"An updated look at Amish origins, farm-life, childhood,
school, worship, recreation, courtship, barn-raising, horse-transportation,
tourism, land pressures, and new cottage industries."
The Amish are a people who cherish the earth and keep it, who
will not sacrifice community for convenience, who have not been
caught up in progress. They fear pride, know how to accept limits,
and live what they believe. The Amish are a people of preservation.
This film is a rich resource for an honest questioning of values.
It poses a direct confrontation between modernity and the simple
No one can speak for the Old Order Amish but themselves, and they
have seldom chosen to do so. They distrust many words. Their life
is their testimony.
Normally the Old Order Amish will not willingly face the camera.
Few people know more about the 75,000 Amish who live in the United
States and Canada than the nature of their clothing and horse-drawn
carriages. But the Amish have a highly developed cultural identity.
Their ancestors were Swiss mountain farmers. Following their own
religious beliefs, they came into conflict with the authority of
the state church. They were persecuted and driven from their homes,
many choosing to resettle in the Alsace region. During the 18th
and 19th centuries, the Amish emigrated to America, and today there
are no Amish living in their former Alsatian villages.
Having separated from the more liberal Mennonites in 1693, the
Amish today continue to preserve their beliefs and language. They
value their identity and community. Their way of life emphasized
community rather than competition, preservation rather than progress.
The Amish strive to be characterized by humility and to resist the
temptation of pride, which explains their manner of dress and the
old fashioned simplicity of their homes.
The Amish are not opposed to technology in itself, but they will
not allow it to dominate their lives. Instead, they feel they must
control the technology and its effect on the pace of life in their
community. They will not sacrifice to conveniences the virtues of
Work is an experience to be shared by the entire family. Amish
children help in the work of the farm and home as soon as they are
able. Most Amish children end their formal schooling at the age
of fourteen. The Amish have been granted the right to substitute
training in work at home for the required high school years. The
work activity is recorded in a daily journal and reviewed by an
In one-room schoolhouses, not supported by state funds, Amish
children learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. They are taught
two languages -- English and the language of their forefathers.
Their textbooks emphasize the virtues of humility, duty, truthfulness,
kindliness, and orderliness.
Religion is not taught, however, because teaching about God is
considered too sacred to be a school subject. Also, the Amish have
no church to attend. Following the example of their ancestors who
in the 16th century ignored the priests and read the Bible for themselves,
the Amish meet in their homes, and ministers are selected by casting
The Amish follow the rules set forth in their Ordnung
-- rules that preserve their cultural identity. They find satisfaction
and enjoyment in their work, their families, their closeness to
nature, and in simple recreation where competition is de-emphasized.
The Amish are unified by their respect for community and their
trans-generational concept of family. When an Amishman needs help
-- for example, if his barn must e rebuilt after a fire -- the whole
community answers his need. But the Amish are not isolated from
the rest of society. They coexist with a complex society. It is
not always easy, but coexistence is essential for the Amish -- a
people of preservation, living a simple life in the modern world.
"control over their minds" -- parents -- peer group
simplicity and dedication to their religion are more important
American Film Festival: ". . . Visuals are strong and supportive
of the purity and simplicity of the people they portray. Full of
gentle respect for the lifestyle it reveals. Succeeds in conveying
an understanding of the philosophy of the Amish."
The America of the Amish (54 min., 2006, DVD 1019 )
"Filmed on location in Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish country. Interviews with Amish men and women, some born into the religion and some converts, reveal a range of opinions about the group's tradtional stance on technology, education and worship. Highlights the rapid growth of the Amish population and their changing attitudes toward electricity, cell phones, cars and other modern conveniences. Shows ways that an American subculture adapt to mainstream society."