Homestead Labyrinth

Homestead Labyrinth

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Amish Reading

     In the latest issue of "The Christian Century" I was surprised and delighted to see Valarie Weaver-Zercher's article "Chaste romance." The premise of her article is about Amish fiction and its rise in popularity over the past several years.  Surprised, because it caught me off guard--seems as if the Amish are every where.  Delighted because I think it speaks to a hunger in American life.
   Weaver-Zercher's new book Thrill of the Chaste:  The Allure of Amish Romance Novels, has recently been published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.  She spent a great deal of time and study researching the popularity of the rise of Amish romance.  I hope to read her book in the future.  
     I discovered the author Beverly Lewis while in seminary.  She is one of the more popular authors and has written a number of books over the years.  ( You can read about her at http://www.beverlylewis.com.)  Personally, the reading was pure escapism; my brain could only hold so much theology!  It was intriguing to read about the Amish--the simplicity of their lives embedded in "romance" stories.  While it provided entertainment and reading that was quite different from my theological studies, I do admit that it also opened up new avenues in my life.  
    To be fair, I've also read a book or two by Julia Spencer-Fleming (my favorite was In the Bleak Midwinter) and the exciting life of her main character, the Rev. Clare Fergusson ( and yes, she did serve a St. Alban's just like me!)  But I've returned again and again to Lewis' books because there is a hunger deep within, not so much for the romance, but a simplicity of life and a place where one can find something that doesn't involve violence.  Yes, peacefulness is desired.  With the rise in popularity of reality TV programming (I'm not a TV fan), there is still something to be said for ficition.
     While the books provide entertainment, they have led me to an exploration of Anabaptism, along with my Anglican/Episcopal roots.  Anabaptists are as diverse as any other Christian group; but I find the commitment to peace and justice issues very compelling--they are a gentle people.  Presently I am slowly reading John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus.  This is no Amish romance book.  I am finding Yoder's book a challenge at many levels.  I'm not sure that I would have stumbled across this book if I had not first been exposed to authors like  Beverly Lewis.
     Happy reading!