Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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More on Owning versus Using....

Susan J. Reinhardt said: I’m surprised more Amish don’t opt for this sharing arrangement, so they can have the modern conveniences. How common is this?

Kate said: As for more churches not living in “english” houses etc. for the sake of convience is kind of depending on the people. For the most part the Amish I’ve met (limited to only a few Amish churches in MI) WANT and CHOOSE to live the way they do. They accept what the church says they may or may not have (modern convience wise). But I am sure many of them would want to do this but lots of them choose to live this way and want to live without the modern things etc.

I’ve been pondering how to respond to these comments. I’ll start with your question, Susan. I can only answer from my own experience, which is limited to one church district in one Amish community. (At the time I left, there were approximately thirty-two church districts in Geauga County, Ohio and now there are upwards of ninety.) If I remember correctly, there were five or six families out of about 21 families who lived on farms owned by “English” people. I sure do not know the motivations of the people who lived on these farms to know if the modern conveniences were the reason they chose to run these farms or not. I do know that two of these families did move to Mio, Michigan later. In Mio, the Amish elders allow more technology than do the elders in Geauga. I don’t believe this was their primary motivation, though. Many of the people who moved to Mio wanted to express more of their born-again beliefs than what they were able to in Geauga. I believe the allowance of more modern conveniences was of less importance to these people, though again I don’t know exactly what motivated them.

I also believe that this practice of managing a farm on shares is much less common now than it was when I left thirty years ago, as is farming in general. The policies restricting the Amish in Geauga from using modern equipment drove many of the dairy farmers out of business when the local cheese factory stopped buying anything other than grade A milk. Some of them have converted their farms into growing vegetables and selling their wares directly to the public, but others left the farm completely. It is fairly rare for Amish families to rent rather than buy or build their homes. So, I don’t believe this is very common at all any longer.

Kate, I agree with your comments, that most Amish choose to live the way prescribed by the Amish Ordnung. In fact, there can almost be a “competition” about who can be the most compliant. But in my view, this is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength in that there are few dissidents, which keeps the church running smoothly and keeps the peace. It is a weakness in that without dissidents there is a tendency to think the way of the group. But you are basically right about that, Kate. Most Amish do not show dissatisfaction with the prescribed way of life. (I will write more about this in another post.)

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