What do the traditional plain-living Amish have to teach twenty-first-century Americans in our hyper-everything world? As it turns out, quite a lot
It sounds audacious, but it's true: the Amish have much to teach us. It may seem surreal to turn to one of America's most traditional groups for lessons about living in a hyper-tech world--especially a horse-driving people who resist "progress" by snubbing cars, public grid power, and high school education. Still, their wisdom confirms that even when they seem so far behind, they're out ahead of the rest of us.
Having spent four decades researching Amish communities, Donald B. Kraybill is in a unique position to share important lessons from these fascinating Plain people. In this inspiring book, we learn intriguing truths about community, family, education, faith, forgiveness, aging, and death from real Amish men and women. The Amish are ahead of us, for example, in relying on apprenticeship education. They have also out-Ubered Uber for nearly a century, hiring cars owned and operated by their neighbors. Kraybill also explains how the Amish function in modern society by rejecting new developments that harm their community, accepting those that enhance it, and adapting others to fit their values.
Pairing storytelling with informative and reflective passages, these twenty-two essays offer a critique of modern culture that is provocative yet practical. In a time when civil discourse is raw and coarse and our social fabric seems torn asunder, What the Amish Teach Us uproots our assumptions about progress and prods us to question why we do what we do.
1. Riddles: Negotiating with Modernity
2. Villages: Webs of Well-Being
3. Community: Taming the Big "I"
4. Smallness: Bigness Ruins Everything
5. Tolerance: A Light on a Hill
6. Spirituality: A Back Road to Heaven
7. Family: A Deep and Durable Bond
8. Children: At Worship, Work, and Play
9. Parenting: Raising Sturdy Children
10. Education: The Way It Should Be
11. Apprenticeship: An Old New Idea
12. Technology: Taming the Beast
13. Hacking: Creative Bypasses
14. Entrepreneurs: Starting Stuff
15. Patience: Slow Down and Listen
16. Limits: Less Choice, More Joy
17. Rituals: A Natural Detox
18. Retirement: Aging in Place
19. Forgiveness: Pathway to Healing
20. Suffering: A Higher Plan
21. Nonresistance: No Pushback
22. Death: A Good Farewell
Donald B. Kraybill is distinguished professor and senior fellow emeritus in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is the coauthor of The Amish and the author of Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers.