amish two

The Amish, two



tend order (3) dominoes
shun worldly established
vehicle influence put away
chore apparent old-fashioned
rather assume global warming
allow leather hand down
vary sufficient determine
grid turbine solar power
land last (2) complicated
bug plain (2) self-sufficient
buggy bring up confused
doom ground carpenter
subtle consider generation
avoid refuse trappings
bonnet zip (2) mains electricity






Newscaster: For centuries America’s Amish communities have avoided the trappings of the modern world. Nowadays many of them refuse to drive or use mains electricity. And they often dress as if they had stepped out of a Jane Austen novel with bonnets and simple suits with buttons and not zips.

Many refuse to be filmed or photographed.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

I am visiting some of my new American friends. I met Elam and his wife Rachel on a train down to Texas. We played dominoes together.

And then to my surprise, they invited me to come and visit them at their farm in Indiana. It is very unusual for non-Amish people to be invited into this famously closed community.

Journalist: “Can I help? Although I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not great with horses.”
Elam Graber: “Oh these bite. But other than that they….”

Elam and his family are Old Order Amish.

Journalist: “You’ve got six brothers but four twins? Wow.”

They also tend to shun modern people like me, who they describe as worldly and consider a bad influence on their community.

Elam: “A lot of people that didn’t grow up with it couldn’t live this way.
Journalist: “It’s too hard.”
Elam: “If they were born and raised like we were, they could live with it.”
Journalist: “So what’s the hardest thing then?”
Elam: “The hardest thing is what causes global warming, the vehicles. They can’t put that vehicle away and that television away and put that electricity away and live and old-fashioned-style life.”

Just how much Amish lifestyles have changed becomes clear in Elam’s home. Rachel still lights the gas lamps, but they have mains electricity too. And ice.

But no television or radio.

They won’t let me help with the washing up, but they do say I can help with the chores in the morning.

Elam’s youngest daughter Leah shows me where I’ll be sleeping.

When I get to chatting to Leah, it becomes apparent that the family has changed rather more than I’d thought. I’d assumed that she was Amish too.

Journalist: “But you’re Amish aren’t you?”
Leah: “No.”
Journalist: “What are you?”
Leah: “I’m just Christian. My lord is Jesus.”
Journalist: “And how do your mom and dad feel about that?”
Leah: “They like it that I’m willing to work.”
Journalist: “But all your brothers and sisters are Amish, aren’t they?”
Leah: “One is.”
Journalist: “Only one?”
Leah: “The one you met on the road down there? She is, but none of the others are.”

Elam’s eldest son Chris, isn’t Amish either. He runs a leather-working business using tools handed down through the family.

Chris: “My grandfather bought that machine in the 1920s from a big manufacturing company.”

I’m confused. There’s main electricity in the house, machines in here that have been used by the Amish for 80 years.

Now rules vary between Amish communities, but how do they determine what is allowed and what isn’t?

Chris: “Where does it begin and end? Well if it didn’t take gasoline to run it, that was okay.
Journalist: “And electricity as well?”

Chris: “Yeah that why the Amish here support turbines, solar power, battery packs.”
Journalist: “You can have a battery, but you can’t have hook it up to the grid?”
Chris: “Amen!”
Journalist: “It’s subtle. It’s complicated.”
Chris: “A lot of it is being dependent on The World.”

But it seems that here in Indiana, the Amish community is getting much more dependent on what Chris calls “The World”.

His father believes the Amish are changing for two reasons: the price of land and because of their large families.

Elam does have a selection of traditional Amish buggies, but he prefers to ride in this: it’s more like an an Amish bus.

Because the Amish depend on horses for transport, they need to live close to each other.

We’ve come to see Elam’s friend, Dave . . . Oh dear.

Dave is also a keen horseman.

Because Amish families have an average of six children and with land is so expensive, it’s just not possible to be self-sufficient anymore.

Many Amish have had to get jobs out in The World.

Elam says that’s why there won’t be any plain people like him left.

Elam: “I was brought up on a farm. EVERYONE farmed when I was a little kid. There were no factory workers.

Now the younger generation, younger than me works in a factory. Or works carpentry work or works away from home.

And that’s what’s it’s bringing the rest of us down. They own their own vehicles now because they work out every day. And they have some Mexican driving for them.

And that’s why we’re not going to last. That’s the biggest reason for change, the price of ground.”

He believes the Amish way of life is doomed.

Elam: “Plain life, the simple life is just not possible anymore. It’s the established people that’s going to last. And when the young generation comes along, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

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1. Is it normal or unusual for the Amish to invite outsiders to their homes?

2. The Amish drive cars, watch TV and use electricity. True or false?

3. Can outsiders easily adapt to the traditional Amish lifestyle? Why is it hard for outsiders to live an Amish lifestyle?

4. Amish people wear suits and ties, jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. Is this right or wrong?

5. Do the Amish only do farmwork?

6. Are Amish families small, medium-sized or large? Do they have lots of children?

7. Elam thinks that the traditional Amish way of life will last forever. Is this correct or wrong? Why is it changing?
A. Are there people who live like the Amish in your country?

B. I (or my friend) want to live like the Amish. Yes or no?

C. What are the advantages and disadvantages of an Amish lifestyle?

D. Can ordinary people learn something from the Amish? Can the Amish teach others a lesson in life?

E. Some modern, city people would like to live like the Amish. What do you think?

F. Nobody, not even the Amish, can resist or withstand globalization. Do you agree? What will happen in the future?

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