As a writer of Amish romances, I am fascinated by the increased media interest in the Amish. I think many of us are attracted to the Amish way of life because it takes us back to a simpler time, when faith and family were society’s most important values and cell phones and computers didn’t distract us from building and strengthening important relationships.
There are many things the Amish go without to keep themselves separate from the world. Different Amish districts have varied guidelines, but as a general rule they don’t use electricity, drive cars, or own cell phones. Their clothes are plain and modest, and married men grow beards but not moustaches. Their philosophy is to be in the world but not of the world. They don’t get attached to the things of this world.
I admire the Amish for their determination to keep worldly influences out of their lives, but I don’t think I could ever be that strong. There are some wonderful inventions of the modern world I would rather not do without.
Here are my top five:
#5 Facebook: How else could I keep track of 1000 friends at once and spy on my own children?
#4 Cell phones: My son would probably cry a thousand tears if I didn’t text him several times a day just to see how things were going in History class. And my son at college wouldn’t be able to call me once a year to tell me how bleak his life is without his mother. (Just kidding. He does call me more than once a year. Usually.)
#3 Automobiles: My car is my second office, where I sometimes go to sit and wait for my son’s yearly phone call. If we didn’t have a car, my children would have zero social life because, heaven forbid, anyone actually tried walking to a friend’s house. The best thing about having a car is that I can visit my grandchildren whenever I want.
#2 Furnaces: Can you imagine actually having to build a fire when you wanted to get warm? We purchased a lovely new fireplace 20 years ago and have only built three fires in it—once when our sons claimed that “we never do anything fun.”
#1 Indoor plumbing: Technically, this is only partially an issue because many Amish do use indoor plumbing. For me, flushable toilets are absolutely non-negotiable. I refuse to go anywhere that doesn’t have a flushable toilet and a good hot shower. This is why I can count on two fingers the number of times I have taken my family camping. This is also why my sons say we never do anything fun.
There are also many aspects of the Amish way of life that I wish were more a part of my life. I’ve taken the liberty of making another top five list of the things I love about the Amish way of life:
#5 Hard work: I’ve never met a member of the Amish community who is afraid of hard work. They rise early, take care of farms and animals, and often work at other jobs during the day. Some days my idea of hard work is dialing the phone to order a pizza.
#4 Family togetherness: The Amish have strong family bonds because parents and children work, play, and worship together. Without distractions like cell phones and Facebook, they have time to really talk to each other. Have you ever texted your child while you were both at home because it was too hard to walk down the stairs to talk to him? I have.
#3 Faith: I love how faith permeates the lives of the Amish. How much better would the world be if we just stopped to ask, “What would Jesus want me to do?” or “Who is my neighbor?”
#2 Forgiveness: I find it hard to forgive the guy who follows me too close on the freeway. The Amish preach and practice forgiveness of everyone.
#1 Indoor plumbing: All the fictional Amish communities in my books utilize indoor plumbing. I feel better knowing that I’ve never forced one of my characters to hike to the outhouse in the middle of the night.
Worrying about people who don’t have indoor plumbing keeps me awake at night.
Toilets for everyone!
(This post originally appeared about 5 years ago on my blog, and I’m still fully committed to indoor plumbing.)