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Smile For the Camera?

Most of us know that many Anabaptists (Hutterites, Amish, and Mennonites) have strong religious objections to having their photograph taken.  But this objection to photography is not universal within the church.   Like any church, members have different theological interpretations of doctrine.   The Hutterites in Alberta, Canada and some Old Order Mennonites in Missouri have been wrestling with the issue of drivers license photos in the wake of stricter post 9-11 rules.  Drivers license photos represent a "gray area" between religion and public safety.  While there are differences among Amish about photography, the issue rarely becomes public because Old Order members don't drive.   This magazine article gives excellent history about the Anabaptist objections to photography and how the Hutterites in Alberta are wrestling with it. 

Super Duper Tuesday



CAPTION: Mitt Romney has been leading in early vote getting on our amishcookonline Presidential poll. 

Well, I guess it's okay to talk a little politics today...after all, many of you are voting today.  Any of you in Super Tuesday states who have gone out to vote, were the polls crowded?

I once ran for office.  This was back in 2000 when I ran for a seat in our state assembly. In the end, I got clobbered, grabbing just 38 percent of the vote.  In retrospect, I was too young.  I wasn't good at asking people for money (the sad requirement fo running for office: campaign donations) back then.   I'm really good at it now:), but not then, and I was a little shy when it came to the door to door campaigning.  But it was a neat experience.  Elizabeth Coblentz, the original Amish Cook, was having some sort of problem with her bank back in 2000 and in a fit of frustration she huffed to the bank manager: "I'll have my editor get you in some trouble, he IS running for governor, you know!"    Elizabeth and I both got a laugh about that later when she realized her mistake.  She just didn't understand a lot of the inner-workings of government and that was just fine by her, as it is with most Amish.  They are content to let the English do the "heavy lifting."  Local level politics, however, is different. They will following local zoning ordinances and tax issues much more closely.

The Amish just don't involve themselves in Presidential politics as a general rule.   They hear little bits and pieces, snippets of information from the bishop, maybe, or from non-Amish drivers who shuttle them around.   Lovina and I recently had a conversation that went something like this:

Lovina: I heard there was a chance a woman could be president?

Me:  It's possible.  It's also possible we could have our first African-American candidate.

Lovina:  Eli told me that if that former president's wife wins, she'll take away all the guns.

Me:  Well, you and I don't usually discuss politics, so this is something different for us:), but I can assure you Hillary will NOT take away our guns.  NO ONE one would take away our guns, our society is so armed to the teeth if anyone ever tried there'd be a bloody revolt.

Lovina:  Most of the Amish don't have guns, it's just the hunters who are worried.  I told Eli that you aren't a hunter anyway, so what is it to you?

Me:  Well, tell them they have nothing to worry about......

I'm not taking a political position, I just know that no one - GOP or Dem - could take away everyone's guns even if they wanted to.  But the above conversation is pretty revealing and typical of the mindset of the Amish when it comes to politics.....they often hear just little tidbits of information...this, coupled with their natural suspicion of the government, can result in some pretty interesting conversations! 

Republicans On the Prowl.....

I was contacted by someone in Indiana yesterday inquiring about whether the Amish typically vote.  Indiana's primary is coming up in May and she was curious whether she should start trying to register the hundreds of new Amish residents that have flooded her county in the past few years.  I told her that, first of all, if she was a Democrat, she shouldn't waste her time.  The vast majority of Amish IF they were to vote in a Presidential race would cast their votes for the Republican candidate. This is based largely on the Republican party's position on abortion.

The woman went on to say that the local Amish bishop is opposed to members of his church registering to vote. I told her that if he opposes it, any registration effort was doomed to fail.  The Amish rarely, rarely get involved in politics, especially national elections.  Elizabeth Coblentz, Lovina's late mother, succinctly said to me once on the topic:
"We trust you to put good people in office."

Sheesh. Pressure.

Turns out the woman who contacted me yesterday is a Republican party official in her county.   Because Ohio was so hotly contested in the 2004 Presidential race,  the GOP did make a concerted effort to register Amish voters, but the results were very mixed.  The GOP operative whom I was corresponding with yesterday did say to me that in her county: " There have been recent attempts to severely tax Amish buggies for road wear caused by the narrow wheels. And, efforts are underway to significantly increase the property tax on farmland and small business property. "  She said she and some others would approach the bishop in the coming weeks and try to convince him to approve voting for his flock.   As I told the woman, I wouldn't comment on the partisan part of her efforts, but IF a voting drive among the Amish were to succeed it would be much more likely to if it centered on local pocketbook issues like the tax on buggies.  The Amish HAVE on rare occasions mobilized in local elections to have a say on issues that directly impact them.   


Do the Amish use eco-friendly products and methods when cleaning their homes? Since I know so little about Amish culture, would it be safe for me to assume that their older, simpler ways of doing things would probably be traditionally more eco-friendly than the English ways? Would eco-friendly be a normal way of life for the Amish?

I am very eco-conscious. I make almost all my own household cleaners. Not only is is extremely inexpensive, it's healthier for our home, our health, and the environment. I would very much like to learn the old way of making soaps. Do the Amish make their own soap?

It would be interesting to see some practical Amish household tips. Can you imagine another column in addition to "The Amish Cook" called "Hints from Hannah?"


Bonus Column

I just posted this week's Amish Cook here on this site.  On rare occasions throughout the years, I have stepped in and written The Amish Cook column.   The first time I ever did it was nine years after Elizabeth began writing.  Elizabeth Coblentz was penning the column at the time and when her husband suddenly passed away she was understandably too grief-stricken to write. So I penned a column tribute to Ben and the following week an account of the funeral.  Usually, unfortunately, I step in to write when a family tragedy occurs: the death of Elizabeth's granddaughter, Mary; and the death of Elizabeth herself. This week, though, I stepped in and wrote the column simply to address the huge flood of interest - both pro and con - about the yodeling that was posted on this site.  I've never seen a response quite like it.  So my column attempts to address some of the criticisms, compliments, and give some much need perspective.  That said, since the Cincinnati Enquirer is so new to the column I didn't think it fair to readers there to be subjected to me so Lovina wrote a column that will just appear in Cincinnati and in a handful of markets that for reasons unknown didn't run the yodeling column by Lovina.  My  hometown paper, The Middletown Journal, for instance, decided to chop about 80 percent of Lovina's column about yodeling out so they could fit it into some pre-assigned cookie cutter space on the page.   The Lovina column will not run in many actual newspapers, but I am posting both my column for this week and her column that is appearing in the Enquirer, you all get two columns for the price of one (just kidding, no them for free!!)  Anyway, click here to check both of them out.

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