Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Those Amish Wannabes

There is a strange new current running among the modern-day-hippie, back-to-nature, goat-in-the-backyard types, and that is to try to be Amish.

Back when my brothers were young and scoffed at as "dumb Dutch" in public school, it was inconceivable that someday the Amish would develop this mystique and romanticism among the "Englisch."

Some time ago, standing in line at Walmart, I saw a guy who was trying to look Amish. He had some major details all wrong, most notably the look on his face. I wanted to go tell him he looks way too pleased with himself to be a real Amishman.

A few days ago I met a whole family of this stripe. Bearded, suspendered man. Mom and daughter in white coverings and dresses with black aprons.

However, the whole effect was as incongruous as if I would decide to be Indian and try to wear buckskin, sit in a sweat lodge, and smoke peyote.

Mister had a striped shirt under his suspenders. The mom’s dress was much too short, and her and the daughter’s dirty, wrinkled kappa were vaschted over their buns.

My Amish aunts, who carefully starched and ironed their kappa on Saturdays, would have sat down in their rocking chairs and died before going out in public in anything so schlappich and flatschich.

In addition, both the mom and dad were divorced and remarried (verboten among the Amish of course) and the older daughter, who wore a scarf but wasn’t quite as "Amish," was dreadfully unladylike, unlike my cousin Lorene, who sat perfectly still all through Dawdy’s funeral in her neat black dress, with every hair in place and a careful candy-cane-shaped curl dripping down in front of each ear. (I was nine. Those curls were impressive.)

Conversing with the mom, I mentioned that I used to be Amish, a broad hint that she ought to ask this expert how she could be a little more authentic. Instead, she went into raptures about her new treadle sewing machine.

Ah well, it’s a free country, I guess. But my advice to the people who want to be Plain and Simple—not that I expect them to listen—is to wear bandanna scarves, order some jumpers from LLBean, read your Bible, and remember that cleanliness is next to Godliness. But pleeeeease don’t try to be Amish.

Quote of the Day:
"I just want you to know you’re invited to my funeral when I die."
--Jenny’s little friend Deana, to her friend Janane, when all the other little girls were inviting each other to their birthday parties


  1. Hmmm, maybe as closely as we scrutinize these people for trying to be 'Amish', we should wonder why people are Mennonite? Just a thought.

  2. Um, care to translate the Dutch words for those of us who don't know the language? I'm one-sided Willamette Valley Mennonite--not Dutch or Amish background! Some of the words I could figure out in context, but a couple or three I can sort of guess at but have no idea!


  3. I agree with EG, dutch is kind of neat, but please translate.

    P.S. LL Bean sells jumpers?? Or were you being sarcastic?


  4. Shelley--Interesting thought. I think being Amish or Mennonite works best in the context of a church community and not going it alone.

    David: I'm pretty sure LLBean used to sell these loose corduroy and denim jumpers and dresses. Could be wrong on that.

    Englisch: people who are neither Amish nor Mennonite
    Kapp--covering (plural:kappa)
    vaschted: crammed
    schlappich: sloppy
    flatschich: needlessly ugly and drab
    verboten: forbidden
    Dawdy: Grandpa

  5. Can't you just hear the heart cry of these people begging, "Please show me someone to follow."?

  6. No room for the seeker. Off to LL Bean I go...

  7. I have been troubled by this blog, and I can't seem to put a finger on it. Perhaps it is the tone, or attitude coming through..but why are you judging these people? Perhaps they are true seekers, and you should be looking for ways to encourage them, not looking down on them for what you presume as "wannabes". I have a lot I could say, but I will not say more, just question again your reason for writing this....and what you were trying to convey.

    God is no respector of persons, God loves the "wannabes" as much as He loves the "I-have-it-all-togethers" . Sometimes both are crying for help in different ways.

  8. Hey anon,

    I don't think Dorcas was judging anyone. I took it as being that she was amused by their lack of true knowledge of the Amish, which brought about their misinterpretation of the lifestyle. Notice at the end of the message that she actually gave them ADVICE on how better to be plain and simple, instead of tearing them down. And I think if you actually knew Dorcas personally, you would realize that she is not just judging these people. And one more thing, if these people were really seeking, I think they would have asked Dorcas for advice or information when she mentioned that she used to be Amish.
    I'm not mad at you, anon, I'm merely standing up for Dorcas. Take it for what it's worth...

    The Baritone

  9. Convicted... Yea we can hear the heart cry when they discuss the wonders of the treadle sewing machine!!!
    Its Jesus that saves us, not a way of life!!
    You obviously dont know Dorcas, if there ever was a person to reach out to others its her!!

  10. Thanks for standing up for your friend, but people do read this that do NOT know Dorcas personally.

    I may have come across too strongly, but I read this blog several times, and I was troubled by it. We people in the Mennonite culture sometimes give the impression that we have all the answers, and that is unfortunate.

    Living in the heartland...
    surrounded by Amish, Mennonites, Seekers and wannabes.

  11. I want to also stand up and say I "get" what Dorcas was trying to say. I speak as someone who was raised conservative Mennonite and when I was old enough to make the decision I joined a Mennonite church of my own choosing that was not nearly as conservative as I had been raised--I have learned over the years living in Amish and Mennonite communities alike that way to much is put into our dress sometimes--look beneath it all--is God the center of how we look and come across to the world--if it is not--maybe we need to take a closer look at our walk with the Lord--If our hearts are right,then conservative Mennonite,Amish,or what ever we call ourselves it won't become the issue of our Chistianity!

  12. Now I know how to tell a sincere seeker- they don't have treadle sewing machines. That's the litmus test.

  13. Yes, Dorcas! I sure share your feelings about people who try to be Amish, Mennonite, or whatever the case may be;but they do all the outward stuff-in their own way-and miss the whole point. If they simply want a simple lifestyle, then go for it, but don't try to imitate something you aren't. I believe if those people were truly seeking what is right, their conversation would have been on something other than treadle sewing machines! And why do these wannabes always manage to look so sloppy? Surely they don't think that's part of being plain!

  14. Oh its ok to have a treadle sewing machine...just wierd that that is the 1st thing they would talk about when asked about copying the amish.It should have been Jesus!!

  15. Don't you all just love the "Anonymous" feature on this blog... real handy isn't it? LOL!!!!

  16. And another thing...I've seen with some of these people that try to be Amish or ******* is that they try to get the dress part down to a T, yet they don't obey the laws of the land by putting their children into carseats..or even buckling them in,instead they are blatantly disobeying!! Somehow something just doesnt stack up.

  17. I don't know how many people are aware of this but I heard several months ago that someone was going to atart a tv show on the amish....
    maybe that is part of the problem. I believe the tv show was something like "AMish in the City"
    They are being commercialized, and people think it is "cool" to be like them....
    Glen Zehr

  18. Just an observation: I see people born and raised in the western culture of the US adopting some "extreme" religious beliefs and soon looking quite different from before. Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, the list goes on and on. Maybe people are looking for a system of beliefs or a faith that requires much effort and a large degree of nonconformity from the western norm. Meeting hard requirements may address a need people feel. Therefore, if this is true, we conservative Christian Anabaptists should not be ashamed to have some requirements and distinctions in our practices. Nor should we pre-determine whether a person would be willing to practice as we do. We are so busy trying to convince ourselves that the world has nothing to offer us, that we forget that we do have something to offer the world.

  19. That said, there are times that I wish I was born 140 years ago, and lived during the "Cowboy Era." I know, it's silly, but riding into the sunset, defending the innocent, and upholding the "Code of the West" just appeals to me. But I don't go around wearing a cowboy outfit.

  20. To the annonymous commenters.

    I've been in blogland for a couple of years now and can I just say that the old time bloggers would never allow your comments on their sites without a name.

    The rule of polite blogging is to back up your comments with a name. To try to argue a position than hide behind "annonymous" is considered cowardly.

  21. Thanks so much Mrs.Darling for telling us how its done.

  22. Mrs. Darling....

    What's worse -- hiding behind Anomymous or hiding behind a pseudonym such as Mrs. Darling?

    I thought them equal, much like a black kettle and a black pot.

    Cheers none the less.

    Also a darling,

  23. I'm not so sure why you are trying to pick an arguement here. But I will kindly explain the difference.

    You can easily go to my website and read all about me. The only thing you dont know about me is my real name. That's because I had to go undercover when a professor from a known University here in Oregon became upset that I was speaking out against gay marriages. He began to write blashemous paradies of my entries complete with my childrens names.

    Some local politicians got on the band wagon and stuck up for me but the harrassment didn't stop. I was so well known in the Oregon blogging community that a diplomat from Japan grew worried and he did a background check on the professer. It turns out that he had no record. But when you see your picture on someone elses website with a machete at your neck and the butterfly from Silence of The Lambs floating around it causes one to reconsider the use of the real name.

    However on a weblog such as this I do explain who I really am. If you look back about a week in the archives here at Life in A Shoe I eplain in detail my real identity.

    For your sake I will reiterate. I am a cousin of Dorcas sister in law, Bonnie Smucker. I do not hide when I come to Christian websites and speak my beliefs.

    There is a huge difference between posting annonymously or using a psuedoname that anybody can find info on you at your website. You know from my site that I have three children. You know that I live in Oregon. You know all my favorite songs from my profile. I am definitley not annonymous.
    The way blogger is set up you too could give people a little info about yourself even using the name annonymous. All you would need to do is fill out a profile so people could click on your name and find out a little about you.

    At this time all we know is that you love to argue. That's a real shame because in reality you're proably somebodys good friend and even maybe somebodys mother or father. You're definitely somebodys child so most likely you have people that love you in your life which means you're not totally unlovable as it would appear here.

    I hope you find internal happiness. Dorcas never once meant that she didn't have a heart for these peoples need of a Saviour. She was only speaking of how people try to dress like other cultures or subcultures and soemone from the inner cirlce can always pick them out. And just because they were trying to dress like Amish does not mean they were seekers. They were just people thinking it would be cool to look Amish.

    Here's hoping you have a blessed day. ~ Tammy

  24. Thanks for your reply, Tammy.

    Prior to my brief challenge to you, I think I posted here once or twice.

    Not interested in an argument.

    May the Almighty keep you and yours.

  25. Go Mrs. Darling/Tammy!

    btw, your name reminds me of the two Andy Griffith episodes: "The Darlings are coming" and "The Mountain Wedding".

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  27. Having studied Amish/Menn beliefs these past few years my interest in them has dwindled. They are people just as regular Christians. Just like regular Christians, some ure uppity and snotty and others are gentle as a dove.

    Personally, making fun of others who are wanting to look Amish (whether for sincere reasons or to get the "oh wow, a Amish person! look) is a little snobbish. I guess the blessing of being raised in such a wonderful environment much have not dawned on some people. Some of us strived to be like that which we desired, not because of worldly thoughts but because we seek that true brother and sisterhood in Christ that the Amish provided. I am not sure that our family would find it anymore though. It seems the more people I know, the more I realize that it is all a image.

    Perhaps those who have been deeply blessed to be raised in such families could cut others some slack when it comes to thier trying the Amish beliefs. Extend a true hand of love instead of trying to tell someone that you know they are not really Amish. Perhaps that would be a better witness for yourself. Just my thoughts.

    Mrs. DMG