Life Lesson

I’m not religious, and I don’t think religious beliefs are necessary to act in a decent, moral way. That said, we could learn a lot from these people:

Dozens of Amish neighbors came out Saturday to mourn the quiet milkman who killed five of their young girls and wounded five more in a brief, unfathomable rampage.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, was buried in his wife’s family plot behind a small Methodist church, a few miles from the one-room schoolhouse he stormed Monday.

His wife, Marie, and their three small children looked on as Roberts was buried beside the pink, heart-shaped grave of the infant daughter whose death nine years ago apparently haunted him, said Bruce Porter, a fire department chaplain from Colorado who attended the service.

About half of perhaps 75 mourners on hand were Amish.

“It’s the love, the forgiveness, the heartfelt forgiveness they have toward the family. I broke down and cried seeing it displayed,” said Porter, who had come to Pennsylvania to offer what help he could. He said Marie Roberts was also touched.

“She was absolutely deeply moved, by just the love shown,” Porter said.

The Discussion: 15 Comments

In simplicity lies great wisdom, in peace – forgiveness…

October 8, 2006 @ 3:32 pm | Comment

I think the Amish people truly embody the spirit of Jesus Christ, love and forgiveness. We should all learn from them.

October 9, 2006 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

Think about all the stuff we get pissed about from day to day, and then compare it to the losses of this people, and their reaction. Being late to work because of traffic doesn’t seem so bad when the precious daughters of this people are murdered, and they are still able to say “we forgive him”. Wow. Christlike people, truly.

October 9, 2006 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Christlike controlling shits, truly. Just ask my Dad’s grad student, who was ostracized by the Amish for getting an MA in speech therapy. Or the Amish who brought their children with speech defects to my Dad’s clinic in secret because they faced ostracization if they didn’t. Don’t romanticize these people — they know they are on stage, and act accordingly. But when they are not on stage, they act as the controlling 14th century whackjobs they actually are. There’s a reason we had the Enlightenment, and the Amish are part of it.


October 10, 2006 @ 12:16 am | Comment

Okay, that was my coffee-expelling chuckle for this morning…

October 10, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Comment

I’m well aware of the dark side of the Amish. However, insofar as they don’t pose any threat to me or to Planet Earth – quite UNlike most Americans are doing in their f—ing cars, driving the Earth to the edge of the extinction of all life – I have no objection to sharing this planet with the Amish.

In contrast, I DO object to sharing this planet with people who feel entitled to drive automobiles and live in unsustainable suburbs, or entitled to continue building them.

October 10, 2006 @ 4:56 am | Comment

In contrast, I DO object to sharing this planet with people who feel entitled to drive automobiles and live in unsustainable suburbs, or entitled to continue building them.

You mean, fossil fuel-driven automobiles. Autos could be sustainable, if they were driven by fuel cells or electricity. Technological civilization is not inherently unsustainable. Certain technologies are, though.

Okay, that was my coffee-expelling chuckle for this morning…

Sorry, Lisa. I just frickin’ hate parents who sacrifice their children to their own mad need for power and control. My Dad was a speech therapist in Pennsylvania for the last twenty-five years of his life, and has seen all the crap that the Amish mete out to each other.


October 10, 2006 @ 7:58 am | Comment

Michael, no need to apologize – you really did make me laugh!

I know it’s not exactly funny, but what can I say? I have an odd sense of humor at times…

October 10, 2006 @ 8:15 am | Comment

As a p.s., or a clarification…what impressed me was the visible show of support for the widow of the killer, rather than the usual ostracism and baying for blood. I don’t know how much of it is sincere and how much is “just for show,” but I do think there is some measure of sincerity involved. And it seems to me that this was a very grace-full gesture.

I totally believe you (Michael) that there are way less positive aspects to the culture. I always liked the stories about the meth-dealing buggy drivers, personally.

October 10, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

Michael, what you said is only part of the truth. The other essential part is that those other technologies depend ultimately on oil, at least to sustain their present levels of use.

At any rate, Industrial Age Americans have done far more to bring this planet to the edge of extinction than the Amish have done.

October 10, 2006 @ 8:30 am | Comment

The other essential part is that those other technologies depend ultimately on oil, at least to sustain their present levels of use.

That is entirely untrue, Ivan.

At any rate, Industrial Age Americans have done far more to bring this planet to the edge of extinction than the Amish have done.

Amish ARE Industrial Age Americans, Ivan.


October 10, 2006 @ 9:53 am | Comment

There’s a good review of Amish use of modern technology here:

” The Amish have always rejected automobiles. The horse-drawn carriage is so much a symbol of Gelassenheit that the car became instantly incompatible with the Amish lifestyle. The term, “automatic mobility,” suggests a worldliness that is not acceptable to most. However, if the Amish must use an automobile, whether to visit distant relatives, or to travel beyond the range of their horse and buggies, they are allowed to ride in one. The Ordnung specifically points out that the Amish are not allowed to physically operate automobiles. A driver must be hired to take the Amish where they want to go. Many groups rent busses to take them on mass excursions to old meeting houses or cemeteries. The Amish have also been known to use airplanes for long distance travel. As long as they are not operating the machines, they are not breaking the laws of the Ordnung. Even though many Amish travel by automobile and airplane, excessive long distance travel is discouraged. There is a fear that such travel will lead to an eventual separation of the community.

It is surprising to know that the Amish use modern farming equipment. The Ordnung requires all Amish to use horses to pull any equipment while working in the field. Therefore, many Amish have adapted haybalers, sprayers, spreaders, and reapers for use with horses. Also, many modern machines are operated by small internal combustion or steam engines that replace the large engines that would have been needed to propel them. One Amish Bishop is quoted as saying, “if you can pull it with horses, you can have it.”23 Tractors are permissible around the barn to haul things and to operate equipment. Chemical fertilizers and insecticides are also permissible.

There is a common misconception about the Amish opinion of medical technology. The Ordnung actually says nothing about the acceptance of modern medicine. Most Amish have no problem visiting an optometrist for vision correction, seeing a dentist for a semiannual checkup, or going to a local physician for an examination. The Amish usually will not refuse medical treatment for serious illness. They will take modern drugs, and will go to a hospital for surgery. ”


October 10, 2006 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Michael, you know exactly what I mean. Living during the Industrial Age doesn’t mean using its technologies.

Come on.

And I won’t even address how you gainsaid my remark about how all technologies rely heavily on oil, at least at present levels of use. You can’t make energy without investing energy. “Technology” does not produce anything without some initial investment of energy (ie, fuel) into it.

And of course you didn’t address my main point, which is that the Amish way of life haven’t done nearly as much damage to the planet as Industrial Age technology has done. But of course you’ll just jump on even the feeblest excuse to rant about your obsession with Atheism, even if it means bashing a community whose habits – although in some ways as dark as any Humans’ – don’t pose any threat to you or me or Planet Earth.

October 10, 2006 @ 10:00 am | Comment

PS (and long groan), let me clarify something about a common misapprehension that “technology” is sufficient to save us from the oil crisis without making any RADICAL changes in our habits:

THat’s magical thinking. It’s a bootstrap argument. Because, hell just take any
“alternative” technology you like, nuclear, solar, etc:
The infrastructure of such alternative technologies will not just build itself.

In other words, “solar power” doesn’t exist unless and until you actually BUILD the TOOLS to use it. What do you need to built that kind of new infrastructure? (or any) You need fuel. Preferably something more powerful than oxen or human slaves.

We might have just enough of a window of time to build an entirely different infrastructure which does not rely on oil long term. But you’re talking about restructing far more than automobile engines. Hell, even the food you eat relies on oil for its production (not to mention transportation. What are you going to use to replace petroleum-based fertilisers, etc? Solar batteries? HA!

In sum: This really is so basic that it OUGHT to be obvious, but some people just deny the obvious because they prefer to indulge in their own obsessions, or else not to think at all, but here it is again, simply:

Alternative “technology” does not exist in the abstract. You cannot use the hope of alternative energy as a “bootstrap” on which to reconstruct virtually the entire world as we know it – not without making HUGE sacrifice, and pretty damned fast.

In light of which, it’s SOOOOO funny to see Michael Turton, the self-styled “rationalist” indulging so fixatedly on such an unrealistic, superstitious fantasy of how abstract “technology” will save Mankind……

October 10, 2006 @ 10:16 am | Comment

The Amish have great PR.

Here?s a VERY unsettling article from Legal Affairs.

“The Gentle People

“Impressed by their piety, courts have permitted the Amish to live outside the law. But in some places, the group’s ethic of forgive and forget has produced a plague of incest -and let many perpetrators go unpunished.”

October 10, 2006 @ 12:24 pm | Comment

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