Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Amish Are A Cult: Book Review: The Shunning By Beverly Lewis

I got this book a long time ago as a Kindle Freebie. I probably got it in 2008 or 2009, back when the Amish were a favorable topic in Christian fiction. About that time, I linked a humourous post by Tim Challies combining the three biggest topics in Christian fiction: Tribulation, Vampires, and Amish.

I was working on cleaning out some of my older Kindle books. At this point, I have almost 700 books in Kindle format, and I've read probably 150 of them. I have a lot of work to do. This one was at the time the oldest Kindle book in my "library", so I read it.

Being a book written by a woman mostly for women, it took a long time to read. I committed to a chapter a day, but on a weekend my girlfriend was at work, I used my Kindle Fire's narration to finish reading it to me.

To start out, I pretty much love the Amish. They're great, friendly, hard- working people, and I never want to take that away from them. I have spent quite a bit of time in Lancaster County; which is one of my favorite places to be. In 2005, when I worked for BAE Systems, I got an award with a $500 cash prize. My 5th anniversary to my ex-wife was coming up (it lasted 12 years; divorce finalized Nov 20, 2013) and I felt like a celebration was in order. It took quite a bit to convince my ex-wife to get away. I threatened to spend the money on Windows Vista (which was released in 2006) if we didn't get away for our 5th anniversary in 2006. She finally relented. I should have been able to read the signs on that event...

We spent the weekend in Lancaster County, with quite a few more trips to follow. Lancaster County is a wonderful place. I can't wait to take my girlfriend there.

The Amish, as I said, are friendly and hard-working. When you stop in at their homemade root beer sales, they have children selling. They wave as you drive by their houses and horse drawn carriages. I like and respect them a lot.

But they are a cult. And this fictional book shows how.

Katie Lapp is due to marry the bishop. Not too far prior to the wedding, she comes across a satin baby dress with the name "Katherine Mayfield" on it. She finds out that she wasn't Amish by birth, though she had been baptized Amish by choice as an adult. She learns she was born to another woman. Her mom had a miscarriage, and this young woman also had a baby, so an agreement was made. She went home with the Amish family as her birth mom couldn't take care of her at the time. She was raised Amish.

But she had a lot of trouble staying Amish. She had a nature for music. Apparently, the Amish are as bad as some 21st century American Evangelical churches I've attended, and only permit music previously published in denominationally permitted hymnals. I guess in their world. God just doesn't permit people to use their God-given creative talent to create new music. Nope, all the F-ing God-ordained music in the world was already chiseled in stone and anything new must be from Satan.

She's been asked by the Bishop to marry, but in the end can't go through with it. She decides to embrace her "English" (what the Amish call outsiders) origins. She ends up being shunned by the Amish community including her family.

I've done a bit of study on cults in the past. I was raised in one. Well, I guess Christian Scientists don't shun you when you leave, but they meet the other criteria.

Some factors of a cult:
1) Unquestioning obedience to leaders - check. The Amish insist on this.
2) Love bombing new members - check.
3) Strict standards, codes of dress, restricting reading, music, etc.- check
4) "Shunning" or not being allowed to associate with former members - check.

Not all cults are "religious". I was once a member of a Multi-Level Marketing organization that also meets the cult criteria. It rhymes with "scamway".
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