to be or not to be Amish
by tom shachtman

pg. 105 - on retention of amish youth
"thomas j. meyers of goshen college, a sociologist who has also taught in amish schools, examined in a statistical analysis the relative strength of various factors affecting the abilitiy of the amish to retain their children in the church as adults. the factors he examined were the father's occupation, the location of the church district, the severity of the district's ordnung, the child's position in the birth order, and whether the child had ever attended a public school."

pg. 107 - in the amish school room
"she noted other advantages for the pupils in the amish schools, such as the one room schoolhouse atmosphere, in which children heard the lessons in subjects over and over again, years before they had to study them. she applauded the teaching of younger children by older ones..."

pg. 144 - the prodigal daughter returns home
"the next morning she is welcomed at amish church with delighted greetings - and no questions asked about where she has been for so many months. 'everybody just - i mean, i'm surrounded by people who actually care. you know, they actually care for who you are now, not for who you were yesterday; and they believe the best in you until it's proven otherwise.'"

"i'm realizing how much i need my family and the church. i'll be belonging to something. and that's really cool. when you have Christ in your life, you're going to be a quiet, submissive person, and just kind of think things through. you won't make as many rash decisions. and you'll be more sympathetic and compassionate."

pg. 147 - contentedness at the end (or rather, at the beginning...)
a middle-aged amish man in illinois described his father's death at eighty nine as a "real amish passing," because he went out of this world with a secret smile, a contentedness that he believes came from knowing he did all he could in this world to prepare it for Jesus and to prepare himself for meeting Him.

pg. 207 - happy with work???
one way to understand the impact of the shift is to note that the amish continue to be primarily producers, as were most people throughout recorded history, and that the amish appear to take satisfaction from the kinds of work they do - while polls of the country's mainstream working populace consistently suggest that more than half of all working americans are dissatisfied with their jobs.

pg. 272 - conclusion
the challenge for the mainstream is how to move toward the amish...the amish sit lightly upon the earth and upon american society in way that we could readily adopt: their reverance for life, for the land, for neighborliness, for family matters, for hard work, for caring for the elderly and the infirm, and their judicious disdain for conspicuous consumption, and for not stopping to smell the roses.

we in the mainstream need to find ways to incorporate these behaviors and attitudes into the goals and actions of the larger society, to help us raise our culture to higher standards of communitarianism, of appreciation of what we have, and of the pursuit of purposes larger than our appetites.

now for my $.02
the retention rate of amish youth is what initially caught my attention...there's something to learn here for those of us that don't even get a glimpse of that rate...after reading this and other books, it really seems to boil down to this - the amish take their faith seriously. so perhaps in our time of easy-believism and apathy - this is where we look first. What does it mean to follow Jesus? And what is the mission of God's people?


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