A Peculiar People: Iowa's Old Order Amish by Elmer Schwieder

By Elmer Schwieder

Now again in print with a brand new essay, this vintage of Iowa heritage makes a speciality of the previous Order Amish Mennonites, the state’s so much targeted spiritual minority. Sociologist Elmer Schwieder and historian Dorothy Schwieder all started their learn with the biggest team of previous Order Amish within the country, the group close to Kalona in Johnson and Washington counties, in April 1970; they prolonged their stories and friendships in later years to different previous Order settlements in addition to the marginally much less conservative Beachy Amish. a weird humans explores the foundation and development of the outdated Order Amish in Iowa, their non secular practices, fiscal association, relatives existence, the formation of recent groups, and the important factor of schooling. integrated are also appendixes giving the 1967 “Act when it comes to obligatory college Attendance and academic Standards”; a pattern “Church association monetary Agreement,” demonstrating the group’s strange yet useful mutual economic climate; and the 1632 Dortrecht Confession of religion, whose eighteen articles hide the entire easy non secular tenets of the previous Order Amish. Thomas Morain’s new essay describes exterior and inner concerns for the Iowa Amish from the Seventies to at the present time. the expansion of utopian Amish groups around the kingdom, adjustments in career (although The Amish listing nonetheless lists buggy store operators, wheelwrights, and one lone horse dentist), the present nation of schooling and healthiness care, and the unsleeping stability among glossy and conventional methods are mirrored in an essay that describes how the previous Order commitment to Gelassenheit—the yielding of self to the pursuits of the bigger community—has served its participants good into the twenty-first century.

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When traveling across the nation from a major Amish settlement like Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, through the Amish countryside in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, slight variations can be seen in the types of farm machinery, MAP 2. Old Order and Beachy Amish settlements in the United States. styles of clothing, and living patterns. The Old Order Amish in Lancaster County use modern farm machinery, believing it essential for their economic survival; in most other regions the Amish prefer old methods and machines.

The practice is discontinued in the fall because there is no way to shelter the horses during cold weather. When Sunday school classes begin in the spring, members start through the New Testament chapter by chapter. They study and discuss each one and if they do not complete all the Scriptures by the end of the sessions, they pick up the following spring where they had left off in the fall and continue until they do finish. During these sessions Amish youngsters also are taught German and catechism.

Because of their belief that they are ,. a peculiar people" and living a superior life, the Amish can be described as a utopian group. Unlike many utopians, however, the Amish do not desire to change or reform society around them. Their entire life-style is directed toward preserving or retaining the religious beliefs, economic patterns, and social structure they have experienced since their beginning. This commitment to the past also means that the Amish must be able to at least semiisolate themselves from non-Amish people and institutions.

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