Monday, December 7, 2009

Amish Paradise

As I research my mennonite family back to 1650--they were not amish--I begin to get a bit bored with the history and theology of anabaptists. I wonder, could I learn most of what I need to about mennonites from Weird Al? Can I try? It's easier.

10 comments:

fairegarden said...

OMG, that is my favorite Weird Al video/spoof of all time, and I am a big fan of his so that is saying something! HA

Frances

ps, the video never loaded, but I know it well anyway!

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our friend Ben said...

Hey Benjamin! After moving to Pennsylvania Amish/Mennonite/Dutch country, and falling in love with old-style Amish quilts, I've read endless academic studies of the culture and (gulp) even become a fan of the endless stream of Amish "romance novels." And, of course, OFB and I see the Amish and Old Order Mennonite buggies almost every time we go on the road, and buy from Amish and Mennonite vendors at our local farmers' market, and... So please, don't diss your heritage! The Amish and Mennonites are the personification of a sacrament, "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." They make all of us who don't share that heritage pause, slow down, and think about what really matters.---Silence

Benjamin Vogt said...

I'm not dissing my heritage, more accurately I'm dissing the source texts of my first foreray into theological and historical research. I'm a bit jaded by the tilt or bent or skewedness of the authors to present anabaptists as the wonderful martyrs. I understand and appreciate what it meant to die for one's convictions in the face of the brutal holy roman empire, but the trained academic in me takes issue with blindly professing all anabaptists and mennonites as wonderful. I'm generalizing, and using my generalizing to attack generalizations. I am not mennonite, was not raised mennonite, but I think centuries of wandering, wunderlust, persecution, and silent nonviolence (turn the cheek) are genetically in me.

Victoria said...

I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about the history of the Mennonites, despite having visited Pennsylvania, and despite being a member of the current holy Roman empire.
I'm sure you didn't intend this post to start getting serious, but in the course of a quick surf to find out more, I was very struck by something that Dave and Neta Jackson said about "right remembering" and "wrong remembering".
Catholic churches, especially on the Continent, are full of images of tortured saints, so we have had our share of persecution.
As a child growing up in Scotland, I was called names because I was Catholic and there are still people in some parts of Britain today who would abuse me simply because I was a Papist.
I think you're absolutely right to be cautious about black and white portrayals of history. I think there is a danger that they perpetuate prejudice and misunderstanding.
At the risk of coming up with yet another generalisation, I think I prefer to remember the right that people do, not dwell on the wrongs.
BTW, doesn't your garden look lovely in that little picture above right?

our friend Ben said...

Gack, I didn't mean to suggest that Amish, Mennonites, and etc. were all living saints and above criticism, Benjamin! People are people, whatever their faith. Like Victoria, we profess allegiance to the Church of Rome, and have paid a price in bigotry for that and many other aspects of our backgrounds over the years. The fact that every faith has its demons and its martyrs says sad things about religion, I think, but every faith also has its heroes and saints. Anyway, sounds like you've been reading the wrong books---"Martyrs' Mirror," maybe? Here are some we like: "On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren" by Kraybill and Bowman; "Amish Society," John A. Hostetler, 4th ed.; and David Kline's "Scratching the Woodchuck."

Benjamin Vogt said...

I guess it makes sense that you've taken some abuse for your religious beliefs and upbringing--I can't begin to understand the deep, long, incredible division that existed in the UK with catholics vs prtoestants. As I learn more about anabaptists--which aren't really catholics but aren't really protestants--I find it fascinating to see how divises religion is. I mean, I know it is, but to catch a glimpse of how it so fundemntally defined people (unlike today I think), and partly because it too often becomes the state, instead of being something else. Separation of church and state is a good thing.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Gack??? :) I will look into those book--thanks! (How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?)

Benjamin Vogt said...

And Victoria, that pic on the top right if my FAVE!!! Some day soon a post will be up showing this garden's two year evolution.

Victoria said...

Ooh, I can't wait! What you have achieved is just astonishing.