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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 Amish Enjoy Exulted Status Here

Let’s talk about that gang of marauding Amish men over in Ohio who are accused of cutting off the hair and beards of Amish people who disagreed with them. I’ll start:

Wow. That is a lulu of a crime. And yes, lulu is the official criminological term.

I take a special interest in this case because I’m from LaGrange County, home to the third largest Amish community in the United States. Some 37 percent of the population up there is Amish, and if you climb high enough into most family trees, including my own, you’ll find a few beards and bonnets hanging from the branches.

I know firsthand that the Amish are, for the most part, nice, gentle people who lead nice, gentle lives in harmony with their surroundings. However, before we get all misty-eyed and say “Awwwww,” I’d like to point out that I also know Methodists and Presbyterians and Roman Catholics who do exactly the same thing.

For years I’ve said that when you peel away all the stuff that makes the Amish folk different – the simple life, the distinctive dress, the language – you find that they’re human beings just like the rest of us, with the good and bad and in-between that we all carry around with us.

The Amish enjoy a sort of exalted status around here, at least where marketing is concerned. It’s a standing joke that if you want to sell a product in Indianapolis, all you have to do is put the words “Amish Country” in the name. Okay, maybe not Amish Country Thermal Couplers, but you’ll sell the dickens out of chickens by making people believe they are Amish in origin.

When my brother started raising guinea fowl up home we toyed with the idea of selling them as Uncle Mose’s Amish Guineas. We even went so far as to design a label with a picture of our Uncle Maurice on it wearing a broad brimmed hat and chin whiskers, winking and saying, “Wow! Das ist gut Perlhuhn!“ (Wow, that’s good guinea fowl!). Then we sobered up.

Anyway, back to the gang in Ohio. I’m not completely sure what set off the ruckus, but I do know it is in keeping with a long tradition of schism. Heck, the church began that way when the Amish sect broke away from the Mennonites in the 1690s, and it has continued ever since.

Let’s take the hypothetical example of Jake and Levi, who worship together until Jake gets an insight telling him hat brims should be four and a quarter inches instead of four. Levi disagrees and says his insight is clear as a bell and the measurement is four. Jake and the folks who agree with him decide they better scram out of there with their four-and-a-half-inch hat brims before the lightning strikes, and presto: Two groups where there used to be one.

What’s troubling about the Ohio case is the apparent absence, among the marauding barbers, of the Amish quality of gelassenheit – yielding and humility, in the short defintion. Then again, that’s those Amish in Ohio. Maybe their heits aren’t quite so gelassened over there.

Or maybe it’s just a malicious act by a bunch of morons who happen to be Amish, acting on their basest instincts.

I kind of think that’s the answer, and I’m sure even Jake and Levi would agree.




© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.