Trouble in Amish Paradise

Trouble in Amish Paradise

Ratings: 8.31/10 from 49 users.

Trouble in Amish ParadiseAn extraordinary insight into the secretive world of the Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When two radical Amish men, Ephraim and Jesse Stoltzfus, start to question some of the most fundamental aspects of their Amish culture, they face excommunication from their church and total rejection by their friends and family.

The Amish arrived in America 300 years ago and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, today home to around 30 000 hardworking Amish whose lives revolve around their church, families and land.

As well as a strictly plain dress code, they don't use cars, electricity and eschew modern technology. This program follows two men who let us into their private world because although their Christian faith is strong they begin questioning the all-powerful bishops' authority and rules. They are ultimately excommunicated for not following strict Amish law, but that's not the end of the story.

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129 Comments / User Reviews

  1. All these nice comments from people who just don't get it at all.

  2. Now know that Jesus came teaching these things good and Holly to the city dwellers and money exchangers/users and for talking against the religion of profit the rich and powerful brutally made an example of him just as the IRS does with those whom oppose the war tax. All i m sure off is this. There can be no evil in heaven and that includes your hearts desire . think long and hard about everything you have , what harm it has done to the mother earth and her inhabitants making it distributing it and using it. If you are a contributor to her death you are also in bed with satan. That goes for most of humanity from the beginning to the day the lord Christ Jesus opens the book of life on the wicked and they destroy themselves before the eyes of God and his saints.if you don't know what you do to get by is wicked, there is no hope in you walking away from it.

  3. Our father in heaven had no intention for anyone to use any tools machines,electricity or the power of money. Nothing that can or does harm his beautiful creation will be allowed into heaven or in paradise. The omish half way practice a perfect harmonious life style. how ever, its the other half of there mind set that is as evil as anyone else's in the world. Even the most remote people in the world war against there kind so not even the ignorant are saved. If you love your father in heaven more than you love Satan and his knowledge. You abstain from using anything that belongs to him and live as the bird does. How else can I piss of a Christian today.

  4. Amazing family! God bless them and keep them safe and healthy. Encouraging to know that we are not the only ones who have been completely shunned by family and friends over our Christian faith. Blessings to Ephraim and Jesse and their families!

  5. What an amazingly brave soul this Ephraim is. May I be as bold about my Christian faith as he is! It made me think of Jesus' words "You shall know the truth and it will make you free." He and his wife are now free. God bless them all.

  6. This was a refreshing doc about the Amish because it wasn't exploring an individual's desire to leave the order to pursue all the sinful world has to offer; rather it follows a couple of Amish who want to follow the bible to the letter.
    I wasn't aware that their bible was written in old German and none of the Amish could even understand it. I also had no clue that the Amish weren't allowed to even discuss the bible amongst themselves and were ordered to only listen to their church elders (Bishops?)
    I was rooting for Ephraim at the beginning. He was a hardworking man and appeared to be a wonderful father.
    Didn't like him harassing folks though and starting to live his entire life based on his English bible. I thought he was "losing it".
    I did find it wonderful how in the Amish community, children helped out their parents from the time they could walk, and spent many hours just hanging out with each other during all the daily tasks.
    In the first part, Ephraim's youngest son was always hanging around playing with whatever tools his parents were using.
    These kids may have a separate way of life from the "world" but its better than living in a world of gimme gimmee gimmee, and being glued to a video screen or a cell phone, day and night.
    Didn't see any fat kids.
    I am very curious to know how Ephraim and Jessie's families have turned out. Especially their darling, intelligent children.

  7. those of you questioning his work ethic, he IS doing what the bible says to do, throw away all worldly possessions and spend your time relying on God and trying to convert people to your religion, that is the core of Christ's message, which is why it is not a moral message.

    Eventually charity will run out, and he will have to except the cold hard fact that there is no god, nothing happens when you die, and if you do not work and rely on others for rent/food/bills then eventually their kind nature will run out.

    He is correct though, having no education he would of been better off killing his family and himself than leaving the Amish order, sad to say but i bet if we check on with him in 20 years we are not going to find a happy man.

    1. Actually I hire a contractor who is X Amish he was shunned in 1998 for joining a modern christian church, Not having much of an English education, started his own business in 2000. I know for a fact my sub contractors company makes more coin in the calender year than than mine. The dead giveaway is all the hummers, boats, rv's. and other toys sitting in his back yard.

  8. sounds like all religion to me, do what your told and do not question.

  9. I don't see any difference between the "new Fundamental Christian faith" that the excommunicated Amish decide to practice and/or the Fundamentalist Christianty family's such as the Duggar's' or the 'Bates' (except in the amount of children in the families) I felt so bad for Elsie and Jesse's ;oss of their baby and I would really like to know how Marie is. I would love another follow-up.

  10. He tries really hard not to have to work, says he wants God to provide. God helps those who help themselves. If the guy put all that energy he uses trying NOT to work into a job his family wouldn't have to do without. And let's all be honest, taking her off chemo to try faith healing was all about money, I think he wanted her off because if she stays on he might have to actually get a job. Gods work STARTS by taking care of your family.

  11. I live in western pa, amongst many many amish. I cant say this about all the amish because lets face it, I dont know every single one obviously. What I can say however is that a large majority of them have come into the photo lab that I work with wanting to get film developed. On that film Ive seen them lounging in sweats, Ive seen them at concerts in "regular" clothes, Ive seen them using ipods. Not all amish are truely amish. I think a large majority around where I live do it for tax breaks etc. There is a local bar here called the hilltop and its known for being the place that the amish go to change clothes and have nights out on the town as normal civilians. Haha. Go figure.

    1. Kristin or anyone else who wishes to reply: I'm making a paper about the Amish and this documentary. Can I ask you some questions for my paper? It would be interesting to know your side of the story as well.

  12. This must be one of the most heartbreaking stories I've seen in a while.
    Isn't it ironic that although the Amish church would shunt them for going to hell because of their choices, they would end being in a hell of their own as soon as they left the Amish ways.
    The reasons for the ridiculous rules of the Amish elders is very clear when you come from a lifestyle of capitalism, consumerism and individualism. It becomes very dangerous when members start to question those rules when they themselves have not enough knowledge and understanding about these rules.
    People always seams to get hurt when there are those from outside that believe they have the answers for a better live.
    Ebrhaim and his family were so much better of living the Amish life, milking their cows. I am sure he would disagree with me though.

  13. I didn't realize most Amish were non-Christian. It's time for a change---if you have to choose between following your "leaders" and the Bible, then surely choose the Bible!

    1. Always closing, always closing , right Charles?

    2. I'm not sure how you came to this conclusion, that most Amish are not Christian. They are very Protestant Christian ... complete with Protestant work ethic and guilt :) I myself am neither Amish nor Christian, but I live in the midst of Amish country, in SE Ohio, and am quite familiar with their ways.

    3. Betsy: I thought the Amish were quaintly Christian also (and I am VERY Christian). In the documentary, shockingly, one of the "sins" the men were sanctioned for was spreading the belief that Jesus was the means of redemption (fundamentally Christian). No faith in Christ as the Redeemer------->not a Christian. It''s just that simple. You can live in "Amish Culture" with all the Protestant rules and regulations (work ethic and guilt) all you want, but no Jesus----no Christianity. This documentary depressed me greatly. I'm all for "converting" the Amish now whereas I never was in the past. The buggies and apple pies are nice, but faith in Jesus is essential for Christian faith and salvation. Add that one aspect back into the Amish culture (and give them a Bible they can actually READ), and then I'm all fine and dandy with everything else I think.

      Peace to you,

      Charles B.

    4. ...Or you can follow reason, and common sense...

  14. god will not give you rent money! If he did life would be much easier for everyone!

    1. Ahhh Yes but He well may direct you to a job so that you can earn rent money..He is our provider :)

  15. Also, does anybody else get the impression that Ephraim is more openly kind and loving (at least on the surface) to his family prior to his conversion? Seems he is more stoic and cold afterwards.

    1. Alyosha,

      Coming from an institutionalized and very ritualistic Catholic upbringing myself, I can totally relate to what is happening between Ephraim, and the two Jesse's. I left the Catholic church many years ago for the very same reason Ephraim and his family and friends left the Amish church--due to man's traditions meaning more than God's law. Look it up for yourself in Matthew 15, where Jesus Himself spoke of how the Pharisees (religious Jews of the day) made God's commandments of none effect, because of all their traditions. As a Catholic, when I read that, I pointed out to my priests, and all they could say back to me, was the same these men said their bishops told them---that I was to follow the CHURCH's rules and traditions, and not read so much into what the Bible says, since I was a layperson who wasn't supposed to really understand what the Word says....really?? Why did God have all those people write all what He told them to write down, just to sit on a shelf, gather dust, and once in a while, use bits and pieces from it in 5-15 minute sermons that didn't mount up to much anyway? He didn't want men to control the congregations by not explaining the Word, He wanted the leaders to preach, teach, and edify the people so they in turn could bring up their children the right way, go out and preach the gospel (Matt. 28:20) to every man (and that's NOT a haughty thing to do, mind you!), and to LOVE his neighbor as Christ Himself would. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)". So we ARE to read the Word, study it, memorize it, preach it, pray it, evangelize it, LIVE IT! That is NOT fanatical---if you and others still think that is so, then you all have a problem with God and Jesus as well. I pray that people like yourself will go to the Lord and His Word, and learn to have the relationship that Jesus wanted us to have since the beginning of His creation. Having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is NOT fanatical; living by tedious and ritualistic rules that have nothing to do with one's soul and salvation, IS!

    2. Yes, seems that way.

  16. Such an interesting dilemma. At first, you see Ephraim thinking independently, studying his bible, and it appears as such a positive thing. But I get this uneasy feeling that his new life, though he is driving a car and wearing modern garments, is somehow more disturbing than that of the Amish. There is a big advantage to the institutional organized religions (versus evangelical ones) and that is the members are rarely TRULY 100% committed fanatically to EVERYTHING that is set down in the rules. When a person creates an extreme religion VOLUNTARILY for themselves and lives by it, they must be a fanatic. There is no moderation in being an evangelical, while it is completely commonplace to be a moderate Catholic, for instance. By moderation I do not mean a half-hearted faith. I just mean that the people will take some of the more bizarre and extreme rules with a grain of salt, even if they do observe them because on the whole, they feel they belong in this culture and church. Also, the Amish might be right in their statement that Ephraim's evangelizing is pride. It most certainly is. One thing that I totally sympathize with in the institutional religions' aversion to individual preaching and bible interpretation, is the very good sentiment of "Who am I, a mere normal person as enlightened and inspired as anyone else, to decide the will of God for myself and for people? The doctrine of the church may be wrong, but who am I to know better?" Being accepting is humble, which is the most basic and intuitive Christian teaching. If one believes in God and Christ, and is a humble individual, and is good to other people, that should be good enough. From a Christian standpoint.

    1. I see what you're saying. One thing that we fail to realize is that whatever is not repeated in the New Testament from the old one, is not for the Christian! !! So all of those rules in the OT were for the people of the covenant ( Jews ) but because we cane after Christ, his sacrifice covers our sins and we live governed by the Holy spirit, which was given only as the new covenant was given through Christ

  17. I had been under the impression that most Christians followed the idea of God doing for those who do for themselves first.

    1. Not that I disagree with your sentiment, but that is not from the Bible and it is patently un-Christian in many ways. If I had to guess, I would guess it came from Deists like Ben Franklin or something. However, I disagree with Ephraim's theology completely! Just thought I'd point that out.

    2. You're correct, the adaged "God helps those who help themselves" is from Benjamine Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac." Mainline Christianity believes the opposite--if you rely on your own power, you fail to trust fully in God. (this is not, however, an excuse for laziness)

  18. You wont have a whole life to become a grown up, bible stories are OK till you are up to an age of 12-13, after that you have to face life for what it is.

    1. They are NOT just stories, Vlado....stop living the way the world wants you to live, and seek the Lord God out for yourself. You want reality? Get a dose of God Almighty in your life, and then come back and post what He has done for you, with you, to you, and IN you! I dare you to give the Lord God the time of day to work in your life--go ahead! See what happens! You'll NEVER be the same.....

  19. Foolish Man..... not reading his Bible very well... Im no christian but Sitting on your butt all day "In the Name of Jesus" is not a good plan for your life or your family. Darn Fool ........

    1. The Bible says that "He who does not work, neither shall he eat!" I wish he had also kept his hard-working Amish character and added his faith in Christ to that hard-working attitude.

  20. Ephraim is just hoping God is going to do everything for him...
    That's just not going to happen .He has to put in the work too,you can't just pray and "EXPECT" miracles. I think he is going a little overboard.

    1. KittieGirl,

      Ephraim does have a long way to go in his faith. But he is on the right path, allowing God to finally drop the scales from his eyes and finally seeing the truth behind all the ritualistic dead rules of his former church. When one truly want to have a relationship with God, it is one day at a time, step by step....just like our own relationships with our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, etc. God will guide him as it is written in the Word--"I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go: I will guide thee with mine eye"(Psalm 32: 8).

  21. Martin Luther went through similar events. He was accused of not following the church's traditions. If nothing else read Luther and learn from him. He has a great devotional, "Faith Alone". You can get it through Zondervan Publishers.

  22. I feel bad for these people. They are being forced to live as the Judaizers were trying to force the early Christians to live the Jewish law. I was raised Mormon and I was forced to live according to their rules.

    Follow Jesus and live in the Christian freedom He offers.
    I pray for these people. God bless you!

  23. I am really sorry but you all people who make comments and believe in the Bible may tell me one thing: Every religion tells that it is the way to reach heaven right? So, in africa the people have different gods. The islam is different, budhism is different, Hinduism and so on and so on are all in a way different. It is very obvious to me that if "god" even exists, which i personally not really believe in, but anyway, if god exists and christians rely on the bible and that god is endlessly good and a loving god, than please tell me somebody how can you think that all others will go to hell? You know, in the US you have people saying the word "Jesus" so many times that you forget that there are so many peoples and religions that this can not be the only way. This is impossible. People who live in the jungle and for 100% never heard of jesus or buddha or anything like that will for sure go to hell in your way of thinking???? This one thing about the religious stuff i really can not believe. Bible says many things, but it is a book which was translated i dont know how many times from languages many people dont know and over the decades it is a matter of fact that much in this book is not translated 1:1.
    I really want for all of you only the best, but to think that there is ONE way to reach heaven is pure nonsense. And it shows clearly somebody is stuck in his or her surroundings and the area. By understanding science and speaking for example to a buddhist monk and a priest of katholic or evangelic church or to an Imam in Islam, you get different anwsers. So if there is the way of the Bible, some christians go to heaven and ALL OTHERS go to hell. Well, i dont want that god. My god takes everyone, also the 9 year old taliban child which blows itself up in a crowd. Because the action and the human being behind it are 2 different things. A murder is a human being in "my gods" eyes. The Action is without a doubt horrible, but the human being is still a human being, Consider that and think about it in a quiet time. Best wishes to everyone!

    1. Your 'god' is NOT the God Amighty ELOHIM of the Bible. There is only ONE God, and that IS Him. He creates, He destroys, He has mercy on whom He has mercy, He gave His Son Jesus for us so that we may have eternal life. If you so choose not to partak in that, it is your free will. It is certain that you have NOT allowed the Lord God Almighty to do anything in your life. You have not sought Him out, you have made Him to sound like other man-made created gods of this world; If you truly gave Him the time of day to work in you, you would find out that there is ONLY ONE GOD and ONLY ONE SPIRIT and ONLY ONE SAVIOUR, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ! As it is written, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). It is also written, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"(2Peter 3:9). God does not take pleasure in sending people to Hell (yes, there IS a HELL, because God stated it in His Word!). People send themselves there by not acknowledging God at all in their lives, and by not adhering to His Word. Don't rely on your 'god' to get you anywhere in life--rely on the One True everliving God who will radically change your life around if you dare let him!! Seek the Lord while He may be, while you're still living.

    2. There is no one god, there are 28,000,000 gods in recorded history, and right now today there are over 28,000 gods vying for the throne, and guess what? they are all invisible, not even real! Only thoughts in peoples mind. Show us "ONE" walking talking god!

      And since you are spouting off so much about your Jesus, show us some empirical proof such a person as your Jesus even existed, besides your circular logic that you are plagiarizing from some bronze age books. Use your own words, not passages from your bronze age books that we are all sick of looking at which do not mean squat!!

    3. You need to read the book "who is this man " by John Ortberg. He pulls together so much evidence that Jesus existed not just from Christians, but from historians who denounce Christianity, but confirm that Jesus not only lived, but changed the world to its core. He changed medicine, he influenced education, science, and socially he changed how we humans see children and women.
      For example: "science as an organized, sustained enterprise a rose only once in human history... in Europe in the civilization then called Christendom" Dinesh D'Souza
      Princeton professor Diogenese Allen "we have begun to realize from its very birth, science owed a great deal to Christianity"
      Yale profesor Nicholas Wolterstoreff observes that throughout world history, human beings by nature tend to be tribal. We don't think of " outsiders" as having the same worth or rights. what accounts for the emergence of this moral subculture that says every human being has rights?
      Wolterstoreff gives an amazing answer : the teaching of the Scriptures, clarified and made available to all the world through Jesus, that every human being is made in the image of God, and loved by God.
      Jesus is history's most familiar figure. His impact on the world is immense and non accidental.
      whether he is God or isn't, is your personal quest. just because his name makes you uncomfortable, are you really willing to pretend he never existed, when all of the evidence points to the fact that he did exist?

    4. You have no evidence at all, just words. Why would his name make me uncomfortable? I do not pretend about anything, you are the one that is doing all the pretending about your invisible deity. You made a claim, you have the "burden of proof" to prove your claim, and do not try to shift the burden of proof to me, I do not have to prove anything!

    5. Yale Historian Yaroslav Pelikan: "regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost 20 centuries.if it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of the history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?"

    6. Well, i am afraid but the only God (i think you re from the USA?) is the Dollar. False Economy and "In god we trust" are two of the big problems of the 21st century. God can not solve the problems of messing up the environment. In fact, the guy who wants a 4000 golden toilett seat gets it. The guy who needs a bottle of water wont get it, because he can not pay for it. It doesnt matter at all if there is a god or not, what matters is, that the resources are running out on this planet and no god will help us. Democracy, economy, health care, those are the Devil. And Ghandi, Maria Theresia, Buddha, they have what i think is god like. But it is all created by ourselves. Every person on this planet is a human. And the future problems can only be faced as humans. Regardless of which colour you are, your religion or whatever. Money is creating hell here on earth, and i think it is high time that people think it over. Where did it lead us? Is it beneficial for all people? Is religion beneficial for all people? In fact you can see, that there is war for money, people kill others because of religous beliefs and if you ask one of the millions of starving people in africa, the person will tell you i think, that hell is happening right here. Money buys you health, no money = no healthcare. Benny hin or people like him are praying for you because you give him money. And i am sure, if you loose your money, do not have food or water and i come and the ammount of money offered is high enough maybe you forget your god for a while and do whatever it takes to get the money. And i am afraid but i think i would also do it. But it is not a problem of Religion, it is a problem of todays culture.

    7. @Achems Razor

      This is twice that I have seen you use those figures on the number of gods in recorded history. I'm going to have to call you on that. It is simply not true.

    8. @Dukilein
      "Well, i am afraid but the only God (i think you re from the USA?) is the Dollar......."
      Very good post, a Like was not enough!

  24. What delusions people have. It is not that some kind of creator mind/god may not exist but that it is just patently insane to postulate barbaric man as it's prototype! As the ideal for that which has created and creates billions of galaxies, billions of years old. ? its just absurd. Anyone who look is serious at the issues of good and evil will see it is not so clear cut as one might first assume. in fact its completely arbitrary. That chicken dinner was good for you not so much for the chicken.
    Explore yourself that is all. do not interfere in display of consciousness and do not pretend to know the will of 'god.'
    You gave away all that hard-earned money to help strangers and your child gets blood cancer soon afterwards, What a loving rewarding god. Im sure many of their Amish friends considered it god's wrath for their disobedience. How pathetic

    1. Again, yet another human being who pretends to know anything about the God that he so hates and despises. Why do you even say the things you say, Winston? You have never given the Lord God the time of day to work in your life! How else do you think the universe got here?? Why don't you sit down and read Job, and hear what God Himself had to say about who created the heavens and Earth? Where YOU there? I think not. I myself wasn't there--but my Father was, and He DID create it all! Seek Him out while you still have time....don't allow your pride and arrogance keep you from a fufilling life in Christ. "I am God, and there is no other".

  25. Sad, really. I thought that Ephrim would have wanted more religious freedom rather than being literal in the bible. I feel so sad for these folks, as I had lived in a faith where leaving was the "kiss of death". I wish them all peace.

    1. To live as the Bible teaches, is NOT a lack of freedom; rather, it is just the opposite. Read it for yourself--seek Him out and see what it says about being free from the bonds of slavery of sin, and having that new life in Christ. Becoming a new creature, and shedding the "old man" as it is written, is definitely a freeing experience! I owe my life to God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Word. I have only become a better person, mother, and wife because of Him. Ephraim and the others have a ways to go, and the Lord will teach them all step by step through their faith walk with Him.

  26. and of course a few months after they give away their whole life savings, their daughter gets cancer. Ephrim is so G.

  27. I did not expect them to be so 'real' or 'straight up' as we americans say.

    "I think jesus would have been specific about certain things. As the church leaders say you must drive a horse with a green harness or you'll go to hell." what a trip

    1. I think you might wanna listen to that again, you missed the point there. He said if Jesus would have wanted all those rules he would have been specific about them, that's why he's calling the Elder's rules for excommunication too restrictive and having nothing to do with faith a lot of the times.

  28. It's an excellent way of life.
    Healthy emotionally and mentally.
    Those that do not agree, should just leave.

  29. The ability of humans to deceive themselves sees no bounds and restricts their abilities when offered alternatives. Leaving one deception only to seek another.
    Perspective is frightening until you reach the other side....if you make it that far.

    1. The ability of humans to think that they are more intelligent than the very Creator that they refuse to come to know, is even more sad and dangerous than those who occasionally fall into the pit of the wolves disguising themselves as sheep. We are to be "as wise as serpents" Jesus said. But you wouldn't know that, now, would you? You jumped to the conclusion that they are going to be deceived again through this new church...I ask you the same as another--have you gone to this church and done research on it?

  30. Poor baby has cancer. :( That breaks my heart.

    1. Oh, thank goodness she is alive and mostly healthy in the sequel. I wonder if she ever fully beat the cancer.

  31. Nice to see they are starting to wake up.

  32. .... good that they are thinking for themselves, not so good, in my eyes, that they are trading one deceit for another. Life is so easy, but we make it so difficult.

    1. They are not being deceived by following GOD's Word! Apparently, the only ones that are being deceived are all those who have posted on here thinking that God and His Word mean nothing at Him out for yourself, and He WILL answer you if your are sincere. Don't wait for the time of judgment--that will be too late. Have you yourself gone to that church to see that it is works in such a deceitful manner?

  33. I loved this film.

  34. I will pray to the Lord that He send an Amish ignoramus so he could donate all his life-saving to my NEEDY bank account. O' Lord hear my prayer!!!!

    1. Amen! haha

  35. Though I've been around here watching for a long time, I seldom post. I just finished watching both films back-to-back. Throughout my spiritual journey, severing ties with the southern baptists, diverting my inquiries into more esoteric practices, then finally settling into an atheistic/taoist/satanic view; I found both films to be very moving and profound without a hint of bias (as a documentary should be).
    (Possible spoiler) I found myself rooting for Ephraim in the first film. His courage and willingness to challenge his own indoctrination was very inspiring. However, in the following film, his devolution into proselytizing evangelism was unsettling and I saw a bit of the same madness in his eyes I experienced during those trying spiritual times. I hope the best for him and his family.
    Bottom-line: If there is some greater being that spawned the universe, it has far worse problems to deal with than one person's mortgage. If there is no specific being that created the universe, we're left to make the best decisions we can while we're here. Enjoy the time you have.

    1. Excellent post and spot on. I felt sorry for Ethram in the second one, it reminded me of a friend of mine who started getting involved with the salvation army, then turned to christianity in a big way. I hadn't heard from them in good few years only for them to turn up recently having now converted to judaism which is fair enough if they are happy but I just see them as being lost flitting from one religion to another searching for answers and yet again having to cling to a religion to not feel lost.

      I myself dont consider myself anything and not really an atheist either. I think theres more chance we evolved from aliens than most of the bible and if you need a religion to teach you right from wrong and to learn about morals then you have big problems IMHO.

      Anyway I just hope that they are all well and that they find what they really need including themselves which is the most important of all I think.

    2. You "settled" into an "atheistic/taoist/satanic" view?? That is certainly not something to settle in! You certainly have never had Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord...if He ever was, you NEVER would have left him for Satan! By the way, there is a Creator, and His Name is I AM, ELOHIM--God Almighty. If you were a true bible-believing Christian, you would understand that the Lord cares about everything in our lives--even our finances, marriages, children, etc. Nothing is too big for my Father God to handle! I pray that you yourself will reconsider while you still have time....don't allow the Enemy of your soul (that is, Satan, and by the way, he IS real!--hopefully you haven't done anything foolishly to find out for yourself how REAL he is!) to continue to steal, kill, and destroy you. Seek the Lord while He may be

    3. Though I see the futility of even bothering to respond to someone like you, I don't appreciate rude behavior thinly veiled by religious self-righteousness. First of all, to assume that I steal and kill because of my beliefs is ludicrous. You obviously know nothing about the tenets of Satanism. Second, to devalue my previous spiritual experience based on some online comment is insulting. Finally, if you knew your own religion as well as you think, you would know that the one unforgivable sin is doubting the divinity of Jesus. Therefore, its a complete waste of your time to try and convert an atheist. Even if there were a heaven & hell, your supposedly all-loving God doesn't forgive free-thinking skeptics. So, a better use of your time would be to find some remote indigenous heathen tribe, convince them that their way of life is evil, then regale them with glorious tales of McDonald's and strip malls. Or, better yet, keep your drivel to yourself.

  36. Oh my god, Why didn't I ever think of this before!?...Let the lord provide for me!! Yes its so simple. I just stop taking my medicine for diabetes and let him cure me! quit my job and stop paying rent and utility bills and let him provide me financially. The earth was created in just 6 days and thats the way it is no questions, because an Amish person whos been indoctrinated all his life by both the Amish and then the Christians says so...well how could I ever argue with must be true! You know what, while I'm at it someone pass me a brick and I'll swallow that as well. Did I hear that right? God sacrificed a new born child to bring families closer and break down the barriers. That women can try to rationalize it any way she wants to but the fact remains she lost her child and will never forget it or see it as an act of god. Guilt, heartache, despair, emptiness, loneliness is written all over her face.

    To be serious for a minute, I did feel sorry for her and Jessie, They looked like lost souls once they were out of the Amish community. Wondering around not knowing what to do because people told them all their life what to do. Picking out clothes was even an hard thing to do for them. It just really goes to show how deep this belief is set into them at such an early age. Then once they become adults who are ex-communicated they are thrown into a world they know nothing about, cant make decisions for themselves, have just about the level of education a 14 year has (sometimes less!) That one women said she had trouble doing problems in her daughters school book (Her daughter was 7) All this because they choose a life to obey blindly and never question the "elders" or the reasons why things are they way they are. Tough as humans are, we have fragile minds.

    Amish and Christians alike, are both as bad as each other.

    1. People who rely on the "Lord" are the same people who trust the Government.... and their mostly conservative pricks. :)

    2. Conservatives rely on the government? Maybe the hypocrites do, but, in current ideology, relying on the government to provide is not conservative.

    3. Pretty sure the fans of government influence are liberals, it's one of the ideologies after all.

    4. The Earth was created in six days because GOD HiMSELF ELOHIM said it was. Period. If you don't believe that, that is your free will to do so. The Lord did NOT make the child die so the families could come together; it happened because the rain falls on the just and unjust in this world. Do NOT judge Ephraim so harshley for trying to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ for things that he and his family needed. He was stepping out in faith, and the Lord was using all of this to test him, teach him, and grow him into the man of God that he is meant to be. Unfortunately for you and many others that do NOT have a relationship with The Lord God and His Son, Jesus Christ, you don't understand these things. I have been a Christian for many years, and can see where the Lord is taking Ephraim and the others; it will take them some time, but they will get the hang of it, and will learn to rely on the Lord and "hear" Him better as time goes on. Obviously, his daughter neede the medicine; Ephraim was just trying to exercise his faith in the matter at hand. He learned that it was better for her to take the medicine-and as far as him gettting a job, his enthusiasm to work for the Lord God is appreciated; however, he realized that he must at that time in his life, work until (if it ever happens) the Lord allows him to go into the ministry full-time. Again, one would only see and understand these people's situations in their lives better if they themselves had a relationship with the Lord God, and learned to step out in faith as Ephraim, his family, friends, and I myself have done long ago.

  37. Lord give me the van with less mileage for less money. Amen!

    And all remember: don´t stay in the wicked place for too long!

  38. @ SaintNarcissus, your long reply to Waldo, I was thinking about it, but there were so many pellets lying about, and I couldn't be bothered doing the work, I'm tired, and sick of answering the same lazy lame conceited superficialities of the supposedly objective and penetrating thought processes of atheism enthusiasts. But I'm happy to spend a fiftieth of the energy I could have put into Waldo's plight on congratulating your effort, and to say I'm glad someone had the energy. You covered every blur that I had targeted for deconstruction, and then some. I liked what Az said about day and night too. I too am very interested in science, and dreams and other knowledge.

    1. Thanks much. Not sure why I bothered to go to such detail. Glad someone appreciated it! I also appreciated AZ's conceptual idea. I like the way she thinks.

  39. They follow their convictions and leave the Amish fold; they give away their entire life savings to other people in need; and to wrap it up their daughter is diagnosed with cancer. Some of the comments below are too quick to question this family's faith and too slow to commend their actions... God or no God!

  40. It would be a crying shame if the Amish disappeared and were replaced by the blood sucking, money grubbing evangelicals. Too many of these are looking for someone to take care of them, rather than be a part of a large group that becomes interdependent.

    1. Not all of the so-called "evangelicals" are "blood sucking, money grubbers". There are ALWAYS some wolves dressed up like sheep; Jesus warned us about them. That is also why He told us to be "wise as serpents". You need to seek God out for yourself, and see the real reason why there are true born-again, Bible believing Christians out there, and Ephraim and his family and friends that left the Amish church want just that--a true committed relationship with Christ, and others that are determined to follow Jesus as per HIS Word, not just rules and regulations that were made by some church elders. Seek Him out for yourself while you still can.

  41. Great Doc. Very few Christians would give away their savings to someone in need. While his faith is admirable, if the decision were left up to him he would discontinue his daughter's treatment for leukemia and let God heal her. This is magical thinking and is dangerous. Like anything else, faith must be balanced with reality.

  42. "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is LORD". What a beautiful testimony to the love and grace of GOD. "For GOD so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but yet have eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven with GOD the father". The light and love that surrounds each moment of the lives within this documentary, bears witness to something more powerful than our own understanding and that my friends .......... is the love of GOD.

    1. Thats funny, all I saw was a bunch of people so scared of the human condition that they had to dream up some fanatsy to live for and segregate themselves from reality. "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is LORD". So much for free will, a benevolent loving god, or forgiveness huh? Believe or else burn for eternity, yeah boy thats a loving well adjusted savior. Your so called god is a spoiled, petty, narcissistic construct, just as flawed as the human psychy that created it.

    2. Free will is all around. The meaning of "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord", is in regards to the power of GODS' love. It is undeniable. Those who know the LORD, also know this. Don't be so angry waldo..... where's your love? Where's your heart these days? Be careful, my friend, for GODS' love is forgiving and flawless.... and I am sure one day it will shine its light upon you.

    3. @princesspatricia
      Free will is a lot freeer when it is completely free.

    4. Waldo,
      You need to research it for yourself. Stop taking the world's view in about God and His word. While you are still living and breathing, seek Him out. Give Him a chance to work in your life. If you don't, that is your free will, but nevertheless ALL knees WILL bow to the One True Living Almighty God. Period. Please don't wait for That Day to find out you were wrong.

    5. riddle me this, if there is a god why can't EVERY person on earth decide which one it is?

    6. Not a bad idea, actually every person on earth CAN decide which one it is...or none that fit yet.

    7. @ tariqxl
      "...if there is a god why can't EVERY person on earth decide
      which one it is?"

      Well, if there were a god, then EVERY person on earth could decide which one it is.

      Since EVERYONE on earth can't decide which one it is, that's
      a strong indication that there ain't one!

    8. Dearest tariqxl;

      You know that inner voice? Some call it a conscience. Have you ever
      stopped to ask where that comes from? There is no physical evidence for the
      conscience or the state of having one. And we all have one, whether we
      "Choose" to exercise it or not. Every person on earth deeply struggles
      with this. GOD has placed himself in ALL of us, it is a matter of who is
      listening and opening themselves and thier hearts to his calling. On
      another note, your question "Why can't EVERY person on earth decide which
      one it is?" ........ Let's face it, there are alot of "Bells and whistles
      and flashy lights (non of which are good) in this world. Alot of
      distractions and physical "Feel goods". Temptation is strong to the
      physical flesh, but believe me, the spirit is stronger.....
      And GODS' love is the strongest of all......... Thankyou for your
      response. I am glad you are questioning...


    9. Type your reply...

    10. @ princesspatricia

      How truly poetic and disarmingly tender.

      And, not to break the spell, what possible bearing does beautiful poetry and uplifting nuance bring to the fact of zip evidence for the existence
      of god(s)?

      Just asking.

    11. You are very polite in your questioning...... but there it is.... You are questioning and that my friend is the evidence for the prompting of the existence of GOD within you. GOD has placed himself in each and every one of our hearts and lives. It is good that you question and I hope this will open you to a greater and deeper love than that of this world.

    12. @ princesspatricia

      Yeah, I've heard that before(many, many, many times, before!). It isn't yours. You got it from the same place I got it: postings.
      Or maybe it's something they make you say over and over again at church or made you memorize when you were a kid attending Sunday school.

      Anyhow, remaining "very polite," I will pretend that it is yours, in which case:

      I do not believe you!

      Do you have a single scrap of evidence to back up that which I am politely persisting to presume is your claim? Or do you not have a single scrap of evidence to back up that which I am politely persisting to presume is your claim?


    13. Religee's!
      Where did they teach you to talk like this? In some Panama City sailor hump hump bar? Or is this getaway day in your last shot at his whiskey?

      Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here.

  43. steve jobs at 45:30 and Massive nose picking at 53:00

    1. pretty much sums it up

  44. "darwin is in hell"
    what a miserable thought that the brightest minds of our time are nothing but damnation fodder for those folks that have little or no education. e_e why should people show such pride in ignorance and slander intelligence is beyond me!

    1. Darwin IS in Hell.....that is the place where people go when they refuse to acknowledge the very One who gave them Life to begin with....very sad.

    2. I came to the conclusion you are a joke, a religious fanatic extremist, a happy-clappy, holy roller, fundy. Get a life, or get a job, or something!

      And quit threatening people with all your obscene hell-fire religious ramblings!

    3. Jeannette tell me...what do you fear most in life?
      Hell in death?
      Many "still" do not realize that Hell is a jail invented by controllers. No keys are necessary, the words of a book are enough to keep people enchained by their own will.
      Very sad as you say.... but mainly very very unfortunate for life itself.

  45. In first part: That man said it right at about 10 minutes in; if the leaders go against the word of God, you should not listen to the leaders. if the leaders of the community did in fact Know and Follow the word of God correctly, this Amish society would have been successful. then even i would like to live there.

    but that's a long way. even the modern day gospels are saturated with contradictions and ambiguities. and there is controversy over who actually is Mark, John, Luke, and Paul; and have any of them actually met Jesus.

    1. They haven't collapsed. I live near Lancaster County and the Amish are still a strong presence there.

    2. Get your facts straight, and then post....otherwise, don't comment on the Bible when you know absolutely nothing about it.

    3. Get your facts straight, and then post....otherwise, don't comment on the Bible when you know absolutely nothing about it.

      It's a common mistake that christians know much about the message carried in the bible! You have been mislead and really you know nothing, but then your cup is already full, no space there for any new ideas. But please stop harassing other people with your false messages and self righteousness.

  46. Near the ending of second part: it is unfortunate that they have misinformation about who God is, and what the purpose of living is. God gave you a body, hands and feet; use these to get what you need instead of questioning why you aren't getting money. you can't expect to get money if you choose not to work when you were given the ability to work. i would recommend that they read the Quran.

    1. I watched this I thought the exact same thing. Someone should give the Amish Dawah!

    2. Yeah, work your butt off while your Banking masters profit from it and leave you to die in the fields you fed your masters with. The world is a much different place then the old religions. Respect and love mother earth is all you really need to know. The rest will come to you.

    3. Even the bible says it's not good for man not to work. No where does it say you will have a rosy life, that god is your genie and everything you pray for you will get, in fact in sunday school I learned sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes you have to go out and get it yourself. I haven't been to church since I was 12 and I still understand better than this guy does the way it works.

  47. They have to keep unity, and that is the reason for repercussions. The Amish will fare better during an economic crisis than mainstream culture, because they work their own land, produce their own goods, and grow their own food, unlike all of us who depend on someone for our electricity at home, depend on someone to provide us drinking water, depend on someone to grow our food for us, depend on someone to provide us a job so we can pay our bills and etc... That's something we can all learn from. There is nothing wrong with following rules for the sake of unity. It is a choice. That is the price you pay to stay in a community, and enjoy all that it provides, and its worth it, if you are willing to pay that price. They don't hold anyone hostage. The Amish understand very well there is no such thing as a free lunch, unlike what many of us have been accustomed to.

    1. I agree fully with what you write even though i know it is a subject with many different angles. Your description of one angle is brillant!

    2. When or if (depending on your views) society collapses, these people will be the survivors, I swear.

    3. I grow all my own food, run a saw mill that I designed and built, use my own timber off my own land to build my own home and all the furniture in it, build my own accoustic intsruments that I taught myself to play, etc. Yet I do all of this without rigid conformity to some religious ideology, without worshipping any god of anykind, and while embracing those technologies I find both useful and affordable. One need not sacrifice human curiosity and the excitement of discovery for safety.

      I agree with you that most people rely too much on technology, state run utilities, etc. But I disagree entirely that the answer to that problem is to live like these people. Thats just as bad, its just on the other end of the spectrum. We need moderation, responsibility, and education- not to revert to living like dark aged religious fanatics. Following practical rules based on good science for the sake of unity makes great sense, following a bunch of archaic rules based on superstition and ignorance defeats more than you could ever gain from it.

    4. I don't see any reason not to use the most advanced technologies to make work easier. Religion is their unifying theme, but it could be just about anything, and an individual can do this on their own, like you.

  48. Here I see locked behind the bars of religion, a man and a woman who have a brillance of love for the earth they walk on. I think they forget to look at the stars and wonder what does science say about this?
    Religion is an unbending ruler created by others. Science is a bending ruler created by all of us.

    Religion is you dreaming of a GOD outside of you during the day.

    It may be that science is for the day and spirituality for the night. It "may be" that a good mixture of both energies creates harmony in one's life.
    It may be that spirituality should be left for the night when the self is free to experience that "nonbeing physically". Than God would be what IT is, whatever your within makes it be.

    My god is a game, it is life itself, it is a dog barking at me from all directions. It is a game of self i play in life with my i. The pi of i and 1 is a never quite ready story, a boundless scroll of revolving thoughts, a mega alpha game of letters spoken from a to z passing by way of "m and w" or "me and we".

    Let GOD dream you. A lot has been discovered upon waking up by the best minds.
    (re-edited and still)

  49. Just finished watching the first part.
    I see beautiful family values, respect for the land, raising of children based on participation. Here are some people who may not be expert in world issues and scientific knowledge because of their lack of formal education but they are expert on life basic values. "In a way" i envy them to be living in such healthy environment.
    The religion may be a way for the elders to keep those values strong, but it is cracking at the seam, the world is pushing very different values on them.
    Will see with the second part for more thoughts.

  50. Another misconception which I'll be keen to see how or if they explore - a few minutes in, they are appearing to preserve the much more fascinating than reality picture or notion that these people live in an enclave unto themselves. The truth is they are actually totally integrated into modern society in most ways. they do business all the time with everyone else. Some of them are wealthy contractors who own 30,000 pickup trucks which they hire their non-Amish employees to drive from job-site to job-site because they are not allowed to. They don't live on some lost-in-time island, but in an otherwise normal Pennsylvania region interacting in much the same way the rest of the area's rural community does. I live on a city street and frequently hear an Amish buggy clip-clopping by my window at night as someone returns to their farm after having sold produce at our market or doing some other downtown business. I also ride the bus with Amish folks all the time. So, while this personal story looks to be quite interesting, don't believe the fantastic picture of isolation the doc seems to be painting. If anything, modern mega-church suburban evangelicals in Lancaster County live in more of a bubble than the Amish do.

    1. Haven't watch yet, but your realistic "on the spot" view is interesting and trust worthy.

    2. Now that you have watched the documentary hopefully you can see your comment was not needed. One of the first things this documentary says is that "they live side by side with modern Americans, but they keep themselves apart with a strict set of rules." In particular, they were following around people from "the first amish church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania...the old order amish have the strictest set of rules." They established that right in the beginning! The second part also shows many of the things you talked about above, in regards to their interaction in modern communities; skip to 17 minutes in on part 2 if you want to see for yourself. I understand what you are saying as this documentary doesn't provide a broad sweeping view of everything and everyone Amish, but it never claimed to, its title is Trouble in Amish Paradise and it clearly goes about its stated intentions. Watch the entire documentary before you question its veracity, it just makes no sense to me to post about something you haven't watched yet. All the best!

    3. I think the amish are much better than the suburban evangelicals for sure. The amish practice good morals (a religion actually doing that IS SO RARE) and aren't corrupt capitalists, not really anyway. They also aren't f***ing up our planet with machines and such. So I like them but I still don't agree with any unfounded beliefs. But they are still one of the better religions, you know what I mean.

      And Atheists will alway look "arrogant" (a very common taunt) because, well, because we are always right. Lol. Religion is the arrogant one, and so if religious people say they feel belitted after they argue with all their tiny might- There is just no question. Religion has never won a debate, never will, get over it. I love it when I see an Atheist being called Intellectually Arrogant because the religious person knows they are right. hahaha EXACTLY. give it up already you crazy religious people gee

  51. it's sad these nice people can't cope with the real world, like many religious people, all religions are shut off from reality.
    They gave away their home and all their life savings thinking god would reward them.. only to end up broke and homeless.... and it's sad because god isn't there, life isnt that simple- you have to carve your own life by making good choices. Throwing away money is a bad choice.
    Then they took their sick daughter off chemo-therapy and thought god would heal her... :( but once again only science can heal sickness, they truly put all their faith into someone that isn't there.

    They are loving and kind parents but have no clue about how to operate in the world. They come from a happy, sheltered land where the community take care of things, so they don't know how to fend for themselves.
    I hate religion, it ruins peoples lives... these people would be kind without it. They don't need it, they could care for their children much better.
    God isn't there, only we are and it's up to us to make life brilliant!

    1. gmf there are plenty of religious people who do realistically live in and cope with the real world, who both believe in God and in science, who also believe that life is about the choices we make. Saying you hate "religion" as if it is a definable entity is like saying you hate "fire" because sometimes people die in it. I believe that God is there - here in fact - and that it is our participation in the divine, our duty indeed to make life brilliant. You have plenty of company in this site in your views, and as I often try to do, I'd encourage you to be a bit more openminded to the possibility that there are people and scenarios which you in your human limitations have not yet concieved of...and that in these scenarios a different type of "religion" is not only possible but alive and well. You would serve yourself better and learn more by asking questions rather than casting blanketed judgments on several billion people.

    2. "...there are plenty of religious people who do realistically live in and cope with the real world, who both believe in God and in science, who also believe that life is about the choices we make."

      Yes, these people are called religious moderates, and they are the worst of the bunch. They provide cover for the fanatics, cherry pick thier religious texts, reject established dogma, and seem very insincere to me. They are basically doing theological gymnastics in a vain attempt to reconcile religious dogma and modern scienitifc data because they do not want to admit that religion is false. I mean if you reject this and that from the book, why accept the other more palatable claims? Just because they sqaure with your modern sense of morality doesn't make them any more correct than the barbaric or fantastic claims you say you reject.

      Believing in science means believing in the scientific method, not just believing some of the claims scientist have made. If you believe the scientific method works, then you have to discredit ninety percent of the claims in the bible as they simply do not hold up to basic scientific reasoning, scientific observation, or logical deduction. You have to discredit personal revelations as well. Knowledge gained through the scientific method tells us that our perceptions of reality as well as our emotional states are far to complicated to boil down to cause and effect, far to fickle to place much trust in at all. You must also throw out other peoples personal revelations. Perhaps they have other motives to mislead you, perhaps they are mislead themselves, etc. So, if we can't trust the bible, we can't trust the pastor, we can't accept traditional dogma, we can't even trust our own revelations- exactly what is left? FAITH, and thats all. Now if you buy something, anything, especially something this important and far reaching on faith alone- you do not believe in science- period.

      Moderates want to hang on to the safety and acceptance that religion gives them, but they don't want to appear that simple. They can't defend the extravagant claims made by religion, they realize just how ridiculous it all sounds- So they attempt to excuse themselves by saying I agree with both points of view. Its intellectual cowardice if you ask me, make a stand!!

    3. waldO, the atheist's ability to wield broad arrogant judgments never ceases to amaze me. I'm going to attempt a response, but I have a life and have to resist the urge to get into a lengthy back and forth because you will undoubtedly throw all the same arguments I have responded to 20 times on TDF and elsewhere. I can't wait to some day have an atheist or agnostic with some original thinking weigh in. At the moment, the playbook is fairly well written and the players know how to use the same plays again and again. So with that said, I want to respond specifically to a few things you said, since you decided to randomly rain down your antireligious fervor on oppposed to say...asking a question that might further your understanding of the world around you.

      "They provide cover for the fanatics" Nope, I don't. I call them out on their dangerous nonsense, just like I'm doing now.

      "cherry pick their religious texts, reject established dogma" How is it that you get to tell someone else, whose religious tradition you disregard, what that tradition ought to consider orthodox? If I had a penny for every time an atheist used the term "cherry pick" in order to accuse me of being some kind of weak you understand the arrogance of this? to say the whole thing is rubbish is one thing, but to then suggest that you have the authority to decide what a believer ought to believe, when you yourself believe it all to be nonsense...that's craziness! The fact is you don't have a clue about the depth and diversity of the tradition of which I'm a part. What you call cherry picking or moderate is not some new weak aberration. Some of the thinkers and mystics I revere wrote "moderately" over 1,000 years ago. So if I choose to adhere to and live according a dogma that, while perhaps a minority, has been around for a millenia, when do I get to call it "established?" Because I reject some dogma that is established and believed by some in order to subscribe to another, how is that within your purview as a non-believer to dictate as right, wrong, weak, or anything? I may be wrong (I try my best not to do as many in your camp do and make sweeping assumptions about the person on the other end of a discussion), but I would guess that your accusation here is rooted in a surface level understanding of both Christian teaching and tradition and history. The fact is that diversity has been around a very very long time. In fact it may surprise you to know that fanatics who read the bible literally are part of a recent movement. There have been various such literalist strains throughout the millenia, but there have been very mainstream strains which rejected literalism as well. So, you are presumptuous and out of your depth to declare what is or is not orthodox.

      "and seem very insincere to me." When you say they "seem insincere" is this based on any actual interaction and relationship? How can anyone seem anything to you if you don't have even a modicum of openness to understand their viewpoint. When you say "they" seem mean all of "them" or "us?" Have you met all of us? Can you possibly make such a sweeping judgment with any hope of accuracy? I

      "I mean if you reject this and that from the book," okay stop right here. Here is the biggest presumption, and one that way too many people make. "the book." You presume, and not without reason as I mentioned earlier there is a powerful evangelical movement which has taught you this presumption, but nonetheless you presume and assume that to be a follower of Christ, there is an inherent obsession with "the book." Not so. Christian was a derogatory term given to people obsessed with trying to live as Christ did and according to Christ's teachings. So I will happily be maligned for attempting to be a "little Christ" but I will not be maligned for treating the collection of books assembled 300 years after Christ as precisely that - a collection of important books which outline much of the precedence and history of the faith I now have. I can guess what's going to happen here. You throw up your hands in disgust and say, "see? These moderates are worthless!" Yes it's true, it's very hard to win an argument with someone when the insist on not believing what you think they ought to believe. But the fact is, it's not your call who gets to be considered a Christian and who doesn't. So, as much as it may infuriate someone such as yourself because it complicates what you'd prefer to be a simple is the way of things. So just because there are people who call themselves Christians and who are obsessed with Biblical Canon as their rallying point, it does not mean that I, as someone who sees Jesus Christ as the rallying point, should be considered non-orthodox. For what it's worth, I don't "just accept the more palatable claims" I exercise discernment to understand what the stories mean, who wrote them, why, what they might illuminate about me, God, the world, etc.

      "Believing in science means believing in the scientific method, not just believing some of the claims scientist have made. If you believe the scientific method works, then you have to discredit ninety percent of the claims in the bible as they simply do not hold up to basic scientific reasoning, scientific observation, or logical deduction." In some senses I agree with this. However, I don't see the Bible as a book that makes ANY scientific claims whatsoever. Genesis is a poem and powerful one in my opinion. Much can be learned from it, but none of what can be learned has anything whatsoever to do with science. But I don't need to elaborate further as I've already addressed the issue of how I relate to the texts collected in the canon.

      "You have to discredit personal revelations as well. Knowledge gained through the scientific method tells us that our perceptions of reality as well as our emotional states are far to complicated to boil down to cause and effect, far to fickle to place much trust in at all." I may have to discredit personal revelations as being some kind of proof, but they are not in that realm. The truths learned from personal revelations have no bearing on science one way or the other for me. See you reveal an obsession with the surface layer issues such as, does God exist and can it be proved. I'm not interested in proving the scientific veracity of anything to anyone. I am interested in understanding to the core of my being what is true in all senses, and in finding peace in the process. So my spiritual experiences, which you call personal revelations, are just that. They are experiences and they are personal. They don't have anything to do with science. They neither threaten or confirm anything to do with science. I am a huge science nerd, I love to learn more and more. The more I learn, the more it increases my sense of wonder and awe. For me this is a complement to my faith, and since my faith is not concerned with what is provable, but what can be experienced and what leads to a better life, neither threatens the other.

      "You must also throw out other peoples personal revelations. Perhaps they have other motives to mislead you, perhaps they are mislead themselves, etc." I'm not sure where this "you must" is coming from. Again, it's awfully arrogant to suggest things in such terms so blindly. Certainly, personal revelations have to be treated soberly with care and discernment. But to fully explain to you the nuances of this would be a waste of time. I will simply say that you most certainly have not been exposed to the kind of small Christian community of which I am a part where there is deep, well-earned trust. As far as previous revelations - the fruit speaks for the ones that mattered. Saint Francis, Julian of Norwich, Columbanus, Oscar Romero, Mother Theresa, etc. None of these people had revelations which suggested they violate other human beings...quite the opposite. Accordingly, they have left worthwhile legacies.

      "Now if you buy something, anything, especially something this important and far reaching on faith alone- you do not believe in science- period." I am not buying anything, I am seeking the truth. I am learning to love my neighbor. I am experiencing God. I have little faith. Very little. I admire and sometimes fear those who posess a lot because they either do great things or terribly misguided things. I am content to take one step at a time in seeking the truth of everything. I do believe in science. Thanks though for your concern.

      "Moderates want to hang on to the safety and acceptance that religion gives them, but they don't want to appear that simple." On the contrary, I have no "safety" as it were in my religious practice and experience. I am challenged everyday by life and new ideas and I embrace it. If such a day comes that my belief and way of life are challenged in such a way that, in order to have integrity, I must abandon it, I guess I would. Again, it is arrogant and foolish of you to say something so broad as "moderates want....etc." You cannot possibly speak for so many people you do not know. as to appearances - I could care less how I "appear" in terms of simple or not. If someone were to look at my life and declare that I was simple, but that I treated people well and was honest and making the world better - that would be okay. Some of my greatest heroes have embraced the appearance of simplicity.

      "They can't defend the extravagant claims made by religion, Religion does not make any claims whatsoever. It refers to an unfathomably diverse number of people with varying belief systems and practices. My particular religion, Christianity, could be said to make some claims. You are right that I cannot and care not to "defend" any such extravagant claims. What I find myself defending here is the right to be treated with civility and intellectual dignity, and the idea that we'd all be better off if we were trying to learn about one another instead of launch prescribed salvos at complete strangers.

      "they realize just how ridiculous it all sounds- So they attempt to excuse themselves by saying I agree with both points of view."

      Multiverses sound pretty ridiculous, but hey what do you know? Sounds possible. I find no compulsion to make up an excuse to believe in the possibility of a multiverse which I have never experienced. Neither do I have any need of making excuses about believing in ridiculous-sounding things which I have in fact experienced. I don't "agree with both points of view" as I don't share your opinion that there are just two distinct and opposing points of view.

      "Its intellectual cowardice if you ask me, make a stand!!" Pretty sure I just did. However, a much less convenient stand for your simplistic and reductionist purposes. Unfortunately, nothing is as simple as your manner of diatribe requires it to be. I look forward to a thoughtful reply to my specific points with some original thinking.

    4. I didn't tell you what to believe or not to believe, thats my whole point. It is either all correct or none of it is. Since all you have to go on is your faith that this text is telling you the truth, you either believe it or you don't. You admit out right that you cherry pick when you tell me I have no right to tell you what to believe because I don't understand your religion. Which by the way is a ridiculous statement in and of itself. You have no idea what I know about your religion, do you. I happen to be very qualified to discuss western religious traditions, but I will get to that later. My point was that if you didn't cherry pick you would have said that god told you what believe and NO ONE, not even someone that knows all there is to know about christianity, has the right to change that or add to it. The way you phrased it tells me you will listen to interpretations from people you deem knowledgable about your religion, which basically means they didn't challenge you in any way.

      And yes, you do provide cover for the fanatics by lending credibility to thier delusions and defending thier religion. As far as my knowing nothing of your religion, I have a degree in theology centered on the judeo christian belief system, my grandfather was a baptist preacher, and I grew up in the christian religion- at least until I developed the ability and courage to think for myself. If that doesn't qualify me to discuss western religion I have no idea what would. Moderates do nothing but place a more acceptable face on the ficade that hides all the fanatics, while appeasing thier own selfish needs to feel safe.

      As far as why I didn't ask you a question, well that should be apparent. We atheist use the same arguements over and over because they are valid and you guys have yet to prove them otherwise. Saying you are tired of an arguement means what, that you have heard it over and over from many people (does this tell you anything), that you have yet to satisfy anyone other than other religees with an answer, basically that you have no defense so you revert to childish games and accusations. Never mind, I am sure you see this as successful debate, and that should tell you something as well.

      As far as your defense of your supposed established dogma, prove it. There is no dogma established a thousand years ago that moderates follow, they are attempting to create one now. Study your history and you will see that this has happened over and over through out the years. Pay particular attention to the enlightenment period and the protestant movement. Every time the world advances its understanding of the universe and science, the religees attempt to update thier dogma to sqaure it with modern knowledge. Yet they try and claim thier religion is timeless and never changes, just as you are attempting to do now. Suit yourself, the rest of the intelligent world sees through it pal. You refer me to a moderate dogma that was established thousands of years ago, and I will admit i was wrong on this point. But you can't. Yes a few traditions said some moderate things, but they all lived in a different time and found things that we now see as horribly immoral as perfectly o.k.

    5. I will be brief. I think that most reasonable people, atheist or not, can look at my comments and make sense of them. You are too angry and in too much of an ideological frenzy to possibly hear anything with rationality. I will respond to a few items.

      When I say you are telling me what to believe, I mean that you are insisting that you, better than I, understand objectively what it should mean to call oneself Christian. You are suggesting that if I call myself that, I MUST believe a,b,c,d. You certainly confirmed this in your reply just now. When you say I have to believe all of it or none of it. What "it?" that's the problem. You are asserting that you have some kind of authority to suggest what "it" is. I am sure included in this vague list of horrific superstitions would be substitutionary atonement. I don't believe in that, and many Christians do not, and have not for a very long time. Cherry pick what? What is the "it" I must accept or reject and not cherry pick from? No one has the right to change or add to what being a Christian means? Why? Since when? On whose authority?

      I have plenty of instances where I am challenged by people with much more hardline views of Christianity, the views you prefer in some strange perverse way. You can speculate about that aspect of my life no more accurately than I can speculate about your education. Come to that, I am sorry for having done so. I am sorry that your grandfather was a baptist preacher, and that may explain a lot. Where you get your degree? In your studies did you read Eriugena? For someone who studied Christian theology your habit of wildly broad strokes and inflexibility to tolerate diversity is quite surprising. Broad strokes like, "Moderates do nothing but place a more acceptable face on the ficade that hides all the fanatics, while appeasing thier own selfish needs to feel safe." Wow, so that's all I do with my time? That's sad. However, a more accurate description of my "religious" time is meditation, prayer, searching for truth, seeking solutions to local and global problems, defending the poor and powerless, seeking to be transformed into someone free of hatred, etc. etc. Or what you said. And I do all this because I am selfish and want to feel safe. That's odd.

      Yes, having heard something over and over again makes it no more helpful than the first time around. I have addressed your attacks and others thoughtfully and carefully, and with specificity. What I typically get in return are assembly-line atheistic vitriol, instead of thoughtful, careful, and specific responses to MY points as opposed to responses to the points you'd rather be arguing against.

      I have yet to satisfy anyone with an answer to what? Please ask. I in fact had a similar discussion months back which ended with an apology from an atheist who admitted that his reasoning was emotionally fueled and innacurate and that mine, though he disagreed, was sound. I took that as "satisfaction." Please specify which childish games and accusations I have made. I'd like to address them. It is not apparent to me why you wouldn't investigate and seek to understand "the other side" as opposed to attacking. In situations such as this, when both sides are cool-headed and able to respect one another, it is often far more instructive to ask questions and to work toward understanding the other point of view. I don't see this as a successful debate because I don't take pleasure in any "gotcha" moments. For what it's worth I do happen to think my reasoning stands up well, but I'm not looking to "win" anything. I'd much rather have the end result that we both hear each other as human beings and learn something new.

      I said I'd be brief but I apparently suck at that. Anyway, I'll now respond to your last paragraph.

      "Yet they try and claim thier religion is timeless and never changes, just as you are attempting to do now." No I don't claim that my religion is timeless and never changes. I belief the truth which my religion grasps toward in often faltering steps never changes. Some of the most important of those truths were elucidated by Christ. The notion of placing others before oneself is certainly something I consider timeless. Christianity as a scattered institution of course is not static, it is but a group of human beings trying to figure things out and getting it wrong lots of the time. I would never claim something so foolish.

      "Suit yourself, the rest of the intelligent world sees through it pal." I must say, I have been badgered by a number of people who agree with you. The jury is out on the collective intelligence of online atheists. As to the cream of the crop, Dawkins is bright, but at the end of the day his emotional and inflexible ideas lead to a denigration of his intellect. The same is sometimes true of HItchens, who I admire tremendously by the way. Once in a while though, when someone bests him intellectually he simply admits it. I consider him among the elite class of the intelligent world. He stands side by side with other intelligent folks like Francis Collins.

      "You refer me to a moderate dogma that was established thousands of years ago, and I will admit i was wrong on this point. But you can't. Yes a few traditions said some moderate things, but they all lived in a different time and found things that we now see as horribly immoral as perfectly o.k."

      You like the word dogma. I'm not a big fan. But I can refer you to schools of thought that gave birth or contributed to movements. One was Eriugena (Irishman who lived in France in the 800's I think.) His thought and theology were part of a strain of Celtic Christianity which flourished from around 400 for several centuries, surviving in smaller ways into the middle ages.

    6. @ SaintNarcissus,

      Very nice post.

    7. @Waldo
      You say: "Moderates want to hang on to the safety and acceptance that religion gives them, but they don't want to appear that simple. They can't defend the extravagant claims made by religion, they realize just how ridiculous it all sounds- So they attempt to excuse themselves by saying I agree with both points of view. Its intellectual cowardice if you ask me, make a stand!!"

      What if that person sees the best of both sides?
      What if that person has chosen to quit the fight?
      What if that person has no intention to convert you?
      What if that person walks the talk?
      What if that person doesn't perceive you the right way either?
      What if that person stands with his/her own perception of spirituality?
      What if that person has realized that one's perception creates one's world?
      What if you are wrong and i am too?
      What if we all are?

    8. Lol, well SaintNarcissus I don't like the superiority-tone you're taking here. You do seem very articulate which is great but there's not a whole lot of substance in that paragraph. It makes perfect sense but I don't agree with the analogy about Fire being compared to Religion.
      Fire is an element that cooks our food and keeps us warm... Fire doesn't extort money from poor people, making false promises or slaughters millions who don't agree with it's views. Fire gives us so much more than organised Religion, so if that's the best argument for religion you have... it's actually better than the crap people usually vomit up it's not bad but still fails.
      Sure religion can offer good things too, but only when the fear of punishment accompanies it, with in counteracts the good bits anyway. For every girl that feels happy about God, theres a young women being slaughtered by her father for dating a boy of a different religion :( . Also saying I hate religion "as though it is a definable entity".... erm, I didn't define it, I said I hated it- which is more of an emotional reaction rather than a definition isn't it? Ironically the people who define it are the problem which I despise. So yeah that seemed like a bit of jibberish.

      "I'd encourage you to be a bit more openminded to the possibility that there are people and scenarios which you in your human limitations have not yet concieved of...and that in these scenarios a different type of "religion" is not only possible but alive and well."

      Lol ok time to get off your pedestal. I totally agree that there are things I can't conceive (I always have this conversation with my boyfriend, who is Agnostic) and yeah there sure could be something, but if there WAS, I doubt God would have all these stupid rules for us, like don't eat pork, remember to stone women to death, Cut off the skin on your babies penis... etc. Please dude, give me a break! A being in another dimension would surely be beyond this medieval bollocks?
      You can't say i'm not open minded, you have no idea who I am or what I do or what i have experienced. I'm very open minded for a 20 yr old (I did study philosophy so yeah it's a prerequisite to be open minded) So don't make assumptions about people you don't know. Iv'e watched religious docos and debates and read the books for 4 years now, and Iv'e completed a double bachelor in Sociology an Philosophy. When you do an entire Semester of Critical Thinking, you realize the logical behind why you are an Atheist. Even If I tried my rationality just laughs at god. I mean other worlds and other beings are awesome to consider, but when you start ruling the lives of innocent people, including denying them contraceptives to reinforce your own inadequate beliefs that spells TROUBLE. and sociopath.

      I agree that there are things we don't understand (LOL hence why I'm not religious instead of saying I don't understand therefore god's real.. haha) so isn't it safer to not believe and wreck your life, and just enjoy it, and be rational? You need to watch "The Root of all Evil?" to see how insane it is. Oh and the teapot analogy is wonderful!

      Basically what I want you to hear "Narcissist" sorry I meant Narcissus.. is to turn the comment you made to me around and ask why aren't YOU more open minded? Maybe there's a whole, mysterious universe YOU don't understand and you can't conceive... the truth is so much more amazing than Primitive Folklore we call Religion.
      If my mind can only "conceive" the beauty in the universe and every human being as a complex living organism;who is greater as a breathing, walking, thinking, feeling LIVING soul, than any 'God' could ever be... then woohoo! I got lucky didn't I? :)

  52. This is my hood! I'll have to watch it. FYI most people, including the tourists who flock here all summer, think that our county is nothing but Amish farms and outlet malls. As it happens we have a small vibrant city with rich history (it was temporarily the nations capitol during the revolutionary war), the oldest urban farmer's market downtown, a thriving arts community (countless galleries, a rock club that has hosted scores of historic and important artists - including some less important like yours truly), an active and accepted gay community, and numerous world class restaurants. Just so you know...if you ever roll through Lancaster, skip gawking at the Amish and come downtown.