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Amish the Untouched Culture

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Amish the Untouched Culture 2
The Amish are considered emerging agriculturalist because they continue to show signs of adapting to their surroundings. Amish culture revolves around agriculture. Farm life is practiced and passed on through ancestry. Farming is extremely important to the Amish culture because it is their primary source of subsistence. It is also a big part of what it means to be part of the Amish culture. Working on the farms helps the Amish community foster unity, family and self-reliance (Knight, 1980). Although the Amish are very skeptical about technology, they have adapted to technology that helps them conduct their daily farming activities. Farming includes raising livestock, cultivating soil, and producing many crops throughout the year. Some Amish order’s carry on a diversified agricultural program. They follow a four-year crop rotation system, typically planting corn for two years, oats for one year, and a hay crop for the fourth year (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009).
In keeping with the philosophy of stewardship, few Amish farmers use commercial fertilizer; instead they use large amounts of manure because they feel this is a superior method and a more natural one. Many Amish orders have this belief about using commercial products on their farm because they believe it to be possibly harmful to the body upon consumption (Weaver- Zercher, 2005). Amish life is rooted in the soil, which creates somewhat of a burden to some Amish families that completely refuse to adapt. Farmland has increased over the years and cultivating soil by hand or animal drawn equipment makes it almost impossible to cultivate soil in a timely manner. Many Amish families had faced these problems before but they have emerged and allowed the use of tractors and other technology that helps to cultivate soil and produce crops. The Amish have a way of working things into their lifestyle that don’t go against their strong beliefs.
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One aspect of this culture that is very intriguing is how reluctant they are to social change. Although some orders have slowly allowed things such as technology and education, many still will not accept these things in their society. Because of their religious beliefs, Amish try to separate themselves from "outsiders," in an effort to avoid temptations and sin. They choose, instead, to rely on themselves and the other members of their local Amish community. Because of this self-reliance, Amish don't draw Social Security or accept other forms of government assistance. Their avoidance of violence in all forms means they also don't serve in the military (Powell, 2010). The Amish have been able to maintain a distinctive ethnic subculture by successfully resisting acculturation and assimilation. The Amish try to maintain cultural customs that preserve their identity. They have resisted assimilation into American culture by emphasizing separation from the world, rejecting higher education, selectively using technology, and restricting interaction with outsiders. The Amish keep this trend going by completely controlling their children’s socialization. Socialization of the young is almost totally controlled by parents because of their belief that Amish people should be separated from the world (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). This type of control allows the Amish culture to remain fluent and not adapt completely to the lifestyle of Americans.
The Amish have been able to maintain a distinctive ethnic subculture by successfully resisting acculturation (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). Acculturation is defined as: the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture. The Amish culture amazes me because America has influenced trends around the world, but they still will not go along with the times. Even with all of the technology advances and science theories that have come about for farming,
Amish the Untouched Culture 4 these people still stick to their beliefs. These people stick to their roots but they will make slow changes if needed.
The Amish are willing to change but not at the expense of communal values and ethnic identity (Egenes, 2009). A prime example of this is how some orders allow twelve-volt electricity from batteries but not when it comes from public utility lines. Many would say that the Amish beliefs are contradictive, but I feel that they are just trying to keep their culture alive. They allow members to ride in gas-powered vehicles but are not permitted to operate them. This stems from their reluctance to social change. The Amish do not want to change a thing but as technology advances, they almost have no other choices but to accept some things (Knight, 1980). The Amish are not a calcified relic of bygone days, for they change continually and will continue to change as long as new inventions come about. Modern gas appliances fill Amish kitchens in some states and lanterns illuminate modern bathrooms in some Amish homes (Powell, 2010). These small changes prove that the Amish culture will always be skeptical to change but they will embrace it if need be.
The Amish believe in following the path of Jesus Christ by loving their enemies, forgiving insults and turning the other cheek. This is why the Amish live the life of a farmer, because by doing so, they can be one with nature and god, thus deterring from insignificant acts such as bashing and harassing. The Amish take farming very seriously. They even go as far as to punishing those who do not take proper care of their soil. I have read that if an Amish man farms in a way that causes the soil to lose its fertility, it is considered in some church districts to be as sinful as adultery or theft (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). This could possibly be because they
Amish the Untouched Culture 5 feel that their farming keeps the closer to god and his word. Therefore, not taking care of their soil properly is like disrespecting god and their beliefs.
The Amish have many beliefs and values but they all derive from what they call the Ordnung. The Ordnung is a religious blueprint for expected behavior, regulates private, public, and ceremonial behavior (Weaver- Zercher, 2005). Baptism, worship, and communion are sacred rites that revitalize and preserve the Ordnung. The Ordnung varies from community to community and order to order, which explains why you will see some Amish riding in automobiles, while others don't even accept the use of battery-powered lights. Amish children’s socialization is almost completely controlled by their parents. This allows children to learn the way of the Ordnung by simply watching what their parents do. However, if the parents are not living life correctly according to the Ordnung, then the children will grow up thinking what they do is right because they are doing what their parents do (Knight, 1980). The Ordnung defines the way things are in a child's mind. Teenagers, free from the supervision of the church, sometimes flirt with worldly ways and flaunt the Ordnung. At baptism, however, young adults between the ages of 16 and 22 declare their Christian faith and vow to uphold the Ordnung for the rest of their life. Those who break their promise face excommunication and shunning. Those choosing not to be baptized can gradually drift away from the community but are welcome to return to their families without the stigma of shunning (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). The Ordnung sets customs and courtesies in place for the Amish, but there are huge consequences to pay if these rules are violated.

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Violations of the Ordnung can bring lots of heartache on a person and their family. Violations can include anything from using a tractor in the field instead of the barn, posing for a television camera, or even flying on a commercial airline. These are just a couple of things that the Amish consider violations. Farming violations are considered one of the biggest violations possible according to Iowa’s Older Order Amish (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). They allow tractors to be used in and around the barn but not out in the field. This is just one example of how farming affects their beliefs and values. They also require a person to take good care of their soil, as it is a gift from god and should be treated as such. However, not doing so is considered a serious violation also.
Violations of the Ordnung can lead to Meidung, also known as shunning. This is a cultural equivalent to solitary confinement. However, before this happens members are given a chance to confess their wrong doing publicly. Public confession of sins diminishes self-will, reminds members of the supreme value of submission, restores the wayward into the community of faith, and underscores the lines of faithfulness which encircle the community (Knight, 1980). If the member does not confess publicly and continues to violate the Ordnung, then they will face a six-week probation period. During this probationary period, Members terminate social interaction and financial transactions with the excommunicated. The violator is considered excommunicated during this period to give them a taste of what life would be like without their family and friends. If the member still has not repented after the period they are considered excommunicated and excused from the Amish community. This is a big deal because the Amish stay away from the outside world. Once you are considered an outsider, you cannot contact your family and friends within that Amish community.
Amish the Untouched Culture 7 Amish society is patriarchal, meaning that the husband is usually the supreme authority in the household. This plays a huge part in the Amish culture’s gender relations. The Amish marry for life and form close, cooperative unions. The man is the head of the family and responsible for all the heavier farm work. The woman follows his leadership in major decisions and is responsible for child raising, cooking, cleaning, washing, and housekeeping (Egenes, 2009). Women are excluded from formal church roles but they may vote in church business meetings. These things all play their own part in the everyday life throughout an Amish community. Faith and farming play huge roles in the alignment of the Amish community. Since the Amish lifestyle is rooted in the soil, one could say that most of their daily work requires rigorous work out in the field. I believe that this is why this society is patriarchal. The men have dominant roles and it seems as if these women would not survive to well without their men.
Gender relations in the Amish community can be very complex because many tasks are shared between the husband and wife. The tasks that are usually shared involve planting and picking crops, or even cleaning (Schwieder & Schwieder, 2009). The husband and wife also get a lot of help from their children. Children are expected to work at tasks that are within their capability, and young children of both sexes may help their fathers and mothers around the farm and perform useful errands.
Farming is probably the most important thing in the Amish community aside from their belief in God. They have added farming into their beliefs and values and it has become the way of life for them for over three hundred years. The Amish still to this day want things to be like they were three hundred years ago when all of this technology was not a requirement to live.
Amish the Untouched Culture 8
Social change is bound to happen throughout their society but not at the cost of their beliefs and the rules of the Ordnung. The relationships that the Amish build amongst families are strong and will never beak because they work together every day as a unit and build social bonds with each other through their work together. The church and the farm will continue to be their highly prioritized way of living. They believe in god, and god provides them soil to grow crops and feed their animals. Their primary mode of subsistence, known as emerging agricultural will always be because their faith requires them to treat the soil as a gift from god. This mode of subsistence has impacted other aspects of their culture in a major way and will continue to flourish throughout their communities as long as they keep their beliefs and values.

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References

Egenes, L (2009). Visits with the Amish: Impressions of the Plain Life. Iowa City, IA, USA:
University of Iowa Press
Knight, J. A (1980). The Old Order Amish: Lessons From Kansas Ethnography. Plains
Anthropological Society.
Powell, A (2010). Amish 101 - Amish Culture, Beliefs & Lifestyle. Retrieved June 26,
2012, from http://pittsburgh.about.com/cs/pennsylvania
Schwieder, E, & Schwieder, D (2009). Peculiar People : Iowa's Old Order Amish. Iowa
City, IA, USA : University of Iowa Press
Weaver- Zercher, D (2005). Writing the Amish : the worlds of John A. Hostetler.
University Park : Pennsylvania State University Press…...

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