Monday, March 16, 2009

But, we're not Amish.

Well, I just didn't eat anything interesting this week. I passed up my chance for a Sonic Blast in Louisville (Abbey got the Reese's PB) because I was saving room for dinner at Indy's best Italian restaurant that night. But after more than an hour waiting for a table, John and I gave up and drove through at Fazoli's. That is so lame, but that's just how things turn out sometimes.

So I can only feed your minds this week. If you're hungry, go to Emma's blog. Things are rather meaty over there right now.

Over on the Finished Book Pile, we have Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman. Delving into the Amish culture, Shachtman explores the "running around" period that Amish parents grant their 16-and-up children, wherein they are free to roam without supervision, sampling the wares of the outside world, deciding whether to "join church," settle down in the Amish life or not.

It is hard to believe that such a strict, traditional people allow their kids a window of time to smoke, drink, sleep around. (I've got my own rumspringa child. I just want to tell her, "But dear, we're not Amish.") Shachtman examines: how much do the parents know about what goes on? Is a sheltered Amish childhood adequate preparation for meeting The World and its temptations? How many kids, in the end, opt for Amish life and why? And as for the ones who don't, why not?

Shachtman follows several youth through their rumspringa and beyond. We get to be the fly on the wall, watching them choose between wild parties and traditional "singings," cashiering at the tourist restaurants, driving fast for the first time, negotiating with a parent who offers a fully tricked-out buggy "if you'll just end this running around and join church now."

Shachtman also draws a picture of what it means to choose the Amish life: How do the they adapt to a changing world? What rules do they change and why? Would the religion survive if it allowed education beyond the 8th grade? What happens to those who leave the church? And, finally, what about the Amish is worth emulating and what should the Amish learn from the rest of us?

The author concludes that Amish youth could spend their allotted running around days hiking in the Rocky Mountains, or tracing their roots in Switzerland, or moving to Chicago and studying biology or in any number of world-widening pursuits. But with their short educations and sheltered childhoods, they don't know enough to even dream about these things.

1 comment:

  1. Oh thanks...I've seriously been trying to find something else to write about but these gems keep falling into my lap! I think I'll add that book to my list.