Marko has posted about Rumspringa: To be or not to be Amish, by Tom Shachtman. It sounds a really intriguing read – one to add to my wish list, annoyingly I have just spent the book token we got for Christmas but anyhow. Here is some of Marko’s post reproduced:
“The book looks at the practice of rumspringa which is the amish practice of allowing their older teenagers (from 16 years-old, for 2 to 5 years) to experience the world. Many (not all) of the kids on rumspringa, party like crazy, experimenting with alchohol, tobacco, drugs and sex (along with motorized vehicles, cell phones, non-amish clothing, pop music, and all the other things normal teenagers experience). At the end of their rumspringa, the young adults are expected to choose whether or not they will be baptized into the church and become fully amish (theoretically, and normally, for the rest of their lives).
It’s a wild and surprising practice, born out of a staunch Anabaptist belief that the Christian life is one that each individual must choose, completely on his or her own. In other words, amish children are not really considered part of the church, because they are not considered old enough to make their own conscious choice. The idea behind rumspringa, then, is that these post-teenagers have to know what their choosing between. If they have been forced to live the sheltered amish life until the day of their baptism, they won’t really be making an informed decision.
But here’s the other wild and surprising thing about rumspringa: 80 – 90% of the teenagers return to the church, get baptized, give up their partying ways, and become fully-functioning members of the church. That’s a WAY higher percentage than any other segment of the church, protestant or catholic.”
Looks very interesting.