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Romancing the Amish Culture

 

Photo of Amish family by johnny_appleseed1774It all started in 1985 with the motion picture Witness (with Harrison Ford & Kelly Mcgillis). With that film, the American public discovered a rural people which seemed to live totally cut off from the modern world.

The Amish In America

Even though the Amish arrived in America at the end of the 17th century with their religious leader Jakob Amman, they are not well known. Their plain and simple lifestyle and culture were suddenly plastered on the movie screens.

Stereotypes and Reality

Who are these people? How can they live without electricity, cars or modern appliances? Why do they dress so plainly with colonial times type garments? How can they be so obedient to an arguably obsolete patriarchal hierarchy?

All these questions are now answered, not only in austere ethnological studies, but in an array of charming, compelling romantic novels which fascinate the modern reader.

Amish Novels

Beverly Lewis, born in Pennsylvania Amish country, has written seven series of novels describing their religious and social customs: Heritage of Lancaster County, Abram's Daughters, Seasons of Grace and the Courtship of Nellie Fisher are the most popular.

Beth Wiseman's inspirational fiction series are also set in Pennsylvania Dutch country where her heart (if not her roots) is deep set: Daughters of Promise and Land of Canaan celebrate the purity and gentleness of the Amish people.

Kathleen Fuller ,who lives in Ohio, has published the romance A Man of his Words and a novella called A Miracle for Miriam (compiled in An Amish Christmas) next to Barbara Cameron's story One Child.

How to Read The books

All those books are available in the Peninsula Library System: they portray the Amish's respect of tradition, ethnic identity, and family values in delightful and entertaining romantic novels. There are also anecdotes and personal experiences, related by outsiders, who have shared the Amish way of life and have been profoundly changed by their joyful wisdom: for example Sue Bender in her essay "Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish".

It seems that the modern world ( which the Amish try so hard to keep at a distance) is fascinated and is reaching out to them.

Final Thought

Professor J.A Hostetler declares: "An Amish experience constitutes an ahistorical moment, a moment that denies the actuality of the present, it may approximate a religious experience".

Photo credit: johnny_appleseed1774

 

Author Bio:

Jocelyne C.,an extra-help library assistant, has read all the books mentioned above and keeps fond memories of this gentle people from when she visited Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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