Let's talk about the old order Amish--various questions

Some of them do around here. I believe mostly Groffdale Conference but am not sure; and I don’t think they’re the only Mennonites who use buggies.

We have Mennonites ranging from Old Order through Black Car and all the way to people who you wouldn’t know were Mennonite at all if they don’t tell you, because their groups dress like and use the same technology as anybody else.

We also have Amish. If we have any car-owning Amish, I probably didn’t realize they were Amish; the ones I know are horse-and-buggy, no computer, no phone in the house.

It’s my understanding that each new bit of technology is considered by each congregation, which decides whether they think its use will benefit, damage, or be neutral to the community as a whole, and may re-consider their decision later. I’m not at all sure that this isn’t a wiser overall attitude than ‘Hey! New stuff! Let’s all take it up as fast as possible and worry about any negative side effects after they’ve hit us in the head!’ which seems to be what the rest of society is doing.

I know nothing about what’s permitted in sex positions and am not about to ask; but, judging from the size of the families, the Old Order don’t use birth control.

In our local mega-hospital, many Amish are recruited for genealogical studies. They arrive in vans or mini-buses.

Someone asked upthread whether they vote. Well, around here, they didn’t until 2004, when the Republicans recruited them in an effort to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio. I drove through Amish territory that summer, and Every. Single. Yard. had a homophobic yard sign, many in the guise of “save the children.” Yeah, now they vote.

The thing with the Amish is, they’re not trying to provide some sort of completely self-consistent set of The Rules that define everything in their lives with Perfect Logic.

The fundamental question they ask about everything - technology, social practices, legal practices, everything - is “Does this interfere with our relationship to God and/or our community?”, and they ask that about everything. They also worry about things that might interfere with such relationships, if they were to relax their standards or become too comfortable with them.

So take your example of driving. Obviously having a car and driving it yourself is out. It makes it far to easy to decide to pop into town to pick up some little thing on a whim. “On a whim” is pretty much the exact opposite of how the Amish want to be doing anything.

That being said, cars obvious have many uses. As you said, they’re much faster than buggies. So, maybe they can use them when speed is of the essence, but avoid them otherwise. So, then they have the options you point out. Hire a taxi-like service to drive them, or rent a car.

Now, it seems like those are pretty similar, but ask yourself - what’s more fun, riding in a taxi, or driving a car yourself? I’m willing to bet you’d agree that driving yourself is more fun, and the Amish likely agree. Thus, renting a car could be seen as the thin edge of the wedge leading to using cars more often, and then maybe buying one, rather than spending money to rent all the time, and there you go, you’re an Amish guy out shopping for a corvette or some (literally) God-Dammed thing.

That’s a temptation they’d rather avoid.

And since every community is pretty much self-contained and self-led, each will come up with different decisions on how far is too far.

I had many Amish neighbors where I lived in Missouri in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I continued to have a lot of exposure to them when I would go visit my parents. An older Amish man named John Y*** was their closest neighbor. He was very friendly and loved to chat. He had lived in Pennsylvania when he was young, and graduated from an “English” high school. According to John, if an Amish community was large enough to support a medical practice and there weren’t any non-Amish medical providers in the area, you could occasionally find an Amish doctor. He gave me the impression that the Amish aren’t absolutely opposed to higher education, but find it to generally be unnecessary for their preferred lifestyle.

The local Amish community would have a big discussion once every ten years and update their rules for what tools, equipment, and gadgets they allowed their members to use. Only within the last decade did they decide to allow chainsaws. Previously they had been using very scary homebuilt monstrosities with a big circular sawblade (like you see in a sawmill) mounted horizontal to the ground beneath a pull-start gasoline engine supported by three legs with wheels on the ends. They would fire it up, the big blade would start spinning, and they would grab onto the support legs and roll it toward a tree. There was no guard to protect someone from cutting themselves off at the ankles. They finally decided that for the sake of safety, chainsaws were better.

In the early 1980’s, several of the teen girls got in trouble when they were caught in possession of lipstick and an FM radio. The kids and unmarried young men were allowed to ride horses. The teen girls drove buggies. Once the young guys got married, they would swap their white hats for black hats, start growing their facial hair, and stop riding horses.

Despite not officially allowing cell phones, they are too easy to conceal and too necessary for business use for some of the Amish guys who travel to do jobs like carpentry. They don’t like to get caught with them by the more conservative members of the community. I have seen one secret cobbled-together electronic gadget that was left charging in my dad’s shed a few years ago, which had several components wired together in a tool bag. There was a battery pack wired to a phone and a small black box with some LEDs. My best guess is that it was a homebuilt wifi hotspot. When the Amish guy using my dad’s welder noticed I had been in the shed, the mystery gadget vanished real fast!

Amish crews put on metal roofs around here. Seeing them working, I’m always impressed by their posture.

Regarding phones - Years ago I attended a law enforcement presentation about the mass murder that took place at an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. (Talk about a horror show and the resilience of that community.) We were told that the initial call came from a phone in a barn about a 1/4 mile from the school. The presenter said that telephones are permitted but only for business purposes. Hence, the barn location.

Considering that my Amish former neighbor has been deceased for over 20 years, had no social media presence, and had no phone number, I don’t know that I would consider it doxxing to mention the name of a very nice old man for whom I had a great deal of respect.

I watched an Amish crew put new shingles on my parents’ house years ago. One of the stick-thin teenage boys could toss a couple 80 pound bundles of shingles on his shoulder and practically run up the ladder. Some of those guys are STRONG!

No, I don’t imagine it was. But I didn’t have all that info, and someone reported it, and as I said, abundance of caution – it doesn’t change the flow of your narrative to redact the last name, I hope.

Given the paucity of Amish surnames, the redaction really didn’t accomplish much for those with much experience with the community. Kind of the equivalent of saying I know a Korean guy named Juwon K**.

In the Amish community near me, everyone is a Miller, Stoltzfus, or Yoder, with a few Ziegenfuss thrown in for fun.

All this Amish talk; I wish @kopek was still around to contribute. I’ll never forget his Yoder Santa character giving out cigars to all the hoarse boys and girls at SantaCon.

I mean, knowing a guy is named John Yoder also isn’t much use in identifying him. There’s probably a half dozen of them at least in any Amish community. Do you mean Old John, Young John, Abram’s son John, or John that married one of those Hochstetler girls?

My favorite Amish related commercial:

Can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. :crying_cat_face: