I have a list of things I’m genuinely fascinated about, and the Amish people are in there, along with zombies, honey badgers and gingers.
The Amish are immigrants from Switzerland who went to the United States in the 1600s during the schism in Christianity. They are known for their plain clothes, their religious convictions and their aversion to electricity and technology- they’re much like our grandparents. They also have their own language called Pennsylvania Deutsch, which when spoken sounds like a non-angry version of German. Here’s Weird Al Yankovic making fun of them:
I don’t mean to exoticize their way of life, but I sometimes find myself wondering how these people manage to get through every day like it’s still the 17th century. While we’re ordering food with our phones, they plow their land and raise animals for dinner. While we buy clothes from shops, they make their own. However, religious beliefs and gender stereotypes aside, I appreciate how modest these people are, a refreshing contrast to people in our Facebook feeds.
I came across this series in YouTube and I liked it a lot: Amish: World’s Squarest Teenagers. It was shown in 2010 and it’s about five teenagers from Midwest United States who were flown to Britain to mingle with people outside their world. Two of the boys in the series are in what the Amish refer to as ‘Rumspringa,’ a period of exploration for Amish teenagers before they decide if they should stick it out with their community or not. Reports say that about 10 percent of teens who go into Rumspringa never come back to their Amish communities, choosing the modern world instead.
At one point in the documentary, one of the two Amish girls in the group, Becky Shrock, goes to a music festival with the group. Becky asks their host why people dance at the music festival. When their host answers that people dance because they want to feel good, Becky responds with: “So, people come here to feel good? If I want to feel good I pray.” Becky has become my favorite Amish in the show because she’s outspoken but nowhere near obnoxious. At one point she says in the interview that it stresses her that nice people are going to hell because they don’t believe in Jesus, and it makes her sad. It’s more fascinating than offensive, really.
Here, watch it: