Friday, October 07, 2005


So here we are in the famed Intercourse, PA... had dinner this evening in neighboring Bird-In-Hand. We went over to Strasburg to the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater for a performance of the production Ruth, which was entertaining but a little hokey and had the flavor of a Billy Graham crusade. I love the story of Ruth in the Bible and think her encounter with Boaz, engineered by her mother-in-law Naomi, is one of the funniest get-togethers ever put together in words. The play did do a good job with that but omitted Boaz's capper, "The Lord bless you! This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier!" (Ruth 3:10) Which, loosely paraphrased, is "Thank you God! This girl is even better than I would have thought!"
The area is riddled with tour buses. We see gaggles of tourists everywhere taking pictures of farmhouses and barns. A sign advertises "Genuine Amish Experience." A group of cabins boasts "Amish Village Tours."
You can't have "Genuine Amish Experience" by hitching a buggy ride. And the Amish don't live in villages. Hutterites do, but Amish don't.
I object to folks driving around gawking at the Amish as if they were zoo animals.
I object to the exploitation of their way of life and belief system as a curiosity. To be sure, a whole bunch of the gift shops are Amish-owned and run. But they exude an aura of stewardship and humility. They don't blatantly advertise themselves.
I felt like kicking myself when I was out biking just as the schools were letting out (there's a school every few miles), and wished I had my camera with me to catch the kids with their long dresses and baggy pants and bonnets and straw hats carrying, not traditional school lunch boxes, but Playmate coolers. And riding bikes. I would have loved to have a shot of a group of a dozen Amish boys and girls riding their bikes home from school.
See? I want a picture of the cute Amish kids carrying coolers and burning up the road on their bikes. I'm doing it too.

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