Sometimes, I find out how little I actually now about things. This is from February 29, 2012.
Maybe it's just me but I can't ever find anything to watch on network television anymore that I find entertaining or appealing. That led me to turn to PBS last night as I ate supper. I found myself engrossed in an American Experience episode simply entitled The Amish. During the two hour show, I found I knew almost nothing about this religious group, their history in this land, or the tenets at the core of their belief system. I didn't know that Amish preachers are chosen by lot and remain preachers all of their lives. I learned that when a member leaves the church, they are shunned by family and community. I was fascinated to hear their takes on modern life and conveniences. They told how bachelors are clean shaven and married men wear beards. Several court cases were discussed dealing with mandatory school attendance and of all things, a building code infraction involving a smoke detector. The story was told by historians and sociologists, members and former members. The point was made that modern America glorifies the individual but the Amish focus on the community, generally consisting of fifteen to twenty-five families who are autonomous from the others. At the end of the two hours, I wished there were two more. It was one of the few television shows I've ever watched that I would eagerly watch again. (OK- we're not counting Andy Griffith!)
You know it's worth spending time on a show or movie or book if you come away with a thought or idea that sticks with you. There was one overriding impression embedded in me and that is, with the Amish, you can't separate religion from their every waking moment. I don't agree with some of their theology but I am in awe of their willingness to be apart from the evil in the world that surrounds them and indeed, surrounds all of us. We all talk about forgiveness but they displayed it in an unbelievable way. In 2006, there was a shooting in an Amish one room school. A non-Amish man came in and gunned down ten girls, killing five of them. The shooter died in the incident as well. The next week, some of the parents of the children who were murdered attended the funeral of the killer to show love and forgiveness to his family. What a testimony. So many times, we get crosswise with each other over nothing and let it ruin a friendship or relationship and usually, it's over something trivial. That spirit amazes me. I caught myself wishing my life were as simple as theirs. I know the Amish have their flaws and their critics but their religion is their existence and mine usually isn't. I'm afraid my faith would shy away from the camera lights of a documentary. Theirs withstood the glare.
Applicable quote of the day:
|"There can be no assumption that today's majority is right and the and others like them are wrong. A way of life that is odd or even erratic but interferes with no rights or interests of others is not to be condemned because it is different."|
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