I spent the long weekend in Lancaster County, PA in “Amish Country.” I had an excellent time and the fresh produce is simply amazing. Highly recommend.
However, I found myself having a million questions about their lifestyle but also felt guilty for what seemed like an interrogation so many questions I had went unasked. I also felt guilty for treating these people like a curiosity similar to watching animals in a zoo, so again, I didn’t explore as much as I might have for fear of insulting them. A few questions, but I’m sure I’ll have more, and this thread could also be used for additional questions because I find it fascinating:
- I was under the impression that the old order Amish shunned electricity. Not true. They have batteries on their buggies which act as flashing lights and turn signals. They have lamps in their homes which run off of Dewalt batteries, similar to those used in cordless drills and the like. I did manage to ask the question of why is it forbidden to have regular electricity run into your house but to use battery powered electricity and was told that they did not want a “connection to the outside world.” But it seems to me that using gas and diesel generators to recharge batteries is as much of connection to the outside world as just using electricity in the first instance.
Further, there is no objection to them having land line telephones (but not cell phones) wired in their homes, although it is usually only wired to an outbuilding. How is this not exactly if not more so having a connection with the outside world than electricity?
The Amish only go to school through the eighth grade. After that they go to work on the family farm or apprentice to learn one of the trades that the Amish are allowed to have. However, my question is may an Amish child continue onto high school, college, or a graduate degree and still be a member in good standing in the community? The Amish have no issue with going to outside doctors for their medical needs or outside lawyers for their legal needs. Wouldn’t it be more in keeping with an insular community to have Amish doctors and lawyers?
If I went through the complicated and convoluted process to convert to old order Amish, would they say, “Hey, this is wonderful. We can use you as our lawyer!” or would I be standing behind a plow and a mule in the fields?
Their system of inheritance is fairly unique in that the youngest son inherits the family farm (if no sons, the youngest daughter inherits). The older sons practice a trade while the older daughters are housewives. It would seem to me that with the average family size between 7 and 12 children that in a few generations you would have very, very few farmers and a whole lot of people practicing trades that there is no use for. I was also curious as it is unseemly in the Amish culture for a woman to do farm work, once she was married (assuming a youngest daughter inherited the farm) is there a system of coverture where her husband would take title to the farm? If not, would she be shunned in the community if she took charge and made directives regarding how the farm should be run?
That’s just a few questions for now…