The Amish Culture The Amish are a fascinating people. They live surrounded by cities full of technology. Yet they live without automobiles, electricity, and most modern comforts that are taken for granted by many. Donald Kraybill asks the question “How is it that a tradition-laden people who spurn electricity, computers, automobiles, and higher education are not merely surviving but are, in fact, thriving in the midst of modern life? ” Though they do not have all of the technology that we take for granted, they live richer lives than many non-Amish people. ecause gender relations are accepted amongst others in the community, they have strong beliefs, traditions and values, and kinship is important. In the Amish community, they rely heavily on their agriculture as a mode of subsistence. This is known as being an agrarian society. Though they have other means of sustenance, they recognize the importance of agriculture to the community. Amish culture does not use electricity or other modern conveniences. This makes the farming a longer process, as this is their means of survival. They have other means for livelihood but farming is their main job.
Some build furniture to sell to the surrounding communities. Others will farm for non-amish employers. “Some stereotypes of Amish life imply that they reject technology and live in a nineteenth-century cocoon. Such images are false. The Amish adopt technology selectively, hoping that the tools they use will build community rather than harm it. In short, they prefer technology that preserves social capital, rather than depletes it. ”(Kraybill, 2001). In the technology laden world today, it makes sense that a culture that only uses certain technologies selectively would rely heavily on the land to provide.
The Amish have traditions that are considered strange to many people, in addition to the lack of technology. The baptized members of the Amish church marry other baptized members of the church. This does not mean necessarily that cousins marry cousins. While this does happen, some Amish women may choose to leave one community for another. This is often done because the men inherit the family land. The men inherit the land because the Amish culture is a patriarchal culture. The marraiges are not arranged but the parents must give approval.
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Right before the marriage, the couple is “announced” and the preparations for the wedding begin. After the wedding, the man will start to grow out his beard to signify his marital status. Another well known tradition is the Amish barn raising. A barn raising is a gathering of men in the community to build a barn for a fellow member of the community. It is used as a way to not only accomplish a task but to also socialize. The Amish community is known for their desire to help one another and reinforce the sense of community. The barn raising is known as a “frolic” in the Amish culture. There are many men assisting in the building.
In addition, the families know that in the future, if there is ever a time they need assistance with something, the community will be there to help. Frolics are not only reserved for the men. The women in the community get together for quilting, shucking, or canning. The traditions and core beliefs were founded in Europe by Jacob Amman based on the writings of Menno Simons, the founder of the Mennonite movement. These beliefs are held fast by every member of the Amish community. The basic religious beliefs are Christian in nature, such as a belief in Heaven and Hell. The Amish believe, however, that salvation is not guaranteed.
Upon death, God weighs the deeds and life of the person to determine their worthiness for Heaven. Baptism is done when an adult in the Amish community decides to give themselves wholly to the church. It is symbolic of their commitment. “Amish youth decide if they want to join the church in their late teens and early twenties, and if they choose to be baptized, they submit themselves to the order of the church for the rest of their lives. In doing so, candidates make a confession of faith and agree to comply with the order of the Amish community, or the Ordnung, an unwritten tradition that spells out expected behaviors and regulations.
Church members who break the commitment and refuse to repent and confess their sins are excommunicated and "shunned. " The Pennsylvania Amish try to persuade the wayward to cooperate with the church, but those who continue to be disobedient must be banned from fellowship in order to maintain the purity of the church. The shunned are prohibited from engaging in any social interaction, cut off from all close friends and associates. Shunning happens infrequently, although it serves as an effective form of social control for the Amish that preserves their spiritual purity. ” (http://www. padutchcountry. om/towns-and-heritage/amish-country/amish-religious-traditions. asp) The youth in the Amish communities make this decision by participating in Rumspringa. This translates to running around. Around the age of sixteen, the Amish adolescent participates in activities that are not allowed by a baptized member of the church. These are typical “English” behaviors such as drinking alcohol, wearing “English” clothing, and not have a requirement to attend the church. Not all youths choose to have a Rumspringa. Some, on the other hand, choose to leave the community for the year and experience life outside of the community.
Most return to the Amish culture and devote their lives to the Amish way. Most Americans would not be able to live without the modern conveniences to which they grown accustomed. The Amish are simply fascinating with their plain living and culture rich with tradition. Though they do not have all of the technology that we take for granted, they live richer lives than many non-Amish people. because gender relations are accepted amongst others in the community, they have strong beliefs, traditions and values, and kinship is important. References Hurst, C. E. , & McConnell, D. L. (2010).
Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies : Amish paradox : Diversity and change in the world's largest amish community. Baltimore, MD, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press. Kraybill, Donald B.. "Amish. " Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. 2000. Retrieved November 28, 2011 from Encyclopedia. com: http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1G2-3405800016. html Kraybill, D. B. (2001). Riddle of amish culture (revised edition). Baltimore, MD, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press. Mackall, J. (2008). Plain secrets : An outsider among the amish. Boston, MA, USA: Beacon Press.
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