Why Nancy Sleeth Wants You to Be a Bit More Amish
Nancy Sleeth wants all of us to think about becoming a little more Amish. And then she wants us to act.
Sleeth, who cofounded the creation-care organization Blessed Earth with her husband, Matthew, isn't advocating that we sell the family car in order to buy a horse and buggy. Sleeth lives in a small urban townhome, drives a Prius, owns a computer and cell phone, and does her farming in a community garden plot.
But in her new book, Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, More Sustainable Life (Tyndale), Sleeth does invite readers to rethink their choices through the lens of simplicity, intentionality, and careful stewardship. The readable, gently provocative volume combines observations about the values that shape the Amish lifestyle, scriptural support for the Amish-style values that Sleeth's family has come to embrace, and plenty of anecdotes showing readers how these values were integrated into their lives over time.
When she was in her early 40s, Sleeth came to faith in Christ along with her husband Matthew, an emergency room physician, and their two preteen children. Energized by their faith, the deep concern about the state of the decaying world around them led the family to make significant lifestyle changes. They gave away half of their possessions and moved to a home the size of their old garage. They reduced their energy usage by two-thirds, discovering a deep sense of family unity and purpose in the process.
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Sleeth (also the author of Go Green, Save Green) about the message of Almost Amish.
Your ministry and the book encourage Christians to become intentional about simplifying in every area of life. Who is the audience for this message?
The majority of the e-mails and workshop and retreat requests we receive are from 25- to 60-year-old women. A lot of them are mothers, and they care very deeply about the future of their children and this planet. They sense that our lives have gotten crazy. The hours the average couple works has increased significantly over the past half-century. With the increase in technology, we're expected to be working all the time. Where does the time come from to care for family, our homes, and our relationship with God?
I think a lot of women sense we're not heading in a good direction. We're not advocating that everyone becomes Amish, but maybe we need to incorporate some Amish answers.
Some of the solutions you advocate include viewing technology as a tool instead of a master, buying local, and living into the conviction that true community is built upon surrender and submission. Those solutions look very different in non-Amish context, don't they?
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