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March 18, 2007 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Amish Girls Gone Wild? There is a tradition in Amish communities to allow young adult members to experience the outside world and to decide if they will join the church for life. This Rumspringa period is a time to taste the forbidden fruit of beer, cell phones and dancing. It has spawned a movie and book and I find personally fascinating.
posted by UseyurBrain (36 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
...time to taste the forbidden fruit of beer, cell phones and dancing.

Don't forget crystal meth.
posted by item at 4:16 PM on March 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love to springa.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2007


It has spawned a movie and book

and... Reality TV.
posted by CKmtl at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2007


i am also facinated by this.
posted by nadawi at 4:40 PM on March 18, 2007


Same here nadawi.
posted by sperose at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2007


Crazy, backwards, insular religion cramps style: News at Eleven!
posted by stenseng at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2007


"These kids will get in their buggies and pass out and just let the horses head home on their own."

People. This is what we have been working towards for so long. This is the car of the future!

"But the horses will go right through an intersection."

Okay... once we teach them about red lights and stop signs.
posted by whatnotever at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Byler walks up to a Yank and makes her an offer -- there's a group of Amish guys who all need rides; they're willing to pay $40 a head.

Wow. You could get about 40 miles into Westchester from Manhattan in a NYC taxi (if you found a willing driver) at that sort of price. Bars must be pretty sparse in the Amish country.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2007


I've always found the Rumspringa phenomenon fascinating. Saw the movie. Riveting. What if the same thing happened in the tightly-wound world of the Christian fundamentalists in America? Or the burkha-bound world of some Muslim worlds?

Ain't gonna happen...one reason being that the two cultures deal - fundie vs. relaxed - aren't so clearly drawn as is the case with the Amish.

As far as I know, a worldwidely unique cultural event.
posted by kozad at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2007


My brother lives in Amish territory, and those buggies dump a lot of beer cans and spent boom-box batteries.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:01 PM on March 18, 2007


But the younger kids are pretty untouched. His neighbors brought a 7 year old kid to the house party, walking in the door he pointed at the speaker that was fairly blasting and asked "what's that?" Thinking he was pointed at the poster of a fish just past it someone answered "a fish." He proceeded to tell the other kids that my brother put fish in boxes and that's what made the noise.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:05 PM on March 18, 2007


It has spawned a movie and book and Reality TV

Possible title: A*M*I*S*H
posted by fandango_matt at 6:14 PM on March 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I watched the NPR special on this in Sociology class last year, and found it really fascinating. However, I think the high retention rate of Amish youth after the Rumspringa period is partially due to the unrealistic view of "the outside world" that they get during their period of freedom.

While they may think they're living the "normal lives" of non-Amish teens, what they're really getting is a non-stop drinking party with no rules and no limits. Which, call me crazy, isn't exactly what it's like to be a non-Amish.

But yeah, this stuff is pretty interesting nonetheless.
posted by Zephyrial at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2007


what they're really getting is a non-stop drinking party with no rules and no limits. Which, call me crazy, isn't exactly what it's like to be a non-Amish.

Did you go to college? Was it somehow unlike mine?
posted by dame at 6:26 PM on March 18, 2007


This reminds me of what a lot of fundie kids I grew up with would do. You go out looking for trouble , and low and behold you need Jesus after all.
posted by nola at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2007


Zehphryial has a point, jokes about college aside. I think part of the purpose of Rumspringa must be to scare them just a little bit - the relative out-of-controlness of it all after a lifetime of regulation etc.
posted by Zinger at 6:38 PM on March 18, 2007


It wasn't a joke. In college we got totally wasted all the time with no repurcussions. Hell, the city cops ignored us as long as we were on campus.
posted by dame at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2007


this thread is worthless without linotypes.
posted by spiderwire at 6:50 PM on March 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


The Amish are the direct descendants of the Anabaptists, of the Radical Reformation. For an account of the infamous Munster Rebellion this is pretty entertaining:
Overcome by religious ecstasy, he ran naked through the streets, foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues, before collapsing into a three-day coma. After he recovered, he called the people together to tell them that God had revealed the new order to him. He announced that the Old Testament mandated polygamy, and proceeded to execute anyone who did not agree. Furthermore, marriage was made compulsory for women, although divorce was allowed for men, and the marriage ceremony itself was abolished. Marriage could now be accomplished by simply telling a woman to marry you, and moving her into your house. Since domestic discord was punishable by death, the women were not likely to complain.
It was the Anabaptist "Waco".
posted by stbalbach at 6:54 PM on March 18, 2007


The perv in me that is attracted to Catholic School Girls wants to track down some of these chicks.

The pragmatist in me just knows that the boosh would be massive and unkempt...possibly home to a family of Robins.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:11 PM on March 18, 2007


The pragmatist in me just knows that the boosh would be massive and unkempt...possibly home to a family of Robins.

Nope, that's also the perv.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:26 PM on March 18, 2007


Overcome by religious ecstasy, he ran naked through the streets, foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues, before collapsing into a three-day coma. After he recovered, he called the people together to tell them that God had revealed the new order to him. He announced that the Old Testament mandated polygamy, and proceeded to execute anyone who did not agree.

We are supposed to respect organized religion, yet if their founders were around in 2007 almost all of them would be in mental institutions or jail (see Warren Jeffs).
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2007


Nope, that's also the perv.

Im a pervmatist.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2007


the boosh would be massive and unkempt

So there is something going for this religion thing after all. Hm.
posted by maxwelton at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2007


as long as it's not burning, it's fine with me.
posted by spiderwire at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2007


The high retention rate is because some (many?) of the families tell the children if they "go Yank" or whatever, that they are dead to them and they can never contact the family again.

Even in the linked article, the girl said that if she stayed outside, she'd never be able to talk to her sisters again.

That's what makes these seemingly harmless "communities" quite oppressive indeed.

as long as it's not burning, it's fine with me.

What have you got against redheads?
posted by Ynoxas at 8:31 PM on March 18, 2007


That's what makes these seemingly harmless "communities" quite oppressive indeed.

I'm not sure that constitutes "oppressive." The same things happen in the general society. If you decide to stop working, do drugs, and live a druggie lifestyle, most likely you will not be allowed in the homes of many people, especially if they have children.

Oppression implies a lack of choice. It is understandable (although not always agreeable) why families would do that. Values and lifestyles are mutable traits, people choose them (no matter how they originate, they are a choice). Even in progressive communities, shunning happens. I can only imagine what the new convert to Christianity of a more traditional stripe must feel in San Francisco, or how he can relate to old friends who lived a lifestyle incompatible with his values.

Okay, friendship and family are important, but what are people supposed to talk about after they have shunned the family/community, and live a lifestyle that they oppose?

It would be oppressive if they called for death/imprisonment, etc. It would be oppressive if they government was involved. The Amish are just choosing whom to associate with. We all do it.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:48 PM on March 18, 2007


I don't think its fascinating, I think its revolting. Essentially the deal is letting high school age kids loose into a world they have little experience with, with no money, few outside connections, and watching them fuck up their lives so badly that the only place they can seek refuge is their amish communities. Toss in the social pressure to come back and the natural love for one's family and this seems like the most cynical expression of 'freedom' one can think of.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:20 PM on March 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


i agree with damn dirty ape;

I don't think rumpsringa is an attempt to give teens a fair and accurate portrayal of the outside world. I actually think that rumspringa is a manipulative tool to make them afraid of the progressive world.
Even normal kids like us who go out and drink, smoke, etc on weekends come home and sleep in good beds, and most of us know that if we have a science exam on monday, it wouldn't be a great idea to wake up with a hangover. So we have our limits and we have our family to support us, and we experience the stricter aspects of progressive life, but in all it's very different from what these amish kids experience during rumspringa.
posted by alona at 11:15 PM on March 18, 2007


Seconding damn dirty ape and alona:

I remember watching the movie and being shocked that part of Amish tradition involved parents allowing their children to share a bed with their girlfriend/boyfriend when they were old enough to experience rumspringa (not ALL the teens moved out of their parents' homes). What do you want to bet that these sleepovers, coupled with an ignorance of birth control, probably lead to a lot of teen pregnancies? And where on earth are they going to turn for support once the girl is pregnant? Back to their Amish families, of course.

Most kids probably wouldn't need a pregnancy to force the issue, mind you. The idea of being cut off from their family, friends, and community they've grown up in would probably be enough to get them to "choose" the Amish way of life. That probably explains why so many of them do.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:23 AM on March 19, 2007


When all the oil runs out, the Amish will rule. Seriously, odd though they may be, I find it a comfort that they can do as they do, and keep their ways. But I'm decended from anabaptists, from old Bucks County PA stock.
posted by Goofyy at 2:27 AM on March 19, 2007


When all the oil runs out, the Amish will rule.

When all the oil runs out, the Amish will be kept as slaves by Philadelphians with guns and boards with nails through them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:59 AM on March 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


When Tina was 20, she considered joining the church, but quickly realized it wasn't for her. "I had to promise in front of the whole church that I'd never go to parties again," she says. "And I was like, uh, I'm 20 years old -- I'm still going to go to parties. I like going to parties. I just like being around people and talking with them."

Tina decided to stretch out her rumspringa for as long as she could. Since there is no cutoff age, she plans to join the church when she's either sick of partying or tired of being nagged by her parents. "I'm sure I'll be done with parties before I'm 30."


You can stretch it out as long as you'd like? Crazy.
posted by delmoi at 7:19 AM on March 19, 2007


Intresting story.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 AM on March 19, 2007


It sounds like the equivalent of a parent locking their kid in a closet with a carton of cigarettes and not letting them out until they smoke them all.
posted by tadellin at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2007


Good way to solve that inbreeding problem.
posted by jamjam at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2007


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