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Sunday, October 30, 2011

the radical amish

The Radical Amish

With all the tumult the Occupy movement has caused lately it’s interesting to compare the sort of uproar they create compared with the uproar the Amish don’t create.

The Amish don’t fly the flag. They won’t join the military or the police force. In wars past they have never purchased war bonds and they have never enlisted or taken up arms.They won’t celebrate the Fourth of July.

Due to this they have been considered not only unpatriotic by some but treasonous by others.

In the First World War they faced some pretty severe persecution for their pacifist stance. So did the Mennonites, the Quakers and the Hutterites, among others.

Churches were vandalized or burned down. People harassed. Some Amish were forced to enlist, drill with rifles and go through boot camp in the hopes of getting them to convert to a warlike mind set.

Some were imprisoned and beaten. Some were killed.

Despite this, none of the Amish of 1917 and 1918 retaliated. Nor did they stop loving America or praying for their country.

The stance they took 100 years ago is a stance they maintain today. It is just as radical now as it was then and just as likely to cause offense. Yet they do not stand on soapboxes or march or occupy buildings or snarl up traffic. They do not shout slogans or lash out in anger or hurl verbal abuse at those who disagree with their pacifism. They do not shake their fists in the air and curse. They live their radical lives quietly, trying not to draw attention to themselves. They live what they live without demonstrations or speeches or marches on Washington.

Unquestionably many people do not agree with the stance the Amish take. The Amish understand that. But they are not running for Congress or trying to win a popularity contest. They are simply trying to live out their faith in Jesus Christ. Agree or disagree with their views on the flag or July 4th or enlistment in the military, it is hard not to respect them precisely because they aren’t screaming out their point of view or handing out pamphlets on street corners or driving into town with MAKE LOVE NOT WAR painted in white letters all over their buggies.

If they are introduced to a man in uniform they will not snub him. They will shake his hand. Despite their beliefs about wars and armies, the Amish do not hate those who do what the Amish do not like. That also is radical. Most people cannot befriend those with whom they strongly disagree. They might be able to do it for a friend or family member but not for a stranger. The Amish do it all the time.

It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if more groups of people who had sharp disagreements with their country on certain matters adopted the Amish approach? We all know what they believe. The nations of America and Canada (who have Amish in Ontario) are well aware not only of the Amish commitment to pacifism but their avoidance of most modern technology. Yet this awareness is not due to Amish attacks on military bases and service personnel or destruction of iPods or iTabs or farm tractors or pickup trucks. There is no violence against what they dislike.

We know what they believe because they live it out in peace

So we watch. And wonder. Then go about our business. Which may include flying an F-18 fighter jet or driving a Buick.

Sometimes, if they want to, people join the Amish who are not born into the faith.

When they join they do so quietly. And are welcomed quietly and with warmth. The Amish do not make a show of it or market it or use converts for propaganda purposes.

Something else that is radical about the radical Amish.

I wrote a book about all this, in a 1917 and 1918 setting, and made it into a story. THE WINGS OF MORNING will be published by Harvest House of Oregon this January, 2012.

I really hope you will get your hands on a copy, read it and let me know what you think. I also hope you will enjoy it and that it will mean something to you.

The Amish of 2011 and 2012 are the same as the Amish of 1911 and 1912.

And 1917 and 1918.

1 comment:

Bill L. said...

Hello Murray,
Are there any early releases scheduled (that you could mention anyway)? I have observed that, occasionally, certain outlets seem to be able to get a number of books that mysteriously bypass embargo and get released before the official date.
The reason I ask is that your writing has awakened a desire for more knowledge of the Amish perspective, and, so far as I am aware, I have no Amish near that I can go try to get to know.
As ought to be pretty clear, I real have enjoyed the things you have written that I have been able to get my hands on.
I hope all goes very well with your studies and writing.

Bill