Thursday, June 6
Session Abstracts and Descriptions


Seasonality of Mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Old Order Amish

Teodor T. Postolache

Although humans have become partially isolated from physical seasonal environmental changes through artificial lighting and temperature control, seasonal changes in mood and behavior have been described across hemispheres, continents, ethnicities, and occupations. The Old Order Amish are more exposed than the general population to environmental seasonal changes occupationally as well as through limited use of electric light in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. The aim of this study was to analyze seasonal patterns in mood and behavior in the Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pa., who returned completed Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaires (SPAQ). More than 75% of participants reported seasonal changes for at least one SPAQ item. More than 75% of participants endorsed seasonality in “feeling best” but less than 25% did so for “feeling worst.” Mood-wise, the “best” month was May, and the “worst” months were January and February. There were significant seasonal patterns for all mood and behavior items reported by the majority of participants, consistent overall with the winter pattern reported in predominantly Caucasian populations. However, GSS and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) prevalence were lower than observed in previous SPAQ-based studies. Low heritability of SAD suggests dominant environmental effects.

Teodor Postolache, a board-certified psychiatrist and licensed physician, is the director of the mood and anxiety program in the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His group studies environmental triggers of mood disorders in interaction with predisposing endogenous factors.

Amish Values and Genetic Medicine

Martha King

Newborn screenings and pediatric treatments available at the Clinic for Special Children (CSC) in Strasburg, Pa., involve ongoing encounters between biomedical forms of knowledge and Amish worldviews including the significance and appropriateness of technology for enhancing health. Clinic practitioners at CSC have worked to accommodate aspects of Amish cultural standards in the organization of their clinic and in their daily clinical interactions. Amish families, too, have forged paths for negotiating their ideals about the body and technology on the one hand with their desires for accessing the benefits of genetic medicine on the other. By uncovering Amish practice in the negotiations, acceptances, and rejections of highly technological, individualized medical models, this paper demonstrates how and when cultural practices and discourses come into play. 

Martha King is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a predoctoral trainee at the Center for Genomics and Society. Her research investigates modes of health care among the Amish settlement of Lancaster, Pa. Drawing from plural medical systems utilized by the Amish, her current project focuses on fields of contention, cooperation, and negotiation between Amish patient populations and genetic medicine.

Understandings of Heritable Disease among the Holmes County Amish

Joslyn Cassady, Karin Wagner, Roselyn Coblentz, Heather Tynan, Andrew H. Crosby, Harold E. Cross

Despite decades of research on heritable disorders among the Amish, significant challenges remain in the translation of discoveries into culturally appropriate intervention and prevention strategies. With a vision of assisting Amish communities in developing education and outreach programs, our interdisciplinary team initiated a study of heritable disease in Holmes County, Ohio. We focused on understanding Amish conceptualizations of genetics, their conventional wisdom about how and why genetic conditions run in families, and their interest in and use of genetic testing. Between January and August 2012, 53 Amish people (29 men; 24 women), including 12 church leaders, were interviewed in their homes and workplaces.

Informants primarily ascribed spiritual significance to the cause and consequence of genetic diseases, and many of their views on causation involved sinful behavior, “God’s will,” and the divine purpose of special needs children. Informants contemplated strategies for prevention that included utilizing genetic testing services, eating more “natural,” and birth control. There was also significant interest, especially among the younger generations, in learning more about heredity and its role in health and disease. Ultimately, this study exposed significant gaps in knowledge regarding basic genetics and the need for culturally appropriate educational programs.

Joslyn Cassady is an associate professor of anthropology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and a consultant to Windows of Hope Genetic Information Center, in Walnut Creek, Ohio.


Transport Practices in Amish Communities

James Warren and Marcus Enoch

Car ownership is growing in many countries, but while beneficial to individuals in many cases, this trend has often resulted in significant economic, social, and environmental costs to society more generally. In researching possible solutions, one approach is to look at particular areas or communities that exhibit less reliance on the car or are even “car free” to some extent, in order to see if lessons can be learned. Accordingly, this study seeks to define and characterize transport practices in Amish communities, which for religious reasons have eschewed the car. However, many Amish ride in vehicles owned and operated by outsiders through car ”sharing,” car hire, and other innovative methods, which are means of using technology to derive utility without becoming car owners and/or maintaining separation.

Specifically, the study draws on a comprehensive literature and archival review supplemented with expert interviews to briefly outline Amish beliefs and traditions and then relate how these influence the mobility of people by mode, journey purpose, community, and stage of life. This working paper considers mobility by utilizing twelve main journey purposes for travel motivation along with examples derived across the key periods of life. The twelve motivations considered are these: migration; business/profession; discovery; medical related; military related; post-employment; trailing travel; travel across modes; travel for service work; tourist travel; visiting friends/relatives; work or commuting. The impacts of Amish transport are then considered with respect to a wider society grappling with aspects of sustainable levels of transport.

James Warren teaches in the department of engineering and innovation at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. He contributes to the environmental team that produces all the energy-related teaching materials and is a frequent contributor to BBC programs for education. Marcus Enoch is a senior lecturer at Loughborough University in Leicestershire. He has recently published Sustainable Transport, Mobility Management and Travel Plans. Together Warren and Enoch have documented transport case studies to further the understanding of sustainable transport and mobility practices.

Amish Horse-Drawn Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Wrecks:
An Analysis of Impact and Cause

Mark W. Dewalt and Stephanie Bradley

Data for this project was gleaned from the issues of The Diary between April 2006 and April 2012. Data analysis revealed that there were 357 wrecks recorded in The Diary between April 2006 and April 2012. These wrecks occurred in 19 states and one province. The states with the highest percentage of wrecks were Pennsylvania (21%), Ohio (16%), Wisconsin (11%), and Indiana (11%).

There were a variety of causes mentioned in The Diary for these accidents. Sixteen percent occurred because the motorist did not see the buggy. Thirteen percent were due to motorist error (including distracted driving) and 8% were due to a drunk driver of the motor vehicle. An additional 8% were caused by the horse, while 5% were caused by sun glare impairing the vision of the driver. An additional 5% were caused by excessive speed of the motor vehicle, and 4% were classified as hit and run by the motor vehicle driver. Forty-one percent of the wrecks listed in The Diary had no cause listed. Fifty-one percent of the wrecks occurred when a motorist hit a buggy from behind, and most wrecks (31%) that had a time listed occurred in the evening hours.

Mark W. Dewalt is chair of the Department of Counseling, Leadership, and Education Studies and professor of educational research at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Stephanie Bradley is a graduate student in the counseling and development program at Winthrop University.

The Changing Face of Amish Horse Farming

Chet Kendell

The U.S. Census of Agriculture has documented an 18.8% decrease between 2002 and 2007 in number of farms in the U.S. where farming is the primary occupation. The trend is persistent; farms are getting larger and the number of farmers fewer. While they do not farm large acreages, the number of Amish farmers, due to their large families and a preference for rural living, are growing. If the trends continue and only one in three Amish families choose farming as a livelihood, in just 50 years—by the time our grandchildren are our age—over 75% of the farmers in the U.S. who farm as a livelihood may be doing so with horses. This study uses demographic trend analysis to compare the decline in the number of farmers in the U.S. for whom farming is the primary occupation to the anticipated increase in the number of Amish farmers. Key issues: (1) The locus of knowledge: Will the polarization of agricultural education and knowledge continue to widen with one locus in the sciences of higher education and the other in the local praxis of farming? (2) Education: Do different types of learning predispose and foster certain types of agricultural practices and values? (3) The irony of efficiency: What of the present institutions of agriculture? Will they have economized themselves out of a job?

Chet Kendell is a doctoral student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University. He also owns Kendell Innovative Dairy Systems LLC in Rexburg, Idaho, and is a staff journalist for The Draft Horse Journal. Dale K. Stoltzfus, who will present Kendell's paper, is the organizer and leader of the annual Horse Progress Days, which is held in different Amish settlements each year. It provides an opportunity for Amish and non-Amish manufacturers to showcase new equipment designed for horse farming. 


The Ex-Amish as Border Crossers: Experiences of Disaffiliation among the Formerly Amish

Caroline L. Faulkner and Rachel Christen Dinger

The literature suggests that disaffiliation reflects disagreements with religious teachings, family conflicts, and/or exposure to networks of individuals of other faith traditions. However, because the Amish live to a significant extent separate from mainstream American society, an individual’s decision to disaffiliate also marks a wider disruption in social arrangements akin to international migration. Therefore, theories of international migration provide a more complete framework for understanding Amish disaffiliation. While researchers have studied Amish disaffiliation factors associated with leaving, such as gender, marital status, and birth order, few researchers have examined the reasons why individuals disaffiliate. Non-scholarly memoirs that focus on religious disagreements, family conflicts, and romance provide greater discussion of Amish disaffiliation. In this paper, we examine the experiences of individuals who have left Old Order Amish communities. Through in-depth interviews of individuals in and around Lancaster County, Pa., who have left the Old Order Amish, we seek to understand why the formerly Amish choose to leave their communities and how they understand their process of leaving. We argue that theoretical models of immigration can help flesh out our understandings of other forms of border crossings, including those across robust religious and social boundaries.

Caroline L. Faulkner is an assistant professor in the sociology department at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Rachel Christen Dinger is a senior majoring in sociology at Franklin & Marshall.

Old Order Amish Memoirs of Staying and Leaving: A Narrative and Gendered Analysis

Beth E. Graybill

In this paper I compare recently published memoirs by Saloma Miller Furlong, Esther Royer Ayers, Ruth Irene Garrett, Susie Fisher, and Ira Wagler to examine the Old Order Amish-raised people who have left their communities. Using the lens of gender analysis, I reflect on common themes and uncommon depictions. I explore the “narrative compass” (Hearne and Trites, 2009) that guides each memoir, invisible privilege or lack thereof, and the extent to which such works function as “bibliotheraphy” (Ellerby, 2001). Additional points of analysis refer to Patricia Foster’s Just Beneath My Skin: Autobiography and Self-Discovery (2004) and Nancy K. Miller’s But Enough About Me: Why We Read Other People’s Lives (2002). Finally, I contrast this genre with life-story writers who remain Amish, such as Linda Byler and Jonas N. Bontrager, and the role that gender plays in these writings by current Amish members.

Beth E. Graybill is director of the Alice Drum Women’s Center and adjunct assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

Case Study of an Exit: A Plain Decision

Saloma Furlong

Leaving the Amish is not easy. For Emma, it was a life transition requiring that she cut off all contact (except for occasional letters) with everyone she knew. Everything familiar was gone from her life. There was no connection between her old life and her new life—except for what was within her.

When Emma was newly out of the Amish, she came to live with my husband and me. In my role of helping her adjust to her new world, I was reminded of my exodus out of my Old Order community 30 some years ago. Her journey paralleled mine in many ways, though there are also key differences. I had to traverse a cultural divide when I left, but for Emma, that divide was a chasm. She was part of the very strict Andy Weaver division of Swartzentruber Amish in upstate New York.

By taking a close look at Emma’s two lives in one—inside and outside the Amish—I am able to reflect on the stark differences between these two worlds. How did Emma’s Amish life inform her way of being in the wider world? Upon her eventual return to her community, what may she have taken with her from her experiences of being “in the world”? And finally, what do the Amish, so steeped in their traditions, have to teach those of us in the mainstream culture?

Saloma Miller Furlong was born and raised in an Amish community in Ohio. She is a graduate of Smith College and the author of Why I Left the Amish, a memoir.


Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon

Janneken Smucker

In the 21st century, Amish-made quilts are well-known objects, familiar to both museum-going audiences and tourists visiting Amish country. This seminar explores the historical and contemporary contexts of these bed coverings, with an emphasis on their relationship to technology, consumer culture, art, and commerce. Special attention will be given to their prominence as objects of art since 1970.

Janneken Smucker, author of Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon (Johns Hopkins University Press, Fall 2013), has been thinking and writing about Amish quilts for the past decade. As an assistant professor of history at West Chester University, she specializes in digital history and American material culture. A fifth-generation Mennonite quiltmaker, she has published widely on quilts.


Amish Spirituality and the Rest of Us

David Weaver-Zercher and Steven Nolt

In this seminar, two of the authors of The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World present the outlines of Amish devotional life and religious practices within the context of Christian spirituality more broadly. They will also lead participants in reflecting on their own spirituality and faith formation, and ask what the Amish way might have to say to the larger Christian tradition.

David Weaver-Zercher is professor of American religious history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and Steven Nolt is professor of history at Goshen College in Goshen, Ind.


  Reality TV and the Amish

David George

Since 2004’s Amish in the City, Amish-themed reality-genre programs have become an increasingly prevalent fixture on the television landscape in North America and beyond. This seminar provides an overview of the last decade in Amish reality TV and updates on Amish-themed shows currently on air or coming soon. Titles covered include Amish: World's Squarest TeenagersBreaking Amish, and Vanilla Ice Goes Amish.

David George has worked in marketing roles in the U.S. and Britain. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University and an MBA from Yale. He has written on “Amishploitation” TV in Salon, Lancaster Sunday News, and Mennonite World Review, and is currently writing a book about media portrayals of the Amish.


This panel will include the following three presentations on historical topics followed by discussion.

Nicholas Stoltzfus House Project

Paul Kurtz

This restoration project involves the home of Nicholas Stoltzfus (b.1708 in Saxony, Germany) located near Reading, Pa., in the early Amish settlement in Berks County. Stoltzfus, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1766, is the ancestor of approximately 98% of the Lancaster County Amish and their descendants. The Stoltzfus house and other artifacts of the Stoltzfus family are being restored and preserved by a committee of Amish and former Amish people. The house, a newly constructed barn, and the surrounding grounds eventually will be open to the public on a regular basis. This is an unusual project because Amish communities rarely memorialize historical buildings or sites.

Paul Kurtz, a retired psychologist with Amish ancestry, has given leadership to the Stoltzfus House restoration project.

New York’s Amish: Unintentional Historical Preservationists

Gayle Ann Livecchia

This presentation will explore the role of recent Amish settlers as unintentional historical preservationists, especially in three counties in New York State: Montgomery, Fulton, and Herkimer. As the Amish purchase farms that pre-date the Revolution by decades, they also inherit and maintain the non-family cemeteries on their farms. Although Amish immigrants bring visible benefits for the community, such land use, tax revenue, and aesthetic improvements to their properties, an unintended consequence of their migration is historical preservation. Their land use choices prevent development and their lifestyle enhances historical preservation.

Gayle Ann Livecchia is an educator and historical researcher.

The Historical Roots and Growth of Amish Farm Markets in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Zach Stoltzfus

The presentation will describe the rise of Amish farmers markets beyond Lancaster County during the last quarter of the 20th century as households sought new sources of income and occupations. In the mid-Atlantic region, Amish entrepreneurs established and operated farmers markets, renting stands to other market holders, and they also rented market stands in non-Amish-owned markets. By 2013 more than three dozen markets and hundreds of Amish market-stands were established in urban and suburban areas in New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The standholders sell a variety of products including flowers, fresh produce, deli items, meat, cheese, candy, baked goods, and furniture.

Zach Stoltzfus is a graduate student conducting research on European Amish history, the Stoltzfus house (described above), and the growth of Amish farm markets.



“Teaching is Serious”: Blackboard Bulletin “Bears Fruit” for Amish Church

Vi Dutcher

In spite of a recent proliferation of research about the Amish, little work has been done with Amish literacy practices and the implications of these practices on Amish persons’ identity formation as literate members of the Amish church. This study examines a one-year span of Blackboard Bulletin, a monthly publication targeted to Amish school teachers, as part of a larger investigation into who or what sponsors an Amish community’s literacy. How does this sponsor provide access to learning literacy? Withhold it?

Using content analysis, a method for locating, identifying, retrieving, and analyzing documents for relevance, significance, and meaning, I examined a one-year span of Blackboard Bulletin issues and identified several patterns and processes that shape Amish literacy practices and that, in turn, are used to uphold and manage the pressures upon the church’s values. The magazine represents the living church reading and writing, modeling, supporting, suppressing, and affirming the institution’s members.

This presentation argues that Blackboard Bulletin, in providing valuable resources for Amish teachers, serves as an arm of the Amish church, representing and extending its values to the Amish children through subject content taught by the Amish teachers. Thus, the church, in tandem with the Amish school, is formative, sponsoring the literacies of an Amish community.

Vi Dutcher is a professor of rhetoric and composition at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

A Reflection on Lifelong Learning: Amish Mennonite Values and Methods for Home Schooling in Kansas

Nanami Suzuki

The values people associate with home schooling, and effective ways to practice it, have been discussed in the United States as an alternative approach to the education of children.

Using interviews and participant observation involving the experiences of Amish Mennonite families with different occupations in Kansas during 2009 and subsequent written exchanges, I have explored the reasons why they chose home schooling, how they have carried it out, and what other institutions and people have given support to the families involved.

I found that the parents want their children to have a good learning experience and various choices for their future life course, and that they have given careful consideration to creating an enriched environment where their children can communicate with other children, along with other people. During the process of home schooling, these parents have also had the opportunity to reflect on their own values and relationships related to learning.

Nanami Suzuki is a professor in the Department of Advanced Studies in Anthropology at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan, and a professor in the School of Cultural and Social Studies at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Kanagawa, Japan.


Almost Scripture? Tradition-Minded Anabaptists and the Use of Martyrs Mirror

David Weaver-Zercher

This paper explores the ways Martyrs Mirror functions in contemporary tradition-minded Anabaptist communities. Although the book is no longer widely read, it continues to be highly regarded as a textual authority in many tradition-minded communities. In fact, when its contents are referenced, they’re frequently invoked in ways that are functionally equivalent to the Bible itself; in other words, the book’s contents are assumed to be both trustworthy and useful for instruction in righteousness.

Research sources include letters from and conversations with dozens of people, both about their personal use of Martyrs Mirror and about the way the book is referenced in their churches and other instructional settings.

This paper is part of a larger project that explores the publication and reception history of Martyrs Mirror. Almost all historians of Anabaptist life note the importance of the book in Anabaptist life, though questions remain about how it functions in different sorts of Anabaptist communities. In my larger project, I’ll compare and contrast the book’s use in tradition-minded Anabaptist communities with its use in more change-minded communities.

David Weaver-Zercher is a professor of American religious history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.

The Impact of Modernity on Amish Singing in Lancaster County:
Preservation and Diversity

Yuanyuan Victoria Sun Voelkl

This paper explores how modernity has impacted the centuries-long singing tradition of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County by comparing the two major genres—slow tunes and fast songs—through ethnography and musical analysis. The slow tunes in German are the plainchants sung to the Ausbund, a 16th-century German Anabaptist hymnal, which all the Amish in North America use in their bi-weekly church services. These slow tunes are also sung at Amish weddings and the youth singings of some conservative groups. This special singing style not only preserves a repertory of European medieval hymns (mainly evangelical) and folk songs in the form of plainchant in unison and free rhythm, but also facilitates the collective memories, and the religious and cultural values of the Amish. The fast songs, largely American Protestant hymns, are used in youth singings during the Rumspringa years, and at weddings and various social gatherings for people of all ages. The Ausbund slow-tune style sung in church is mostly homogeneous across Lancaster County and maintains the core status in the religious and musical life of the Amish. In contrast, youth singing reveals a large variety. The tunes and singing styles differ from one youth group to another, and the musical diversity is closely related to the diversity of life style and ways of thinking among various Amish communities.

In the past three decades, the Lancaster Old Order Amish have gradually adapted the use of written notation and four-part harmony, and singing classes have become more common. This process has not only contributed to the diversity of youth singing, but also affected how the tradition of Ausbund slow tunes is preserved and transmitted. The Amish themselves hold various opinions on the shift from unison to harmony, which can be an example of how musical change from plainchant to harmony takes place in a closed religious community. The coexistence of unison and harmony also reflects how the Amish struggle to survive in the modern society while preserving their traditions.

Yuanyuan Victoria Sun Voelkl is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Amish Teachers in Mexico

Steven Nolt

Since 2000, more than 100 Amish women and men from the United States have spent several months to several years teaching in Old Colony Mennonite schools in Mexico. This "Old Colony Mennonite Support" network is a recent and unusual example of Amish engagement with the world beyond their own settlements and bears some novel marks of mission work and international development work, but is also clearly expressed and constrained by Amish history and cultural values. As a new development, it illustrates the dynamic nature of 21st-century Amish society and Amish self-understanding.

Steven Nolt is professor of history at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and book review editor for the journal Mennonite Quarterly Review. He is coauthor of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) as well as other books and articles on Amish history and contemporary life, including The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities (Johns Hopkins, 2007), and A History of the Amish (Good Books, rev. ed. 2003).


Caring for the Amish: Cultural Sensitivity in Social Work, Mental Health, and Health Care

James Cates

Amish clients and patients present problems to which professionals in the social work, mental health, and health care fields normally have ready responses. Indeed, Amish needs, hopes, desires, and fears mirror those faced by non-Amish people. And yet theirs are filtered through a cultural lens both separate and distinct, demanding a new perspective on familiar dilemmas. This seminar will pose unique responses to these complex challenges.

James Cates is a board-certified clinical psychologist whose practice in northeastern Indiana includes services to the Amish settlements there. He has also published widely on therapy, psychological testing, and substance abuse treatment with this population.


From the Buggy to the Byte: How the Amish Tame Technology

Donald B. Kraybill

This seminar explores basic Amish values that guide decisions about the acceptance and rejection of new technology. Participants will learn how diverse Amish groups adapt, modify, and invent technology to fit within their moral order, and how Amish communities make decisions about technology. Participants will also consider whether Amish views of technology are applicable for the larger world.

Donald B. Kraybill is distinguished college professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is coauthor of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), as well as many other books and articles on the Amish and other Anabaptist groups.


Panelists will include Dr. Holmes Morton, medical director of the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pa., and Paul Morton, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic, a new medical home for special children and adults in Belleville, Pa. Other panelists include representatives from Plain communities: Dennis Lehman, president, Community Health Clinic, Topeka, Ind; Atlee Raber, board member, New Leaf Clinic for Special Children, Mount Eaton, Ohio; and Richie Lauer, foundation officer, Anabaptist Foundation, New Cumberland, Pa. The presenters will describe the medical, scientific, and financial benefits of the Clinic for Special Children (CSC) established by Dr. Morton and now in its 24th year of providing comprehensive, informed, accessible, local care to children with inherited disorders. They will describe the health care value of creating “medical homes” for special children and adults that utilize the knowledge of inherited health risks and make the case that Plain communities need the specialized care of community-supported clinics modeled on CSC.


Faculty members will give presentations on the pedagogy and resources that they use to teach courses on Amish society in various settings. The panel will provide an opportunity for educators to evaluate and compare a variety of resources and effective methodologies for teaching. The panel will also discuss the construction of syllabi for courses.

Presenters and discussants include Caroline Brock, Cory Anderson, Joe Donnermeyer, Steve Reschly, Richard Stevick, and Nigel Webb.


Edsel Burdge Jr., research associate at the Young Center, will convene this panel, which includes some other members of Plain Mennonite churches. Plain-dressing, car-driving Mennonites have not generally eschewed modern technology like their “cousins” who travel by horse and buggy. However, they have always been concerned about the impact of media on their communities. This has led to long-standing prohibitions against radio and television. More recently, the Internet and cell phones have raised challenging and complicated issues because the attempts of churches to prohibit electronic media have conflicted with the perceived needs of work and business. This panel will explore the concerns that Plain Mennonites have about electronic media and the various strategies they have employed to regulate it use.


What the Amish Can Teach (and Learn From) Nerds and Geeks

Kevin Kelly

The presentation explores the collective steps that Amish communities use to evaluate their choices, test and experiment, tolerate loopholes, and prohibit or accept new technology, which provide valuable lessons for the fast-forward nerds and geeks. The decision-making steps in Plain communities are of more interest to technophiles than which technologies are accepted or rejected. At the same time, the benefits of technology—often hidden behind novelty and glitz—may be greater than the Amish realize.

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine, which he cofounded in 1993, and a widely published writer on the nature and impact of technology. His recent book, What Technology Wants, includes a chapter on “Amish hackers.”