Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dealing With The Amish

It was unexpected.

There I was bored, flipping channels (it's amazing how one can have hundreds of channels and still find nothing to watch) when I came across this new series: Amish: Out of Order.

"Oh, that'll be dull," I thought. After all, there is this whole Amish-fiction book craze going on, and I don't understand that either.

What? You don't believe me? Type "Amish fiction" into any search engine and watch what happens. Go ahead. I'll wait....


Now don't get me wrong. I am not prejudiced against the Amish. But I since I am not one, I don't see the point. Or so I thought.

I poised that night, my finger on the channel button, ready to move on, when some elusive something caught my attention, and three episodes later, I was hooked.

That show changed my mind about the Amish, but not perhaps in the way you're thinking. I'm more confused by the Amish-book craze than ever. Could it be that those authors haven't watched this show? Did they speak with any Amish or ex-Amish?

For even the narrator of the show, an ex-Amish himself, discovered that their beliefs are greatly varied. He grew up in Missouri, where leaving the Amish means ex-communication. He left at age nineteen, and his father never spoke to him again before his death. He writes to his mother, but she doesn't write back. Yet when he visited the most well-known area of Amish culture, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he was told the youth there never leave home. They have no reason because they are allowed so much more freedom.

It's impossible for someone like me, who grew up so far outside of that culture, to identify herself with it enough to create characters and write story lines, especially when the people who have lived it are so unsure about their own past. Now, I am not saying yea or nay about the Amish. However, I learned something valuable by watching that program. I learned I was woefully ignorant, and reaffirmed my need to avoid reading Amish fiction. But most of all, I learned the power of honesty.

Here was a man speaking from his heart. He took on the show despite the hate mail he knew he'd receive and determined to make a difference in the lives of those who were in his shoes. He openly admitted his misgivings, even after all his years of being outside the Amish. I can only respect that.

In his own words:

Finally, and I will make this short, there is the 4th piece. Me. To make a long story short, it is extremely difficult to get an Amish or ex Amish person to agree to go on camera. It is even more difficult to convince them to continue to stick around long enough to make a nice story of them and there life. My commitment to sticking with this project until the finish was a thing of beauty, even if I do say so myself. Even with my full time job at the dealership, filming every night and weekend, time and time again, having friends criticize my decision to “expose” the Amish culture, I did what I believe the Lord led me to do. That was put this show into his hands, do it the best, most honest and sincere way possible, and trust that it will be well received by viewers. I remember at one particularly difficult time during the show, after a particular dose of criticism, I was asked “why”? Why am I doing this? What drives me.
My reasons are hard to explain, but the short of my answer was this. If I can change or influence in a positive way, any one person’s life with this show, if I can lead just one more person to God, or if I can inspire just one person to make his or her life better, then I have accomplished my mission. I am very proud to say that that mission has been accomplished many times over. I did what and more then I set out to do. The show and the feedback exceeded what I hoped for. My mission is complete…… Or is it?

Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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