Travelling USA travel blog


I know, I know! More photos...Believe it or not we actually have 650 photos waiting to be uploaded if I could just get a decent internet connection.

So we went to meet the Amish in Lancaster county and it was very very interesting. I highly recommend it as a family outing and do do the tour which includes a movie, tour of a house and bus tour that's available in the Ronks area. I had gone to Lancaster with a highly idealised vision of who and what the Amish were about. A vision which I had formed in Grade 8 or so after watching The Witness starring Harrison Ford. Needless to say the Amish are far more human than what I had expected and very interesting if not just a tad cultish. Having recently learned about the Reformation instigated by Martin Luther and the resulting Protestant churches from teaching Elton I was pleased to have some understanding of the beginnings of the Amish. The Amish were actually a more strictly religious off shoot of the Protestant Church. In fact they were originally called the Anabaptists meaning "to be twice baptised". This belief that it is essential to be baptised as an adult is what set the anabaptists apart from the other protestants of that time. As the reforamation bacame more violent in Europe the Anabaptists fled Europe for America which at that time was early Pilgrim days in America and religious freedom was the buzz word for many of the formative states. (Each state differed slighlty as to what they believed religious freedom actually meant.) I'm not sure at what point the Anabaptists became known as the Amish or as they call themselves The Plain People but I do know what happened to sinners in the Amish church. In fact at one point the leaders of the Amish known as Bishops decided that they would not tolerate sin in their community and that anyone not confessing their sins should be excuminicated and shunned. This resulted in the religious group called The Mennonites. The Amish have stuck to this policy of shunning and continue to excumicate family members and friends for sins. They also shun anyone who chooses not to have adult baptism. The children of the Amish are not concidered Amish until Baptism. Around the age of 16 young men and women in the Amish community are allowed a time of "running around". This is their opportunity to mix with the "english", a reference to anyone who is not Amish. They are allowed to smoke, drink alcohol, party, drive in cars use elctricity, join social and sports teams and as my mom would say 'sow their wild oats'. At some point during this time they are supposed to be deciding if they want to be in the world or be Amish. Most of these young people make this decision by their twenties and are then baptised and are then concidered Amish. There are, of course, many more fascinating aspects to this group of people and I feel very priviledged to have had the opportunity to learn this all. I am currently reading a book by Jody Picoult about the Amish nd highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more. It is a fictional murder story but is based on facts about the Amish and the way they live and the customs they follow and Jodi Picoult is an excellent author.

So we did the tour and then we spent some time looking around the towns and that evening we went to a great "family style" restaurant where you sit at a table with a bunch of people you don't know and share the food that comes to the table. Lots of fun.

Of course Ann, Alice and Florence had very kindly come to Lancaster to show us around and it was wonderful to spend some time with them. We did cut our visit short though as we had a surprise in store for the kids and our friends in Florida



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