Finding Paradise through Intercourse!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
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Trip End May 16, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Definition #1: Finding Paradise through Intercourse!
 
Intercourse: Small Pennsylvania town with a large Amish presence
Paradise: Small Pennsylvania town with a large Amish presence
 
The  route I took was to first pass through Bird-in-Hand to get to Intercourse, then in a round-about way I ended up in Paradise. I was in the heart of Amish countryside. The title to my blog comes from a book I came across, "Reaching Paradise through Intercourse", a book on towns with unusual names.
 
So I finally saw some Amish people in the town of Intercourse. I also found a lot of shoppers. Being a Saturday, it seemed like everybody was out shopping for some crafts. There was a whole mall dedicated to crafts, Amish, Mennonite, Quilt Shops, Woodwork, etc. I walked around Intercourse for a while, seeing the occasional Amish buggy pass by, then had lunch in a local diner. Walking back towards my truck I was following this couple. Then the gentleman turns around and tells me to take a picture of the horse. He didn't have his camera. The horse, pulling an Amish buggy, was showing its teeth. Looked like it needed braces. I don't take a picture. We continue walking and talking. It sounded like the couple travelled a lot and the gentleman seemed to be a semi or professional photographer. I indicated that I felt uncomfortable taking pictures of the Amish because of their requests not to have them taken (see below). The gentleman stated that in a lot of countries where photos of locals are frowned upon, he normally shoots the photos by holding the camera at his hip so that they don't even know he's taking pictures. After that, I drove around the side roads passing numerous Amish farms. I saw numerous kids playing and men working in the fields and around the farm yards. It was often difficult to determine which farms were Amish because they all looked alike. The only way to differentiate them was when you saw a car or truck in the yard and no buggies. In the end I didn't take many pictures. What I've posted is what I took.
 
The Amish & Photographs
It is difficult to leave Lancaster County without hearing of the Amish aversion to having their photographs taken. Nevertheless, few tourists return home without photos, while books and postcards with spectacular pictures sell well in local gift shops. It is indeed ironic that a group of people who wish not to be photographed are perhaps the most photographed ethnic group in America! Although the Second Commandment is usually cited, Bachman writes that "photographs are an evidence of pride, in which people are tempted to look at a likeness of themselves with self admiration...Pictures, they say, represent simply the outward appearance, which is temporary; and in paying too much attention to the passing, there is always danger of losing sight of the eternal and the spiritual." More recently, Dr. Donald Kraybill in The Riddle of Amish Culture , notes that the Second Commandment was used to legitimize the taboo against pictures. "In the latter part of the nineteenth century, as photography was becoming popular, the Amish applied the biblical injunction against 'likeness' to photographs. Their aversion to photographs is a way of suppressing pride. If people see themselves displayed in a photograph, they might begin to take themselves too seriously." Most visitors to Lancaster County find it difficult not to take photographs of the Amish. Yet, if there is one thing that appears to bother the Amish, it is people trying to constantly, and sometimes secretly, take their picture. Stoll says the issue has more to do with idolatry, and that today's idol, unlike the "golden calf," may really be Self. "We believe that posing for photographs is part of the world's misguided emphasis on glorifying our outward man. The Bible tells us that it is the inner man that is important... The world puts a lot of emphasis on a pretty girl or a handsome boy. A person's facial features should not affect our opinion of a person's worth or value. Thus we believe that letting ourselves get involved in the world of photography leads us away, not toward, true humility." I always find it interesting to hear the explanations the Amish give for this aversion to pictures. One day I asked an Amish girl whether it had something to do with the Second Commandment. Her answer was, "I don't know, but that's what the tour guides say." One day I picked up a young Amish man hitchhiking to visit a friend in the hospital. I asked him what he says when tourists ask, "Why can't I take your picture?" He jokingly told me his reply is usually, "Because somebody already did!" While many local Amish may understand the visitor's natural curiosity, they don't want to feel like animals in an African photo safari. Obviously, the best way to make contact with one of our Amish neighbours is not with a camera in your hand. The next time you are out in your yard, imagine how you would feel if a carload of people drove up, stopped, and started snapping pictures of you, and video-taping your activities. Refraining from taking photos is more than just a courtesy. As the local Visitors Bureau notes, "While you talk and mingle with the Amish, please remember that they are not actors or spectacles, but ordinary people who choose a different way of life. Please respect their privacy and refrain from trespassing on their land or taking photographs." Amish author Stoll concludes, "No, let us not slip gradually, bit by bit, into the ways of the world that lead to an emphasis on pride and personal vanity. When we are gone, let us be remembered not by how broad were our noses, the height of our brows, or the angle of our cheekbones, but by what truly matters --- the lives we have lived and the examples we have left. Dust we are, to dust we shall return. Why frame and embellish and hang on the wall the pictures of this house of clay in which we live? Let us beware lest we permit Self to be exalted becoming unto us a graven image."

So there you have the story on the Amish "aversion" to photos. Out of respect I didn't take any direct shots of them and I even feel bad about taking the ploughing one.
 
I could write so much more about my findings in the research I did on this way of life. We could all learn a lesson from these individuals. Though sometimes, what you see isn't always what you get.
 
Definition # 2: Finding Paradise through Intercourse!
 
Intercourse: mutual dealings - exchanges between people or groups, especially conversation or social activity
Paradise: place ideally suited to somebody - a place where there is everything that a particular person needs for his or her interest
 
I starting writing what I thought would be my definition and then I realized that it should be each and every one of you who should do it because you all have different FEELINGS on how you should be leading your lives to arrive at what you perceive to be YOUR Paradise. If I write what I believe then you start thinking that what I am saying might be right and you spend your time THINKING about it. During this time you are not Experiencing what YOU feel.
 
The other aspect of this is that we believe if we read or listen to someone else's Journey of Discovery then that will help us out in our own Journey. We often want to take the easy road. Let the others do the hard part of discovering. Just give me the answer and that'll satisfy me. But that is false because we have all started from and are at different places in our Journey because of what we've experienced. So we start practicing Buddhism thinking that is the answer. Or, we get disillusioned with Christianity and become an atheist. Or, we continue following the path we were brought up in because that is what we know and so the easiest thing to do. Or, maybe we are following the path that we Feel is right for us. We can look to others for inspiration but look inside of you for your truth! Nobody else can know your Truth but You!
 
My Journey began the day I was born. I have had many experiences since then. They all form part where I'm at now. The current part of my Journey is to experience as much of everything as I possibly can. This also includes, for me because that is what I require, reading as many different viewpoints as possible from other people. I relate very small parts of what I am learning from my current experience in my blogs because they all tie into what I have experienced in the past. So without going into detail about my whole life experiences, I cannot possibly describe where I am completely coming from in any of my current experiences. A small part of my past experiences could be left out and that could change the whole interpretation of what I was describing. My Path to "Finding Paradise through Intercourse" will become clearer to ME as I Journey. It is of no use to any of you except as Inspiration to follow your own Feelings.
 
Think It! Feel It! Live It!
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