Horse-and-buggy Mennonites: Hoofbeats of Humility in a Postmodern World

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Penn State Press, 2006 - Religion - 362 pages
2 Reviews

On a May Sunday in 1927, progress and tradition collided at the Groffdale Old Order Mennonite Church in eastern Pennsylvania when half the congregation shunned the cup of wine offered by Bishop Moses Horning. The boycott of this holiest of Mennonite customs was in direct response to Horning's decision to endorse the automobile after years of debate within the church. The resulting schism over opposing views of technology produced the group known as the Wenger Mennonites.

In the nearly eighty years since the establishment of this church, the initial group of fifty dissenters has grown to a community of 16,000 Wenger Mennonites. They have large families and typically retain 95 percent or more of their youth. For many years their main community was based in Lancaster County, but in recent decades they have expanded into eight other states, with new communities most recently established in Iowa and Michigan. Despite their continued rejection of modern technology, the Wengers--popularly known as horse-and-buggy Mennonites--continue to thrive on their own terms.

In this first-of-its-kind study of the Wenger Mennonites, Kraybill and Hurd--a sociologist and an anthropologist--use cultural analysis to interpret the Wengers both in and outside Pennsylvania. They systematically compare the Wengers with other Mennonite groups as well as with the Amish, showing how relationships with these other groups have had a powerful impact on shaping the identity of the Wenger Mennonites in the Anabaptist world. As Kraybill and Hurd show, the Wengers have learned that it is impossible to maintain a truly static culture, and so examining the ways in which the Wengers cautiously and incrementally adapt to the ever-changing world around them is an invaluable case study of the gradual evolution of religious ritual in the face of modernity.

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - xuebi - LibraryThing

A fascinating and informative account of the Wenger Mennonites (an Old Order Mennonite group in Pennsylvania) that is both scholarly and easy to read. Donald Kraybil is a well-respected figure in the ... Read full review

Review: Horse-And-Buggy Mennonites: Hoofbeats of Humility in a Postmodern World

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

This is a fairly academic book, but the authors' use of excerpts from field interviews gives it a lively voice. Their argument, that Wenger Mennonites selectively adapt technology to support a ... Read full review

Contents

1 Who Are the Wenger Mennonites?
1
2 The Fabric of Faith and Culture
31
3 Mobility and Identity
63
4 The Architecture of Community
90
5 The Rhythm of Sacred Ritual
123
6 Passages from Birth to Death
151
7 Making a Living Together
185
8 Technology and Social Change
208
9 Pilgrims in a Postmodern World
235
Appendixes
267
Notes
290
Selected References
333
Photo Credits
346
Index
347
Back Cover
363
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

James P. Hurd is Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Bethel University. Donald B. Kraybill is Distinguished Professor and Senior Fellow at Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.