Back when I was still an Amish kid, I was often frustrated with the arbitrariness of the Amish Ordnung (their set of rules). For example, our church banned the smoking of cigarettes because the body is supposedly a temple of God and should be treated that way. On the other hand, eating potato chips was perfectly fine. Shouldn’t obese people be punished if smokers are?
You can’t live life without subjecting your body to harmful substances and situations. Even hard physical labor can be harmful to the body. Where do you draw the line, I wondered. How about leaving it up to the individuals to self-impose arbitrary rules? Anything else just causes discontent due to the restriction of personal freedom.
The Amish focus on the bad possibilities of technology (e.g. Oh no! You can watch porn on computers – computers must be banned!) while completely disregarding the vast good that technology can bring. With technology, the Amish mentality is to blame the gun instead of the person that pulled the trigger.
On the other hand, they are arbitrary even with that mentality – they don’t apply it to everything. When Amish church members are caught having sex with farm animals, no one blames it on the cow. No one says the cows are being too flirtatious – no one advocates banning cows.
Vicious Kitty said:
Okay….you have to tell us…how often *does* that sort of thing happen? I know that you’re not able to generalize, or seeking to reinforce negative stereotypes about the Amish, but you brought it up 🙂
Also, the Amish are not the only ultra-religious community out there to be afraid of the impact of the internet (and thus, exposure to any other ideas or ways to live/be/think/etc) on the complacency of their followers. I see any ultra-conservative religious order as problematic for the very reason that they do not accept the inherent value of a pluralistic society or the values of the people who live in it!
I know of several different cases but I wouldn’t say it’s common at all.
Such an interesting and insightful post. I have tended to demonize technology myself in the past– and to glorify a simpler existence like that of the Amish– but you’re right, technology brings so much good, and beauty, and interconnectedness.
Instead of blaming the “thing,” or banning the thing, the harder (and ultimately most enriching?) path, is exposing oneself to the thing, and controlling oneself to use it for good and not for bad. And to use it in moderation. But moderation is hard. That’s why I can understand why Amish tradition developed as it did (or why any strict form of any religion develops). It’s simply easier to ban the thing, instead of participating with moderation.
I am Jewish, and moderation is at the core of Judaism (as I was taught). (Of course, within any religion there are factions of extremism that get carried away. But I’m writing here about the mainstream religion): We should fully participate in this world, and enjoy food, drink, wine, sex– all within certain parameters, so that these physical acts are ‘sanctified.’ Education is held in highest regard. Belief in God is even dispensable– there is no punishment for lack of faith. As a student of philosophy, you will have a great time reading about the varying philosophical and religious ideas out there. You are going to learn so many things. The world is your oyster.
Mary mcadams said:
I totally cracked up at this post. I grew up in the bruderhof and while i do not think that ur specific example of accusing a cow of.seducing a man occurred, ur description of bizzare, nonsensical and arbitrary church rules reminds me of the hof
I studied many religions in Sociology in college, and yes the ORDNUNG is a real thing, and they have “rules” that are completely ridiculous. In come cases, THAT becomes the Bible, more than the Bible itself. I have been Amish, but I have been the member of a religion that is radical in it’s devotion, and most people who have never been in such a situation cannot even begin to imagine the things that “go on” within them.
*I have NEVER been Amish….I meant to say
I grew up in a total radical penticostal “religion”. As an adult I no longer practice the religion nor have I raised my children in the this religion. I love my children and others unconditionaly and I do not for one minute believe I have to belong to a “church”. Live, let others live and love without judgement. It makes life so much better.
That’s exactly it, Redhotdot. The Amish do have a chance to ‘live and let live’. They can leave the community if they want to. IM telling YOU to live and let live. The Amish choose to believe what they want to believe. You cant say “I have my opinion and im going to shove it down your throat whether you want me two or not.” then get upset when the Amish do the same. Which they don’t. The Amish don’t force anything on anyone. (I am not Amish, but I live near an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.0 You don’t want to be Amish. We get it. Don’t be Amish.
Applying your reasoning to your own behavior, we get… I’m telling you to live and let live. I choose to believe what I want to believe. You can’t say, “I have my opinion about what you’re posting on your blog and I’m going to shove it down your throat whether you want me to or not,” and then get upset when I do the same. I didn’t force this blog on you. You don’t want to hear it, I get it. Don’t read it. Problem solved.
Atheism = Talmudism said:
Atheism is dogman and you’re fighting dogma with dogma you have crossed the line!
i like you.