Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nobody Home

I think it's time for some leadership on the issues facing our county over the welfare of dogs in commercial breeding operations.

Obviously, there are heavily vested interests on both sides of this issue and, from the looks of it, they're digging in for what is going to be a nasty squabble that's not going to be resolved anytime soon.

Every time powerful interests have a go at each other, there is a side effect known as "collateral damage." In this case it'll be the image of Lancaster County and its citizens, who are going to bear the burden for the carnage that's about to ensue.

With this in mind, I've contacted the local parties that I thought would have a stake in avoiding such an outcome. Identifying myself as someone with recent and close ties to the plain community, I contacted the Chamber of Commerce, the tourist bureau, the Humane League, my state representative and the county commissioners, and asked if there was anyone taking a proactive approach to solving the "puppy mill" issue and expressed an interest in participating in a solution.

Their response was, regarding an active program, no one was doing anything. And none of them gave me any specific details that would indicate that they're about to change that.

Why is it acceptable, for those who are supposed to be looking out for the interests of Lancaster County, to sit on their hands at a time like this?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WSJ vid of Dr. Morton's work with the Amish

Monday, March 30, 2009

Take that, NPR!

Unfortunately, when an incident like the crash makes headlines, rumors begin that Amish parents allow or even encourage their children to “sow their wild oats” during this period.

That is simply not true, said Levi Barkman, bishop of Amish church district 34-1 between Millersburg and Topeka.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cracks in the system

Did the Amish church commandeer Daniel Stoltzfus' employees? (Intell March 4.) After the employees are gone, how is he supposed to pay off the loan? Amish businesses have so many exemptions nowadays that his profit margin may not have survived after hiring non-Amish employees, so without cash flow or a means of generating it, he wasn't going to qualify for a loan with a non-Amish lender. Not only did he lose his livelihood here, he also lost his home.

The courts so far haven't granted Stoltzfus any reprieve, but it seems to me that this situation reflects the very essence of why we are a nation of laws. Because without laws we become groups of feuding tribes.

Is that what the judges who are hearing these cases want for the shunned Amish like Stoltzfus? In essence leaving them to wander like outcasts between the Amish and the non-Amish, neither citizen nor church member?

Color me Apologist

Amish are typically intelligent businesspeople. Think about the furniture we buy when in Lancaster. Pretty high quality, right? Just as with most everything else the Amish sell--those wholesome pies, painstakingly hand-stitched quilts, etc. That's the reputation, in any case.

See, the Amish are trustworthy and reputable;

So where is the economic sanity in masses of Amish breeders pumping out sub-par puppy product--dogs that die on pet store shelves or shortly after getting them home--as most of these stories and the activists that propagate them seem to imply?

The logic here is that the Amish wouldn't be stupid entrepreneurs, so the critics must be mistaken.
Someone who truly had the best interests of the Amish in mind, would be willing to allow them to be flawed, and would do them the favor of holding them accountable when they're in the wrong.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Betraying our own values

NPR does it again with an erroneous portrayal of the Amish! The idea that Amish kids have a choice whether to join the church or not is a myth. Shame on NPR for letting this therapist promote that concept as if it were real.

If he is so oblivious to Amish kids' reality, how is it possible for him to be effective as a therapist for them?

Cates portrays rumspringa as serving the role of preventing the Amish from being a cult. This is an outrageous claim, when it is Cates' dishonest portrayal,(the illusion that they have a choice) that has the opposite effect of making them more susceptible to being a cult!

And he is the one these kids come to for help! That would drive me to drink too! He admits that if they (his Amish clientele) leave the church after being counseled by him, the Amish would no longer use his services. He makes it sound like it's his responsibility to make sure he doesn't inadvertently influence them in such a way that they would end up leaving. I've got a piece of advice for him. He better not over compensate so much that he becomes a part of the coercive machinations of their community that are trying to get them to stay!
Then again, doing so would be a good growth strategy for his business, now wouldn't it!
He is the privileged beneficiary of a free and open society. He better not betray the values that enrich his own life in his work with these kids, or I hope he burns in the hell, that his Amish clients are taught to believe will be their fate if they leave!

If a teenager has a selection of colleges that he or she can go to, but his parents will only support him or her financially or otherwise if he or she choses one specific college, is that a choice? Now add to that the concept that all of their conscious life the teenager has been indoctrinated in the importance of going to this one specific college, not only by the parents but also by the larger group that they are a part of. Not only is there a constant emphasis on the importance of going to this certain college but there is a very clear distinction made about what happens to those who don't chose the right college. Not only can the ones who don't chose correctly no longer be a part of the group, there is a constant example made of them, how terrible their life is because of their poor judgment. And the entire reason the group even exists in the first place is for the soul purpose of facilitating the opportunity to go to this one college. Keep in mind also that, should the teenager defy all of this and choose a college other than the sanctioned one, he or she is going to be ill prepared to function at any other college because, all their life up to this point was directed towards preparation for the "right" college. Because of this inward focus by the teenager's group, the curriculum and the focus at a college he or she ends up going to will be foreign to him or her.

I think it's fair to say that no one in western culture would glibly refer to the above scenario as a "choice" for my hypothetical teenager without at least acknowledging some serious constraints. Neither would they casually accept the idea that teenagers with in this group who are engaging in self-destructive behavior, are just engaging in a benign rite of passage that is actually good for the group as a whole.

And yet when it comes to the Amish, it doesn't matter how illogical the portrayal is, everybody is onboard for idolizing the Amish, never mind how grotesque a betrayal of our own values doing so is, or the effect it has on vulnerable Amish teenagers who are desperately in need of rational thought.

Don't want to take my word for it? This guy has my back

Despite its unprecedented access to wild Amish youth in Ohio, The Devil’s Playground widely disseminated a huge misconception. And a huge disservice to the Amish. One that’s almost impossible to uproot. The belief that the Amish allow their youth a time to explore, to run wild, to live a mainstream lifestyle. To decide whether or not they really want to remain Amish.

I’m not saying that never happens. It probably does, in some rare individual families. But as a church policy, it is utterly false across the board. Never has been that way. Never will be. The Amish church does everything in its power to maintain its grip on the youth. Including applying some of the most guilt-ridden pressure tactics in existence anywhere in the world. No sense encouraging anyone a taste of outside life. Because there’s always a good chance they might not return, regardless of their good intentions when they left.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spin Meister

In conclusion we love God because he first loved us, and we should seek his grace rather than his favor, which is reason enough not to judge. We acknowledge we are imperfect, and sinners who need help (grace). The Amish do not judge those of other faiths and denominations, but are not inclined to compromise their own beliefs merely to be accommodating. And to refute a certain stereotype, the Amish do not believe they are the only right ones and all the others wrong.

The Amish don't judge those of other faiths and denominations? And yet if an Amish boy would want to date a Jewish girl the fucking sky would be a-fallin!, So how is that not being judgemental? Or is he going to get to make up all the rules as he goes along? By whose standards and from what perspective can it truly be said that the Amish aren't judging other faiths and denominations?

The reality is, this guy is blowing smoke out of his ass! What is actually said in those Sunday morning sermons is a different story. The Amish are poorly educated and emotional manipulation is a mainstay of how they keep there adherents in line. As long as they want to use coercion to browbeat their children into believing that, yes, everybody else is wrong, then they don't deserve to be seen as reasonable and nonjudgmental, because they aren't!

As matter of fact, why don't we turn this up a notch? How about we ask Mr. what's his name, if the Amish ministers ever use the part of scripture that addresses what will happen to Jews who refuse to accept Jesus as the long awaited Messiah to insinuate that the Holocaust was that scripture coming to fruition. How about we ask him if he has ever been in church when such an insinuation was made, and if he was, what did he do about it? Can he look us in the eye and say he will never, in the future sit under a sermon in which such an insinuation will be made. And again, the kicker here is, what's he going to do about it when it does happen?

When thinking about right and wrong, the focus should be on ourselves first of all. This life here on earth involves a lot of different relationships, but ultimately in the end, on judgment day, it will be each person alone with God.

Is this code for "I'm a helpless pussy, and don't want to be responsible for the vile, ignorant, bile my church perpetuates?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I told you so

We have a family of 6 boys ranging from age 16 to 3. And believe me they are very creative. there is never a dull moment at our house. My theory has been to let them develop at their own pace. to be there and answer their questions and show them how as they ask. I am reminded of a remark I once heard . that it is no wonder kids are confused . the first 3 years of their lives they are begged encouraged and cajoled to walk and to talk. and then once they master that they are told to shut up and sit down. We try not to give them sensory overload. But with 6 boys in one house maybe it is Mom and Dad that have sensory overload sometimes. Creativity is certainly encouraged. But so is discipline meaning teaching perseverance for one, and also teaching them the difference between yes and no. As to what toys , trikes wagons books dolls Farm animals and equipment games chutes and ladders candy land uno old maid etc. etc. And you know watching the boys sometimes it seems the more simple the toy is the greater their imagination is. They are more fascinated with empty boxes and sticks and baler twine then something with a lot of bells and whistles . I also am fascinated by how 6 boys with the same father and mother and the same genes can be so different from each other. We have the Type A doer . The gregarious, The precise , The imaginative the ham , the sensitive , and the astute ones. And also their mother is a saint

Posted by: Mr. X (AAP) | March 10, 2009 at 09:17 AM

I'm assuming the author of the above piece is the same guy being interviewed here.

This is what was being said about him.

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!

Here's my thoughts at the time;

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.

I was right, he can barely friggin write! My heart goes out to him. I see myself as barely being able to friggin write either, especially based on what I want to achieve through writing. I cry bitter tears of frustration, almost on a daily basis not only because of how limited my skills are, but also for how tooth and nail I've had to fight for every little scrap of acumen I've managed to scrape together. What's really scary is that aside from a couple notables like Reuben and the author of the "Buggy Spoke Series", he and I probably represent the cutting edge of writing ability among the Amish. What the hell does that tell you about the Amish schools?

And what does it foretell of Amish society?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Straight from the horses mouth

In the comments

The ordnung is more a set of collective understandings of expected behavior, rather than a set of rules. Why they differ from group to group is because each congregation has a degree of autonomy and also because ordnung develops informally and as much or more,from the lay members up, as from the ministry down. In fact there is hardly any hierarchial structure at all.

I've been known to be pretty adamant about Amish society being inherently hierarchical. It looks like the mysterious Mr. x begs to differ. He needs to read "Serpico". The behavior of the corrupt officers who were trying to get Serpico to conform to their way of "doing things" was so familiar to me when I read the book that I could've told you what was going to happen next, even though I didn't know the story. That process of threatening someone in such a way that you can deny having done it. Oh yeah, it's for your own good too! The language, the posturing by superiors who were responsible, but needed to cover their butts, it was all so nauseatingly familiar, and the fact that twenty years after Serpico testified, there still wasn't an outside commission appointed to deal with corruption, that was familiar too. The Amish don't act either, not when acting might ruffle a couple feathers at the top.

Yeah well, Damn'em! Damn'em all to hell!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Time to rethink the wisdom of Wisconsin vs. Yoder

President Obama
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country

What does this mean for the Amish?

A friend of mine in a letter to the editor;

As stated in Jack Brubaker's Scribbler column of a week ago, there are now approximately 25,000 Amish in our county and, at current birth rates, that number is expected to double in 20 years.

Well, taking calculator in hand and rounding out a year for convenience, that works out to 50,000 by the year 2030, 100,000 by 2050 and over a half-million by the end of this century.

And, if we want to look seven generations ahead, as environmentalists tell us to do, that works out to about 16 million by the year 2200.

another writer responds to Phil

Phil expanded on that and projected that the Amish population of Lancaster County should be over a half-million by the end of this century and 16 million by the year 2200.

There must be some truth in the saying, "The meek shall inherit the earth."

This is all really funny right now, but once the reality of this population difference starts to be felt it's not going to be fun and games any more. The Amish would've been much better off if they had stayed in the public school system all along, instead of isolating themselves into some fringe cocoon. It would've taken sacrifice on their part, but what's coming at them now isn't going to come without a price.

At the very moment that the Amish are entering the non-agrarian work force in droves, their educational readiness to do so is moving in the opposite direction.

Here's a link to a lecture by Steven Nolt via Amish America in which he mentions three schools in Indiana that were run by the public school system but were attended by Amish students. The schools recently closed, as did a similar one here in Lancaster county. Right at the moment when they could be a shining example of a way forward those doors seem to be slamming shut.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heat on the heater

You can buy a "Lancaster wall'' or a "Strasburg wall'' heater from them.

This is all very odd.

At a time when millions of people are out of work and/or living in homes they no longer can afford, people are buying decorative space heaters at inflated prices because "Amish,'' who don't ordinarily use electricity, are associated with them.

What a great country!

No Jack, what you have just reported on has no correlation to the greatness of our country. And your attempt to infer that it does is indicative of your sorry assed inability to call a spade a spade. As a matter of fact, it is this kind of lame assed reporting that is hurting my peeps, more than it's helping them, so stuff it!

At a time like this it isn't (odd) for this to be happening, it is sad and vaguely morbid. The consequences that the Amish could suffer in lost respect and reputation is immeasurable.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gettin my hate on

"Amish man's new miracle idea helps home heat bills hit rock bottom," screams one ad, fashioned to look like a newspaper article. "You'll instantly feel bone soothing heat in any room. You will never have to be cold again."

It's an enticing prospect in this winter, and this economy. But a $20 hardware-store space heater provides the same amount of heat.

Cross posted here

Here in lies the problem. No Amish person in today's economy or in any economy should sell a necessity item like a heater at a grossly inflated price and still consider themselves a member of the human race!

Either get rid of the damn broad brimmed hat and be willing to admit that you're just a common sleaze ball huckster or check in your humanity card!
It's one or the other, baby, make up your mind!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Selling out the Amish

He Goes on and on for the entire post;

The first ad was toeing if not crossing the line. But hard to imagine an Amish producer giving explicit agreement for the second. And if it did, that's a business that's really run itself off the rails.

,pretending that he's really sophisticated about Amish sensibilities, but he's completely ignoring the most pertinent issue for the Amish here.

Is this heater a scam product? That's what they need to be worried about. Having their name associated with something that a twelve year old can figure out is a rip off, isn't a good public relations move.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stirring the pot

(an excerpt from Burke's letter)
And there is such a thing as guilt by complicity. Not all Plain People are cruel to animals, but all share responsibility for such cruelty, since they aren't making internal efforts to stamp out abhorrent practices. We aren't hearing the Amish and Mennonite taking a hard stand, or any stand, condemning the mills. They need to and they need to let us hear it.

I applaud Julianne Burke's assessment, "Puppy mill accountability," Jan. 12. The plain community would be much better off if they took responsibility for the welfare of their dogs in a way that would be above reproach. For the life of me, I can't figure out why they won't get this monkey off their backs.

That said, let's be honest, on the other side. This is not just a "plain community" problem.

An article in the Milwaukee magazine 12/22/08 notes that, in 2005, dog breeding was a $14 billion-a-year industry. It mentions a "craze" for "designer dogs" which sell for $3,000 per animal. Meanwhile, the Humane Society estimates the number of cats and dogs that are euthanized in a year are 3-4 million.

Does this excuse the plain community for mistreating animals? Absolutely not! But it certainly reveals that they aren't the only ones off their rocker when it comes to relating to Fido!

It's non-plain community folks who created a society totally dependent on the automobile. Let's do a tally of the havoc that cars wreak on animals (wild and domestic).

After envisioning all the broken and mangled little bodies left in the wake of our lifestyle, it doesn't leave much question about who has the bigger beam in their eye.