were associated to the violence that resulted and the dramatic forgiveness language was his way of bailing from it as fast as he could?

Consequently I believe, "forgiveness" was a story that was foisted onto the Amish by an ignorant and callous media. The implication behind the forgiveness narrative purported by this line from "Amish Grace" is dependent on the idea that the Nickel Mines community would have decended into lawless chaos and acts of retribution if the Amish hadn't intervened. That means the creation of the "forgiveness narrative" is dependent on the perception that the Amish are one provocation away from becoming barbaric Neanderthals. At any rate, the media was more than willing to push the story, reality be damned and the viewing public hung on every word like a bunch of suckers.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


The day after the Nickel Mines school shooting I had a screaming shit fit at the News director at WGAL over how they were portraying the forgiveness thing. His point of reference was the visit made by the Amish to the Roberts family. I challenged him whether the word forgiveness had been used. He took offense to my query, saying that their reporters cross referenced the story.

An excerpt from "Amish Grace" by Kraybill, Nolt, and Zercher indicates someome took some liberty with what actually happened.

Amos, an Amish minister in one of the nearby church districts, described
it to us like this: "Well, there were three of us standing around at the
firehouse on monday evening. We just thought we should go and say something to
Amy, Robert's widow."

"we just talked with them for about ten minutes to express our sorrow
and told them we didn't hold any thing against them."

Generous? yes, pie in the sky goobly de gop about instant forgiveness of the shooter? it's not there is it? I have no doubt that these folks knew exactly what their faith expected of them, but they didn't make a big fuss about it. So who was it that did?

Bottem line, the Amish didn't push the forgiveness story.

The Grandfather who was interveiwed in the wee hours of the morning wasn't looking for an opportunity to tell the world that he had forgiven. Remember, it was the interveiwer who asked the question. Have you forgiven? As if she were at a sporting event querying a contestant who was facing the biggest challenge of their life.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An excerpt from Amish Grace

The Amish had only words of praise for the police. "The police were
magnificent," said one Amish shop worker, who added, "I’ll wave at them the next
time I see them."

Yea, they have just risked their lives for your lame assed, separate and apart, pacifist, shit fucks, easy on the gratitude or you might over do it! Maybe if you’all would have risked your lives for what your faith asks of you, the police wouldn’t have needed to risk their lives. Who knows, the end result might have been better too.

Again, according to "Amish Grace".
At one moment in the unfolding tragedy, Roberts mumbled something about
giving up and even walked toward the door, according to one of the survivors.
For some reason, however, he returned to his plan, telling the girls that he was
sorry he had to "do this."

What if, instead of armed police circling the school the Amish would have gathered in the school yard in prayer and gently knocked on the door?

Compared to what did happen.

"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.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I was just cruising around on the customer reviews on of "Amish Grace" by Kraybill, Nolt, and Zercher. Just in case you're wondering, if you're hoping to find a critical review, there's none there. Is there any other social scientist who has achieved the stature and prestige that Kraybill has achieved as an authority in his field with as little critical peer review? I mean, Kraybill's not just some huckster who makes shit up for popular consumption, right? The credibility of science depends on serious peer review, not just writing style and format, but subject.

crickets chirping......

Haven't heard of any independent review of the Nickel Mines school shooting either. Think about this for a minute; there are six people dead, five victims, one perpetrator. Five more were wounded, one of those is greiveously disabled and you're telling me the police are not going to be required to give an account to the public about whether this incident was handled appropriately? More importantly, the public isn't going to demand that this incident is examined by qualified people for lessons learned or flaws in the enacted protocol?

Seems like my homies are getting the short end of the stick here.

No shortage of adulation for them about the forgiveness schtick though. Yea, that's right I said schtick. If they wanted to practice loving their enemy the time to do it would have been to not call the police, but to join the girl who said "shoot me first".

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Everybody is a critic, but I think it's inappropriate for the Amish to take a swipe at the non-Amish. Doesn't their faith demand of them to be like "strangers in a foreign land"? Isn't the Amish interpretation of the separate and apart dictum a critique in it's self? So when they act out this double jeopardy scenario, what happens to the integrity of their original commitment to be Amish? What about the irony of their participation in the privileges of a free and open society, when their own culture doesn't condone the kind of criticism from within, that they're directing at the non-Amish?

Their partisan involvement in the 04 election evoked another double jeopardy scenario. Voting wasn't the problem. Allowing themselves to become partisan props was the culprit. My concern is that there isn't any push back from the non-Amish, why aren't they held accountable? If the blogger I linked too would've confronted the Amish carpenter on the spot (why is the guy building high end homes if he thinks it's so terrible, who is the money gruber)? about the issues I raised and reported on the conversation that followed, not only would've he had a story, he would've done the Amish and the non-Amish a service.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I've complained about the inhumane tactics used by fundamentalist Christians when they're proselytizing the Amish. The Amish are capable of being every bit as vile when it comes to religious warfare. I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance who left the Amish about forty years ago. He recently attended his brother in law's funeral who was Old Order Amish. The minister doing the service delivered a blistering message damning wayward members and after the service a family member publicly accosted him for his lapsed membership in a demeaning fashion. By any rational assessment my acquaintance is a dedicated, committed Christian, I don't have any sworn testimony, but I bet a lot of folks think he's a fine human being. I could understand if they couldn't refrain from stepping up the vitriol for a heathen like myself, but damn, that shit ain't right!