Guest / Limited Access /

It began last night like a tasteless joke: "Knock, knock. Who's there? Oh &*%^$%&! It's the Amish! There goes the party."

The first encounter between the six city kids and the six Amish kids thrown together in the new UPN reality show Amish in the City revealed much more about "us" than about "them": Though there are winsome characters among the city kids, the first and lasting impression they leave is one of superficiality, fixation on sex and appearance, and deep-rooted self-centeredness. Next to these traits, even the ambivalent residue of communal spirit and Godly anchoring evident in the Amish young people has a tremendously appealing gravitas and sweetness.

It is a shame this show won't take us into the community that nurtured these refreshingly "centered" young people.

Those who keep watching this show can expect a far more interesting dynamic than the "let's-see-if-we-can-make-the-innocents-sin" project. That is, we'll continue, as we did in the premiere episode, to see the "city kids" squirm. And we, if we're honest, will likely do a little squirming ourselves. We are challenged by the very presence of the "plain people's" way of life, even in the diluted, transplanted form of searching, conflicted Amish young adults trying to come to grips with what being Amish means and whether they want to "own" that identity.

In the Amish, in other words, we have a highly visible witness of a different way of living.

As a historian watching this show's premiere, having recently traveled to Lancaster County in preparation for our Fall 2004 issue: Strangers and Pilgrims: the Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren in the American Landscape, what struck me most is that these "plain people," whose origins may be found in the 16th-century ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow God Became Jesus—and How I Came to Faith in Him
How God Became Jesus—and How I Came to Faith in Him
Bart Ehrman’s narrative suggests the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe. My life proves otherwise.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickGod's Hot Pursuit of an Armed Bank Robber
God's Hot Pursuit of an Armed Bank Robber
After I surrendered to the FBI, I surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

July 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.