Monday, October 17, 2011

Amish People in the News Again

Although they don't approve of publicity or the Internet...

This blog admits having received a great deal of moral support from mostly anonymous Amish people. Not all of us realize the benefits of having these small groups of eccentrics in our midst, but sometimes some of us really depend on them...their preservation of traditional technologies that may become vital when newer, more expensive gadgets fail, and/or their commitment to a religious life that includes helping outsiders in need. One recent book about a writer who lived to write her book, apparently, because Amish people helped her, is Mary Swander's Out of This World. A more typical encounter between mainstream and Amish Americans would be more like Sue Bender's Plain and Simple.

I've never subscribed to Scott Savage's Plain Reader, allegedly a "Luddite, Quaker, and Amish magazine" that publishes tips and encouragement to those who want to simplify their lives. The best of these essays as of 1998, including some by Jerry Mander, Wendell Berry, and Bill McKibben, were collected in a book called The Plain Reader. I'm not ready to sell my copy yet, but the book is warmly recommended.

The beard-cutting and infighting distress me. Amish people aren't usually under enough stress to behave like this, but, as reported, the recession is adversely affecting the market for their products. This blog would like to remind readers in areas where it's possible to trade with Amish and Mennonite people that a recession is no time to stop buying their merchandise.

If anything, power outages and rising gas prices should remind all of us to make sure we have non-electric, non-gas-powered gadgets to make our lives relatively easy. A few regular readers may remember my Amish-style hand-cranked washing machine, "Sweet Baby James." If you think cranking a washing machine would be a bore, imagine the other alternatives in a neighborhood where everyone depends on electricity when there is no electricity. Cranking is much, much more efficient than pounding your clothes against a rock in a polluted river.

The Amish don't advertise on the Internet, but now, when the days are still warm and the trees are blazing with colors, is a perfect time to go to Pennsylvania and shop for the things you may need in case of a technological crisis.