Social Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

Are you interested in the Amish and Mennonite lifestyle?

Asked by KNOWITALL (14633 points ) January 17th, 2013

My friends and I are very interested as we know little about it beyond what we can find online and in books and some television.

If you share that interest, we’d be interested in hearing what you have to say. Thanks!

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24 Answers

ucme's avatar

Not really, but I do have a certain admiration for their chosen lifestyle.
What’s an amish woman’s greatest sexual fantasy? Two mennonite.
What do you call an amish man with his arm up a horses arse? A mechanic ;¬}

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think it’s the self-denial that intrigues me so much. I’m kind of into that as well, as I think it humbles us, and they’re all about being humble before God.

Aster's avatar

I’m interested in the recipes , the clothing, the gardens, the buggies, the quilts, the furniture and most everything.
Not that I would do this but I like to watch the men talking to someone while their wives never interrupt. I don’t know what I find fascinating about that.
I do not like the lack of education at all.

JLeslie's avatar

I find it interesting how they live their own special lifestyle while being here in the US and most Americans fully accept them. I think the Amish are a perfect example of freedom of religion in the US. I have heard that the Amish tend to be very suspicious of people who are not Amish, I find that a shame. A new friend of mine from South Africa was just saying to me that what he finds wonderful about Americans is how trusting we are, and geniune from the first meeting.

I have heard the Amish and Mennonites tend to have limited educations, many girls just educated to about an 8th grade level. I know they are allowed as teenagers to go out and decide whether to stay Amish or not, but this lack of education if true limits their ability to choose I would think.

I also very much dislike that they shun those who choose to live in the “English” world. Meaning if they leave the Amish lifestyle. Having to cut off from ones family and friends is awful. Many religions do this though.

I would think brilliant minds born into that lifestyle would feel stifled and unsatisfied. I don’t mean at all the Amish have low IQ’s I have no idea how they test in general, and make no assumptions about their intelligence, but people who wonder heavily about the sciences would probably have difficulty living that life.

I assume they feel a great sense of community and love, which must be wonderful. I assume Chassidic Jews, and other cultures that are very clannish feel the same way. As long as they feel they fit in with the expectations as individuals.

I worked with a woman who grew up Penn Dutch. She was the only sibling who left. When I knew her she was going home to visit for the first time in years and years. I was surprised she could go home for a visit. She was very negatve about the life her family led. One thing she mentioned was her sisters having bunches of children. As a side note she was absolutely beautiful. Face, body, wonderful personality, really gorgeous in every way. I went to her house once and was amazed at how few clothes she had in her closet. Simple, but elegant suits, typical of retail (we worked in the cosmetic biz) mostly black, and very nice white blouses, a few colors, but not many. I didn’t think about it until now, but it was probably much like what she wore growing up, but more modern. I remembering thinking I wish my closet was this empty and just had select beautiful pieces. She probably grew up with limited clothing, because how many outfits do you need almost exactly the same, not being ruled by fashion.

So, the simplicity of the life is attractive to me. But the limitations bother me. I also assume the culture holds men up and treats women as unequal. If that is true that would really bother me.

snowberry's avatar

I used to live near the Amish. I was surprised and saddened to hear that they are just as hard on their animals as they are on each other. I have never seen this in the news, but many of the puppy mills in Pennsylvania belong to Amish people.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for that answer! I understand that hats, and black and white clothes symbolize their humility and lack of ego.

@snowberry Really? I find that disturbing as they are supposed to be opposed to all violence.

Ron_C's avatar

I like horses but I’m also high tech. I’d be the first Amish guy with a windmill and battery pack for storing energy.

I notice that they are ok with air driven equipment. I was in an Amish store that used air motors to drive their fans and they had a big industrial sewing machine that ran on air. You know that somewhere, hidden, was an electric driven air compressor. I bet I could do a lot with the compressor, electric valves and a Programmable Logic Computer.

Aster's avatar

I’ve heard some of them are dealing drugs. Tell me it isn’t so.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL It just didn’t occur to me until writing the answer here that the clothing might have been comfortable to her because of her childhood. ¾ of my closet is black clothing, especially back then, and I wore suits basically like a uniform. In fashion we tend to sell everyone else the high fashion, and we who work in it wear fairly basic stuff. So, she fit right in.

snowberry's avatar

Obviously they don’t equate violence to animals the same as violence to people. They aren’t vegetarians either, so they have to kill animals to eat too, right?

I don’t have a source for this information, because it came from someone who lived nearby, but they manage to keep their puppymill operations secret by ramming something down the throats of the breeding dogs, and thus damaging their vocal chords (which means there’s very little noise).

This is my take on it: The economy is making everyone a bit more desperate, and where in more fortunate times, a farmer might not resort to such behavior, now they’re just doing whatever it takes to stay afloat financially.

Seek's avatar

Once upon a time, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Self denial in the name of your god. Wow. How honourable.

Then I realised that in doing all of that, they were denying their children a proper education, access to vaccinations and basic healthcare, and threatening them with exile from what amounts to their home country if they dare show any interest in the outside world. The kids aren’t Amish by choice, the choice is thrust upon them and they are never given the option of knowing different.

I find it disgusting.

The woodwork is nice, though. Can’t complain about the craftsmanship.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aster Well the current joke in regards to the Amish is that they call Marijuana ‘green corn’ and they make a lot of money on it, but I don’t know if that’s true, it’s on that silly Amish Mafia show.

@Ron_C I think there are different sects, some are absolutely old-school, some aren’t.

@snowberry On the same reality show, they said they didn’t have buggy races with horses anymore because it was harming too many of their horses, but I have no idea.

mazingerz88's avatar

Only if they have a lot of Kelly McGillis look-alikes. : )

El_Cadejo's avatar

No thanks. When I was living in Belize there was a HUGE Mennonite community. Evidently when you can’t find a spouse elsewhere in the Mennonite community they send you to Belize, this also helped the Mennonite communities in Belize as they had a bit of an inbreeding problem. The Mennonites I met were all nice people but their lifestyle seemed pretty oppressive and they, unlike Amish can use technology. (some of the things I saw Mennonites do on a motorcycle were insane) There was also the issue of their agricultural practices in Belize. The thing that really blew my mind was how none of them ever died of heat exhaustion. It was at least 95 degrees if not hotter on most days and somehow the men wore long pants and long sleeve shirts and the women wore long (usually dark colored) dresses. Their clothes were generally made of polyester and the mens pants generally a very heavy denim. Yea I woulda had a heat stroke in 5 minutes :P

Coloma's avatar

I respect their lifestyle and think they have many good qualities, however, I am an animal nut and have been involved with horse rescues and they are known to not always care well for their horses.
Many ill and broken down horses come to rescues from Amish ( primarily ) farmsteads.

glacial's avatar

I highly recommend this novel.

Also: the Amish are infamous for their puppy mills. A little googling will present horror stories.

filmfann's avatar

You have convinced me into investing my retirement money into an Amish Internet Chat Room.
This time, I know it will work. not like the last 3 times

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I don’t like the fact that there is a lot of interbreeding there!

rojo's avatar

Not really. While I can respect their choosing a more simple, back to nature lifestyle, I have no wish to burden myself with their onerous religious beliefs. What I do envy is their sense of community.

GracieT's avatar

I agree with @rojo about admiring their sense of community, but I would have hated having to stop school after 8th grade. When I was
growing up we lived near some members of the German Baptist faith. I know that they
are more like the Mennonites then Old Order Amish in their rules and traditions. But I saw entirely too much of their behavior as a group to be
entirely comfortable in that situation as a lifestyle.

mattbrowne's avatar

What part of their culture is responsible for the extremely low suicide rates? We all could learn from this?

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne I would have to think the strong feeling of community must contribute to the low suicide rates. Also, I assume young people feel less pressures, less competition, than the average teen in western society.

If we buy into the idea that our personalities are a combination of genes and environment, then if the Amish tend to not have depression and suicidal thoughts, since the community sticks to traditional ways of living and the gene pool is relatively small, it make sense they would have low rates of suicide.

However, the “misfits” probably leave the Amish life, and then if and when they do commit suicide, the probably are not counted as an Amish suicide, so the statistics are probably skewed.

Those are just my guesses, I have no research on the topic.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – Your analysis makes a lot of sense! Good point about the misfits. It might be worth doing a scientific study creating best practices that can be copied. Amish people create a strong feeling of community by doing A, B, C. Young Amish people feel less pressure because of X, Y, Z etc.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks. It would be interesting. There are studies done regarding the average population and how strong connections with family and friends increases coping skills and happiness.

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