My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Thursday, December 22, 2016

25 Facts? Part Three

This is a continuation of comments on an article I recently came across online entitled “25 Facts About the Amish That Everyone Should Know”—a well-meaning article filled with the typical misinformation about the Amish which is constantly floating around the internet...

16.  “Meidung” Is The Act Of Shunning Someone From The Community For Breaking Rules.
With so many rules, it’s not unheard of for someone to be banned from the community. Known as “Meidung,” the only way for someone to be un-banished is to beg, or to die and be buried back in the community.

Shunning is much rarer that the media would have you think.  Part of the reason Amish young people are required to wait until young adulthood to join the church (90% of them in Northern Indiana eventually do join) is because it is a big decision, not to be made lightly!  Promises are made to live the Amish faith and lifestyle, and those promises are binding for life.  (Those who have not yet joined the church are not bound by these rules.) 

I’ve heard my Amish friends talk about local people who left the Amish church of their own accord, in order to be able to have a tractor, a car, a computer, or some other modern convenience not allowed by the Amish church.  This type of situation would be more common than a “shunning.”  As far as returning to the Amish church—that is always an option, by standing before the church body and repenting of whatever it was that got the person shunned.   

15.  Their Worship Services Are Surprisingly Modest. 
For such a religious community, the Amish do not see the need for extravagant churches or services. Instead, they show their faith in their work and how they live.

Yes, services are modest.  There are no church buildings; members take turns holding church services in their homes.  A family’s turn might come up twice a year.  In the old days, many homes had few walls, or removable walls, to accommodate the dozen to two dozen families in an Amish congregation.  Today, many newer Amish homes have a special large room for hosting church.  Others hold church in a barn, workshop, or other outbuilding.  And during the summer, some families rent a big white tent and hold church in the yard.

The photo, showing the large group of Amishmen in a back yard, hats on, laundry flapping in the wind, a station wagon in the yard, listening to a man at a table with a microphone?  I don’t know what this is, but it’s not an Amish church service—or at least it’s not how they do it in Indiana!

14.  Children’s Educations End At The 8th Grade Level. 
Boys will pick a trade to go into, and girls are all pre-destined to be housewives. Because of this, they see no need for an education past the 8th grade level.

This is quite true—education beyond eighth grade is not allowed, for many reasons.  I wouldn’t say the boys all “pick a trade,” although some do.  In Amish Indiana, many young men end up working in the local RV (recreational vehicle) factories, although this is often a stepping stone to starting their own businesses (dairy farm, harness shop, furniture or woodworking shop, etc.).  Girls aren’t necessarily pre-destined to be housewives, but most of them do marry and raise large families.  (I knew of one Amish woman, sister of a friend, who built a home, taught school, and didn’t marry.)  With an average of seven or eight children, women have plenty to do at home.

The photo of a classroom actually looks much like the several Amish classrooms I’ve visited.

More next time.

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