Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Amish as a matter of national interest

I don’t’ exactly understand why America seems so preoccupied with the Amish. In this day and age, when most of us are very jaded and predisposed to a ‘me-centered’ lifestyle, the Amish way of life stands in stark contrast. I must admit that these kinds of lifestyles don’t appeal to me. But I do like the simplicity and the genuineness of their motives. It speaks volumes for their lifestyle; more than any words would.

As one who writes books, I read a lot as well. And as I go to the bookstore, there are a lot of books, especially in the Christian section about Amish romances, or just stories about Amish people in General.

It wasn’t until my American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) loop news digest mentioned an article about Cindy Woodsmall, who had an interview on ABC’s Nightline, that I realized that maybe there is something about these wholesome folks who choose a simpler lifestyle that America secretly hungers for. Not to say that many of us would want to be Amish, but maybe their faith in God, and their simpler view of life secretly beckons most of us towards making finding respite from our hectic lives. You must admit, that in today’s world, where unemployment, divorce and crime, especially corporate crime are becoming a more accepted set of circumstances, maybe we all secretly yearn to find peace in the example of the Amish.

As a corollary, consider the popularity of Discovery Channel affiliate TLC’s show, “18 Kids and Counting.” Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar live in a situation that most American’s would never dream of, but their faith, and their simplified lifestyle must resonate with some need in its viewers, or it wouldn’t be on for as long as it has been. Now, yes, there is always the ‘novelty’ of being such a large family. But there are plenty of other shows about large families, which may or may not have the same appeal.

“Jon and Kate Plus Eight’ for me was actually becoming boring, and the flap about extramarital affairs is the only thing that would spark any attention from me. It is an interesting study in human nature, and how imperfect it is. But quite honestly, I don’t even find their problems all that interesting. Really ... haven’t we all seen some of what they’re going through in one form or another many times in our lives? It's sad, but true: it’s the way of our current world.

So what is it about wholesome families and shows about them that draws us? And for that matter, why is faith becoming such a reported on subject? Until recently, the only ‘religion’ you heard about was cults, e.g. Jim Jones, or radical Islamic extremists. But most of the news you hear about faith involves people of genuine faith.

Well, America, maybe we are on the verge of the next spiritual awakening. Or maybe we are just fascinated by people whose lifestyles are very different from ours.

Either way, as Paul said in Phillipians, “that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached …” And that is enough for me.

Cindy Woodsmall Interview on Nightline

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