Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why I'm not Mennonite.

Limiting your exposure.

There seems to be quite an interest in the Amish/Mennonite, and I have been asked previously to expand on my time with the Mennonite church, so here are some of my thoughts.  Please note...they are only my thoughts, feelings and observations I am sharing and I am in no way wanting to cast aspersion on those who are of the Anabaptist faith.

The Mennonite are part of the Anabaptist faith, along with the Amish and Hutterite.

The Amish/Mennonite limit their exposure to the world, and if you've grown up with that mindset, it's not so difficult to maintain.  It's like a quote I read recently "Getting a taste of what you long for is usually more painful than just going hungry".   Once you have tasted the world (as many of us have) it's more difficult (for me at least) to 'straight jacket' my mind.

Not all things of the world are bad or to be avoided, but in going from Englisher to Amish (or in my case Mennonite), it wasn't the restrictions of lifestyle that I found so difficult, but restrictions on my mind and what/ how I should think.

I already live quite a simple life, but my mind is far from simple - always thinking, asking questions, searching, reasoning - and those activities are not encouraged in the Mennonite church - at least in the conservative ones.  Even biblical discussions/debates are not encouraged.  This is what I found most difficult, and one of the main reasons I felt I could not continue with them. 

The restrictive lifestyle - although I did not feel it was necessary to the degree their church rules/guidelines advocated (no TV, no Internet, no musical instruments, one standard of dress/head covering) I could (reluctantly) accept.  But the difficulty was that my mind would not (could not) submit to the intellectual restrictions.

I am drawn to the Mennonite faith/lifestyle, and when the world gets too much, or my mind/thoughts overwhelm me, I go back to it....in my head.  I read/think/act (by limiting 'the world' into my world) Mennonite.  It calms, refocuses and settles me.  But I can't stay there - my mind wants to explore too many avenues/options...not of other faiths (although I do find them interesting), but within the parameters of Christianity.

But after 'retreating' into the Anabaptist confines, I am then ready to face the world again with a more balanced, simple, re-centred outlook.

I really appreciate my time with, and  opportunity to be part of, the Mennonite church here in Deloraine.  They are lovely people and dear friends, but they have all grown up Mennonite (having come from Canada to establish a church here).  They have had some Australians come and go, and have some Australian families with young children fellowshipping with them at the moment.  But will they stay and join?  I hope so.

I can understand and appreciate their mindset, but I personally find it difficult to live it on a permanent basis.

Make of this what you will.


  1. Lynda,

    Such a good post. And, I totally agree with you. Living amongst a large Amish and conservative Mennonite community in NE Indiana, and knowing a number of Amish, I can attest too that it is a culture as much as a Christian denomination. It would be very challenging to adapt fully and totally.
    However, that said, there are many Mennonite denominations that are much more liberal and you really cannot tell a difference between their members and members of other denominations.

    And I can tell you there are many Amish who live the lifestyle but are not really religious they just live the Amish lifestyle because that is what they know.
    I believe in general that the conservative Mennonites take their Christian walk much more seriously and are what they seem, it is not quite so with the Amish.


  2. Hi Bean - thankyou for your comments.

    I have not had direct exposure to the Amish as there are none here. I do know there are very liberal Mennonite groups, or ones who attest to having Mennonite roots (Willingdon Church in Vancouver Canada being one I know of).

    So I can only really comment on my connection with the Mennonite church here, and yes...I would agree with you that they (at least this group here) do take their Christian walk seriously and I would say that, from what I have observed and read of other Mennonite groups, that they are the most biblical/Jesus followers that I know.

    PS - am working on a letter to you this morning :) xx

  3. Thank you Lynda - so interesting; and touches most helpfully upon the way each cultural expression of Christian faith and discipleship can offer enrichment, help and support for all the others. xx

    1. Hi Pen - thanks for visiting and your comments. xx

  4. A very interesting post. I have been intrigued by the Amish for a long time (a short story I wrote on the subject called "A Simple Life" is on my blog in case you're interested). For a few years we lived not far from an Amish settlement, but I've never had much contact at all with Mennonites. I agree with you that the idea of withdrawing from the world and living a simpler life is very attractive, and for good reason. But like you I wouldn't be able to tolerate the mental restrictions. Thanks for writing about this.

    1. Hello Christine,

      Thankyou for reading and commenting.

      I am very interested in your Simple Life post...will search it out and read. xx