Thanks to the authors and readers who commented on this blog post.
Most of the comments overlapped, so I took the main points and listed them below, giving a general idea about the appeal of Amish fiction in the Christian market. My thoughts and opinions are in brackets.
1. Most of those who commented agreed that people want to escape to a simple, cleaner world, and the Amish life looks appealing. Many long for stronger family values and a stronger relationship with God. We need to find the peace and simplicity that resounded in the lives of our ancestors. Our minds and living spaces are cluttered, and we need relief from our crowded lives; the Amish (novels) provide an escape from our fully-packed lives. [If our modern conveniences are taken away, then we would be forced to focus on our Savior, taking more pleasure in our natural surroundings. The Amish, and their plain, simple habits, almost makes us believe that our lives would be so much easier if we chose to adapt to their style of living.]
[Think of how you look forward to taking a vacation. You anticipate sitting on a tranquil beach, sipping drinks, relaxing, clearing your mind of schedules, work and all kinds of stuff! This sense of tranquility is what many of us MAY believe is the appeal to the Amish. The Amish life offers a permanent vacation from our daily complications. ]
2. The fact that the Amish are separated from us, not using electricity or modern conveniences, makes them fascinating. They are surrounded by mystery. [Why do they choose to live like that? What would it be like if I lived like that? If I were Amish, would my life be more joyful or complete?]
Here are a few facts I discovered about the Amish that lend to their mysterious appeal:
a. The Amish only have an eighth grade education? Gayle Roper mentioned this in her comment on my original post.
b. I perused the two Amish blogs/websites listed in my original post and was very fascinated by this, quoted from the Question and Answer page on the Amish Reader website:
In most communities, teens begin rumspringa, “running around,” at the age of 16. At that time, many of the Ordnung rules are relaxed. The idea is that the kids have a chance to experience the outside world before they commit to the Amish church. Usually around age 18, kids will choose to be baptized into the church.
During rumspringa, Amish teens may purchase cell phones, obtain drivers’ licenses, own cars, and keep generator-operated electronics in their rooms. The boys are more likely to dress English than the girls. They may experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and sex. Often, kids will join the church when they decide to marry.
The very conservative Schwartzentruber Amish do not participate in rumspringa at all. However, they do follow the “bundling” tradition during courtship: a boy will visit a girl after the family has gone to sleep, spending the night talking with her in her bed.
c. Once you are baptized into the Amish faith, if you should decide to leave at a later date, you are shunned – [which I would find hard to accept! Can you imagine not being able to speak to family, friends, and loved ones because you decide to leave the Amish sometime after your baptism. That would be a tough pill for me to swallow!]
3. A number of the authors who commented had either friends or acquaintances who were Amish OR they grew up near an Amish community, and were familiar with seeing Amish families and buggies. There are differences between the Amish and other Plain people, and in order to write an accurate story, you need to research thoroughly.
4. Sales from Amish Fiction continue to soar, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
5. Some industry professionals are TIRED of the Amish books, but, they still acquire and publish them because AMISH FICTION SELLS!
Well, I think I’ve worn this topic out! My curiosity about the Amish has been relieved for the time being. I enjoyed posting about them, and I will continue to blog about the Amish and other Plain sects in the future. I read the summaries of some of the Amish novels, and saw quite a few that I’d like to feature on this blog. I’ve reviewed a few Amish titles and look forward to reading more.
I’d like to top off this post with one of the comments that I especially enjoyed. Hillary Lodge said:
The Amish, the Amish. For such a small amount of the American population, they take up a lot of Christian Fiction!…These are uncertain times we live in. The economy is bad, the church is wrestling with a lot of tricky issues. The Amish, with their appearance of simplicity, offer a respite from that. In uncertain times, what could be more comforting than a warm Amish kitchen with pie in the oven? (There’s always pie)
I think people turn to Christian fiction in the first place for its safety, especially for their teens. Amish fiction, in one respect, is that much safer. Nothing really, really bad can happen if the girl on the cover is wearing a bonnet.