Home Again…

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. ~ Maya Angelou

One of my sisters, before my book came out, said that she thought I would just be in my element when I got up to talk in front of an audience. I agreed with her then, and now that I've been in front of 24 audiences, I still agree with her. This past week David and I went on a nine-day tour in which I gave eight talks in eight days. This was the most intense stint of talks yet. I talked in front of 319 people collectively, with my smallest audience yet being 17 people, and my largest one this week being 67. I still like conducting talks, especially the question and answer period, when I get to discover what is on the minds of the audience members. 

I love doing book tours, but I am also very happy to be home. David and I have unpacked our bags and are taking a deep breath. It feels so good! Now we can get back into the daily routine of taking bike rides together, and keeping up the house and yard, besides making as much progress on the second book as possible. People we have read the first book are clamoring for the second, so it is inspiring to know we have an audience waiting with anticipation.

Several of you commented or left questions on my last posting. Thank you. Erik, you left several, which I want to address:

Saloma, hope you have/had a great trip. I'm really impressed by your energy level to have so many events scheduled in such a short time! I would think that reflects your passion for your topic and book. I'm sure it will go/went great.

My topic(s), I guess for when you return, and of course if you feel like answering:

What was the "toughest" question you got from your audiences?

What do you think are the most common misconceptions people have about the Amish? And the most bizarre?

Hmmm, the toughest question I've gotten?  That itself is a tough question. There is a set of questions that have to do with why the Amish don't allow their children to go beyond the eighth grade, why my home community did not allow bicycles, or why the Amish are allowed to ride in cars, but not own them. In one case an earnest young girl of about nine asked me "Well, why didn't the Amish allow Christmas trees?" These questions are tough in the sense that I never knew the answer to them myself, so I don't feel I can answer them properly. But in exploring the one about limiting education, I discovered something I had never thought of before — this is not actually a "rule" in the Amish community, in the sense that the bishop of each district will include it during Ordnungs Church twice a year when he reviews the rules of the church (details about how women should dress, how they should dress their children, how men should dress, which forms of technology are not acceptable, etc). Education is not even discussed, because it is just a given that children will not continue school beyond the acceptable age (in my home community it was the eighth grade).  Because it is such a given, it has become a tradition that people don't even think of challenging. 

In nearly every audience, someone has asked me what my spiritual beliefs/affiliations are now. This I find particularly tough, partly because I am usually rather private about my spiritual beliefs. It is one of the things I agree with the Amish about — that my deepest beliefs are not that easy to articulate, and even if I could, I may not want to. Like the Amish, I feel that to talk about them reduces their power and authenticity. 

I would say the most common misconception is the notion that young people during their rumspringa years, get to go out and taste of the world, and get a conscious choice about  whether to stay or leave. I've addressed this issue several times over here on my blog: To Leave or not to LeaveThat Sticky Wicket, and Rumspringa Revisited

Perhaps the most bizarre misconception? I would have to say it's the one that the lifestyle depicted in Amish fiction is actually what it's like to grow up Amish. Very few Amish fiction authors grew up Amish. Nearly anyone who did grow up Amish will agree that there are some things you just don't "get" if you were not — you have to be there, or have been there.

Erik, thank you for your thought-provoking questions. 
 

 
My talk at the Lancaster Public Library
 
There were 54 people in the audience — the librarian said this was double how many people showed up for Beverly Lewis. Ira Wagler was there, which was the first time I'd met him. His memoir "Growing up Amish" is coming out on July 1. 
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14 thoughts on “Home Again…”

  1. I’ve been following for a while, but never commented. I’d love to know if you have any future speaking engagements in the Mid-Atlantic area…specifically between Philadelphia and Baltimore? I keep looking at your sidebar hoping!

  2. Saloma,
    Welcome Back!! So happy for you and the tour! Doing what we love makes life really enjoyable! Back home is always refreshing! Have a wonderful summer!

    Blessings,
    Debbie S.

  3. I read about your tour online in the Amish news on my own blog, and welcome back home. And im sure your very glad to be home. I also have a new post on my own blog from old order Mennonite Jean from New York state. In this post she talks about getting ready for the farmers market, and relationship with the Amish. Richard

  4. WELCOME HOME! So glad to see you back as I very much enjoy your site. Most of the questions I see are the same ones I would ask, so I have not had any for you yet. I also appreciate the respectful way in which you answer questions and honor your Amish background, as well as telling the truth and sharing your feelings about the things you disagree with. Looking forward to reading/learning much more!

  5. Welcome home! I kept checking your site to see if you were back yet. agree wtih Deb – are you ever going to get to the mid-Atlantic area?

    I do understand that people who have never lived the Amish life just aren’t going to get it; it would be like me trying to write about being in a convent!

    One question I do have – why are there such varied practices among the different congregations? Mary Ann said they considered the Ordnung before they chose their new home. What’s OK there is not allowed here, etc.

  6. Saloma, bet your glad to be home. So nice seeing you and David again. The ducks thank you for your interest in them :-).

    I have a question for you. Every few years someone gives me a ziploc bag with a bubbly yeast mixture. Ingredients are added for approximately 10 days and then three cups of batter are separated out to pass on to three people with instructions. You then bake the balance into a really nice bread/cake.

    Everyone always refers to this batter as Amish Friendship Bread. Do you know if the Amish actually follow this tradition and did the recipe originate with an Amish group. Thanks, Lynn Kimmerle

  7. Saloma! Welcome home! Just in time for the hot, hot weather … but a cold front is coming. It finally stopped raining but spring disappears so quickly around here! It’s a short pause for you, but at least your next appearances are more local and you can get home in the same day! Enjoy your time off.

  8. Hello all, and thank you so much for your comments and interest.

    Deb, thank you so much for following my blog, and also for your request for something in the mid-Atlantic region. If you have any suggestions for libraries or bookstores in your area, I’d be happy to call them. (You can email me: salomafurlong(at)gmail(dot)com. I always welcome suggestions.

    Deb, I agree — doing what we love is the main ingredient in realizing self-fulfillment and happiness.

    Richard, it is nice to be back home, thanks.

    Ladybug, thank you for your sentiments. I strive to portray a balanced view of the culture I grew up in, and hearing from readers that I have achieved that balance is always gratifying.

    Lady Anne, it is interesting that you are noticing the diversity among Amish groups — I am noticing that too, especially from reading Mary Ann’s blog. My only explanation for that is that the Amish religion is decentralized — in other words there is not one leader that everyone sees as the final authority, such as the Pope in the Roman Catholic tradition. Each time a new Amish community is founded, the leaders pick and choose which rules they will live by. Each community has it’s overall rules, and then each church district varies within that community, depending upon how strictly the bishop adheres to this rules.

    Thanks for your suggestion to talk in the mid-Atlantic region. If you have any suggestions for venues, I would love to get them from you.

    Lynn, I’ve been asked about the Amish Friendship bread so many times, and I have to say I never even heard of it until I left my community. I don’t know if this is something that comes out of Lancaster or not. I would like to know this myself. Sorry I can’t answer your question.

    Peggy, thanks for letting me know there was cooler weather on its way… I was hoping. The most severe part of a pretty spectacular thunderstorm has just passed over us. I’m hoping cooler air is behind it. There is a tornado watch in effect in our area, actually. I best retreat to the first floor and possibly the basement eventually. After living in the Midwest, I find them scary.

    Thanks all, for your comments and questions… it is always a pleasure.

  9. Hello all, and thank you so much for your comments and interest.

    Deb, thank you so much for following my blog, and also for your request for something in the mid-Atlantic region. If you have any suggestions for libraries or bookstores in your area, I’d be happy to call them. (You can email me: salomafurlong(at)gmail(dot)com. I always welcome suggestions.

    Deb, I agree — doing what we love is the main ingredient in realizing self-fulfillment and happiness.

    Richard, it is nice to be back home, thanks.

    Ladybug, thank you for your sentiments. I strive to portray a balanced view of the culture I grew up in, and hearing from readers that I have achieved that balance is always gratifying.

    Lady Anne, it is interesting that you are noticing the diversity among Amish groups — I am noticing that too, especially from reading Mary Ann’s blog. My only explanation for that is that the Amish religion is decentralized — in other words there is not one leader that everyone sees as the final authority, such as the Pope in the Roman Catholic tradition. Each time a new Amish community is founded, the leaders pick and choose which rules they will live by. Each community has it’s overall rules, and then each church district varies within that community, depending upon how strictly the bishop adheres to this rules.

    Thanks for your suggestion to talk in the mid-Atlantic region. If you have any suggestions for venues, I would love to get them from you.

    Lynn, I’ve been asked about the Amish Friendship bread so many times, and I have to say I never even heard of it until I left my community. I don’t know if this is something that comes out of Lancaster or not. I would like to know this myself. Sorry I can’t answer your question.

    Peggy, thanks for letting me know there was cooler weather on its way… I was hoping. The most severe part of a pretty spectacular thunderstorm has just passed over us. I’m hoping cooler air is behind it. There is a tornado watch in effect in our area, actually. I best retreat to the first floor and possibly the basement eventually. After living in the Midwest, I find them scary.

    Thanks all, for your comments and questions… it is always a pleasure.

  10. Dear Saloma, I just sent an email to Terry Gross asking her to interview you on Fresh Air. Maybe she will!
    Theresa

  11. Thank you, Sarah, for your thoughts. It is also a great opportunity for me to find out what is on people’s minds, so I am also fortunate that so many people are eager to comment and ask questions.

  12. Saloma, thanks for taking the time. I found your answers quite interesting, especially about people being curious about your current beliefs. I guess I can understand why you’d get that question alot. Glad to hear the tour was a success!

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