The Amish are a group of Christians that intrigue me. Their beliefs are, in essence, very simple; they live a life focused on their own interpretation of biblical principles, where modern technology is eschewed and there is an emphasis on family and community life. But there are contradictions: the Amish practice forgiveness, but are also expected to ‘shun’ family/community members who find that they can no longer embrace the strict lifestyle expected of them; one would expect that their farming practices would be environmentally and animal friendly, but this is not always the case – we’ve all read stories about ‘Amish puppy farms’ and regular pesticide/fertilizer use in arable farming units.
So the Amish then are no different to the rest of us! But it’s not often that we see their inconsistencies and internal battles displayed in public. That’s why the BBC film – Amish: A Secret Life – is so interesting. It provides an intimate portrait of Amish family life and faith, following a wonderful Old Order Amish couple Miriam and David and their family. The family are struggling with aspects of Amish dogma that they have increasingly come to believe are at odds with their own Christian beliefs. They do not believe that shunning can be justified for example, and are relaxed about a number of other Amish practices that bring them into conflict with their church elders.
What emerges from the film is a sensitive portrait of a family that are living out their faith as best they can, with integrity and love and a genuine desire to do the right thing. You can watch it here: