November 1, 2013

The Book of Tobit…

Category: News — admin @ 6:56 pm

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He had known all the grief, the peril and the labor such a man
could know; he had grown seamed and weathered in his loyal
service, and now, schooled by the qualities of faith and courage
and humbleness that attended his labor, he had grown old, and
had the grandeur and wisdom these men have.

—Thomas Wolfe
______________

Well, it’s that time of year again. I’ve grumbled about it before here on the blog. Or maybe muttered would be a better word. It’s wedding season around here again. I never knew of anything like a “wedding season” growing up. But this being Lancaster County, they have to be all blue blood and do it like no one else does. Like they’ve always done it. They have to cram the vast majority of their weddings into a short span of about eight weeks. And not just on any day during those weeks, either. Tuesdays and Thursdays are wedding days. And this place is so big that they have a few hundred every year. And things get all jammed up, everywhere you look.

It starts right after Big Church in early October. And stretches through to early December. And you can always tell in the morning, getting to work. You come flying over a hill, bleary-eyed and chugging coffee to wake up, and there in front of you is a blinking buggy. And in front of that one, another. They often travel in convoys for some reason. I don’t think it’s planned that way, the first buggy in line probably just has the slowest horse, which is still a wild and crazy beast compared to the ones I saw growing up. Whatever makes it happen, they bunch up. And they’re coming at you as well as going your way. You have to dodge around one, and dodge in behind another. And then do it all over again. And again. Take all the regular traffic that you see around here every morning anyway and mix it up with that, and it’s just one big mess.

I’m not grumbling. Just saying. And I do think about it sometimes, when I see all those buggies out there, going to all those weddings. Somewhere, there’s a young couple who will always remember this day. I got troubles, just getting to work. But this day is special and important to that couple, because the roads are so clogged. And that’s about as gracious as I’m gonna get, about all that. And even that little sliver can be balanced out a bit with what I’ve said before, a few times. Those buggies just flat out aren’t safe on those roads that early in the morning. Not in numbers like that. Not even when local drivers are looking out for them. Which we are.

And this season was different for me than most are. And that’s probably why this stuff is all just jumbling around in my head like it is. I got invited to an Amish wedding, here. Some good friends of mine, their youngest daughter was getting married. Not only was I told to come, I even got an official printed invitation. That’s a rare thing for me, to get invited to any local weddings. This was the third one, I think, in all the time I’ve lived here. Maybe the fourth. And I told my friends what I always say when I’m invited to a place where there will be crowds like that, people I mostly don’t know. I’ll come for supper. Not during the day. I can’t see sitting on those hard benches for three hours, and then mingling with a whole house full of strangers. I’ll come for supper. And I’ll take a little bit of that Roasht you had for the noon meal home, if there’s any left by that time. And I felt free to say that, that it wouldn’t be offensive. If you know me well enough to invite me to your daughter’s wedding, don’t be offended if I only come for supper.

And I saw firsthand how it all works around here, as a wedding approaches. Pretty much like it was where I grew up, except it’s just a little more intense. And there is a lot of work to do, for a long time. The Amish take weddings seriously. Things are cleaned up outside and in. Starting months ago. You could hear all the talk about the plans, the food, the eck, all the little details, and get a grasp of how much planning such a thing actually takes. And the big old barn was painted just a month or so back. A beautiful dark red on the sides. Shiny silver paint coated the old metal roof.

The day approached, then, and arrived. On Tuesday, I thought of it a few times. But we’re pretty hectic at work, and I really didn’t have time to take the whole day off. I left early, though. Supper would be at five, they’d told me. After getting home and changing into good clothes, I headed on over. Parked Big Blue in the field across the road, and wandered in. Small knots of men stood about, visiting. No one seemed in any particular hurry to head in to eat. I shook hands with a few friends, and told them. It’s almost five. I got here just in time, I guess. They looked at me as if I’d said something strange. “Five? Oh, weddings run on slow time. We’re eating at six, not five. Six is five, slow time.” I was pretty horrified. I’ve grumbled at my friends before, many times. Nobody ever tells me anything. I guess they had a lot going on. But still. You think you’re getting somewhere just in time to eat, and all of a sudden, a whole hour looms right up like a wall. You have to kill it, somehow. Ah, boy. Well, I said. I guess I know enough people that I can visit for that time.

And that’s what I did. Someone took me into the large shop where the service had been held. And now a long U table was set up to eat. Probably seated more than a hundred people. And my friend Esther sought me out. She had been assigned to get me some leftover Roasht from the noon meal. It was sitting out in the cooler in a large tub. We walked into where the women were preparing supper, and Esther found the stack of big Styrofoam takeout containers. She took the top one, but I stopped her. How much Roasht is left? “Well, there’s some on the bottom of the tub,” she said. I want two containers full, I said. “Now, now,” she chided. “Don’t be greedy.” Well, let’s see how much is there, but we’re taking two containers, just in case. And we walked out to the rented cooler trailer. Food was sitting there on the shelves. On the floor a large, and I mean large, tub. I gaped. It rippled with a good four inches of delicious Roasht at the bottom, looked like. All left over from the noon meal. I want to fill both these containers, I told her. And I mean, heap them full. She shook her head and scolded me good-naturedly. But she did it, and we set them on a shelf for me to pick up on my way out. And I didn’t feel one bit guilty. There is no shame at all in begging, not when it comes to Roasht. There is no greed, either.

Soon it was time to be seated for supper, and I was directed to the little table off to the side. Around here, they usually have a table off to the side somewhere, for the ones who had been members and left. And for the odd English guest. Mostly, though, the table is set up for the ones they can’t eat with, at least not in public. Except for down at the south end, maybe. There, they’d be more likely not to have such people at their weddings at all. But here, around me, they do invite such people.

I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years about how offensive that is, to be seated off to the side like that. Like common sinners not good enough to be seated as honored guests at the main table. But I’ve mulled it through, in my mind. And to me, it’s a long way from offensive. Hey, you were invited to come, invited to celebrate this important day. Sometimes by unspoken invitation, sure. I know all about how that is, too. But you were invited. Or they wouldn’t have set any table for you. Be grateful for that gift. Be grateful for that relationship, whatever it is. Why are you grasping to yourself more honor than that? Stop fussing about where you were seated to eat. Feast and be merry and eat. You can always choose to have a grateful heart in pretty much any situation like that, I figure.

It was less than a table full, that little group that night. I knew most of them quite well, as in old friends for a long time. I probably wouldn’t have been invited, had I been a stranger to that table. And we all had a really good time. Just chattering and talking. It’s kind of startling, when everything goes quiet, all at once in that setting. And you’re still talking. You look around and realize everyone is bowing their heads in silent prayer. And it’s the same way, when they’re done eating. All of a sudden, it’s just quiet. Anyway, we had a loud, large time, the little side table people. Feasting and laughing. Real chicken pie (NOT chicken pot pie, but real chicken baked into a real pie), salad, and noodles. Then cake and ice cream for dessert. And all of a sudden, the room just went quiet again. The married people had to eat fast and get done, so the next table could be seated. At our little table, there was no second seating. So after the people at the large table had prayed the second time and got up, we just went right back to finishing our meal. It was a good evening, and a pleasant one.

I stood around, just visiting, for a while then. Soon the big U table was reset, and the youth filed in, coupled up, boys and girls. I walked around to the back of the eck, where the bride and groom were seated. They smiled in welcome. We chatted, and I congratulated them. I’ll bring your gift once you’re settled in your home, I told them. I have no idea what it’ll be. Guess I’ll have to ask around, with the family, and get them something they actually need and can use. And shortly after eight, I took my leave. Slipped out to the cooler, and picked up my two precious containers of Roasht. I would feast well on that, for the next week or so. It really is one of the better Amish dishes I’ve ever tasted. And I didn’t even grow up with it. The blue bloods actually came up with a recipe that matches the Daivess food of my childhood.

And I got home, and just chilled. Got to chatting on Facebook with a few friends. I was invited to an Amish wedding today, but just went for the evening, I told them. And my friend Vern Herschberger asked incredulously. “What? You didn’t want to go for the service today, and hear the Tobias story again?” Nah, I wrote back. I’ve heard that story many times, way back. I didn’t feel like sitting there for as long as it takes to hear it again. But it got me to thinking about things, that little exchange we had right there.

It may or may not be a well-known fact out there that it’s an old Amish tradition to tell the Tobias story at their weddings. (Or Tobit, which I prefer, because it has better rhythm. Besides, that’s the name of his book.) It’s a book in the Apocrypha section of Catholic Bibles. I’ve never heard any real explanation as to where the practice comes from, that the Amish preach this tale at their weddings. One of my friends claims it’s because Tobit has the only written scene of someone actually getting married. Makes sense to me. And, of course, there’s lots of nice little moral lessons to be learned, too. It’s plain that the Tobit tradition is a direct link back to the Catholics. The Catholics hold high the Apocrypha books, as truths straight from God. And near as I can tell from what I’ve heard from those who came from there, Catholic guilt and Amish guilt are pretty much twin models. Couple of random thoughts there, but the connection works for me.

I remember well the Tobias story being preached at weddings. It was always a good thing when it came, because it meant the service was winding down. And soon there would be food. Depending on where you are, you’ll hear the whole story, down to the last excruciating little detail. Anymore, though, Tobias has fallen from favor a good deal in many communities. The plainer and more conservative the community, the more details you’ll hear about Tobias. In some of the more progressive settlements, the poor man hardly gets mentioned at all. I don’t feel particularly strongly about it, one way or the other. If you want to preach the story, if that’s the tradition where you are, preach it. If it isn’t, then don’t.

It’s a rambling little tale, almost assuredly made up at some point way back there. Parts of it actually happened, probably. Who knows? It really doesn’t matter that much to me, because some of it is good stuff. Old Tobit suffered misfortunes second in number only to Job, I think. Everything fell in on him. And he lost everything. And if that wasn’t bad enough, while he was resting outside the city walls one day, a bird flew over and pooped (or “spitzed,” as the Amish preachers said) into his eyes. Poor Tobit went blind, right there on the spot. And he turned into a pious old rambling man, spouting lots of platitudes. I seem to remember that his wife got irked at him a lot, just like Job’s wife got irked at him because of his steadfastness in the face of despair and doom.

It’s all kind of a mushed up memory in my mind, how they told what all went on with Tobit, except that he went blind and that his son, young Tobit, set out on a quest to reclaim his father’s fortune and good name. He traveled to a far country to call in a loan Tobit had made years before. Old Tobit gave him a handscript, or note, to make his claim. Young Tobit, a fine specimen of a man, I’m sure, met up with a stranger who offered to travel with him. The stranger turned out to be an angel. And the two of them set out with their staffs and young Tobit’s dog. And they walked forward, head on, into all kinds of wild adventures that came at them, as you’d expect. But the biggest one awaited them at their destination. The man who owed old Tobit money had a beautiful but deeply devastated daughter. Of course, there has to be a woman stuck in the plot, somewhere. And the most beautiful woman anyone ever saw in those parts, of course, too.

This poor girl, sadly, was cursed. She’d been married seven times, and every time on the wedding night, just as the marriage was about to be consummated, a vile demon swooped in and killed her husband. So she was pretty much freaked out. And she cried with her voice from her heart to God. Who could imagine that kind of grief? All that she’d lost, and now all the young men around her were too petrified to get anywhere close to her, however much they might have wanted to. And you can guess the rest. Young Tobit was enamored, and with the angel’s help and advice, he courted and asked for the hand of the beautiful wounded girl. And together, with magical potions concocted of fish guts and such, he and the angel defeated the demon. He married the lady, and survived the wedding night. Everyone was astounded and overjoyed, especially the girl, one would think. And everything wraps up all nicely at the end, as it always does in such stories. Old Tobit got his fortune back, his eyesight was restored by the angel’s magical potion, and his wife quit nagging him. At long last, peace reigned again in old Tobit’s home.

And that’s the Book of Tobit, pretty much, from what I remember. I didn’t just now go read it again, so I won’t claim to be accurate in every little detail. When I felt this blog coming on, I did chat about Tobit with some local friends who know the story. But mostly, I tried to reach back through the fog of years and listen to the voices of those old preachers from my childhood. It’s a little tough, for something as obscure as this story was. And their voices are a bit jumbled, now, from where I am. But I did draw out a few details from the cobwebs, from a long tale that wearied me a number of times, back when I heard it. Because I’d been sitting on a hard bench for three hours already, when it was told. But looking back at what was told and what I heard, there’s one part of the story that has stuck with me through all these years, a thing that stood out above all the rest. And it happened way early in the telling, a thing that triggered all the hardships that came after.

Old Tobit lived in Ninevah, an evil foreign city. I don’t know how he got there, whether or not he was born there. But he was in exile, either way. And he owned a good bit of property, gold and houses and such. The heathen king of Ninevah had a habit of murdering Tobit’s people and throwing them outside the city walls. It was forbidden that anyone should bury those corpses. They were to rot into the ground, on their own. It was absolutely forbidden to bury them, on pain of severe and arbitrary retribution.

Tobit buried those people anyway. Snuck around at night and dug holes in the ground. I mean, think about that. Not just the courage it took, but also the brutal physical work it was. You’re out there in the dark, digging holes, and burying your own people in them. There’s no way any of us, at least here in the West, could get anywhere close to imagining that.

He did it because it was the right thing to do. Didn’t matter who told him not to. Didn’t matter what the “law” was. Didn’t matter the penalty, if he got caught.

Which he eventually was, of course. Some sniveling little rat turned him in. Told the king, probably for a huge reward. That’s your man, right there, who’s making all those bodies disappear. That you had decreed would rot into the earth where they were thrown. Tobit’s the one.

And he went into hiding. And when that got too hot, he fled the city. All his property was seized by the state. But that’s not the main reason he’s talked about in any sermon, anywhere in the Amish world. The lessons are mostly about trusting God in extreme adversity. It all seems kind of plastic to a child who hears such a thing recited in a sermon. The thing I’ve realized since is, except for the angel, they were just people, all the characters in the story. Including the father of the possessed girl young Tobit courted and married. The night before the wedding, the father snuck out and dug a grave for his eighth son-in-law. Because of what he knew was coming. The demon would kill young Tobit, just like he’d killed all his daughter’s seven previous husbands on their wedding nights. So he dug the grave to get ready for the inevitable. Later, when it didn’t happen, he proclaimed a great feast and quickly sent his servants out to cover up the hole. He had dug it because his faith was just like ours is, often, when it came right down to it. He knew what he knew, because the angel had clearly told him. But he still had a little backup plan. I don’t judge his actions. I would have done the same thing. If you claim you wouldn’t have, you’re probably lying to yourself. He’d seen some wild stuff, and he just walked along, I think, like most of us do. They all did, in all those old stories. Slogged through the tough parts, not quite daring to believe, but still clinging to some small shred of faith, way down there in their hearts. And marveling when that little shred of faith was honored as God had promised.

Bottom line to me is this, though, because it made the greatest impression on me from the time I heard it told. Tobit was destitute, because he did the right thing and defied the evil that was the state. Very few of us have ever seen what it is to do the right thing at such horrendous cost. I sure never have. I do what I have to, to stay out of a cage. But I don’t respect the coercive force that makes me obey any law. I despise and detest it as the monstrous false god it is. We are created to walk free, not enslaved by the chains of any law. And some brave few among us have actually been pushed to the wall, like Tobit was, and lost everything, including their freedom. Because they did what was right. Insisted on doing it. Some few out there have stood tall and faced and endured all of that. If you are one of those few, I salute you. I never want to be where you are. But if such a thing ever comes at me, I hope I’ll have the strength that you had.

We are living in such times as Tobit lived in. In exile, like he was, that’s plain to those who have eyes to see. It’s a cycle of history. The state will always see to it that such a time comes again. And Tobit is a model of how to walk free when it does.

That’s the “nice little moral lesson” the Book of Tobit teaches me.

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(17 Comments) »

  1. I ate dinner before I read this and ironically had chicken. The patience it must have taken you to write this is amazing. I have never read the book of Tobit, but I might take the time to do this now, even though you pretty much have it covered in this blog. It seems that there are so many rules that don’t make sense, even back then. I am glad that there was a happy ending.

    Comment by Carol Ellmore — November 1, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

  2. I will now need to read the story of Tobit. Being “English” never Amish, I do see your point of freedom and states of the law. However I feel that “church rules” also take away the freedom God gives us through His free gifts of Grace and Mercy. I am myself learning to live in that freedom in Christ.

    Comment by Marilyn Romancky — November 1, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  3. ..One dramatic part you forgot on Tobit…I can still hear Pete Yoder say that the poor maiden was praying in her home and young Tobit was praying in his home ..and both prayers and the maiden’s hot tears came at the same time to ‘unser himlichie Vater”and God sent an angel to guide this young man to this maiden who was fasting, crying and praying. Not that important to add but hey, thanks for rekindling the memories.

    Comment by Rachel — November 1, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  4. Another interesting blog, I have never read any of the books of the Apocrypha. I will have to check this out and see. Thanks for the interesting things you write about.

    God Bless you Ira Wagler.

    Comment by Linda Morris — November 1, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

  5. Another great composition. We visited our parents over the weekend, and Dad asked if Ira had any good blogs lately; if so he wants a hard copy (internet use is discouraged). I’m sending this one.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — November 1, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  6. You’re an inspiration. I’m going to read TOBIT and, while I’m at it, BEL and the DRAGON, and then the book of Amos, which is not in the Apocrypha. So many interesting things to do, in this world of ours, including reading Ira’s blog every 2 weeks or so.

    Comment by cynthia r chase — November 2, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  7. My mom got invited to her Amish neighbor’s wedding here in Davis County. Of course the young couple came to the house doing a personal invite. She declined, saying she wouldn’t know anyone there. They offered her to just come to the meal afterward. She again politely declined. Now that I’ve told her she would have been seated separately, she’s glad she didn’t go. An awkward situation made more awkward avoided. She will of course deliver a gift to the house later. Hey, thanks for the warning.

    Comment by Lisa D. — November 2, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

  8. Good read as always, but what is roasht is it like a beef roast of sorts and how do you make it? It sounds like a hearty meal. Your friend in like mindedness JLW

    Comment by Johnny Wood — November 3, 2013 @ 1:51 am

  9. Thanks, Ira. Reading your words is never tiresome. I enjoyed hearing about the wedding meal and the Tobit story. And now I have a great recipe for roasht, thanks to the link. I’ll likely divide it (several times).

    I assume that Tobit was following God’s law over the state’s. I can’t recall any particular commandment in scripture to bury the dead, but there are several examples of burials of the righteous: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Stephen (according to my Bible reference, anyway. I didn’t look them up). So Tobit did the right thing at an awful cost. I can’t help but wonder if I might have courage in such abhorrent circumstances. I hope, too, that I am not soon tested.

    I wonder, though, since the kingdom of God is not yet fully established, can humankind be trusted to live without the interference of the state? Will we allow each other’s rightful freedoms?

    I don’t disagree with you. Far from it. But how can we do without the dictates and consequences designed to maintain order, in the presence of man’s too-often vile human nature?

    Comment by Tammy — November 3, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

  10. Confession of a Catholic: I never read Tobit. Thanks for the education!

    Comment by Margaret — November 4, 2013 @ 10:10 am

  11. “Why are you grasping to yourself more honor than that?” I like that, Ira.

    Of course, the Bible itself has many lessons against the State Beast, including the king who himself praised the three Hebrews for disobeying him, since the result was that he got to know their God. And there is a differenc between limited civil government and a centralized State, by the way; which is why we have a Federal (con-federation of states, themselves having County jurisdictions) and NOT a National government. Nor were we given a two party system – read Washington’s Farewell address on that issue.

    Comment by LeRoy — November 4, 2013 @ 11:41 am

  12. Ira, this blog brings back very good memories for me. Many years ago I was invited to an Amish wedding in Leola. I was treated like a true friend… Before the ceremony started, I was taken to her room to see her new bedroom suite – a gift from the groom.
    Then, when it was time, we were escorted to a place of considerable honor in the main living room. I could hear and SEE the entire ceremony. The preaching was half high german, half english, so although very lengthy, I was not completely lost.
    Thankfully we were put in the last bench and had my back to the wall!
    Roll-called by name, we were invited to the second seating for lunch and sat with everyone else.

    Soon after the wedding they moved to Ohio and she and I lost touch.
    Several years later a mutual friend of ours ran into her mother and father and asked about them. Imagine my surprise and the love I felt when I found out she named her 2 firstborn children after my (then) husband and I.

    This blog reminds me I need to track her down…her children ought to be getting close to marrying age themselves by now.

    Comment by Sally — November 4, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

  13. Fascinating story. Never heard it before. Don’t know if the story is really about trusting God, or about trusting the fish gut potion. Does that potion work for anything other than blindness and demon problems? lol
    I might need the recipe…. ; P

    Yes, we are living in a police state, growing worse every day. EVIL. As the old proverb states, “POWER *ALWAYS* CORRUPTS….and….”

    There are good laws, that if they did not exist, there would be chaos. And yet, it seems lately the more laws we have in this country the more the chaos is increasing. Fancy that. One is tempted to take up the cause of anarchy when such a state exists. Or should I say, ‘Monster’?

    Comment by Cy — November 6, 2013 @ 6:24 am

  14. You sure can tell it like it is! More and more, as Obamacare unfolds, the greed and hypocrisy that is the State becomes more defined and hated. You are the ‘red flag’ of warning, and thankfully, you place the inherent evils around two beautiful wedding scenes. We are reminded that your voice and your conscience resonate with compassion and that all is not lost when the likes of Tobias reign in our world, too! The morals of the story are not lost on us, Ira. We might be silent, but we rage internally, too.

    Comment by Pam — November 7, 2013 @ 9:31 am

  15. In October 2011 I broke my back for the second time and had to lie flat for nearly four months. At that time I ordered your book and was most impressed. From there I read your posts on your website and given my situation made the time pass far easier as I am not am not an avid TV watcher, though a voracious reader.

    I’m 58 years of age and have known members of the local Old Order Amish community about 20 minutes away since I was a small child initially going to pick fresh produce to freeze, store and can for winter. My mother was a teacher and though we had a garden it was large enough to supply seasonal needs but none further.

    I’ve worked in sales most of my life spending much time on the road and have know several individuals quite well over the years. I’ve had many beautiful furniture items made by a wonderful man, Y. M., who has more integrity than most people I’ve ever met. His wife and 15 children are equally fine people. He has always answered all the questions I have had about Amish life, is very respectful and has a wonderful sense of humor. Earlier this year he lost 2 children to diseases caused by the founder effect. He made sure that they got the best in medical care hiring someone many times a year to travel great distances to receive it.

    Though I thoroughly respect the Amish way of life, I know since freedom is hugely important to me I would have had similar issues as you. I also know having such highly defined sex roles would also be too much of a challenge. I believe that all individuals should be able to take care of themselves in all ways, financially, emotionally and physically. I have two sons who were there with me when they were young learning how to roof a shed, use a chainsaw, cook pasta from scratch, be able to handle money, make their own decisions and deal with the consequences.

    I am fortunate that they are now married, married very capable women,have been incredibly responsible and are happy. I believe that success can only be achieved by making those decisions one needs to be happy and the efforts and responsibilities to obtain that one wants from life, and they have been. I am proud my second son and his wife who has 2 children teach by example. Too many Americans feel entitled and feel they deserve all without putting in the sweat equity. Ninety-nine percent of the Amish families I know do a tremendous job teaching by example a work ethic to their children. Maybe my 75% German heritage makes me relate to that.

    Since I believe in responsibility and freedom I can not be either a Republican nor Democrat, along with a list of reasons longer than my arm.

    I remember your blog when you realized how much like your father you were. At that time I realized how much your Amish heritage also has influenced you. Your directness, your unwavering principles, sincerity, ability to call a spade a spade and dislike of the BS in the world are like most Amish I know. On the other hand, you are more educated academically, and culturally than any I know, but your dad furthered his education and was exposed to the world during the war more that any Amish individual I’ve known. You and all Amish I have known have a lot more common sense that your English counterparts generally speaking.

    I do have several questions however. I notice over time that you seem to be recovering from divorce. I’m divorced, it’s difficult. Felt bad for your wife who you portrayed not able to really to support herself emotionally and needing more than any other human being can deliver. I’ve met women who are similar and they seem to have such a difficult time their whole lives. Not having children probably would enhance that. Are you recovering? You seem to be putting one foot in front of the other metaphysically speaking to achieve your goals.

    Since freedom is essential to you how you feel on the gay issue? I have had friends of many races, both sexes and sexual preferences but I know Amish culture is not that accepting on the gay issue. We are what we are and if the world were flipped there is now way that I could adjust to being gay anymore than a gay individual can adjust to being straight.

    Your thoughts on the raid of the Jesus Christ Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, I only partially understand. I thought the raid itself was an atrocity, separating young children from mothers and so many other things that broke my heart and I feel probably were unconstitutional. However the abuse, physical, and sexual, especially to underage children is repugnant to me, as well as the thousands of lost boys who are kicked because there are not enough women to go around. Forcing anyone to marry to someone against their will is inconceivable to me. The tax rolls in the states where FLDS are located much be imploding when so many celestial wives file for single mother benefits when they may have more than a dozen children each. The children have virtually no education and the lost boys have immense difficulty surviving. The young abused women (girls) have little escape either. I really do not care if someone wants to have multiple spouses, though I surely don’t, but I don’t want my tax dollars supporting 80 children because their family can’t. Amish families that I know don’t even accept benefits they are entitled to, they are uber responsible.

    If you intend to address any of this in your blog at a later time don’t feel that you have to respond to it here.

    Also please don’t print my name or email address as I don’t wish to out any members of the Amish community. All have a tremendous closeness to their families, especially their mothers. They are most caring individuals enduring tremendous pain. Otherwise you can print what you like.

    Thanks for the thoughtful posts and book. I do wish you continuing success and hope you write another. I hope your mother finds an end to this life turmoil soon, my father also had severe Alzheimer’s as well as advanced cancer. Also I wish you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving and holiday season, each on their own terms.

    Sincerely,

    L.

    Comment by L. — November 13, 2013 @ 8:05 am

  16. I also have never read The Book of Tobit, so after reading this post, I checked at my library to see if there were re-tellings of it. There were 2 that I am reading – “The Tale of Tobias” retold by Jan Mark, the children’s picture book version and “On the Road with Archangel” by Frederick Buechner, the adult fiction version. Both are easy to read and follow along the same lines as your story above.

    Thanks for once again giving us a look at the culture of the Amish.

    Comment by Beth Southwick — November 15, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

  17. Our dear friends, a married couple with two kids, whom I love from the bottom of my heart, are notorious for inviting us to dinner at 5 only to have it served at 7. One time we were invited for a cookout. We were running late, about 30 minutes. I put the pedal to the metal only to find upon arrival that the hubby had just left to get propane for the grill. We’ve learned to have a light snack before heading over to their place. Amazing how a content belly can ward off a multitude of angry thoughts.

    I must say, I was thrown that even at weddings you X’s are put off to the side at meal time. And so are the “English.” What did they ever do? I mean, cheese whiz, even Jesus ate a meal with Judas knowing full well He was going to be betrayed that very night. Oh well, I picked up on some unintentional revenge when you wrote, “…prayed the second time and got up, we just went right back to finishing our meal.” Hey, sometimes it pays to be a heathen.

    “It’s kind of startling, when everything goes quiet, all at once in that setting. And you’re still talking.” This is very funny! I can’t tell you how many times at church, during singing, I start, with gusto, before I’m supposed to. “PRAISE (music notes here)…oops.

    I never read the story of Tobit which only proves what a good Catholic I was. Thirty five or so years ago we were never encouraged to read the Bible. The priest would do that and fill us in. They didn’t say we couldn’t, it was just not encouraged. I even received a little white Bible from the church for my First Holy Communion. I would say it was used more as a prop.

    I shouldn’t be so harsh. There are Catholics that take their walk with Jesus very seriously. All of my saved relatives are Catholic and very kind people. My Grandma, on the other hand, God rest her soul, felt that Catholicism was the only way to Heaven. So long as you went to chuch on all the required days and tried to be a good person, hey, you’re in! She was upset when I started going to a non-denominational church. Dug in her heels and said, “Catholicism, the only way! What’s wrong with you girl?” I tried explaining being born again to her, read the very Scripture to her, but she just couldn’t understand it. The old gal had a hard life, but always kept her faith in God, always. Maybe being born again doesn’t always look the way I think it should.

    Frankly, after reading Tobit because you brought it up, I can see why the book wasn’t included in the “regular” Bible. Yawn, oh, yawn. But you’re right in saying Tobit was a righteous man. Who else could have put up with the woman he married without accidentally pushing her down the sandy stairs of their adobe? He would have been let off, too. Just didn’t see her.

    “We are created to walk free, not enslaved by the chains of any law.” All in all, I get what you’re saying here. But I still say freedom is an inside job. Inside the heart. When one group of people is given the “freedom” they scream for, it’s because it was taken away from some other group. There will never be absolute freedom until people start giving up their rights to help their brothers. I want, I want, I want. Just like toddler temper tantrums. Where’s the love in that? Freedom-An inside job.

    Comment by Francine — January 22, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

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