Sunday, February 9, 2014

Growing Up Amish: The Rumsprina Years, Second Edition by Richard A. Stevick, John Hopkins University Press

“When I began this revision of Growing Up Amish in January 2012….what significant changes could occur among Amish youth in a few years? Admittedly, much appears to be the same as it was even a decade ago…”Richard Stevick begins a revisited journey into the Amish event, Rumpsringa: “they complete school by the age of fourteen or fifteen, an a year or two later they begin…..brief period of comparative freedom for Amish youth to date, seek a mate, and explore the outside world before they choose or reject the Amish faith and culture”. He also notes, “An unidentified writer coined the term “time-out period”… an opportunity the community granted its young people to experience worldly pursuits.”

Mr. Stevick examines true and false perceptions of Rumspringa and how reality television shows adds to the misperceptions of Amish youth. “Amish in the City series….most realistic dilemmas and authentic character portrayals.” He explains that the Amish stay away from the public education system because of fear of worldly ideas and secularization. Further, the Amish believe that protecting their children from learning English at an early age protects them from worldly influences. “As an Amish man explained, “If children grow up with only [Pennsylvania] German, they will be protected from television or a cursing neighbor. It is protective.”

Before you can join the church there are a series of questions that you must answer. One question I believe should be asked of believers, whether or not you are Amish is: Do you also promise before God and His church that you will support these teachings and regulations with the Lord’s help, faithfully attend the services of the church, and help counsel and work in it, and not forsake it, whether it leads to life or death? If you think about the question being asked, you will need to be a true believer of Christ and his teachings. You must be ready to accept your relationship with God and want to share his works with everyone around you.

Because most of their life is focused on family, Rumspringa guides them toward relationships with their peers. After Rumspringa, youth decide whether they want to join the church or not. Stevick also covers the history of the Amish and how their settlements began.

This was an enlightening book on the Amish community and its inner workings. The  information presented was well composed  and written. I recommend this book to persons whose interests are the Amish and learning about other religious communities.

(I received this book for free from John Hopkins University Press for this review)

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