Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Devil's Playground

I'm accostomed to seeing Amish people from my early years living in Pennsylvania. I remember the Kutztown Fair, meanders through Lancaster County, and, later, Amish food stands at the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. The Amish -- or Pennsylvania Deutsch -- vicariously connect those living in the modern "English" world with the traditional Swiss/German farmer's way of life, based on the land and commmunity enterprise.

The Amish are Anabaptist Christians, meaning they believe in voluntary adult baptism and freely made adult choice for their affiliated family members. This is what makes Devil's Playground (2002) so interesting. This documentary made by Lucy Walker follows Indiana Amish teens as they sow their wild oats in a period sometimes loosely defined as the Rumspringa. Young Amish can play the prodigal card but must eventually decide for themselves if they want to commit to the Amish lifestyle for the rest of their lives. Only if they opt for adult baptism must they remain faithful or, if they "go English" afterward, risk being formally shunned and exiled.

For more than three centuries now, the Old Order Amish have slowly spread out from Pennsylvania to husband more land for each succeeding generation of farmers.

Today's Rune: Partnership.


Johnny Yen said...

If you look at that map, you can see a green spot in east central Illinois. That's Arcola, Illinois, near where I went to school in Charleston, Illinois. There's a big Amish community there. They make a lot of their living on tourists and craft sales. It's funny-- they can't drive cars, but it's okay if the people who buy their stuff drive cars.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey Johnny, thanks for your comment. I remember chuckling even in Lancaster at "Made in China" goods at an Amish general store.

But on the other hand . . . viva la differance, even if it's only slight (or by sleight of hand ;-)

the walking man said...

Erik, I expected a nod to the movie "Kingpin"

Sans that, like you say Vive la differance.

I have fond memories of them when ever I WALKED through their community's. Food and water and a place in the barn for the night were not uncommon.


Anonymous said...

It is a ggod thing that some group still knows how to farm in the old traditional way and not hi tech. The rest of the folks may have to learn how to raise crops for their own families the way food and gas is going up. I remember Victory Gardens from my childhood. Go Green!

Charles Gramlich said...

A conservative group like this, buying and hoarding land, can become a major power in time.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Capitalism at its ... best?