My Amish Reality: A Kinder, Gentler World
When people learn that I write Amish inspirational romances, their first response is: “Like those reality shows on television?” Not quite. Have you ever see a reality show about the Amish that is either inspirational or romantic? Exactly.
Since authenticity is important to me, I find it surprising that Amish society, which does not allow photography, is now featured in high-def. One of the basic rules of Amish life is that Plain folk avoid being photographed, following the Bible’s disapproval of “graven images.” So how do Amish people have starring roles in these shows? I can’t explain the adults, but most of the young people on the shows – ages sixteen to twenty-two – are in their rumspringa, and are not yet bound by the rules of the church. Rumspringa is a period during which Amish parents traditionally look the other way while their kids get a little crazy in search of an Amish mate. The theory is that they’ll sew their wild oats, fall in love, and then become members of the church. Most Amish youth return to the fold, though a few make their way in the outside world.
When producer Jon Kroll began filming Amish in the City in 2004, there was an outcry that engaged a few members of Congress, who claimed that the show was disrespectful to the Amish. A summer hit, the show put urban, non-Amish youth together with Amish teens who were on the fence about joining their church. Kroll is proud of the show, which he believes revealed the Amish teens to be kind and considerate, in contrast to the rude, obnoxious English youth in the cast.
Watching the train wreck of Plain folk thrown into a world lacking in moral scruples can be an unsettling experience. Instead, I retreat to the Lancaster County town of Halfway, an animated, civil (if fictitious) world where Amish and English come together to help each other solve problems, find a sense of belonging, cherish family and make the world a better place. Of course, every book needs conflict, and the characters in my October release, A Simple Faith, are faced with a terrible tragedy as the van they are traveling in is involved in a deadly collision. Lives are changed by this sad event, and yet the people of Halfway provide the loving, respectful support that we all need to turn tragedy to transformation.
So, no, my books are not like those reality shows. I prefer to slip away to a kinder, gentler reality of Elsie, Ruben, Rachel and James in Halfway, Pennsylvania. The clip-clop of horses’ hooves, the smell of baking pie and the kindness of strangers – that’s my Amish reality.
Preorder A Simple Faith here.
Rosalind Lauer is the author of A Simple Winter, A Simple Spring, A Simple Autumn, A Simple Faith, and the novella A Simple Crossroads. She grew up in a large family in Maryland and began visiting Lancaster County’s Amish community as a child. Lauer attended Wagner College in New York City and worked as an editor for Simon & Schuster and Harlequin Books. She now lives with her family in Oregon, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees.