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These are not the Amish I know
am 9. August 1999
I hesitate to make negative comments about this and the other books in this series since they have been rated so highly by others. However, I feel obligated to my many Amish friends to set the record straight. I read the Shunning, The Confession and The Reckoning, and was very much disturbed by the way the Amish were treated. In some ways it is evident that the author did a great deal of book research because she has many facts quite right; such as the given and family names of the characters. In other ways it would appear that she has had very little actual contact with real Amish people. My suspicion is that the Amish friends she claims to have are actually X Amish who have a lot of criticism and bitterness toward their people. Lewis judges the Amish by modern Evangelical standards and makes them look like heathens with bones through their noses in need of the Gospel. The Amish do have a different understanding of salvation than do Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, but to say they are not Christian is carrying it too far. Lewis would no doubt also have serious disagreements on theological matters with Catholics, most Lutherans and Pentecostals. There are many factual errors in the Shunning and the other two books in the series. The greatest error in The Shunning is the portrayal of the Amish not being allowed to talk to those who are excommunicated. My Amish friends tell me that they are expected to talk to those in the ban in order to win them back to the church. Lewis somewhat corrects this in the other books to make it look like the silent treatment was the individual pronoucement of one particular bishop. Lewis does not mention the Biblical basis for shunning which she apparently does not understand. Really, I think Katie, the main character, would have been shunned by atheists for the trick she pulled at her wedding! Some other errors include the forbiddance to sing any songs other than those in the Amish hymnal. It is true that the Amish only sing the traditional, ancient hymns at their church services, but on other occasions I have heard the Amish sing many kinds of songs, and "Jesus Loves Me" would not at all be out of order. Also the impression is given that one has to be born Amish in order to be a member of the Amish church. I know of a number of people who have joined the Amish were not raised in the church. It is difficult for an "outsider" to join the Amish, because a lot of commitment is required, but quite possible. I could mention many other things in the books that are not true to Amish life, but I don't want this to get too long. The books are well written and hold the reader's attention, but they are more for entertainment than enlightenment. If you want to know what the Amish are really like, these books are not for you.