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Wednesday, 24 July 2024, 22:37 (10:37 PM) CDT, day 206 of 2024

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Film: The Amish -- A People of Preservation

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The Amish: A People of Preservation

(BX 8129.A6 2000 DVD, Revised 2006 edition, 57 min.)
(VC 3244, Revised 1996 edition, 54 min.)

Google Search: Society > Ethnicity > The Americas > Amish

Amish film notes

list of items

Amish -- Wikipedia

search Amish on JSTOR

The Shakers

Amish phone.

Amish Phone
Cultures Sites Individuals Bibliography / Resources
Abstract Terms / Concepts Notes Reviews

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In the News . . .

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terms / concepts

  • Ordnung (Order)

    • set of rules you live by

  • demut, humility, is emphasized

  • hocmut, pride, is avoided

    • emphasize not to have pride

    • controlled use of colors (esp. in clothing) to decrease egoism

    • but can dress up buggy . . . if they don't overdo it

  • low social stratification

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pay attention to . . .

  • values

  • beliefs

  • emphasis on transgenerational family

  • architectural "space"

    • simple house types further increase humility

    • houses reflect importance of and emphasis on intergenerational family

    • few public buildings (e.g., no churches)

    • but they sometimes have a schoolhouse

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  • reliance on community for "insurance"

  • no conspicuous consumption

  • simple life

    • self-sufficient

      • low need to participate in cash economy

    • stay close to the earth

      • working together = seasonal ritual work

        • work = recreation

        • work is important in the meaning of life

        • a child learns by imitation

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  • control technological innovations

    • use internal combustion motor, but on a horse-drawn rack

    • use pneumatic tools, but not electrical tools

    • use gas lamps, but not electrical lights

    • have and use a telephone, but it is across the yard so as not to interfere with life

    • have indoor running water, but is powered by windmills and watermills rather than by electricity or gas or by a municipal water system

    • go to M.D.s for modern medicine, and pay them with cash, but will not study to become an M.D.

    • have / allow fancy calendars, and nice dishes, but to reinforce family orientation

  • toys and sports and sports/equipment controlled

    • toys are usually handmade, and handed down from generation to generation

      • but they do have nice, purchased, fishing equipment for the children

    • sports

      • for exercise and enjoyment

        • rather than for competitiveness

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  • educational system

    • are home-schooled, by ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court

    • learning and reading and ends in themselves are de-emphasized

    • most leave school by 14

      • no formal education increases the difficulty of leaving the group

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  • social contacts controlled

  • separation of sexes

    • parents watch children until the community takes over

    • interaction within the peer group is important

    • parents approval of mates

  • control of death rituals

  • shunning ?

  • Amish film Notes

  • "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 life.

  • 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.

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  • 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 the past.

  • 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 instructor.

  • 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.

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  • 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 lots.

  • 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 -- community

  • simplicity and dedication to their religion are more important than convenience

  • "Horses have their own personality anyway."

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  • Lancaster County, Pennsylvania -- The Oldest Amish community in America



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  • 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."

Amish film notes

  • Good supplimentary film:

    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."

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Last Modified Sunday, 30 July 2023, 11:54 (11:54 AM) CDT, day 211 of 2023
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