The riddle of Amish culture

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, Feb 1, 1989 - Religion - 304 pages
2 Reviews
? Why will the Amish ride in cars but refuse to drive them? ? How can their old-fashioned farms turn a profit while many modern farms go broke? ? Do they ever change their customs? Who decides, and how? ? If they'll use pay phones, why not have a phone in the house? ? Why will they use electronic calculators but not computers?

The Amish are one of America's most intriguing and puzzling communities. To the outsider, their habits and customs abound with contradictions. But the most intriguing puzzle of all is the secret of their survival in the twentieth century. How have these "plain folk" not only kept the modern world at bay but actually grown from a meager band of 5,000 in 1900 to over 100,000 today?

Donald Kraybill has lived and worked among the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home of America's oldest Amish community. Talking with the Amish on their farms, in their shops, and around their kitchen tables, he has learned how they have "struck a bargain" with modern times--a bargain that explains why many of the rules that seem quaint or silly actually have been essential to keeping Amish culture alive.

In The Riddle of Amish Culture Kraybill finds the Amish men and women eager to answer our questions. But they also have questions for us. Why, they ask, do we shut our aging parents out of our houses--and put them in institutions we call "homes?" Why do we move away from the towns and families we love in pursuit of jobs we hate? And why do we need weapons so powerful they could one day destroy us all--Amish and "English" alike?

The Riddle of Amish Culture draws us into conversation across a cultural fence with a people as remote as the seventeenth century and asclose to home as that blacktop road off the next Interstate exit. And what we learn about our Amish neighbors tells us much about ourselves.

"Some have wall-to-wall carpeting, insulated wooly stuff all around the top, a big dashboard, glove compartment, speedometer, clock, stereo radio, buttons galore, and lights and reflectors all over the place... If they have the money, that's what they do, and that's pride."--an Amish leader, on the "hot- rod" carriages of some Amish teenagers

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User Review  - BoundTogetherForGood - LibraryThing

This is an exhaustive relation of the theory behind being Amish. I truly believe I understand their ways now, though I don't agree with some of them, such as not talking about issues with your children and expecting them to sow wild oats...that's just trouble waiting to happen... Read full review

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User Review  - 2tuff4u -

The book is very infomational about this culture. It did take a while to get here but it was worth the wait. Read full review


The Amish Story
The Quilt Work of Amish Culture
Symbols of Integration and Separation

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About the author (1989)

Donald B. Kraybill is winner of the National Religious Book Award for The Upside- Down Kingdom. Among his other books are Perils of Professionalism, Facing Nuclear War, and Our Star-Spangled Faith. He is professor of sociology and Anabaptist Studies at Messiah College.

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