Amish mofos

When your knowledge of the Amish comes mainly from 80s movies, it’s hard not to be fairly ignorant of what their life is actually like. So this article article about Amish hackers really blew me away. They use a lot more technology than I would have supposed – diesel generators? Tractors? They are considering using cell phones. Apparently, they don’t want to be connected to the electricity grid, so they have modified all their home appliances, such as blenders, to use pneumatic tubes for power. “Amish electricity” they call it.

In fact, this quote really struck me:

Behind all of these variations is the Amish motivation to strengthen their communities. When cars first appeared at the turn of last century the Amish noticed that drivers would leave the community to go shopping or sight-seeing in other towns, instead of shopping local and visiting friends, family or the sick on Sundays. Therefore the ban on unbridled mobility was aimed to make it hard to travel far, and to keep energy focused in the local community. Some parishes did this with more strictness than others.

A similar communal motivation lies behind the Old Order Amish practice of living without electricity. The Amish noticed that when their homes were electrified with wires from a generator in town, they became more tied to the rhythms, policies and concerns of the town. Amish religious belief is founded on the principle that they should remain ‘in the world, not of it” and so they should remain separate in as many ways possible.

amishThe first bit almost sounds like it could have come from a New Urbanist! Maybe those Amish were onto modern urban planning way before us. Of course, this whole “in the world, not of it” makes me think that maybe not so much?

The other cool thing is that solar panels are becoming popular among the Amish. With these they can get electricity without being tied to the grid, which was their main worry. Solar is used primarily for utilitarian chores like pumping water, but it will slowly leak into the household. It sounds as if modern life and Amish life might begin to almost merge.  After all, the Amish aim to be fairly sustainable, self-sufficient, and community oriented which sounds like the dream of a lot of urban planners and environmentalists. Minus the religious bits, of course.

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5 thoughts on “Amish mofos

  1. When I was in the Ohio Amish country (a couple of years ago), there were lots of Amish with cell phones. It surprised me, too. Apparently, the community decides what technology they want to adopt.

  2. What kind of people hate music? Only people who have no heart. And why is it good to not care about the world at large? I don’t like it.

    • I think, they do sing, for church and other occasions – only musical instruments and too much music for fun or something is considered to stir up the emotions and so to endanger serenity and down-to-earth-plainness. And sometimes, I feel, the world at large is just being too large, to not get lost in. I don’t think, their life is less fulfilling or less enjoyable, than a normal modern life. Probably much more so, to most people, as there is less confusion, more simpleness, doable chores, family, bonding and a community, that doesn’t change all the time and doesn’t abandon you to fend for yourself at a moments notice.. I don’t like the Idea of long beards, though. Why do religious people always have to wear beards?

  3. I believe we could learn a lot from them. They are a shining light in our times, when decadence and cynicism are rampant, while true religion have become nearly extinct, an object of ridicule. God says, “Come out and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean and I will receive you.” What a promise! “Know yet not that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” We are to be the Lord’s peculiar people. If we are truly His, we will be humbly peculiar, like Moses, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”

  4. Mad props to the Amish, yo!

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