Saturday, June 25, 2011

Amish Fiction

I enjoy Amish fiction as much as the next woman. The rural settings remind me of my life in the country as a child. One I did not appreciate at the time the way I should have. have a little place out in bean and corn country of the midwest with a few chickens, cats and dogs galore, and whatever else happened along our sprawling acreage. At least I can visit. I still have relatives living close to the old homeplace. I have precious pictures and heartfelt memories.I believe this relaxing and slow paced lifestyle is of great appeal to those of us city-dwellers across the country. Those who miss it and those who never truly experienced it.

The Amish way of life is "attractive" to many. Although living it every day would be a completely different story. Can you truly image living with no electricity, not owning a car, having church in your home IN GERMAN, dressing plain, not listening to recordings, not owning a computer or any phone, never having a picture of your family members (especially of those who have passed on), being shunned, and the many other bans and rules of the community?

Of course, there are many different types of Amish and Mennonite communities. Just as there are multiple types of Baptist churches or Presbyterian churches. Each Amish/Mennonite community has its own guidelines and lifestyles.

Rosanna of the Amish by Joseph W. Yoder is a very readable biography about a young lady who is adopted by an Amish couple. Written before 1950 there are a few different releases of this book. I like the 1973 release by Herald Press. It has a fairly authentic Amish cover.  Although Mr. Yoder eventually joined the Menonnite church, he does speak with the authority of one who lived in the community for many years. (He also wrote a sequel called Rosanna's Boys, which is a bit more about doctrine and practices.)

This particular book skillfully weaves the reasons behind Amish practices and doctrines into the story of Rosanna. Rather than reading A History of the Amish by Steven M. Nolt, this would probably be more enjoyable and helpful to you if you like to read the current Amish Fiction that is SO plentiful right now. There are some very subtle doctrinal problems with the Amish view of salvation that one should be aware of before thinking that it is a pure Christian religion. Although I believe there probably are some sincere Christian people within the community, I'm afraid there are many or even most who are not. Don't get me wrong. I truly have an affinity for the Amish. I want to see them possess genuine faith in Christ as their personal Savior. In 2005 we visited a community near Louisiana, Missouri. We drove passed many breathtaking farms, rolling hills, and saw families and children finishing chores and playing. 

Because there is a glut of fiction about the community, I think it behooves us to know a little more about it so that we judge its authenticity and the message that is presenting.

The words of my blog title, Reading Heavenward, is a true passion for me. I don't want to waste my time reading less than the best literature out there. I want to know that what I've taken in will help me, educate me, uplift me, challenge me, encourage me, or entertain me, and still draw me close to the One who gave Himself for me.

Psalm 27:11
"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain [straight] path because of mine enemies."


Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Gave It a Try

A friend suggest I read a book by a certain author new to me. I usually look forward to these things, but even after reserving it from the library and bringing it home I hesitated to get started. I figured, "It's just because I have so many other things I want to read." Finally I finished the one I had been working on, and sat down to give this new one a go. Interesting...good style...different...oooh...WHOA...too different! I paused. Was I being too critical? I was reading about war and imprisonment, and, though these things happen, did I really want to read this? I've read Foxes' Book of Martyrs and other martyr stories, but this just didn't seem the same. There was no Christian message, and I'm sure that gave the story a hopeless quality.

What was the problem? Maybe I felt like I was disappointing a friend. She isn't a close friend and will probably never ask me if I read the book. So I closed it, and thought I don't need to read this. It's not that I don't want to read something weighty. I just finished Like Always by Robert Elmer about a woman dying of Leukemia. That other book just wasn't for me. It didn't seem good for me.

Of course, I had to do some other reading after that. Can't end the evening that way! So I retrieved my devotional book, and the Lord renewed my spirit as I read the uplifting and challenging words of a young believer who writes in simple everyday language with a heart for God. What a difference! Thank you, my young friend.

Did you ever pick up a book that just weighs your spirit down? I don't mean one that challenges your spirit to greater heights. I mean one that gives you a sinking feeling, and the Holy Ghost is saying, "Why are you reading this?".  Put it down! Get rid of it! Reach for something better. There is so much good literature out there. Pick up a tried and true classic or a new book that inspires. Or better yet. Pick up the Good Book!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sarah's Folly

I picked up a book on an abandoned shelf while I was out of town for a few days, and found an intreging novel. Set in a pre-911 setting Sarah's Folly by Kathy Farinella chronicles a fictional tale of a young journalist's search for her man in uniform who has mysteriously disappeared amidst rumors of an Islamic hostage situation in Iraq. The author cleverly explains many Muslim traditions and views as her main character Sarah witnesses to a co-worker during their travels. She ultimately lands herself in the middle of Iraq where she learns more about the people, the lifestyle and the whereabout of her husband.

This slim volume didn't grab my attention at first, but I'm glad I persevered through it. While not a masterpiece, it is well written and told from a thoroughly conservative, even Baptist, perspective. Refreshing! Only 143 pages it is easy to read and will definitely make an impression. I imagine this book is not easy to find. Probably most common in church bookstores, it is also available online.

Sadly the young author Kathy Farinella went to be with the Lord about 8 years ago after a battle with cancer. She wrote other books that addressed various cults in a fictional venue. Hope I come across others. If you find this little volume be sure to pick it up. You'll be glad you did.