Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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Joining the Amish, Revisited

Elin asked: "What do you think about outsiders who wants to join the Amish? Do you think that they are 'crazy' or can you understand their reasoning?"
Thank you for asking this question, Elin. I know that everyone has a spiritual path — mine happened to take me out of the Amish, but someone else's might take them into the Amish. I will say, however, when I read the posts on Amish America I wince whenever people write that they love the Amish lifestyle after reading ten Beverly Lewis books, or that they met someone Amish for the first time, and now they want to join their community. 

 
First of all, I would like to say that the image most people have of the Amish is romanticized — they are up on a pedestal as a model of ultimate "goodness." In reality, the Amish are human and they have their good points and their bad. Their society is a microcosm of the rest of society, only with different cultural and religious values. It is in examining these values that we can learn what is missing or overwhelming in our own lives. If we like their back-to-the-earth lifestyle because of their beautiful gardens, then perhaps we need to plant a garden of our own. If it's the plain clothing, then maybe we pay less attention to the latest styles or fashions and wear what is comfortable. If it's the beautiful quilts and furniture, then let's take up a homespun art. If it's their close-knit community, then we can become involved in a community that focuses on helping others. If we like their lifestyle because it is not so "cluttered" with the latest technologies, then perhaps we want to be more discerning about the technologies we adopt. But our mythological view of the Amish does not exist in reality. If seekers are willing to see the Amish as people with flaws like the rest of us, then they have a much better chance at succeeding if they join. Otherwise there will be disillusionment. 
 
After saying all of this, please see my earlier post about a success story of someone who joined the very church district I left.
 
Back to my original comment, if people are led to the Amish in their journey, and they are willing to accept that the Amish are not perfect and make the sacrifices that it takes to become part of the Amish community, then they will probably find themselves in a close-knit community that the rest of us can only long for. We all look for a sense of belonging, and I wish all those who embark on this journey many blessings and much success. It is not an easy journey, that is for sure.
 
I would encourage anyone who is thinking of embarking on this journey to visit A Joyful Chaos for a realistic and detailed description of an Amish baptism and first attendance at Ordungs Church. 
 
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