Thursday, March 03, 2016
Levi Stoltzfus was born and raised in the world of the Amish in Pennsylvania. So he knows Amish.
Not everyone born Amish stays Amish. When Amish youngsters become teens, the parental reins are loosened and they are given the freedom to learn more about the wide world beyond Amish-land. Most return to the fold and settle down into the traditional Amish life, get married, go to church, follow all the Amish rules and have as many kids as humanely possible.
Levi Stoltzfus rejected this path. He was always a bit of a rebel. He didn't like the black hat. He didn't like the bowl-style haircuts. He liked cars. He liked music, even learned to play bass guitar. He even went on to star in a TV series about the Amish, Amish Mafia. So when he became an adult, he was baptized in the New Amish Church and not in the Old Amish Church in which he was raised. (New Amish Church is a modernized version of the Old Amish Church.)
So when it comes to telling the truth about the Amish, good and bad, Stoltzfus knows it all.
People are curious about these throwbacks to the 18th Century. The Amish are a huge tourist attraction in Pennsylvania, with visitors spending billions of dollars while there to gawk at them. So keeping the reputation of the Amish gleaming white is very important to the tourist industry. But Levi Stoltzfus doesn't pull any punches, he doesn't whitewash the Amish community. He also is quick to point out the many virtues of his people, a people he clearly loves and appreciates, warts and all. A worthy, inspiring and revealing look at the Amish by one of their own, this book was an informative and enjoyable read.