I have really tried not to clutter this blog with politics, but I just saw an article about Donald Trump visiting the Amish in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I have to wonder if the Amish will really vote. Many of my friends say no. They will keep to their non intervention in worldly society, but others express horror at the thought that Hillary Clinton can think that crushing a baby's skull is in any way anything but murder. Some also see that Hillary Clinton's appointment of pro-choice supreme court justices is not in keeping with God's law and they must speak out with their vote. The thought that such unborn children are not protected by the law is abhorrent for many....I would say all, but there are some Christians I know who are for Hillary due to Trump's brash attitude. I do not know what is right, but I invite you to pray and vote your conscience. Likewise, for the most part, many Amish are content to put this issue in God's hands and pray. Certainly, I see the power of prayer, but I also feel that God has given us a brain to discern what is right.
If we look at Scripture, there are many verses which say to let the fate of evil-doers remain in God's hands, but there are also those which espouse justice. Psalm 106:3 tells us, "Blessed are those who keep justice." What does that really mean? to "keep justice"? It speaks of practice, not prayer. Micah rails against powerful people who are unjust. They have taken property from the poor in Micah 2:1-2. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah speak of God's justice. Isaiah 61:8 says "God will not act wickedly" and verses 40-66 also says "no justice was found among these people" and delineates this fact. I wonder, will the Lord say the same of us when He comes again? Repeatedly in Scripture we are challenged to stand for justice. Where will we stand this day? Isaiah explains God's justice. I challenge you to read, ponder and pray and the vote your conscience on November 8.
In my latest series, Amish 9/11, I explore some of the dilemmas which face Christians in today's world as we struggle to be God's people. Can we be truly Christian if we silently allow evil to flourish around us without standing up for justice? Benjamin struggles with this question as he wonders if he has strayed too far from his Amish upbringing. How does he balance justice with his Amish need to stand apart, and yet, here he is in New York City. Has he already immersed himself in the world?
I was lead to write this story after Donald Trump said that Muslim people in New Jersey were dancing and cheering the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11. I had to find out for myself. Was this true? I remembered seeing the newsclip on September 11, but I didn't remember where the people were from. I wondered if I was mistaken. Were they really from the USA or did the newscasters make a mistake. I knew they had made mistakes in the heat of the moment, once saying the wrong tower had fallen. Of course it didn't matter since the next fell moments later.
Still, I began to wonder as I researched, what would an Amish boy think of the temper of New York City on that fateful day? I named him Benjamin Lapp. and thought he had to become a New Yorker as well as Amish. I began slowly letting him learn what it was to be Englischer first, and then a New Yorker, fully immersed in the world he had once rejected. I wondered, what if one of his best friends sought out military service after the fall of the towers? What if someone he cared about died? How would this test his faith? How does violence test all of our faith? What does God really want from us? All of these questions are considered in the series Amish 9/11. Some are answered, but many are up to your own conscience, just like your vote on November 8 is your own. Read to find out what Benjamin Lapp decides is right.
I do believe that the Lord will call us to task on what we do this election season whether we vote or not and how that vote counts. Will we stand for justice? Will we be silent? Please pray for our country and our world. Come Lord Jesus!
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Read the first book in the series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZR0SIN
Read more about Trump's visit with the Amish in Lancaster PA.
While doing research on my new series about Benjamin Lapp, the Amish 9/11 Series, I ran across an on-going impasse that has been brewing in the USA concerning the FDA regulations. I think the regulations may be getting out of control. This is about two questions: what constitutes "distribution" and if one owns the cow, does one also own the milk?
I talked to some of the local Amish about the problems with regulation and learned a little more. Apparently, the FDA regulations which govern the distribution of all produce and milk have hit against the Amish farm markets. While most of us feel that buying produce from an Amish farm market may be the freshest and most wholesome fruits and vegetables we can find, the FDA claims that raw food could not be sold in such a way without inspection which is of course paid for by the farmer. (Raw food is the food that you get right off the tree or bush from the farmers market without going first through FDA inspections which may take days, weeks or months, lessening the freshness of the food) The FDA said that the food must be inspected and graded before sale, no matter that the Amish have sold at farmer's markets for generations and the produce is clearly marked as such.
Prior to 2010, as long as the food was labeled that it was not inspected, the consumer had the right to choose to eat what they wanted to eat. Apparently, that has changed. The USA government now not only "protects us" but says that we are incapable of deciding this for ourselves. I am amazed that Amish food must be labeled but GMOs do not have to be labeled. I am just shaking my head here. In any case, I could not find any law that said this labeling law changed, but lately, Amish farm markets have been raided, with, believe it or not GUNS! Yes, that's right, armed federal officials have raided farm markets to impound the food which may or may not be okay for human consumption. Ironically, some of the Amish ate the food in front of the armed officials to prove a point. The food was good. I venture to say, much better than some of the stuff in stores!
I would venture to guess, the government that allows our food to be laced with mercury (fish) and water (In Flint, MI) with lead has no real interest in our safety. What the government does have an interest in is the money that the Amish is NOT paying to have the food inspected. There were serious charges laid, claiming that the Amish were engaged in racketeering and other crimes because they distributed food without the inspections. After this, some Amish decided to pay to have the government inspect. After all, they knew their food would pass. There was nothing wrong with it. This was just how they were selling for generations. This means though, that the consumer had to wait while the inspection was performed and the food was no longer "tree fresh" by only hours off of the vine.
The drama continued with raw milk. The milk was claimed to be "distributed" even though the milk was only given to the members of the gmay who also owned the cows. They were well aware that the milk was raw, ie not pasteurized or homogenized. The initial finding is that it was illegal to "distribute" raw milk. The Amish are fighting for their right to drink their own raw milk if they so choose. They also contest that since the cows belong to the gmay in a co-op the milk also belongs to the group. The finding was in favor of the FDA stating that no, the milk is not owned in a co-op because the cows are. Makes you wonder if the judge knows where milk comes from, doesn't it? This issue is still pending. Google: Amish raw milk and raw milk raid.
If you wish to read more, here are links to some of the articles I found. I am amazed that there are so many problems and so much corruption in our government and yet the Federal Agents felt that they had to attack the most peaceful among us, the Amish. We must all choose our battles, and apparently the Amish are no different. We all struggle to be a peaceful people, and yet we also espouse justice. What happens when those two clash? Isaiah says we must not just speak, we must act.
Benjamin Lapp, my character, in the first of the Amish 9/11 series must confront the issue of peace and what it means to live apart from the world when he moves to New York City circa. 2001. For those of you in the USA, you can guess that Benjamin will come face to face with violence in the Big City. How will he react and how will he serve God? I think many of us have struggled with this thought. I hope Benjamin's thought will help bring you closer to our Lord. Please pray for our county and our world. Amen.
Please find Book 1: Benjamin in the Big City on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZR0SIN
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More References about the Amish and the Raw Milk Raid
In my search for new material on some of the churches in NYC (which my new character Benjamin visits) I ran across Dr. Campbell's sermon. Today with all of the passions running high for the election, and politics, I thought this may bring some peace and understanding. As many of you know the Amish are being courted by the Trump followers. Whether or not they will come out at the polls is something I can't guess, but I do know that there is little in Hillary's agenda that seems Christian. Looking at the third parties, it is always worrisome. Will voting third party just give the election to the worst of the worst?
As always, the first thing we as Christians should do before making a decision, especially one of this magnitude is pray.
In Dr Campbell's sermon, http://www.broadwayucc.org/sermons/2016/8/9/crux-e... I found some answers. I hope you will too. His sermon, is copied below. Giving credit where credit is due. You may want to visit his site for past sermons both in print and audio versions.
A very sincere thank you to Dr. Campbell for his insights.
With love and God's blessings,
Dr. Campbell's guest post follows:
Some of you know that I have chronic migraine headaches. They’ve been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was finally diagnosed in my mid-twenties, I began to very seriously pursue getting well. I decided that I would do whatever I had to in order to be rid of the pain. What I discovered is that some of the purported cures had pain of their own. There were dietary restriction that included a ban on peanut butter, ice cream, and pizza, among other things. I had to establish a consistent sleep pattern, which meant that even on the weekends, I got up and went to bed at the same time each day. I was careful with my intake of caffeine and sugar. I exercised regularly. I drank an inordinate amount of water. But despite my best efforts, the headaches continued. And so I saw more doctors. I had all kinds of tests. I heard all kinds of opinions. Eventually, I decided that I would try some alternative methods, so I went to an acupuncturist. Some people claim that acupuncture doesn’t hurt, but needles between my toes hurt! The acupuncturist also used those heated suction cups all over my body, leaving me covered with bruises. I tried every supplement anyone ever suggested. I read every article. I put Ben Gay on my temples. I rubbed peppermint oil onto the roof of my mouth. Most recently, I’ve started wearing a contraption on my head for twenty minutes a day that shocks me with painful electrical currents that are supposed to disrupt the nerve spasms in my head. Like other sick people, like some of you, I so badly want to be cured of what ails me that I am willing to experience some pain now in hope of relief later.
Isn’t it ironic that this is how healing and recovery work? Medicine can be bitter. Sometimes get worse before you get better.
Once or twice a year, I go on retreat to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Westpark, NY. Chris Amy turned me on to that wonderful place a few years ago now. And every time I am there, I’m struck by the Latin words engraved over the front door: “Crux est mundi medicina.” “The Cross is the medicine of the world.”
I think that’s true. But I used to think of that in purely personal terms. “The cross is the medicine for James.” It was all about me being forgiven and cleansed of my sins. And there is something to that. On some cosmic level, the cross of Christ does save me and save you. But it also saves the world. The cross is the medicine of the world, for what ails the world. But like other harsh treatments, the cross can cause more pain before it brings relief, because the cross stands witness against the violence and injustice of the world and demands that we take another way.
The book of Isaiah is actually at least three books that scholars refer to as I, II, and III Isaiah. It was compiled over many years and reflects the political and religious realities of different people in different times. But maybe it was made into one book because of its strong common themes – the same themes that flow through all of the Hebrew prophets: justice for the oppressed, liberation for the captives, and welcome for refugees. These are universal themes that speak to universal needs. Everyone wants justice. Everyone needs mercy. Everyone deserves food and shelter and love. But what we want and what we get are often two different things. Most human societies are built in such a way to reward the few by denying the many. And so prophets, in every age, rail against the abuses around them and call for lives of common sacrifice so that there is equity and justice for all. The Bible calls that the Kingdom of God.
Jesus preached the Kingdom of God. And Isaiah did too. But the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of this world are often mirror opposites. And so prophets are rabble rousers, pointing out all the inconsistencies. Prophets are like doctors, finding an illness, announcing the cure and then saying: “This is going to hurt a little.” And hurt it did. Isaiah attacked the thing they were most proud of: their religion and their public displays of piety.
I was struck as I watched the conventions at our own public displays of piety. Our piety is a civil religion, washed in red, white and blue, worshipful of military strength, unquestioning of blind patriotism and always invoking these magic words: “God bless America.”
In Isaiah’s day, the public displays of piety consisted of things like burnt offerings and incense and Sabbath celebrations and convocations and solemn assemblies and new moon gatherings and festivals. There was music and the swirl of vestments and the sound of a thousand voices. There was the recitation of beautiful words and pomp and circumstance. It was enough to make your heart thrill, almost as good as a balloon drop. But God hated it all. Isaiah is really clear about that. God hated it.
But why? How could God hate something so beautiful and inspiring? And isn’t worship the work of the people of God? Indeed it is. But there was a problem. It was piety divorced from justice. The ceremony was beautiful, but society was broken. “Your hands are full of blood,” the prophet declared. “What you say you will do for the people and what you actually do are two very different things. You’re sick and you need a cure. And this might hurt a little.”
The cure of justice hurts because it costs something. Real justice demands a more equal sharing of the earth’s bounty. It means that the rich are not quite as rich so that the poor won’t be quite as poor. Those are fightin’ words in America, especially during an election year. And living into them may hurt, but it will also most certainly heal.
Isaiah put it like this: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Notice that each of these phrases begins with an action word, a command: learn, seek, rescue, defend, plead. If Isaiah were talking to us he might say, “Stop talking about justice in your calls to worship and prayers of confession and communion liturgies, and get busy doing justice. Make it real.”
So, Isaiah’s words are meant for us, the people of God, but they’re not just for us. The cross is the medicine of the world. And we are the people of the cross. Jesus said that those who follow him are salt and light in society, meaning that we don’t only need the medicine ourselves; we also dispense it. We embody good news to the poor, and then we become the stone in the shoe of any political party, left or right, that ignores the poor. We embody release for the captives and welcome to strangers, and then we become pains in the behind in city halls and statehouses and the capital whenever captives or strangers are ignored or abused or scapegoated.
This passage ends with these lovely words: “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord…” This verse can also be translated as “Come, let us correct the situation.” And isn’t that wonderful?! If God invites us to correct the situation, then that means that we can! The message of Isaiah, the message of Jesus, the message of the cross and the Resurrection is that despite what ails us, as individuals or as a society, transformation is always possible. It might involve some bitter pills, some surgery, some sacrifice, some rehabilitation, but we can change. By God’s grace, we can change. And so can the world.
Tagged: Isaiah 1:1 10-20
Please visit Dr. Campbell's site directly for more information and archived sermons.
I ran across this series on Youtube a while ago. It is very factual. Of course, the Amish, and Mennonites, portrayed in this series are not the most conservative of the Amish gamays. No. These are more liberal Amish, but you will see first hand how the Amish live.
I think you will also notice some of the differences in the Amish and Mennonite way of life. It might give you better insight into the situation between Hannah and Elam. Both are Christian. Both are trying to live their lives as best they can in God's love.
603 Anderson Road, Enon Valley, PA 16120