There is a big place in my heart for the Amish people, which has nothing to do with their direct religious belief and their rules, but rather about how this translates into their simple lives, and their relationship to the land. I connect with that more than our explosive entertainment culture, constant distractions, and self-importance. And so, any time I see a decent-looking Amish documentary online, I pull up the ironing board and watch in fascination. Tonight I watched The Amish: Shunned...Your Freedom or Your Family, which takes a close look at the shunned Amish who, as one of them expresses, is "lost between cultures."
The title of this post, The Loudest Silence I Have Ever Heard, is a quote from a shunned former Amish woman who attended her father's funeral (typically not permitted for people who leave the community) and how powerful the silence was when she and her non-Amish husband passed by the open coffin with more than 400 Amish looking on. This woman, and others featured in the film, plays a role in the periphery of the community by taking in younger Amish people who leave their families and need a place to stay and a surrogate parent. Early on in the documentary she comments on how the Amish do not permit to have pictures taken of them and how hard it is for our culture to comprehend what it means to only have mental pictures of your loved ones.
One of the ex-Amish featured in this film is a young woman who felt it was God's calling for her to become a nurse. She comments that while putting herself through college to become a nurse makes her a good daughter/person in our culture, it led to her own shunning from the Amish community.
One thing I have found interesting about a lot of the ex-Amish I have seen in such documentaries is that they remain quite religious. They want to know more about Christianity and to interpret the Bible on their own. They question the Amish rules, not the foundation of the faith.
From a media perspective, I think they have a unique understanding of worldly media. Is our abundance of images of each other more important than a good mental picture? While I certainly appreciate such documentaries who is the real audience?
Watch the full documentary here: