The Amish are, for me, an icon for people who have managed to maintain their independence and their culture despite enormous outside pressures. While I don’t really know the Amish – pretty much only what I’ve read – I do know that the Amish have all kinds of problems of their own and are not without sin! So my purpose in writing is not to try and get us to become Amish. Rather, I think we can learn from them and try to emulate the good parts of their world in ours.
The Amish refer to themselves as “plain” people. That word is instructive. One of the things we can learn from our Amish brothers and sisters . . . and their “cousins” the Mennonites and Brethren and Quakers . . . is the commitment to simplicity in their lives.
That concept is about as far from where my friends and I tend to live as one can imagine. Instead of simple, our lives are increasingly complex. This past week, for example, I decided to upgrade the wireless network in our home so that I would have faster access to the internet. The equipment I assembled to do this . . . before giving up . . . is shown here.
Basically, I spent about 10 hours and several hundred dollars to discover that I just could not make it work. When I finally gave up, I returned some equipment, donated the rest to the Salvation Army and then switched to an internet provider who would set it all up for me. The really frustrating part is that I would have been just fine if I had done nothing!
It’s interesting to discover, as I’ll write about soon, that the Amish are not anti-technology. They in fact use all kinds of modern devices. But when doing so, they make conscious community decisions as to which technology they are going to use. And the criteria they use when considering technology includes its potential to complicate their lives or pulls them apart from one another. That is a type of thinking from which we, non-Amish American Christians, can most certainly benefit. Watch this column for more thoughts on this area in the future.