The Amish are considered to be somewhat different compared to other societies in today’s world. The Amish culture is based on Christian beliefs and they follow the teachings of the Jesus Christ and the Bible in everything that they do. The Amish culture consists of many unique beliefs that make their ways unlike that of any other culture. Their lives are very slow and they don’t let anything or anyone break up their families. I decided to write about the Amish culture because of their lifestyle and the way they live without all the necessities that we cannot live without.
The Amish people base their lifestyle on family and their belief in their culture. In my report I would like to write about the Amish culture, the primary mode of subsistence, their beliefs and values, their kinship system and their gender relations. Amish believe that their religious faith and the way they live are inseparable and interdependent. Amish lifestyles differ slightly from community to community and what is acceptable in one community may not be acceptable in another.
Amish lifestyle and culture can be totally adequate, because there are few generalities that are true for all Amish. Amish regular worship is home-oriented (Hostetler, 1968, pp. 101-23). The Old Order Amish did not have a church building so they would hold worship service in private homes, going from house to house, allowing each family to serve as host. After the service they would have meal together and general socializing. The Amish see family, community and church as primarily responsible for the young, the aged, and the weak.
They also believe that the way to salvation is to live as a loving community apart from the world. Some of the ways the Amish people live I can relate to, for instance I grew up in a Baptist church all of my forty-six years of life and went to church just about every Sunday. Then, some members of the church started a Prayer meeting that we attended every Tuesday. And just like the Amish we met at different private homes every week. In the prayer meeting we would read criptures from the Bible, those who wanted to pray did so, we sang a song and dismissed the meeting. After the dismissal we would all have a meal and socialize just like the Amish do. I was really surprised when I read about their religion, it brought back memories and the similar ways we did things. I know we didn’t do things exactly the way the Amish did, but there were some similarities. The primary mode of subsistence of the Amish culture is Horticulturists. Amish farmers still till their land and plant their own crops annually.
Amish families very seldom purchase food from the grocery store because they eat fresh organic foods that they grew on their farm and in their own gardens. Amish men worked on a farm, or do woodworking for income to support their families and the women sew quilts and clothing mostly for extra cash. In the Amish community they work together to help a member in trouble. If communities today would be considerate about the welfare of our neighbour like in the Amish community we would have less homeless people living in poverty, but people today are selfish and are not concerned about anyone else.
Again this brings up so many memories for me, remembering how my grandfather and the men in the family and all of his grandsons and showed them how to butchered animals for meat and at the end of the day he shared it with family and friend. The girls in my family learned how to sew and make quilts from watching my mom and grandma. My parents and grandparents instilled in us the same values that the Amish expect in their culture and I respect that and wouldn’t change anything I have learned. The Amish wear distinctive clothing, the reason being that it symbolizes humility and loyalty to the community.
Humility and conformity are considered virtues and pride is a cardinal sin (Hostetler and Huntington, 1972). The dress style of the Amish is a symbol of conformity. They dress in a very simple style and all of their clothes are homemade. Men wear straight-cut suits and coats and shirts are tucked in trousers worn with suspenders, they are clean shaven prior to marriage and married men wear beards only because mustaches are not allowed. The women wear solid-color dresses with long sleeves and a full skirt, covered with a cape and an apron.
The Amish women never cut their hair they wear it in a braid or bun, and cover their hair with a small white cap or black bonnet. In today’s society no one would approve of the fashion trend of the Amish people because of today’s fashion and everything is name brand. That is what makes Amish culture so unique they are comfortable with their own style. Gender roles are very strict in Amish society. Women are expected to marry, have children and submit to their husband’s will. The Amish do not believe is no divorce. So, if they are not happy with each other, basically they are stuck in the relationship.
Amish only marry other Amish. They cannot marry if they are first cousin, some of them marry their second cousin but they are discouraged from doing so. The wife’s responsibility is to take care for the children and the household (including cooking, cleaning, sewing and gardening). Amish women are required to have several children to help with work on the farm. Parents spend a lot of time with their children teaching them the right way of their culture. The husband is considered the head of the family and has the final say in spiritual and societal matters.
The family provides education for their children until the age of 14 or the eighth grade. Then they are trained for their adult task. The boys will work with the father in the fields and the girls work inside the home and garden, with their mother. In some communities when most Amish teens turn sixteen they go on “Rumspringa” which is basically known as running around. Teens are given a limited amount of time where they can explore the outside world and live like a normal person, they then have a choice to leave the Amish forever, or stay with their family.
If they chose the outside world, they will rarely see their family ever again. Amish parents do not encourage their teens to leave home and experiment with sinful behaviors. Most youth are not baptized during Rumspringa and they have to decide if they are going to join the church or leave the community. This is a rule of the parents and the church. With my understanding Amish parents raise their children in a strict and religious background and to think about some of the things they do is just not call for.
This reminds me of what we call PK (Preacher’s Kids) because they we brought up in the church and their parents were very strict they felt like they couldn’t do things that normal teens did like going to a dance and hanging out with friends. At a certain age they leave the church to explore the fast life. Teens and young adults usually get in trouble and find their way back to the church and realize that they really didn’t have it that bad at home and in the church. Today, New Order Amish has a very low percentage of their children in the faith and this is because of greater openness to the world hrough their outreach orientation, and an ideology. The Amish are stable and almost completely independent with changing turbulent culture that surrounds them today (Wittmer, 1970). Most Amish communities avoid modern conveniences, such as electricity, and telephone because they want to live ascetic and preserve the uniqueness of their way of life. They do not own cars they own horse-drawn buggies for transportation. But, after doing further research I have discovered that New Order Amish people selectively use technology choosing what will serve their community and rejecting what may harm it.
Some churches make their own decisions about technology and the majority of them choose not to have television, computers in their homes, and the ownership of cars. Solar power is popular in many communities. Most Amish use horses to pull field equipment and only a few farmers in the communities use tractors. A group of New Order Amish people had cell phones in their possession, but most of the people in the community did not have cell phones and the majority of the people in the communities modify technology to fit their cultural values.
After reading several topics about the Amish culture one of the things I admire most about them is their approach to forgiveness. I read a book last year and watched the move on Lifetime a few months ago called Amish Grace, based on a true story. The book really touched me, but when I saw the movie it was very powerful. It is about a gunman who entered an Amish schoolhouse and killed several young girls and kills himself. In the movie it shows that within hours the Amish community forgave the killer and his family. Some of the members of the community visited the gunman’s widow at her home and hugged members of his family.
About half of the people at the burial for the killer were Amish, including parents who had buried their own children. The families of the murdered girls were hurt and mourning, but because of their belief in forgiveness they forgave the killer and his family. For most people the decision to forgive never comes and if it does it is usually at the end of a long emotional journey and they usually want revenge. As for as myself, I am a believer that the killer has to answer to God on judgment day, but as for me forgiving the killer of my child on the same day, don’t know if I could do it.
Prayer is a powerful thing and it would take me a while and a lot of prayer to forgive someone for a crime like that. Amish faith is grounded in the teachings of Jesus to love enemies, reject revenge, and leave vengeance in the hands of God. Today the New Order Amish farms remain in the possession of family, from one generation to the next, and the Amish prefer agriculture over other occupations because it allows them to work without any threat to the family unit. One problem is that the population growth in the Amish communities has resulted in a shortage of agricultural land.
There are no longer enough farms for the younger generation and long-established farms have been sub-divided so many times that many have become crowded. Some of the young members of Amish communities have considered employment in the woodwork trade and farm-related activities. This is due to the fact that there are more Amish people wishing to live in counties where there is not enough space for them to have farms. The population has been rising, while total farming acreage has been falling. That is why New Order Amish people are participating in the global economy and the outside world is penetrating Amish territory.
The Amish way of life is based upon the teaching of the New Testament and the regulation of the church. The family is the most important social unit in the Amish culture. Chores are clearly divided by sexual role in the Amish home the men work on the farm, while the wife does the washing, cleaning, cooking, and other household chores. In this culture Amish marry Amish and no intermarriage is allowed. Divorce is not permitted and separation is very rare. Children are taught to follow in their parents footsteps. The Amish believe that the way to salvation is to live as a loving community apart from the world.