Writing The Amish: The Worlds Of John A. Hostetler by David L. Weaver-Zercher

By David L. Weaver-Zercher

From the early Nineteen Sixties to the past due Eighties, John A. Hostetler was once the world's optimal pupil of Amish existence. Hailed via his friends for his illuminating and delicate portrayals of this oft-misunderstood spiritual sect, Hostetler effectively spanned the divide among well known and educational tradition, thereby shaping perceptions of the Amish all through American society. He used to be additionally outspoken in his perspectives of the trendy global and of the Amish world--views that proceed to stir debate this day. Born into an outdated Order Amish kinfolk in 1918, Hostetler got here of age in an period while the Amish have been mostly brushed off as a old fashioned and declining tradition, a curious survival with little relevance for modern American lifestyles. That notion replaced in the course of Hostetler's profession, for not just did the Amish continue to exist in the course of those a long time, they proven a beautiful measure of cultural vitality--which Hostetler saw, analyzed, and interpreted for hundreds of thousands of readers. Writing the Amish either recounts and assesses Hostetler's Amish-related paintings. the 1st half the publication contains 4 reflective essays--by Donald Kraybill, Simon Bronner, David Weaver-Zercher, and Hostetler himself--in which Hostetler is the first topic. the second one part reprints in chronological order fourteen key writings by means of Hostetler with commentaries and annotations by means of Weaver-Zercher. Taken jointly, those writings, supplemented via a finished bibliography of Hostetler's courses, supply prepared entry to the Hostetler corpus and the instruments during which to guage his paintings, his highbrow evolution, and his legacy as a student of Amish and American existence. in addition, by means of supplying a window into the various worlds of John A. Hostetler--his Amish boyhood, his Mennonite Church milieu, his academic objectives, his scholarly profession, and his vocation as a mediator and recommend for Amish life--this quantity complements the continuing dialogue of ways ethnographic illustration relates to America's most famed people tradition, the outdated Order Amish.

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The Amish schools protect Amish youth from alienation inherent in the loss of community life and generally produce stable, dedicated adults who are productive members in both their faith community and in American society. Faith communities in America function as mediating structures in the pluralistic makeup of our society. They check the excesses of heavy-handed bureaucracies. Healthy ethnic communities make members feel specifically bound and responsible to others. Even though sometimes limiting, such communities can be ennobling, supportive, therapeutic, and satisfying.

The first step is personal: “If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Matt. 18:15, King James Version [KJV]). g. Hostetler’s account of his father’s excommunication fails to note the lawsuit his father brought against his own brother-in-law. This event is recounted in Chapter 4. Other details pertaining to Joseph Hostetler’s excommunication, though not the lawsuit, can be found in John A. Hostetler, “The Amish and the Law: A Religious Minority and Its Legal Encounters,” Washington and Lee Law Review 41 (1984): 39–40.

I attended New York’s Riverside Church on several occasions to hear the controversial liberal theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick, who occasionally spoke favorably of conscientious objectors. And I learned not to visit Elizabeth Voth, a retired Mennonite missionary, at her home on Wednesdays because she spent the entire day on her knees praying. On entering the home, one was obliged to kneel with her for the rest of the day. I began to write more articles for publication. My reading included philosophy, psychology, and religion.

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