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The Sexy Amish?

It never ceases to amaze me what crazy stuff Christians will buy. Apparently the hottest new Christian romance novels tend to be set among the Amish. Sometimes the characters even share passionate kisses.

Something about this pisses me off in a deep way that kind of puzzles me. Do we have to turn the life of the Amish community into a commodity? And even if we do, do we have to rape the whole thing by making it a setting for bullshit romance stories?

17 Comments

  1. james wrote:

    The Amish fetishized the 18th century first.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  2. Hill wrote:

    Brilliant.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  3. roger flyer wrote:

    why not the amish?
    are they sacred cows?

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  4. Brad A. wrote:

    Halden…okay first point: You read the WSJ?

    Anyway, I think what’s partly at work here is that certain segments (read: conservative Christians) want the “wholesomeness” of innocent love without the “sexual overtones.” Put differently, they want the morality of an Amish community without the politics and economics of an Amish community. It’s part of the commodification of the Amish – we can select those things that gratify us and leave behind the things that make us uncomfortable or obligate us in some way.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  5. roger flyer wrote:

    pllllllllllllleeeeeze do not idealize the amish

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  6. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Well, I live in an area where there are a lot of Amish. I have been to Amish homes, and regularly have some contact with Amish folks.

    The one thing about the Amish tourism industry is that it already turned them into a commodity long before this book did. Without a doubt it plays into an American nostalgia for the “good old days” when life was simpler and people had family values. If anybody is idealizing the Amish, it is that view of their lives. They have been coopted into the American dream mythology.

    Halden, there was an article in MQR a few years ago about this very issue. Either Steve Nolt or Donald Kraybill wrote it (two Mennonite scholars on Amish life).

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  7. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Here it is:

    “Amish Tourism: ‘Visiting Shipshewana is better than going to the Mall’” Mennonite Quarterly Review, Vol. 77, No. 1, Jan. 2003, 109–26.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  8. dan wrote:

    One of my brothers, who does victim-offender mediation in relation to sex crimes, has done a lot of work with people from Amish and old German Mennonite communities. As far as I can tell, there isn’t much to romanticize there (in fact, my brother says there is a higher than average number of family-based sexual assaults in those communities).

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  9. Bobby Grow wrote:

    This is what I had heard, too, Dan . . . but I didn’t want to mention anything, since my “source” (e.g. just something I’ve heard, don’t have a direct source) could just be construed as “hearsay.”

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  10. Heather W wrote:

    I live in Amish-land too. It amazes me when people buy food grown buy the Amish assuming that the Amish are all natural and organic simply because they drive horses and buggies. Stopping at the local Amish stand I ask if there is pesticide on the cabbage – and the Amish lady replies with at least predictable Amish honesty, if not shamelessness, “Well of course we spray them! We wouldn’t want the bugs to eat them!”

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  11. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    That is a crock. Yeah it happens. But higher than average? I won’t believe that without data to back it up. It is an unsubstantiated claim.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink
  12. Halden wrote:

    Just to be clear, I don’t in any sense idealize the Amish, I may have not made that clear in my post.

    I just really hate Christian novels, let alone the idea of Christian romance novels. Adding and Amish twist just somehow makes it seem more insipid and bullshitty to me somehow.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  13. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Well, of course there are Amish who would be more conscious of the problems there. David Klein, for example, the Amish author would be. I have met some people from his community. Though most amish only have an 8th grade education, some of them are aware of these larger issues. I think we should keep in mind the education level, which by no means signals they are stupid, but they do not have the guilt that comes with having taken numerous college courses called “social problems.”

    I guarantee if some Hauerwasian or high church cat goes huffing about the Eucharist to the Amish they could put us all to shame with how seriously they take the Lord’s Supper. The standard ritual take about 8 weeks to get to. They announce that it is coming up and people should look into their hearts for hatred and resentments and reconcile with anybody in the community they have wronged. So that process takes a few weeks. I’ve heard Amish say that during this time they will go to each other and say sorry for this or that, or bring gifts to people they were trite with etc. Then the bishops, if the community is sufficiently reconciled to that point announces a week long fast before the ritual. One the day, they meet for an 8 hour service that preaches through the entire Bible. At 3 pm they break the bread, and then immediately wash each others’ feet. They only do this twice a year. It takes too much time to prepare for it to do it every week, monthly, or even quarterly.

    That is how they do it here in Northern Indiana at least. Thought I’d share that to balance the slander some of these posts through out without probably knowing any Amish themselves (English!).

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  14. roger flyer wrote:

    I think they are quirky and funny (though infinitely pious and sincere) and I think the ‘campy’ concept of christian romance novels about them is hilarious.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  15. dan wrote:

    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=316371&page=1

    http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2005/feature_labi_janfeb05.msp

    Not hard and fast stats, I know, but I trust you can understand why such things are hard to come by given the Amish culture.

    Further, I (and my brother) are not saying that such abuse is rampant in all Amish communities… but it most certainly is in some.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  16. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    My statement was about this happening at a higher rate there than amongst your kind of people. The links don’t help with that at all. So they are useless to my point. I know for a fact that Donald Kraybill, whom the abc article quotes and whom I know personally, would not say what you are saying: it happens at a “higher” rate than in the English world (the English, is what non-Amish are).

    Same as not fetishizing them, let’s not demonize them either. They become that wierd “other” either by commodification through capitalism, or demonization through a process of media and self-affirmation.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  17. dan wrote:

    I’m not seeking to ‘demonize’ the Amish. As with most ‘fringe’ groups there is a great deal that I admire about them… even if they have their own sicknesses that seem to reoccur more strongly there than elsewhere. So it goes, when it is people (and not concepts or dreams or nightmares) about whom we are talking.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

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