Originally uploaded by Aunt Owwee
Saturday was a bright cold day here in mid-Michigan, with rain predicted for Sunday. Aha, I thought to myself, I should visit Amish country in the winter, before the roads became mired in mud. Amazingly, the roads were much better than they were in Lansing, where I used to live. They were evenly plowed and well packed, without being icy.
There is a little Amish gift shop on one of the back roads. I stopped there and browsed for awhile. I ended up with a book and a bonnet for Marlene, my mother's childhood doll that lives with me now.
One of the books I perused as I shopped (okay, it's a very ingrained habit of mine) was about some of the Amish ways. One of the questions was about telephone usage. It turns out that while the Amish won't have phones in their homes, they will often band together to have one in the area, in a little phone shack that they all share.
Apparently, Amish dictates aren't decided by an "ask first" mentality. When phones first came in in the '20s, they were used by the Amish. However, according to lore, a woman heard other women gossiping about her on a party line, and brought the matter to the bishop. The bishops meet to decide where the line on modern conveniences should be drawn. They decided at that time that the phone was a detriment to family life, and that it threatened their way of meeting "face-to-face" and visiting with family. Hence, the ban for phones within homes.
Cell phones are now an issue. Howard Rheingold, gives us an interesting look into the structures and reasoning of this religious sect in this article.