Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish

by Joe Mackall | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 9780807010648 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Charly83 of Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on 12/28/2007
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14 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Charly83 from Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Friday, December 28, 2007
Over the years, the author Joe Mackall has developed a steady relationship with the Shetler family. Plain Secrets tells the Shetler's story over these years, using their lives to paint a portrait of Swartzentruber Amish life and mores. During this time, Samuel Shetler's nephew Jonas finally rejects the strictures of the Amish way of life for good, after two failed attempts to leave, and his bright young daughter reaches the end of school for Amish children: the eighth grade. But Plain Secrets is also the story of the unusual friendship between Samuel and Joe. Samuel is quietly bemused - and, one suspects, secretly delighted - at Joe's ignorance of crops and planting, carpentry and cattle. He knows Joe is planning to write a book about the family, and yet he allows him a glimpse of the tensions inside this intensely private community.

Journal Entry 2 by Charly83 at Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It is very interesting to read this book about the Amish. In Europe you have a rather romantic picture of the life of Amish because you have just a few informations about these people. As I learnt even the Americans don't have a closer pricture because they have no chance in getting a closer view. So, I was very curious to lern something about this group of people. I like the way Mackall characterize the Amish family in a sensitive way. He just wrote what he saw and how he felt and thought in that situation. Having a critical eye of a writer and professor helped in creating an authentic report.

Journal Entry 3 by Charly83 at Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Sunday, January 10, 2016
The book will travel as a Ray.

Readers List:
1. litrajunkie
2. nachtkrab13
3.chawoso

Journal Entry 4 by Charly83 at Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (1/15/2016 UTC) at Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany

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The book starts its new journey now. Enjoy it!

Journal Entry 5 by winglitrajunkiewing at Ebermannstadt, Bayern Germany on Thursday, January 21, 2016
The book arrived safe and sound at the packstation yesterday. Thanks for including me in the Ray.

First impression - after reading the introduction - is that this will be a very interesting read.

Journal Entry 6 by winglitrajunkiewing at Pretzfeld, Bayern Germany on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Nowadays, if you hear the term "religious fundamentalism", you'd probably think "Muslim religious fundamentalism". Here is an example of Christian religious fundamentalism, the Amish in general and the very traditional Swarzentruber order in particular as a square peg in the round hole of "English" (i.e. non-Amish) consumerist and secular society.

Like the author, I'm ambivalent. There are several aspects of Amish life that I find very appealing, e.g. their craftsmanship, rejection of gadgetry, non-violence, focus on social integration of the elderly and needy, sustainable farming with traditional methods. On the other hand, there are several aspects of Amish life that I find quite apalling, e.g. their non-sustainable reproduction rate (families with ten children are not unusual), their stifling repression of music, the "Ordnung" (the church-defined list of behavior that is acceptable or not, down to the number and kind of lights on your buggy) that micro-manages the life of each community member. Also, women don't have equal rights (they cannot be ordained).

For me as a German, the book is even more interesting, for the Amish talk an ancient German dialect (Pennsylvania Dutch - if you want a sample, check out Lieder, so deutsch wie der Wilde Westen) among themselves and only converse in English with the outside world. On the other hand, their letters are invariably in English, since Pennsylvania Dutch is a spoken language only - if they'd ask us, we could provide a few German dictionaries ;-) . In my opinion, this has to be taken with a grain of salt, since Pennsylvania native John Updike lets his character Harry Angstrom work at a printing shop that also publishes a newspaper in Pennsylvania Dutch, called "Schokkelstuhl" ("rocking chair", see "Rabbit Redux"). Children don't learn English until they enter school (run by Amish women), thus giving parents a secret language (English) unintelligible to their very young offspring.

In my opinion, both societies could learn from each other, making the "English" world less destructive to the health of the planet (and its own members) and the Amish world a little less stubborn (driving a horse-drawn black buggy without proper lighting at night on public roads also used by modern cars is to me a suicidial project).

Very interesting also the life story of several ex-Amish who have trouble entering the "English" world for lack of documentation.

Journal Entry 7 by winglitrajunkiewing at Bamberg, Bayern Germany on Friday, January 29, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (1/29/2016 UTC) at Bamberg, Bayern Germany

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Book is journeying on to the next reader.

Journal Entry 8 by nachtkrab13 at -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Sachsen Germany on Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Book has arrived- will be read soon.
I have just finished this book. I learnt a lot and it was fascinating to learn about a world which is as different as it could be. A book, which I would never have read, if I weren't a member of the bookcrossing community.
Thank You.

Journal Entry 9 by wingchawosowing at Heusenstamm, Hessen Germany on Sunday, April 10, 2016
Found its way to Hessia some days ago. Thanks, nachtkrab13!

I was interested in that book, because I got in touch with mennonites in Bolivia in 2013. They live near Santa Cruz and you will see them in the city. It was a very special experience. Their life style is similar to the Amish and I found many analogies.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/sep/10/the-mennonites-of-bolivia-in-pictures

Journal Entry 10 by wingchawosowing at Heusenstamm, Hessen Germany on Saturday, May 28, 2016
The ray will continue.
Please, read and send it of within 6 weeks. Thank you ...

Participants:
VintageVanguard, Germany (Int'l)
kiki66, Germany (Int'l)
dschinny and her colleague,Germany (Int'l)
penelopewanders, Switzerland (Europe)
vassilka, Greece(Europe)
Icila, France (Int'l)
Billbooks, Australia (Int'l)
gaboyd, New Zealand (Int'l)
Azuki, USA (Int'l)
Vapermom, Canada (Int'l)

Mankyi, Switzerland (Int'l)
Lindasaurus, Austria

Journal Entry 11 by wingchawosowing at Heusenstamm, Hessen Germany on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (5/31/2016 UTC) at Heusenstamm, Hessen Germany

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... travelling again.

Happy reading!

Journal Entry 12 by VintageVanguard at Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Book arrived today! I'm looking forward to read this ^^

Journal Entry 13 by VintageVanguard at Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (7/19/2016 UTC) at Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany

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Sent it to the next reader ^^ Have fun reading!

Journal Entry 14 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Wednesday, July 20, 2016
and now the book is here!

looking forward to read it - but might be taken with me for a holiday read.
We'll see...

Journal Entry 15 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Monday, August 22, 2016
Finished this during my holidays in France.. now ready to be sent off

I quite liked this book for I have to admit that I do have (had?!) some "romantic" ideas about their way of living. My ever so clever husband wisely said that the Amish might be the people who will easily survive a breakdown of economy.. which kind of looms over the States..
But on the other hand I cannot understand their way of life, behaviour against women, that everything is the will of God.. no vaccination, no safety for the buggies. That is not acceptable for me!
I like the unprejudiced view the author had, the not-judging, but also admitting that he sometimes couldn't understand his friend..
_________________________________________________________________________________

dschinny is on vacation - book will be sent after Sept, 5th!

Journal Entry 16 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Monday, September 05, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (9/5/2016 UTC) at Gauting, Bayern Germany

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On its way to Dschinny - who's hopefully back from her vacation!

Happy Travelling...

Journal Entry 17 by wingdschinnywing at Hamburg, Hamburg Germany on Friday, September 09, 2016
I AM back ;-) and the book arrived safely today. Thank you! Have to finish my current read before I can start with this one though.

Journal Entry 18 by wingdschinnywing at Hamburg, Hamburg Germany on Monday, September 19, 2016
I found the writing a bit confusing because the author jumps a lot between the situations he is describing. But nevertheless it was very interesting to read about the Swartzentruber Amish. I agree with litrajunkie, some aspects of their way of life are very appealing (craftsmenship, self sufficiency, sense of community) while others are incomprehensible (poor education, unsafe behaviour, shunning). It's okay, if this way of life is for you but if not... Especially the poor education to me looks like a method to try and make people stay even against their will as they will not have many chances outside the community. It would be especially hard for women as they don't have the same working skills, the men have. But then, any community where a bunch of old men alone make the rules I find very suspicious...

Will lend the book to my colleague tomorrow who has been to the USA this year and came across Amish people.

27.9.: My colleague already finished it and also found it quite fascinating. Will ask for the next address now.

Journal Entry 19 by wingdschinnywing at -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Hamburg Germany on Sunday, October 02, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (10/4/2016 UTC) at -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Hamburg Germany

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Reist weiter zu penelopewanders.

Journal Entry 20 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Thursday, October 13, 2016
This has arrived safely in the Swiss Alps. I have a few things to read before this, and I will be travelling soon - so I might wait and read and send this from France where so far they have had a very preferential book rate. Thanks so much for making it available, and for sending.

Journal Entry 21 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Wednesday, October 26, 2016
This was an interesting read, offering a closer understanding of a relatively little-known culture for most people. I did find the writing quite repetitive, but I appreciated the read nonetheless. I've read this book in France and am waiting for the next address to send it on. Thanks!

Journal Entry 22 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Beaune-la-Rolande, Centre France on Saturday, October 29, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (10/28/2016 UTC) at Beaune-la-Rolande, Centre France

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This is now making its way from France to Greece. Again, thanks for making the book available. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 23 by vassilka at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece on Thursday, November 10, 2016
It arrived this morning. Thank you penelopewanders for sending it and also for the beautiful post card. Looking forward to reading it!

Journal Entry 24 by vassilka at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece on Monday, November 28, 2016
It was an interesting book. More or less I agree with all the previous readers, I have nothing new to add. People who live in the modern world might find this kind of life romantic and apealing however the rules the Amish and especially the women have to obbey sometimes seem absurd, even mean and they are something I couldn't accept. How can someone stop seeing and talking to their own children for example just because the community asked so? It's heartless.
Anyway, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Journal Entry 25 by vassilka at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece on Monday, November 28, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (11/28/2016 UTC) at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece

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Already travelling to France and icila who is the next reader.

Journal Entry 26 by vassilka at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece on Monday, November 28, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (11/28/2016 UTC) at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece

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Already travelling to France and icila who is the next reader.

Journal Entry 27 by vassilka at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece on Monday, November 28, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (11/28/2016 UTC) at Larissa / Λάρισα, Larisa Greece

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Already travelling to France and icila who is the next reader.

Journal Entry 28 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Saturday, December 10, 2016
Thank you vassilka ! The book was safely waiting for me at home among a few of other book crossing books.
Thank you also for your kind card and the French bookmark, very appreciated.

I wish you a nice end of this year.

Journal Entry 29 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Monday, December 12, 2016
I was very looking forward for this one but I can't say that I learnt much more than in other books about Amish people or other Christian Fundamentalists. The author is very loyal but memories from ex-Amish are more interesting in order to know the day to day life into the homes .

Journal Entry 30 by wingIcilawing at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France on Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Released 2 yrs ago (1/4/2017 UTC) at Nantes, Pays de la Loire France

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On its way ...

Journal Entry 31 by Billbooks at Malvern East, Victoria Australia on Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Just got home from lunch and found this book waiting for me. I have two other bookcrossings books ahead so I better sit down and start reading - many thanks

Journal Entry 32 by Billbooks at Malvern East, Victoria Australia on Saturday, May 20, 2017
Sorry this took so long to read life just got in the way. A great book that was full of insight into a relatively closed community. And it begs the question who is right and who is wrong in the way we live in this modern world. I couldn't live without Bookcrossing , coffee or travel also a comfy bed and chair .... more English than Amish now onto the next reader

Journal Entry 33 by winggaboydwing at Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Received today. Book is in good condition

Journal Entry 34 by winggaboydwing at Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Saturday, September 09, 2017

Released 2 yrs ago (9/9/2017 UTC) at Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand

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Released while at the Post Office, on Friday

Journal Entry 35 by wingAzukiwing at Miami, Florida USA on Thursday, September 21, 2017
This book about American Amish finally made its way to America!!

My fascination with Amish began when I saw some gorgeous photographs at an art fair.
http://www.amishphoto.com/gallery.html

They were so captivating, and I couldn't help wanting to learn more about this mysterious group of people who seems to live in a different time and place than the rest of America. (BTW many of the photos were taken with hidden camera, as Amish does not allow the making of human images.)

A few years ago I visited an Amish cheesemaker in Wisconsin. He comes to work in a buggy, and the milk is stored in nearby farms in wells to keep cold till they are picked up. There are Amish girls working in the factory, measuring exact weight for each container and putting labels on by hand.

This is not the first book I've read about Amish, but I look forward to this.

Journal Entry 36 by wingAzukiwing at Miami, Florida USA on Thursday, October 26, 2017
This is a even-handed, non-sensational account of the author's personal experience with the Amish he knows.

I think the argument is not so much which way is better, but which lifestyle suits that one person better. There will be people who enjoy a more Amish lifestyle: a simpler life that centers on the family and neighborhood, where you can comfortably obey the rules of the society instead of thinking and defending for yourself, where simple hard work fills your day. If Amish were a religion like others, people will drift in and out of it like they do with other religions, trying it on like clothes, wearing it for a while till they find something better... Unfortunately it's a society that doesn't allow newcomers, and makes it hard for members to leave and find a lifestyle more suitable to their characters.

Journal Entry 37 by Vapermom at Trenton, Ontario Canada on Saturday, December 23, 2017
Just received, thank you!

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