Some Personal History
My Mum was from England. Dad was “A Yank”, but not just any old yank. His Dad was a “smith” and a Smith. Ran a smithy ( the place where a smith makes stuff at a forge) on his farm and there was this girl… She was the “forbidden fruit”. An Amish Girl from the other side of the river…
So dear Grandpa did a fair amount of work for the Amish, making horse shoes, shoeing horses, repairing ploughshares and more. Until they were married and set up a farm in Iowa. An Irish Catholic / German Smith and an Amish girl. Talk about your religious “mixed marriage”. But by keeping a largely Amish style farm, they were not rejected by the Amish community. (Not hard to do in the late 1800’s as the tech was largely the same for everyone). He kept the smithy running on his farm, largely for the Amish friends and family, until he could work no more. Grandpa passed in his ’90s, on the farm, when I was about 3 years old, so he was working through W.W.II era.
So Dad’s Mum was Amish. Somewhere along the line I absorbed a fair bit of their attitudes. At about 8 years old I was straightening Square Nails used to make the “garage” on our 1/4 acre lot home. We took it apart to pour a new floor. Dad explained that straightening old was better than making new… and he also taught me to save wood in a wood pile and to do all sorts of Amish like things. We drilled a well and I pushed a hand plough through a 50 x 20 foot garden for several years. (We poured cement for a floor in this 1800’s era “garage” and reassembled it using said square nails and wood). FWIW, last time I looked, it was still standing…
Not a full on farm experience, but enough to assure I knew how to operate one if the need ever arrived.
So despite my being a Computer Guy, the Amish run in my blood…
The Amish and Chinese Wuhan Covid
So this link from The True Nolan caught my eye:
I have wondered how the Amish were doing with COVID. According to this popularly written article they are just a good or better than the sky-is-falling crowd.
Both because many of them are my relatives, and because they are a very good Control Group.
Probably that ancestral value set also explains why I dress plain (not as plain as full on Amish, so I have buttons, but just dull off the rack clothes and colors heavy on blues and greys. I like a manual transmission, prefer crank windows, and think GMO is just wrong.
The article is well worth the read. These are folks who work in the Sun, eat close to the land, and a lot, and typically live a rustic long life of work.
Correcting A Misdirection In Some Articles
When looking at some articles, they talk about the “Mennonite Amish”. IMHO, that’s ignorance. The Amish split from the Mennonites. Often an Amish who leaves will join the Mennonites. The Amish often think the Mennonites too “modern” and too willing to adopt the ways of the “English”. Mennonites often have a telephone or drive a car, for example. To call a doctor, for example, an Amish may run to a Mennonite neighbor and ask them to make the call.
Conflating those two is a very “English” POV. (Anyone not of the German Amish culture is typically referred to as “English”, regardless of actual heritage). While there is a shared root, they are very different groups in their organization, religious rules, and beliefs. It would be like calling both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics “Catholics”. Close, but not quite right. Or calling Lutherans and Methodists Presbyterians. They are all Protestants, but of a different sort. You just don’t have a Lutheran Presbyterian.
Both the Amish and the Mennonites are anabaptists, but they are not the same.
Anabaptism (from Neo-Latin anabaptista, from the Greek ἀναβαπτισμός: ἀνά- “re-” and βαπτισμός “baptism”, German: Täufer, earlier also Wiedertäufer) is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical Reformation.
Among the Anabaptist groups still present are mainly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites. In the 21st century, there are large cultural differences between assimilated Anabaptists, who do not differ much from Evangelicals, and traditional groups like the Amish, the Old Colony Mennonites, the Old Order Mennonites, Old Order River Brethren, the Hutterites and the Old German Baptist Brethren.
The early Anabaptists formulated their beliefs in a confession of faith called the Schleitheim Confession. In 1527, Michael Sattler presided over a meeting at Schleitheim (in Schaffhausen canton, on the Swiss-German border), where Anabaptist leaders drew up the Schleitheim Confession of Faith (doc. 29). Sattler was arrested and executed soon afterwards. Anabaptist groups varied widely in their specific beliefs, but the Schleitheim Confession represents foundational Anabaptist beliefs as well as any single document can.
Anabaptists believe that baptism is valid only when candidates freely confess their faith in Christ and request to be baptized. This believer’s baptism is opposed to baptism of infants, who are not able to make a conscious decision to be baptized. Anabaptists are those who are in a traditional line with the early Anabaptists of the 16th century. Other Christian groups with different roots also practice believer’s baptism, such as Baptists, but these groups are not Anabaptist. The Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites are direct descendants of the early Anabaptist movement. Schwarzenau Brethren, River Brethren, Bruderhof, and the Apostolic Christian Church are considered later developments among the Anabaptists.
The name Anabaptist means “one who baptizes again”. Their persecutors named them this, referring to the practice of baptizing persons when they converted or declared their faith in Christ even if they had been baptized as infants, and many prefer to call themselves “Radical Reformers.” Anabaptists require that baptismal candidates be able to make a confession of faith that is freely chosen and so rejected baptism of infants. The New Testament teaches to repent and then be baptized, and infants are not able to repent and turn away from sin to a life of following Jesus. The early members of this movement did not accept the name Anabaptist claiming that infant baptism was not part of scripture and was therefore null and void. They said that baptizing self-confessed believers was their first true baptism:
These groups grew out of the Anabaptist movement at the time of the Protestant Reformation (16th century).
The Hutterites, also known as Hutterian Brethren, originated from German, Swiss, and Tyrolean Anabaptists led by Jacob Hutter in the 1520s
The Swiss Brethren, the name Swiss Anabaptists used from 1525 until their split into Amish and Mennonite groups in 1693
The Mennonite Brethren, originated among Russian Mennonites in 1860
So for about 300+ years the Amish and Mennonites have been distinct.
Just keep that in mind when reading articles that say “Amish Mennonites” or similar such “English” POV imprecision.
So when someone tells me there’s some “Vaccine Mandate” I’m going to just channel my Inner Amish and say “No Sir. It is not in The Bible and so will not be in me.” I’m very happy to know my Amish kin are doing well with their choice. (As I am doing well with mine).
There’s a lot of Old Wisdom kept alive by the Amish and the Mennonites and other Old Order groups. I find it interesting that an Amish dressed for Church is often similarly dressed to an Orthodox Jew dressed for Temple. A bit of difference in the sideburns is sometimes about all you notice. Preserving Old Wisdom is good for all of us, and destruction of Old Order practitioners of any sort is unacceptable.
Then again, I like to save old books on how to build steam engines, how to run a smithy, what plants and herbs have medicinal uses… all sorts of Old Knowing. History is very much your friend. Study the Old Ways, as you just might need them some day; and they can often be helpful even now.
Very interesting roots. I feel the described way of life is interesting and positive.
From the resident wordsmith at Jo Nova
“‘Let’s go Brandon’ just give us a break,
Listen closely for goodness sake,
For what they are hidin’,
Rhymes with ‘ruck’, ‘go’ and ‘widen’,
From the ears of each lefty snowflake.”
E.M. Thanks for that explanation. One set of grandparents weren’t Amish or Mennonite but they believed their children had to make the choice to be baptised. Mum never got around to that. That grandfather also toyed with being part of the Australian effort to establish utopia in Paraguay –
And now in tune
I’m thinking of becoming NeoAmish. The main tenets are that one can only use a smartphone that is at least 2 releases behind the newest, and one is not allowed to take COVID vaccinations.
Sounds more like Reformed Mennonite to me ;-)
There are many sects that hold you must choose. Southern Baptists being among them. Yet they are not held to be Anabaptists (for reasons I’m fuzzy on…).
FWIW, I think I’ve found why I’m quite comfortable being a non-conformist to the world and “peer pressure”. Seems it is part of the package:
Or, “you do you & I’ll be me”
So somewhere along the line I got the notion into me that it was Just Fine to be separate from the rest of the world and their odd ways. My ways would be just fine for me. My ways now including the avoidance of fetal cell derived vexxines that cause my body to manufacture toxic proteins in my bodily temple given to me by God to protect. I choose to remain “undefiled” by this toxin and this unbiblical medical experiment. I am comfortable to Stand Apart. (But I may need a new hat… I need to find a round brim black hat as symbol of my apartness and nearness to God’s Will for me.)
I can see no way that my beliefs in truth, purity, and natural law can be conformed to the Vexxine. I must be non-conformant with it. There has been so much lying, so much hidden abuse (fetal tissue) of innocents, so much pure evil (mandates and removal of free will) in this process that it must be shunned.
I think this is what will be my Badge Of Nonconformance:
or something like it. Pilgrim’s Hat…
Adult Womens Mens Boys Girls Pilgrim Western Padre Priest Amish Top Hat Pioneer Amish Quaker Puritan Frontier
Some of it can be a bit silly. As with most things humans do. Like 200 years ago buttons were hand made and expensive, so having buttons on a shirt was “Prideful” and a sin as you were “showing off”. Now? Buttons are turned out by machines at fractional pennies each and are THE cheapest way to close a shirt front…
Yet some Amish were still cutting off the buttons and sewing on “frogs” so as not to be “prideful” and in the process being a bit prideful about the Amish Ways…
(Lately it’s become OK to have buttons for most folks, and to buy shirts instead of making them).
But the basic ideas still call to me. Be frugal. Do not waste. If something has a use, pass it on and do not just make it garbage and a problem. Do not “show off”. Do not be prideful. Just do a good job, help those in need, and live the best life you can.
Some bits I have trouble with (like the prohibition on music of any kind in some groups). What is the harm in making a beautiful sound? Other bits I just inherently do. ( I make food from ingredients that I know. I avoid “processed stuff” most of the time as it just is not FOOD, but a Food Chemical Complex. So I read the labels and “processed but OK stuff” does get used, others not so much).
I generally like to live as simply as possible for any given task, but no simpler. (So I use a $56 Linux single board computer as my main system… Simple, free, not “prideful”, not dependent on some giant corporations decisions, etc.) I have a kerosene lamp (really a few…) and like to use them (or candles) sometimes. I’m not dependent on PG&E electricity, but use it when it is the best solution and available (increasingly in question on that available bit…) So even as I’ve moved into The Computer Age, I’ve done it in a nonconformant way and without pridefulness.
I understand every technology I use, and can make many of them myself if needed. I love learning new skills. Learned to knit and sew shirts from Mum. Farming and raising animals from Dad. Car mechanics to radios. Any machine that is a “Black Box” to me, I tend to not use (or find out how it works while using it). I’ve built a computer from piece parts.
It is a very centered way to live. IF something can not be explained and “proved up” to me enough to be satisfied that “I get it”, I’ll reject it. I saw the problems in “Social Media” from the start, so have never used Twitter, Faceplant, EwTube (as creator), etc. Life has been better for that decision.
I am generally at peace with the world, as I am at peace with myself, and do not need anyone outside of me to justify me to me. I’m a finished person, apart, and that’s O.K. I choose for me. Others can only suggest.
There is a certain charm and comfort in a simpler life. One you are competent to control and create the objects you need as you need them.
The Hodge twins deconstruct “Let’s go Brandon!”
@E.M.S. Wonderful thread and comments. I feel very ‘on net’ with what you write.
We lived in Münster for a while years ago and learned about the Anabaptists who were hauled up in a cage there.
“Study the Old Ways, as you just might need them some day; and they can often be helpful even now.”
When I did my appreticeship in electronics, we still had in service electro-mechanical SCADA systems. So we got trained on them. Really just a custom state machine implemented in relays and “uni-selectors” (11 position switches typically made and used in the first generation electro-mechanical telephone exchanges). I hated it at the time, but it was a fine introduction to microprocessors etc. Also had SCADA systems based on discrete component transistors using RTL logic, wideband analogue microwave links that it would take a few days to tune to spec, and so on.
Now I’m the routing and tunneling specialist for 3G/4G/5G modem/routers, but I always push the people in the data centres to make neat and tidy cabling, including “forming up” the cables in to blocks and so on – old habits die hard, I guess. And the customers like me because unlike most of the rest of the support team, I’ve “been there, done that” in terms of installing and maintaining SCADA systems, not just an “IT geek” (but I’m one of them too :-) )
So really, for me, new tech is nice and all, but seems somewhat “brute force” to me these days – older tech requires a bit more finesse, and a more clever design than simply throwing more CPU at the problem. That means being clever, not rich. Somehow that seems like a better solution. Maybe I’m just old.
@ kneel63; very good description of the difference between an artist and a mechanic. To an artist the job just ain’t done right until it looks right. I always appreciate finesses over arm-strong engineering, shows you actually understand the problem and can devise the solution rather then just cobble together things until the solution happens.
On the other hand I’ve had to “Rube Goldburg” together things out of my junk pile to “get her done” in-spite of “miss-matched” parts of questionable origin.
Lol, both my son and grandson accuse me of being a technophobe because I’m not up on the latest technology even though I built their first computers out of cast off parts from my junk pile..
For the last year I’ve been disposing of old computer parts that were obsolete 30 years ago, sometimes old junk is just that Old Junk. The modern stuff is often amazing to me, all of that capability in a tiny package when compared to the day of discrete components hand wired into Massive chassis that ate up power at a prodigious rate. The modern tablet/phone is a miracle of communication, manufacturing and programing….pg
My grandfather had old herb books. Sadly, we lost them. As a wee lad, he’d have us go hiking with him to gather stuff, hunt, and just observe wild life. Yes, we had guns and he’d let us target practice, well away from town. You could and folk often did carry guns openly. You had to have it unloaded and show it unloaded (bolt open, shotgun barrels open, cylinder open, pointed away from people, etc).
“…all of that capability in a tiny package…”
Yes, PG – there is more computing power in your TV than NASA dreamed of having to land a man on the moon.
Although speaking of NASA, my favourite is someone telling the astronauts of the day they were bowing to pressure – the reply being “You don’t know what pressure is!”.
The Pilot of Apollo 13 had to perform a task that was the equivalent of lying at one end of a football field and firing a rifle you’ve never used before with standard “notch and spike” sights to the other end of the football field, and hitting a piece of normal office paper – edge on. You get one chance, and if you get it wrong, you die – as well as killing two of your friends. Now THAT’S pressure!
Stunning they pulled it off, but somehow they did. God sometimes smiles on you I guess.
@kneel: yeah I know what you mean; On several occasions I have had to pull off a Hail Mary and wing it. GOD helped me pull it off and survive for another day. You gather up everything you know and make a SWAG as to where the sweet spot is and Do IT ! There is no time to second guess it. It is kind of like jumping off a cliff and bet you can grab a hand hold on the way down.
In response at another blog
“We have already turned down the one way street.”
Remember that the Celtic response to being told “You can’t do that” when going up that one way street is
“Of course I can – I just did it”
As opposed to the Anglo Saxon “Yes, sir! No sir! Three bags full sir”
(That was borrowed from someone else a long time ago)
Sounds spot on!
@Kneel – I’ve mentioned this before here some time ago. My dad worked on some of the engineering of the lunar landing module(s).
He was a WWII vet and they knew and practiced the saying, “Loose lips sink ships.” I didn’t know or find out about his participation until Reagan was President. Reagan sent a nice ‘personalized’ Dear Mr. XXXXX form letter (auto-pen signed, of course) to all of the people involved in the 1st moon landing. Then my dad was allowed to mention he worked on the landing module, but that was it. “Yeah, I had a part in that.”
He was a Mass Properties Engineer and their job was to calculate the center of mass (COM) and weight of the components, then the subassemblies, then the finished assembly for the Mechanical and Electrical team on the various aerospace projects his company was working on. That’s an iterative process. The Mech Engineer designs a component, it goes to dad’s group for the center of mass and weight calculation, then back to Mech to see if they can pare some weight and what the COM does to the subassembly and final assembly where the component is used.
They were called ‘Weights’ Engineers and were very important in companies that sent things up in the air. The less things weigh, the better, eh?
On ‘Black’ projects, he’d sometimes go in on a Saturday, when few workers were around, to “weigh an airplane.” The COM or C/G was also verified. I always thought it sounded kind of funny (haha funny) when he said he had to go weigh an airplane. I had visions of a giant bathroom scale. It was a bit of a trade secret as to exactly how it was done and done slightly differently at different companies. I never knew what plane he was weighing. He would never say.
When he started, it was all slide rules. Then along came calculators and that was a big help. When he finished his career, CAD was just beginning to come into play. He disliked computers knowing that they were only as good as the code that went into the program. He preferred Drawing/Calculation.
I misspent my youth in the Los Angeles area. I lived there for about 3 years before returning to the Midwest. At first, the beaches and all the interesting and entertaining things the LA basin had to offer were great fun. I always puzzled over the Friday evening traffic jam as a few million people got on the road to ‘get out of town’.
The last year I was there, I found myself in the Friday traffic jams heading out of town. At the time, LA metro-region had eleven million people, and you start to notice. It’s even more crowded now.
For about the last a year I was in LA, I attended a Brethren church out there. It was “Mennonite Lite.” No wearing the ‘garb’ and modern tech was used, but the tenets and practices were Anabaptist.
I can’t see that any Amish would be in the LA area, and if there were some Mennonites, I wasn’t aware of them. The women do bonnets, aprons, and long dresses and the men do the hats, beard with no moustache, black trousers and white shirt, and suspenders (braces) instead of belts and those shiny, prideful buckles. They would be easy to spot and I never saw a one.
The Amish are largely farmers. Not a lot of farm land left in the L.A. Basin.
Due to high cost of farm land, some Amish are now taking jobs. Often in farm related industries like cheese making. Sometimes a group of Amish will raise enough money for a young couple to buy a farm and then you get the whole Barn Raising thing too ;-) They pay cash for farms as loans and debt are sinful ( I can relate ;-) and that means a huge chunk of money these days. Figure a 50 acre farm at $10,000 / acre is $1/2 Million and that’s without horses and equipment to run it… This is an ongoing struggle for the young Amish just setting out in life.
FWIW, there was a small Amish community in California, but it failed. Ditto Oregon. I suspect it is because they could not make enough money off of “touristy stuff” and upscale farm products to cover the excessive land costs and taxes, or they were just too far from the Support Structure of other Amish and the effort to go it alone was too much.
Here’s where they are today (with Indiana being where Grandma was from, I think… though some eventually made it into Iowa too)
Not counting those who left the Old Order in various ways (to New Order or to just ‘marry out’ or flat out leave the community) there’s an ongoing exponential growth of the Amish Community. It’s a bit of a problem as farm land is not exponentially growing… so eventually this is going to be an issue.
In about 1970 or a bit before, I got to see some Amish looking over land near Oroville / Chico California. A young couple trying to find a place to start new farms. I think they found the prices too high for their kind of farming. So the Amish had not completely given up on California after the first attempt, but may have by now.
One of the issues IIRC was that they were allowed to travel by train, but that became ever harder and more expensive over the years post W.W.II as passenger travel was essentially ended. I don’t know if at present they are allowed to travel by airplane. Motor Cars can be used (mostly if someone else is driving them, i.e. hire cars) when far from home. All that makes it very hard to set up a new farm far far away from an existing community.
Essentially, a few young and adventurous Amish will set out to look for new places to set up farms and community (often those unhappy with some aspect or some persons in their existing community) and some succeed while others give up and go back home. Some others just leave the community for the “English” life (as did my Grandma).
Most growth happens by modest extensions away from existing farm areas with a significant Amish population. Mostly “edge expansion” but a little bit of “new centers”…
Baptists are very common here, as are Catholics, Methodists, and then it tails off. I do remember a Mennonite group out in the western part of central AL. Their bakery was very well liked and patronized by folks who had business in the county seat/courthouse. The University of West Alabama wasn’t far away, either.
While you might not call the Baptists here anabaptist, there is overlap in the creeds.
@E.M. – Our first place when the Mrs. and I got married was 4 doors down from a hardware store that catered to the Amish. The buggies parked in the back.
That store had all the finest 19th Century tech you could ever want or need on an Amish farm. I’ve been there a few times since when needing some hardware that “nobody makes anymore.” Well they do, and it’s sold in the hardware stores in Amish country.
Middle brother lived in that town for ~15 years and attended the Mennonite church outside of town. He was welcome to attend, but never was a member. I’m guessing there were a few tenets that the Elders thought he could not adhere to. I dunno. He moved away and spent the last 20 years in Michigan.
He’s moved back to the area, and hen he needed a wheelchair ramp after his wife’s recent stroke, someone from that church came out with a couple of Amish carpenters and put in the ramp. Nice
In the Northern part of my county, we still have some Amish and Mennonites. Most of the Amish are in the adjacent counties to the West, North, and Northeast. I guess we’re too close to the Big City.
We only have to drive 20- 30 minutes to start seeing these road signs:
And mind you don’t skid on the road apples 😜
Comment to E.M.Smith.
It is sometimes said that Finns very recently came down from the trees in the woods. What you describe sounds familiar probably mostly due to agricultural traditions from 2-3 generations in the past.
Your comment regarding music is also familiar. Playing traditional music (local folk music) and studying local history again and again tells about local musicians joining some local religious sect resulting in burning of the instrument. Why music is considered sinful is strange and difficult to understand but unfortunately that kind of thinking can be seen not only in Afghanistan…
The RPi is in daily use. I have been developing measurement software to aid violin set up and improvement. The platform has been RPi because it looks like the easiest channel to (possibly) distribute a program very cheaply world wide. I have full control over the whole system by mailing the application including the OS on a cheap SD memory card, very simple and nice. Because the RPi is fairly well standardised I can tell the receiver of the software to get for example a Rpi 400 and insert the microSD to be up and running in 30s.
Regarding mixing the old do it yourself thinking and new technology I would recommend adding a 3d printer to your RPi set up if not already done. The 3d printer has been the best toy I ever owned ;) . Being able to design and produce a multitude of small part from buttons and simple spares for my car to physical measurement instruments. I would like to have a second one in full scale allowing me to print houses but that will remain a fantasy.
Adding my own video link to others in your thread. The folk music group Altra Volta, with me in the center playing a Norwegian Harding fiddle, has its weekly rehersal in a nice and very exotic cafe “Taikalamppu” (The Magical Lamp) in Helsinki Finland. The recording is a completely unplanned one so what is played is the kind of fun we have every friday. Somebody proposes some tune to play and there it goes …
There are many Mennonites in Belize, doing well in agriculture, and some are more traditional than others. On a trip to go cave exploring, a carpool of us saw a horse drawn buggy on the tropical highway. I asked my companions, “Do you know what goes clip clop clip clop Bang Bang clip clop clip clop?”
Much bafflement ensued, then I told them, “An Amish driveby,” to many groans.
Interesting and fun music!
BTW, the RPi-4 has a heat problem. To get full speed out of it, you must put on a big heat sink. It will run OK without a heat sink, but will thermal limit way before it reaches full speed. Essentially you get about a Pi 3 worth of speed out of it without a heat sink.