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 here do join) is because it is a big decision, not to be made lightly!  Promises are made to live in 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.) 

There are always young people who choose not to join the Amish church in the first place, in order to be able to have a truck, a computer, or some other modern convenience not allowed by the Amish church.  Or perhaps they wanted to have higher education.  Or most commonly, they wanted to marry a non-Amish ("English") person.  They would not be shunned, and this type of situation would be far more common than a “shunning.”  As far as returning to the Amish church—that is always an option, by coming before the church body and repenting of whatever it was that got the person shunned in the first place—no ‘begging’ required. 

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 on their farms.  A family’s turn might come up once or twice a year.  In the old days, I’ve read that many homes had few walls, or removable walls, to accommodate the church congregation.  Today, some Amish homes have a special large room for hosting church.  Others hold church in a workshop or other outbuilding.  And during the summer, some families put up 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 I’m quite certain that it’s not an Amish church service. 

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 true—formal education ends at eighth grade—but learning is just beginning.  Also, I wouldn’t say the boys all “pick a trade,” although some do.  In Amish Indiana, most 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 end up marrying and raising a large family.  With an average of seven children, a wife has plenty to do at home.  I knew one Amish woman, sister of a friend, who built her own log-cabin home, taught school, and didn’t marry until she was fifty.  Teaching in an Amish school would be one of several occupations commonly chosen by an unmarried Amish woman.  A married woman who has no children might also work outside the home.

The photo of a classroom actually does looks like an Amish classroom.


More next time in part four.

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