The Amish Rumspringa: Traditional Beliefs

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Traditional beliefs continue to dominate most parts of the world cultures. The Amish group is not left out as they have their unique way of going about things and rituals to traditionally introduce their young men into adulthood. Indeed this paper will emphasize the Amish people and their traditional Rumspringa ritual and go to a core analysis of how it makes the Amish culture unique. The Amish culture tries to uphold the same traditions, values and the language of the foundational Amish. The sspecific location of the Amish people is in Central America, Canada, with most of them located in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.
Most part of the Amish people are Christians with their culture revolving around their church (Shachtman). The root of the Amish culture and their belief in Christianity is that of the Anabaptists who believe that for a person to be baptized into their church, then it is imperative for them to be of sound mind. To ensure that they maintain their Christianity believes, the Amish people have continuously cut themselves off from the mainstream society. Nonetheless, they have renounced all aspects of the modern technology such as cars, phones, electricity, the use of automobiles, the television, the American way of dressing, and other niceties (Shachtman). The Amish people believe that their alienation from the majority of the modern way of life prevents them from some extraneous distractions, which can get in the way of the individual’s relationship with the Church and God.

For example, the Amish people believe that something like electricity is something that a person can live without and this belief is prominent in areas of Mid-West Ohio. Moreover, it is important to realize that instead of electricity some families always prefer the use of gas lamps for lighting in their houses (Shachtman). Indeed, most appliances are run by gas and on rare occasion do they use a generator for example, when there is the requirement of technological equipment in the farm. Indeed, when the question of transport crops up, the people believing in the Amish culture always conclude that the use of cars and modern modes of transportations always alienates them from the close ties between family and friends (Shachtman). Clearly, this reason alone makes them travel by horse and buggy. Moreover, the Amish rarely use telephones, and this depends on the laws set up by the local church bishop. Nonetheless, if there is a phone, then it is always situated in the center of the Amish house with little privacy when communicating.

The Amish Rumspringa

Despite the contemporary belief, the Amish culture is diverse with the differences between the communities not readily apparent to the outsiders. In the Amish culture, it entails a central tradition that initiates its many of the adolescent followers. Indeed, the Amish culture consists of a tradition known as the Rumspringa, which is a combination of a German and Pennsylvania term meaning running around (Hurst and McConnell). Indeed, the Rum from the word translates to English to mean around while the word Springa comes from the word schpringe meaning to run or to skip. Clearly, the tradition entails the young participants moving around as they explore their modernized American society. While the majority of the tradition consists of both the Christian and traditional symbols, the major role of the ritual is to serve as a religious method of passage. The adolescent followers always participate in the ritual immediately they turn the age of 16 years, and it is entirely the decision of the youth on whether they will go and explore the Amish community and their traditions (Hurst and McConnell).

At this age, the members of the society teach the youth how to be mature and how they can make an informed decision. Indeed, to ensure that the youths overcome the transition period, they live in the modern society which they refer to as sometimes the “devil’s playground (Hurst and McConnell).” Indeed during this life changing journey, the adolescent are given time to reflect upon themselves on whether they would like to return to their traditions and make a lifetime commitment to their lifestyle, or they would prefer the modern way of life. For example, if the youth manages to return home to their traditions and away from the temptations of video games, cars, drugs, and alcohol, then the elders baptizes them and are allowed to commit to the Amish culture and religion. Indeed, it is at this stage that the parents and the elders of the Amish community when they teach their youth on how to be tolerant (Hurst and McConnell).

Myths and Realities in Rumspringa

As Rumspringa is the period when the young people are allowed to run around, this age begins when the youth is at the age of sixteen until they reach the marriage age. It is at this time that the culture allows the adolescents to interact with their peers with some communities in the Amish culture giving their boys their first carriage to use while performing youth activities. Nonetheless, the contemporary media has created various untruths about the Rumspringa, and it is, therefore, prudent for us to examine the myths and the realities perpetrated by the press.

First, in most cases, the media believes that the youth are breaking their church regulations (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 213). However, it is imperative to realize that though the young people are born into the culture, they do not belong to the church and thus not required to submit to the regulations as set up by the church elders. Indeed, this is the case until the youth passes the Rumspringa period and decides to become baptized. During the Rumspringa period, the youth is under the supervision of both the parent and the church authority as they closely watch their behavior. Second, the media passes the information that the parents of the young men and women encourage them to go out and explore the nature of the outside world (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 214). Pundits of these culture state that the church purposefully creates time in the culture for the youth to have some time out, but this is incredibly false. Nonetheless, it is a fact that young people at the age of sixteen begin to interact with their peers during the weekends with some of the parents accommodating rowdy behaviors in the children than others. However, it is not a church tradition laid out to allow and encourage their youth to go out and explore the outer world.

Third, there is a myth passed on by the media that the youths who break the rules of the church during the Rumspringa become are shunned for the rest of their lives (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 214). However, the parents of the youth passing through this stage have the right to punish the deviant youths with the church playing the role of excommunicating the baptized members that violate their regulations. Furthermore, when a youth decides to run away, they are always looked down upon and scorned by their family and the entire community. Nevertheless, the church lacks the mandate to shun them as they were not baptized members in the first place. Fourth, the media passes another myth that the Rumspringa period entails making the decision on whether or not to remain a member of the Amish community (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 214). Though this might be true for a portion of the youth undergoing this stage, the majority of them always look forward to joining the church and finally becoming a bonafide member of the Amish community.

Fifth, people from other communities have the misconception that the Rumspringa period end with the baptism of the youth (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 214). However, it is at this time that the boys in the Amish culture become men while girls become women. Sixth, the media pass a myth that the youths who reaches the Rumspringa age always leave their homes and go to live in the cities for some few years (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt 214). The truth of the matter is that the majority of the youth continue to live with their parents and spend their Rumspringa years in the care of the parents. However, the only thing that drastically changes is their social life that becomes independent from that of their family. Lastly, most people believe that the Rumspringa ritual is similar in all communities in the Amish religion. As a matter of fact, the activities performed during the ceremony varies from community to community within a given geographical settlement. The amount of time that the parents spend with their children varies as well as the contact that the youth maintain with their culture. Evidently, the Rumspringa ritual is much more sophisticated than the contemporary media always suggest with teens enjoying more freedom before they finally make the decision to settle down be baptized, and get married.

Symbols and the Identity of the Amish

As humans are social beings with distinct beliefs, and ways of doing things, the Amish culture have their distinct symbols that identify them and sets them aside from other tribes (Kraybill). Indeed, the Amish people have cultures that reflect on their morals, which serve to remind the members of where they came from and how they should live their lives. The Amish have distinctive symbols such as the use of horses and the mules for the work, their wearing of plain dresses for the women, having beards and a shaven upper lip for the men, and women must have a prayer cap (Kraybill). For the men, they wear plain black pants held by suspenders with plain colored buttoned shirts. To denote marriage then it is required of the men to don a grown beard without necessarily having to wear the wedding ring. The idea that revolves behind the Amish mode of dressing is entirely to indicate humility with individuality rebuked at all levels as it is seen as being proud. However, the elders always want people to look similar to enforce the notion of togetherness in the community. It is imperative to realize that the Amish culture sorely centers its mode of operations in the concept of a community.

The Source of the Amish Spiritual Beliefs

Indeed, the Amish culture endorses the Christian way of living with their spirituality shaped by their various interpretations of the bible verses as well as from other written sources. One of the gestures eminent in the Amish culture is their humility, and their devotion, which indicates their deep Christian roots. Various sources have affected the Amish spirituality with the most prominent being not only the Bible but also Martyrs Mirror the Ausbund (Hostetler 341). Further, the Amish use the Dordrecht confession of faith, and they use the Martin Luther German 1534 translation of the Bible, and they turn to the 1611 King James Version while reading. In most of the households in the Amish community, they have both the German and the English versions of the Bible printed alongside each other. During their summons, the Amish give a high priority to the readings present in the New Testament with special attention given to the teachings of Jesus (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt). Indeed, in most church services, it is not hard to encounter the local church Bishop reading out loud the New Testament texts.

Indeed, the majority of the texts comes from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John, that mainly centers on the life and the teaching of Christ Jesus (Hostetler 31). Particular attention is given to the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapter five verse seven with the beatitudes receiving major focus. Clearly, the Amish fully trust God as their provider of their needs as such they advocate for the love and the forgiveness of once enemies. Nonetheless, the fact that the Amish mainly focus on the New Testament does not mean that they take the Old Testament for granted. Some of the Old Testament verses are always memorized with sermons recounting the creation, and the lives of prominent individuals in the Old Testament such as Joseph, David, and Abraham (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt).

During rituals such as funnels, ordination, and baptism, which occur immediately a youth completes the Rumspringa ritual, the texts from both the Old and New Testament becomes prominent in the sermons. Some verses of the Bible are regularly read in church services and for inspiration with the majority of the Amish believing that the Bible texts are meant to give meaning to themselves only if the reader obeys and believes. If a further interpretation is required from the Bible then, it should be in the presence of the entire congregation and the church leaders (Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner and Nolt). Indeed it is the belief of the Amish community that reading and the preaching of the Bible together promotes unity among the congregants. Particular attention is also given to the preachers who interpret the Bible on behalf of the congregation who grant authority to them. The hymn is sung in the German language, and this is without the accompaniment of any music. For the weddings, they always take place during the fall and are always held at the house of the bride (Fieldhouse 24). In most cases, the wedding is a small affair with no exchange or rings taking place with a large feast held after that.

Amish Food Practices

In the Amish Culture, there do not exist restrictions on the kind of food that an Amish may eat. Accordingly, an Amish can consume alcohol (Fieldhouse 24). However, this should be in moderation. The Amish food consists of high percentages of daily and the meat products with a majority of the dishes derived from the Germans and the Swiss recipes. Some examples of the delicacies include pork, cabbage, meatballs, and potatoes. Their traditions dictate that after the Sunday service, that every person should be served lunch in sittings (Fieldhouse 24). However, the older adults always eat first with the men and women eating at separate tables. Indeed a typical Amish menu can consist of bread made with butter and cheese, pickles, coffee or tea.

One of the favorite spread loved by the Amish community is peanut butter combined with corn syrup and marshmallow crème. It is required of the women in the community to tend for the gardens and to cook with men never required to cook. The produce that comes from the garden is preserved by canning and freezing if the community allows the use of electricity. Moreover, the Amish rear livestock such as pigs, chicken, and cows (Fieldhouse 25). Though much of the food is home produced, the Amish community also buys food from the stores and the restaurants. However, some communities in the Amish culture view this culture as a wasteful practice.

Conclusion

Evidently, from the above analysis, the traditional ritual rites conducted by the Amish culture made them have a distinct way of life. The Rumspringa ritual that remains a pivotal tradition in the Amish community is instrumental in shaping the youth. Further, the Amish have a belief that the Rumspringa is an ideal way to experience the other kind of lifestyle. Nonetheless, their cultures, mode of dressing, eating habits, and religion are all built on one common ground, which is Christianity. Though baptism remains the only method of transitions from youth to the Amish church, the Amish church continues to be an adoration for a majority of the teens who undergo the Rumspringa. Indeed, the Amish culture and rituals for the passage from youth to adulthood reinforce the traditional Amish beliefs.

Works Cited

Fieldhouse, Paul. Food, Feasts, and Faith. 1st ed. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2017. Print.

Hostetler, John A. Amish Society. 1st ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2005. Print.

Hurst, Charles E., and David L. McConnell. An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community. 1st ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Print.

Kraybill, Donald B, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M Nolt. The Amish. 1st ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. Print.

Kraybill, Donald B. The Riddle of Amish Culture. 1st ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2002. Print.

Shachtman, Tom. Rumspringa: To Be Or Not To Be Amish. 1st ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.

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