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".