Postings on this blog generally don’t get much response, but I’d really like to hear from some of you because I need some help with a big question.
How would you respond if you passed a crime scene and saw an Amish man or woman surrounded by cops in handcuffs on the curb, or if you saw a story about a horrendous criminal act and discovered that the perp was Amish? It would likely be jolting—totally unexpected. But why? The Amish are certainly human, and humans have a tendency to make really bad choices. Why, then, are they far less inclined to make stupid and hurtful choices?
One of the major reasons has to be that Amish culture nurtures a set of values that makes activities like assault, murder, rape, and (perhaps for more obvious reasons) grand theft auto almost unthinkable to the members embraced within that community.
So here’s my question. How do we create an APU community that shapes us in ways that make certain very human, very common, and very destructive activities almost unimaginable to us? How do we get to the point that plagiarism or cheating never even cross our mind, or instances of broken commitments and dishonesty are shocking because we can’t remember the last time we experienced it? What would it look like if it became second nature (or a renewed nature) for our community members to love even the most annoying and grimy people around us?
The Amish have done a commendable job of birthing and sustaining a culture that nurtures some pretty healthy values. That’s a tough thing to do. However, what I’m thinking about is even tougher because it requires us to grow a Christian counterculture, not by moving out and creating separate communes, but while living smack dab in the middle of a culture that promotes very different values.
We have spent a lot of time this year talking about APU’s values and ethos. That’s a great discussion, if we take it as an opportunity to talk about how we might grow toward an ideal that makes us stand out like the Amish in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Or like light in the middle of the darkness. How do we get there?