Saturday, July 14, 2012
My foray into Amish territory (in a book, anyway)
I'll be honest, I don't understand the fascination with Amish fiction. I've repeatedly walked away from the Christian fiction book section at local big box stores, overwhelmed by the number of bonnets on the covers.
I have a friend who loves Amish fiction; a friend I consider well-educated, intelligent, and a good judge of character. As friends do, she loaned me some reading material, some of her favorite Amish stories. Attempting to have an open mind, I tried to read them, and failed. (Amish-fiction lovers, forgive me.)
What did I enjoy about it? Goyer's Amish heroine asked some of the same questions I've asked about the Amish lifestyle and doctrine. I appreciate Goyer's willingness to have a heroine who hungered for a relationship with God more than she desired approval from her community, while still honoring and respecting her parents and the good things about the lifestyle of faith in which she was raised. And there ARE good things, no question. Even for me, who considers the idea of living without modern conveniences like cars and electricity to be a horrible form of punishment, I can see the benefit of simplifying life, of focusing on faith and family by extricating oneself from all those external distractions.
I appreciated Goyer's portrayal of a Christ-like hero whose personal walk with a living God overrode the customs and constrictions of a society bound by man's religious rules, even while showing respect for the faith of that society.
I still don't understand why gossip and fault-finding and judgment and criticism are acceptable behaviors (as presented in the stories I read) and wearing the wrong bonnet or color are wrong. Even more confusing, why is it all right to use electricity if it runs off a car battery but not all right to have electricity wired in to your home from the local electric company? Why is it all right to use the "heathen" neighbor's telephone to call family far away, but not OK to have a phone in your own home? Why can the Amish hire unbelievers to drive them to town, and that's all right, but they cannot drive themselves? It's confusing. And no, I haven't studied it out. These are just questions that have come up from reading two books.
Am I judging the Amish culture? Nope. Live and let live. If it's working for them, more power to them, in my opinion. What I am wondering is why so many Christian readers are fascinated by stories about the Amish way of life? What's the appeal? What makes you (if you're an Amish fiction fan) pick up a bonnet book before another book?
Meanwhile, whether you are, or aren't, a bonnet book fan, Beside Still Waters is a good read, in my opinion!
About the Author: Niki writes fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, newspaper articles, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. She can be found at her own blog, In Truer Ink, in addition to posting here. She was a 2009 finalist in the Faith, Hope, and Love "Touched by Love" contest.
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