Monday, 26 July 2010


A couple of years ago, I had as a guest in my house a very splendid young man called John R. He was the grandson of Amish grandparents; his own father had been released from the Amish community for what they call rumspringa; this is a period some (not all) Amish families think important, when their teenage children can experience the world they are rejecting and so choose baptism freely for themselves. Not all return, but those who do find their commitment to the Amish way reinforced.

John's father had found the freedom while on rumspringa intoxicating, and had eventually rejected Christianity, eventually finding his way into some Hindu sect. He had met a lukewarm Catholic lass who had shared his various experiments with some enthusiasm, and they had several children together. Now they have separated, and the Catholic woman has returned wholeheartedly to her Catholic roots, the younger children following her enthusiastically. John and his fellow older siblings are left confused as to the value of any religion. He spent some time living with his Amish grandparents, and loved and appreciated them. He spent some time at a Catholic University in the Southern United States, and loved and appreciated that. He is a loving and appreciative young man. But now he is rootless, unable to commit to anything.

I watched a programme on Channel 4 last night (watch it here) about five young Amish people ('The World's Squarest Teenagers') on rumspringa. They have been brought to England to be thrown among the people most likely (in Channel 4s opinion) to shake their deep faith. It is The Monastery all over again. But it is so wonderful to see such beautiful people, especially the two young women. Virtuous, good women, even beautiful when expressing views that I wouldn't go along with; it is very true, as one of the young Amish men said, that true beauty does not not lie on the outside, but inside.

I know that these people (Channel 4) are going to do their best to corrupt the beautiful. But in the first programme, it must have been clear to the meanest mind the superiority of the Amish both in terms of goodness, but also happiness. It seemed apparent even to the charming families that they were put among.

Mennonite Protestantism does not appeal to me in the least. But these young people are a very persuasive argument for the virtuous life.


B flat said...

Is this the modern form of throwing christians to the wild beasts as entertainment?
What parent can watch this with pleasure if they care for the innocence of their own children?

The angels must weep. The crime of despoiling the innocence of anyone, and the perverted pleasure it brings to the violator (and those watching) is the same as in sexual abuse of minors.

But if it's on the BBC, that must be OK then, eh?

pelerin said...

B flat - The programme was on Channel 4 not BBC! The delightful 'children' were grown up and their culture allowed for this period to discover other ways of life before deciding whether or not to return to their Amish way of life. This was explained by Pastor in Valle.

The programmes were fascinating both in watching the Amish people who are very family orientated and seemingly very happy in their simple life and seeing their reaction to British youngsters of the same age. Their politeness was amazing considering the culture shock they underwent over here. I missed some of the last episode so am now going to catch up with it on iplayer - a great invention as I no longer have a video machine which works!