HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Our Amish Values: Who We Are and What We Believe
Author: Lester Beachy
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers, republished in 2015
Related website: https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Beachy, Lester. Our Amish Values: Who We Are and What We Believe (published in 2013 by Carlisle Printing of Walnut Creek Ltd., Sugarcreek, OH 44681). Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am not Amish, and there are certain areas of religious doctrine in which I would have some major theological disagreements with the Amish. However, I still respect and admire the Amish because I too understand from personal experience the cost involved and the effort required in not being conformed to this world. Back in June of this year, my wife, younger son, and I took a trip to northeast Ohio and visited the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, where I picked up this book. Our tour guide for the Center’s Behalt, a cyclorama showing the history of the Anabaptist Movement, was the author of this book, Lester Beachy. Our Amish Values, with its 64-pages of delightful, calendar-style color photographs and brief A-to-Z articles, is a perfect introduction to the unassuming beauty of Amish culture, providing a concise overview of Amish practices and firsthand answers to visitors’ most frequently asked questions.
In the Introduction, Beachy writes, “Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect information in some books that have been written about us. That is one reason for this book. I have covered a broad field and hope I have done justice in representing the Amish.” For example, in explaining why the Amish use buggies, he says, “We do not believe the automobile is wrong in itself—it is the fast-paced lifestyle that we wish to avoid. By refraining from ownership of the car, we endeavor to live a more slow-paced life.” There are, of course, church-related beliefs and practices with which many will disagree, such as the Amish interpretation of non-resistance and the doctrine of inherited sin. However, in general the book is written in an easy style and will be very interesting to anyone who wants to know more about the Amish.
What do the Amish really believe? Why do they live as they do, maintaining the unique clothing, use of buggies, and low-tech lifestyle? How have Amish communities changed over the years? Do most Amish men still work on farms? How do dating and engagement work? What are Amish church services like? Holmes County in Ohio is the largest Amish community in the world. Beachy, brought up in the Amish Church, joined the church as a youth by making the baptismal vows and being baptized and remains a longtime member of northeast Ohio’s diverse Amish community. He has been married to his wife Ruby for thirty-two years and has five daughters. This book, originally published privately, has recently been republished as part of Harvest House’s series on “Plain Living.”