I just finished watching The Amish, the new PBS documentary on the Amish. I thought it was very balanced and showed the other side of Amish life we don’t like to talk about; dysfunctional families, especially spousal abuse.
People ask me who Ruth and Luke are in Amish Knitting Circle. Well, they’re a real Amish couple. We met “Luke” when an Amish friend decided to sell us fifteen acres of his land in Western PA. He moved to Marathon, NY and wanted us to have his land and not Luke. Our friend called Luke a bad apple. “You can always find a bad apple in every bushel,” he said.
Well, Luke found out that our friend was selling us his land cheaper than to him, and thought he was in error, preferring us Englishers too much. So there was a big dinner to reconcile differences, but Luke still didn’t see eye to eye with church leadership.
But all this happened for the good. It brought attention to Luke’s wife and seven children. We told the Amish that the children all had rotted teeth and looked hungry. The house was in shambles and asked if they thought this was normal. Luke’s wife looked afraid of him…a lot. I told them I was afraid of him too because he swore at me when we went to look at the property.
So, there were more meetings, and Luke had to apologize to me. After he did, he asked if we wanted to buy his farm that bordered our land. He said he needed to move next to his wife’s parents because she wasn’t happy. I was so glad to hear this, and he genuinely seemed to want to change. We didn’t want his farm, but told him we’d look for others who might.
I know many Amish in Western PA and NY and they read Amish fiction and are very excited about my books based in their areas. As they read Amish Knitting Circle, I hope they see that the church district Luke is in dealt with him in the right way. They didn’t sweep spousal abuse and neglect of his children under the rug. They’re also not opposed to having professional counseling, if needed. And I'm happy to say that "Ruth", Luke's wife, looks so much happier today.
The Amish are a Christian sect, but not so narrow minded as to ask outsiders questions. An Amish friend asked me out of the blue one day, “Why do you think married couples loose love for each other?” I was shocked and asked if she and John were having marital problems. She beamed. “No, I don’t deserve such a gut man. He’s so gut to me.” She must have had someone else on her mind. I told her that Christ loved the church enough to die for it, and a Christian husband is to love his wife in the same way. She nodded and agreed. I also said I believed there were three in a marriage, husband, wife and God. She nodded in agreement again, as if this was a common belief among her church district.
I felt I had to write this blog today after watching The Amish. I'm glad they made it believable and not like something off of Little House on the Prairie. God cares for wounded sparrows, like the Bible says, so how much more a wounded wife or child?