(written in response to some assertions regarding the Amish which I regarded as erroneous)
For more than fifteen years now I have lived in an area of central Kansas which includes thousands of Amish-Mennonite people who claim many different labels for themselves.
For eight years I worked for an Amish-Mennonite contractor. Almost all my co-workers were Amish-Mennonite. I have many good friends among the A-M people, respect them, and regard many of them as my spiritual brothers and sisters.
The local farmers' market has many Amish-Mennonite vendors. The director of the market is an old man who has served for many years as a respected minister in one of the better known groups of A-M people. His roots go way back into Old Order Amish history. He has communication with many various groups in many different locations. When my wife and I were at the market this morning I spoke with him. What he reported to me this morning included the following facts. To understand these facts, one must remember that the Amish are "congregational" in government. Though there are many strong
traditions which cover large areas, all binding decisions regarding customs are made at the local level.
(1) The Amish are not seventh-day Sabbath keepers. The old man knew of no Amish who are.
(2) Many, if not most Amish people use vaccinations.
(3) Many Amish people use SS numbers. Some do not. Because of their
history, many have the option to continue their practice of finding "social security" within their own local congregation. The old man thought perhaps half or more now use SS numbers.
Some further observations of my own.
Because of their sensible life-style without tobacco and alcohol, with many home-produced foods (free of chemical additives), the Amish may have some health advantages. At the same time, they are known to enjoy pies, cakes, cookies, and sweet rolls. The recipes which are recommended weekly in our local paper by someone from within the Amish community would not receive health awards. I am not aware that their life-expectancy or health experience is better than other groups with traditions of moderation and home production.
Most discussions regarding the Amish focus on such things as beards, hats, hair, zippers, automobiles, TV sets, radios, horses and tractors,
telephones, computers, etc. All these "things" can be felt and seen. They are externals. As Jesus made clear, and as Gregory keeps reminding us, they are not where it is at. They should not be the focus of our attention. What is important is the unseen and untouchable, the internals, the fruits of the spirit--love, joy, peace, etc. If someone is looking for a "group" to join, I would encourage them to make evaluations based on internal fruits, not on external appearances.