It's beginning to look alot like...
...well, you know.
It's gotten pretty cold around here in the last few days, and the church's Twin living Christmas Trees are going up in the sanctuary. Could it really almost be time for that? I hate to say it, but I am actually enjoying the cold weather. I'm headed out to the LSU game today (6:45 p.m. kickoff), and instead of being oppressively hot, it's going to finally be football weather. Eh, maybe a little more winter-y than fall-y, but a nice change of pace. I've got my thermal undershirt, my long-sleeve LSU hoodie, my incredibly warm and stylish head covering (a must-have for the baldies) and my fleece-lined khaki's. I defy thee, Jack Frost! Do your worst!
Amish Kids have the bestest parties...
Anyway, I was watching this movie (the one up there) called Devil's Playground. Call me a super-nerd, but I freaking love documentaries! There - I said it. Anyway, this one is about a most remarkable subject - rumspringa. Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania dutch word that means, literally, "running around". As if the amish aren't weird enough anyway, now we gotta find out they have a holiday called "running around", right? Here's what happens: From the day Amish kids turn 16, until they are 21 years old, they are freed from the constraints of Amish life, and allowed to do whatever they please. It's a time for them to experience what the "english" world has to offer, so that they can decide whether or not they want to join the Amish church. I had heard of Rumspringa before this movie, but figured it was just a chance for them to ride in cars, see some other parts of the world, and maybe go to wal-mart for a change. I was WAY off! Yeah, they do do some of that stuff, but apparently there is nothing off-limits for them. They smoke, move out, get drunk, have sex, go to the mall and DEAL Crystal-METH! Pretty much everything we in conventional society tell our kids not to do, Amish parents look the other way. "They are on Rumspringa..." they say. A few interesting points from the movie:
- Amish kids really do throw the best parties. This amish community in Indiana had kids coming from 4 or 5 other states - INCLUDING florida - for a party they had on a Friday night.
- Amish parents allow a practice called - get this - "Bed-Dating". After a guy has taken a girl out, they allow them to sleep in a bed together that night. This is supposed to show them, I guess, that it's not really all it's cracked up to be. Nice try. Thanks mom!
- Typically, during rumspringa, Amish boys will dress in the manner of the "english" (the rest of us), rather than like their Amish fathers. Girls typically will not. They will retain the dresses and bonnets they grew up with.
- During an amish worship service, the men sit on one side of the room, the women sit on the other. When scripture is read, the women turn their backs to the reader and face the wall. They cannot tell you why they do this, only that their mothers and grandmothers did it, so they will continue to do it.
- Those beards are a sign of marriage. The amish don't wear rings. Don't ask me what the chicks wear.
- During Rumspringa, although nothing is off-limits to Amish kids, they are under the rule of the state and local law enforcement, and they do have to deal with the consequences of what they get involved in.
- Many times, the first thing The boys will do is buy a car. "How? From whom?" You might ask. From their uncle, or their cousin, who has decided to join the Amish church, and now has to sell the one he bought from his uncle or cousin when he was rumspringa. A nice system, I must say.
and finally, the most amazing one of all . . .
- Although during Rumspringa they are allowed to be involved in all matter of shenanigans, tomfoolery and yes, even ballyhoo, they know a day is coming when they must make some kind of decision. They can choose to return to Amish life with its strict regulations, and religious zeal. Or they can choose to become "english" and live like the rest of us - In which case they'll be systematically shunned by the entire Amish community, including their own families. It's entirely a matter of choice. The thing is - 90 percent of all Amish kids decide to join the Amish church!! 90 percent!! that's 9 out of 10. 90 out of 100!! This amazes me.
A few thoughts, from your humble correspondent:
First - There is such a thing in mainstream society (and maybe you've heard adolescent psychologists talking about it) called "moratorium". I know this word has several connotations, but in this context, what it means is this: After you reach adulthood, there is some degree to which society will overlook the sins of your youth. For example, if you were a hard party-er, and didn't really make good grades, you could eventually still become, say - I don't know - President of the united states. I'm mostly kidding, but you get the point. If, at some point, you settle into a respectable lifestyle, folks will sweep the more ridiculous stuff you did under the rug, and chalk it up to silly adolescent rebellion. I think Rumspringa is this idea of a moratorium on steroids.
Second - In the book of Ecclesiastes, we have Solomon, one of the richest men in all of history, lamenting his unfulfilled-ness. It's a testimony to the fact that there are transcendent truths, and needs in life, that need to be known, and need to be filled, and that All the possessions, physical pleasures, and freedoms that man can acquire do precious little to accomplish this. The Amish, have tapped into this realization - and have made a way for their children to learn this lesson sooner, rather than later. Which makes the faith of Amish people more real, and more meaningful than many of us realize.
Third - Don't pity the Amish people. We think "Oh, they're so backward, and primitive! And their religion is almost cult-like! They just don't know what they're missing." They know exactly what they are missing. And it pleases them to miss it for the sake of Christ. The slowness of a simple life is something that the amish cherish, and the rest of us don't understand. Because, really, we are the ones who don't know what we're missing, because we have always had the hurry sickness. The amish enter into their religion, and their way of living very deliberately, and very informed. We could learn alot from them, actually. And yeah - they are a little cult-like. Then again, they said the same thing about 1st century christians in Rome, and Antioch, and Jerusalem.
You should really check this movie out when you get a chance. I got it from Blockbuster, and am thinking about buying a copy.
That does it for me, today - I'm off to tailgate for 5 hours. Shalom Out.