February 16, 2018

Old Order Mennonites and Me…

Category: News — Ira @ 5:32 pm


We are the sum of all the moments in our lives – all that
is ours is in them: we cannot escape it or conceal it.

—Thomas Wolfe

It was a nippy spring morning, almost twenty years ago. Still early enough in the year to be cold. Mid to late March, if I remember right. And I had a “home” appointment that morning, over close to Ephrata. The client had called. He needed a Will, and he wanted someone to stop by. We made arrangements. And I set out from the office where I worked as an attorney, in suit and tie every day. Not that I would have needed to be all dressed up. Where I was going, they wouldn’t be that impressed. That’s because my client was an Old Order Mennonite.

I trundled down Rt. 322 in the little white Dodge Spirit I was driving at the time. And then off on a side road. There was no GPS back then, so I slowed as I got close. Looked for the mailbox number. And there it was. The farm. A little more raggedy and unkempt than neighboring Amish farms. The Old Order Mennonites don’t rush out with a rake to attack every leaf as it flutters down from a tree, like the Lancaster Amish do. So their farms look a little more rough. More like the places I grew up in. Well used. Make do until it wears out. The barn roof might well have two or three different colors of metal. The OOMs are more about functionality, and less about neatness. Which is totally OK. I understand the concept, and I understand the mindset.

I pulled in the drive and parked. Got out. Straightened my suit coat and tie. Then I walked up the cracked and uneven walkway to the house. It looked battered and old, like the barn. A few lean cats lurked about. And a dog, too, whined inquisitively. Not that great a watchdog, are you? I muttered. I walked up the steps and stumped across the wooden porch floor. Knocked on the weathered wood door. From inside, the sound of faint stirrings. And then the door opened. An old man stood, peering out at me. Well, he wasn’t old, necessarily. Older, I’d say, in his sixties, probably. Beardless, in plain shirt and barn door pants with galluses. He was lean, and you could tell he was fit. He looked at me with a half-smile on his wizened, stubbled face.

I greeted him. I’m Ira Wagler. I have an appointment about a Will. “Oh, yes,” he said. And he opened the door wider and motioned me in. “Come on in, and we’ll sit at the kitchen table.” I thanked him and stepped through the door into another world.

The room was drab, colorless. It was nippy outside, and it was downright chilly inside. Near as I could tell, there was no heat at all anywhere. By the wall in the kitchen stood an old dry sink. And it was ancient, probably worth a small fortune. Still used every day, just like it had been since the time it was made. The housewife smiled from across the room, where she was working at something, sewing or ironing. She got up and walked over to join us. Over in the corner, an old woman sat motionless, as if frozen, huddled in a shawl. She was actually old, and she looked cold. No. She was cold. The grandmother of the house. I didn’t see any grandfather. Probably passed on. The OOMs take care of their own, like the Amish do. It was like stepping into a Whistler painting, that moment. Stark contrasts and stark shadows, but only in the earthy tones of black and shades of brown and pale green.

We sat there at the kitchen table, me and the man and his wife. The old crone in the corner sat, huddled, silent, unmoving. I sneaked a glance her way now and then, as we talked there at the table. The whole scene kind of gave me shivers. It was a threadbare existence, the lives these people lived. Threadbare, like this old house. And I am not criticizing. I’m simply opining, from what I saw that day. What you are is how you live.

We chatted. Made small talk. I think I spoke in PA Dutch, at least some. I do that a lot more freely around the OOMs than I do around the Amish. The Amish glance at you, all startled, if you speak to them in their language. And then they start mumbling uncomfortable questions about whether you ever were a member of their church. If you were, are you now excommunicated? If you are, we can’t deal with you. That’s how it goes, with the Amish. The OOMs could not care less, if you were ever a member of any church but their own. And it’s pretty plain to any insider that I wasn’t. So I let down my guard and speak PA Dutch to them a lot more.

I went through the usual list of things I need to know to write a Will. Full names, including middle initials. Full names of the Executors, Guardians, and Trustees, if there are any. After I took down all my notes, we visited a little. I asked a bit about their history. Their lives, their stories, who they were. And somehow, the old man got to telling me about the day he bought this farm, way back when they were young married.

It happened a long time ago. The farm was sold at auction. And it was located right in the community where the young marrieds lived, or wanted to. The old man leaned in, across the table, as he talked. He was sitting right there, across from me. But in his mind, he was seeing a big thing that happened a lifetime ago. The bidding went hard and fast that day. And before he knew it, the price was up and above what he had planned to pay. But he counseled with his wife. And his Dad. They kept bidding. Higher and higher. And then the sale was knocked off. The old man had done it. Back in that day, when he was young, he paid a record price for a farm in that immediate area. He spoke the price. I forget what it was. Compared to the farm’s value today, it was barely a pittance.

And it was what happened after the sale, it was what happened then that the old man remembered. The wound stabbed down deep, and he felt the pain as vividly on the day he told me as he had felt it forty years before, when it happened. He and his wife were standing around, after their high bid on the farm. Kind of shy and unsure of themselves. And a neighboring OOM man came up to them. I think the man’s name was mentioned, but it wasn’t important to me. What was important was what the neighbor man said.

That day, that morning, the old man leaned across the kitchen table, as close to in my face as he could get. His wife sat, smiling self-consciously. She had heard this tale a thousand times before, over the years, I have no doubt. And the old man asked dramatically. “Do you know what that neighbor man told me, that day? Do you know what he said?” No, I said, shaking my head, but not acting too eager. No, I don’t know. What did the neighbor man tell you?

The old man paused, once again. He was back there, and he was reliving a pain he had dragged along with him through all the ensuing years. And the words came rolling from him, he almost spit them out. “He said, he told me. The neighbor man said, You’ll NEVER get this farm paid for.”

And the old man leaned back, sitting there at the kitchen table, looking for me to make the proper noises. Obviously, he had paid the farm off. He would have worked himself to death if he had to, just to prove that neighbor man wrong. He didn’t have to. Not physically, anyway. Emotionally, I think something had died in the old man a long time ago, because he had allowed the cruel words someone said to take root in him in a way that deeply affected him all through his life. You gotta feel a little sorry, to see someone suffering so senselessly like that.

Still. What he had told me, well, I just gaped at him. Good Lord. Why would any person go up to a young couple who just bought a farm at auction, and spew such brutal words? It didn’t surprise me all that much, though. That’s the kind of thing an Old Order Mennonite might say. They can be blunt and cutting. That’s what I thought to myself.

Old Order Mennonites. They’re a strange breed of people. And yeah, I know. That’s a mouthful, coming from a guy who came from the Amish. I mean, how much more strange are you going to get than that? But the OOMs are different, there is no question. What that means to you depends entirely on your experience and perspective. I see them as people who are a little peculiar in their ways. As they see me, I suppose, and as they have every right to do.

It’s different blood. Way back, before the radical firebrand, Jacob Ammon, got all slap-happy with his banning and shunning of any group he had the slightest conflict with, way back then, it was all one big happy family. Then Ammon broke away. And the people who followed him became a distinct people, all on their own. The Amish. The Mennonites who didn’t leave, they slouched back and licked their wounds. Ammon cut a wide swath with his condemnations. You don’t agree with me? I’ll show you. You’re excommunicated, you and all your blood. And shunned, as worse than a whoremonger. I banish you to judgment and hell. That’s how Ammon worked. He was not a nice man.

And today, you got lots of levels of Mennonites out there. Lancaster County has them all. From high-strung, whack-job, leftist, state-worshiping gun grabbers, all the way over to Plain horse and buggy Old Orders. And every shade between. All claim the heritage and legacy of good old Menno Simons, who would be extraordinarily startled, I think, could he return for a day and see for himself who his “followers” are.

I don’t know the detailed history of the Old Order Mennonites. I suppose one could google much of it. I can only speak from my perspective, and the things I have seen and lived and felt. The OOMs have surnames that are nonexistent or extremely rare among the Amish. Names like Horst, Hurst, Hoover, Martin, Weaver, Sauder, Shank, Reiff, Nolt, Shirk, Newswanger, Oberholtzer, and a host of others. Their culture is distinct, as are their physical builds and the bone structures of their faces. You leave either group, the OOMs or the Amish, and I can usually tell that you did, no matter how long ago you left or how English you try to look. I can tell which group you came from by how you act and how you talk. Almost always, I can. It’s just an insider’s perception.

It’s fascinating to me, that another group held onto a Plain lifestyle, all on its own. The defining moment in the OOMs, as with the Amish, happened when the group rejected the automobile. That was one of the few things in the two groups that were similar. Otherwise, both developed on their own. And they sure developed different.

They were there in my Aylmer world from my earliest memories, the OOMs. I think they have numerous settlements in Ontario and a few other locations in Canada. Elmira is the place I remember. They connected with Dad, at least a few of them did. And they visited back and forth some, my parents and their OOM friends. I remember the men as wiry and lean and dark clad, with hard thin faces shadowed from the stubble of decades of shaving. They wore short-brimmed black hats and spoke in singsong voices. Their women tended to be plump, and they wore patterned, flowery dresses and white head coverings and funny little pointed black bonnets. Dad and Mom went to the OOM church services, even, when they visited there. I remember them talking about how it went. It was all very different than Amish services. Starting with a church house. OOMs congregate in church houses.

A little bit of an aside, because now my memory roams ever wider back there in my childhood in Aylmer. There was a fairly strange Mennonite man named Menno Sauder who used to come around in his little black car. He looked and talked exactly like the OOMs, except he drove a car. I don’t know if Menno had joined a “Black Bumper” car church, or if he had just struck out as a renegade on his own. He was an intellectual eccentric. A writer of sorts. He cranked out little religious tracts and exceedingly dry tomes of dogma and doctrine. I can still see his little black car parked under the trees by the sand box beside our looped gravel drive just west of the house. I don’t think he ever stayed for the night. But he came around often enough that I remember his name and his face.

When Menno Sauder died, Dad and Mom went to his funeral. I think this was before we moved out of Aylmer, although I can’t say for sure. It doesn’t matter, I guess. I know my parents went, and I know Menno got a full-fledged OOM funeral. Maybe he had recanted and rejoined before passing. I think that’s what happened. Anyway, Mom told us what the preacher had said at Menno’s funeral. In his sermon, the preacher proclaimed that Menno always was so faithful and tireless in his efforts. He fished and fished. Nobody fished harder than Menno. But sadly, he always fished from the wrong side of the boat. That’s what the preacher said. The wrong side of the boat. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but I never forgot that phrase. And Mom never really let on, whether she agreed with the preacher man or not. She was just telling us what he had said.

My family moved to Bloomfield, Iowa, in 1976. And we left the world of the Old Order Mennonites behind. There were none in the Midwest. Well, that’s not quite accurate. There was a fledgling Black Bumper settlement just south of us, in Rutledge, Missouri. Black Bumpers are pretty much OOMs with cars. Kind of like the Beachys are Amish with cars, I guess. Back then, there were no OOM settlements anywhere close to Bloomfield. There have been several large groups settling in Kentucky, I’m not sure of exactly where in that state. And in central Missouri, too, I know there’s at least one settlement. The lure of cheaper land led many OOMs on an exodus from Lancaster County to places like Virginia and Kentucky and Missouri and Penn Yan, New York.

We moved to Bloomfield in 1976. I broke away for the final time sometime in 1988. A twelve-year stretch, there, where I saw enough personal turmoil to last several lifetimes. And during those desperate years of hard and frantic running, the OOMs were just about as far removed from my mind and consciousness as they could have been. And they stayed that way until I wandered into the historic, blue-blooded lands of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

It’s seems a little astonishing, looking back. After more than a decade of angst and turmoil and hard running and fractured dreams, I finally broke free from my people. And within two years, I meandered right back into one of the oldest and largest Amish communities in the world. Lancaster County. I liked it. Here, I thought, here at last is a place where I can rest. I will never live the life of my people, but at least I can live among them. It was a comforting and natural thing.

I connected with the youth group at Pequea Amish Mennonite Church. Beachys. The youth were polite and accepting of me, a traumatized guy who had drifted in from the Midwest. I will always remember those first few summers as some really good days. I enjoyed the youth, and I enjoyed their activities. I participated in organized softball games for the first time ever, in my life. The Pequea church was always cutting edge Beachy. Always on the forefront of hard-won progress. They still are, from what I hear told. Not that I hang there, anymore, anywhere close to that world. Haven’t for decades. I recently heard that the Pequea Beachy Amish church allowed its women to discard their covering strings. Just snip them off and throw them away. Oh, my. Slipping fast, they are, there at Pequea. Like Waylon sings. Slippin’ and a’sliden, playing dominoes.

Anyway. I soon became aware, after I came to Lancaster. There is a large community of Old Order Mennonites here. They settled back when the Amish did, or real close to that time. So the footprints of these people and their ways are woven into the very fabric of the land. The Pequea youth had a term for the OOMs. Maudy. Which is Martin, in PA Dutch. It was a derogatory term, kind of. When you called someone a Maudy, you were talking trash a little bit. And you were calling that person a few different things, none necessarily pleasant.

Some years ago, I heard where the term came from. Maudy. The Amish are scattered pretty much all through the county. The OOMs live up north. North of Rt. 23 is their country. The further north you go, the thicker they get. The Amish and the OOMs live side by side a lot, where they overlap. And mostly, they get along. They share their school houses, send their children to the same schools. They mingle there, but that’s one of the few places where they do. They never, never intermarry, not unless they leave the Plain culture. Even then, it’s very rare for someone from Amish and OOM blood to connect in marriage. It happens, but just not often. The two cultures are too different, I figure. And there is an undercurrent of one-upmanship out there, too. Not with the older people, so much. You get battered by life, and you let such things go, mostly, I think. But with the youth, there is. And this is the story I was told.

At the local farm sales and mud sales in spring, the Amish youth and the OOM youth played Cornerball, a form of Dodgeball. It was a tradition for generations. I think the game recently got banned in some venues, because it got too violent. And in the heat of these competitions, decades ago, the OOM youth took to calling their Amish counterparts a derogatory name. O-mish. Which in PA Dutch roughly translates into the word, manure. Misht is manure. The OOM boys chuckled and chanted, as they hurled the stinging Dodgeball. “O-mish, O-mish” (Oh, manure, oh, manure). The Amish boys looked grim. They wouldn’t stand for that, not for long. And soon they came up with a chant of their own.

I don’t know who first said it. But it’s the term that stuck. At least part of it. The Amish chanted back the name, Martin, in PA Dutch. Maudy. But they added a word. Maudy-poopers. The O-mish word got lost over the years, as did the “pooper” part of the Maudy taunt. But Maudy stuck. And in all honesty, I can’t confirm that any part of this tale is actually true. It sounds like something that probably happened. So there it is. That’s why OOMs are called Maudys, if you ask me.

The OOMs are distinct when it comes to Plain cultures. And an undercurrent washes through, a hint of meanness, and a cantankerous character. You can dig into their history a little bit, and see. They have had splits and splinter groups and all manner of harsh disagreements. There have been fights about contract disputes, boundary lines, and whether there will be preaching from a pulpit at the church house. I’ve heard the echoes of the stories.

There are at least three levels of Old Order Mennonites. Joe Wengers are the most common. (and there’s another very important OOM surname. Wenger.) Then there’s the Pikers, who are very plain. The Thirty-Fivers are the latest large group to split. I think so, anyway. Thirty-five families broke away into a separate OOM group. I don’t know when, probably a generation ago or more. They are all intermarried and related now, and they are not allowed to go outside their group to find a partner to marry. First cousins marry first cousins. They don’t even get a marriage license (which I fully support, as an anarchist), they just get married in a church ceremony. Such a thing is simply unsustainable. The Thirty-Fivers are going extinct, I was told recently by a Joe Wenger Mennonite. The Pikers and the Thirty-Fivers are the plainest of the plain, among OOMs, I’ve also been told. Still, I’m not pouring any concrete around any of these details. I haven’t been around these people close enough to know all the intricacies.

Years ago, I was chatting with an old Amish woman, north and west of here, in OOM country. She was a widow, and she had seen many things in her lifetime. And we got to talking somehow, about the differences in the two cultures. I asked her a lot of questions, about the experiences she had lived all her life, around OOMs. She valued her relationships with them, spoke in the highest terms of her OOM friends. It was clear that the telling affected her, the feelings ran in her deep. But still. I nudged her. I know they are really good people. But there’s an undercurrent there. It’s hard and rough. There’s a mean streak. I can’t quite grasp a good word to describe it. Do you know what I’m saying?

She nodded reluctantly. Yes. She knew what I meant. And she told me, almost hesitantly. “It’s not all of them. But I know what you mean. And the best way I can put it. They just can’t let it go.”

And I thought of the old man sitting at the kitchen table, telling me in vivid detail the deep and cutting slight he had endured forty years before right after he bought his farm at public auction. Yes. The Amish widow woman said it best. They just can’t let it go. Some of them. Like the old man had chosen not to.

It’s a complex reality, the OOM world. Yeah, the negatives are what they are. But along with those come the good things, too. There are many. The OOMs value faith and family. Their women bear many children, and most of those children stay in the culture. They work hard, the OOMs, and they are among the most productive farmers in the world. They use tractors to til the earth, tractors with steel wheels. (Every summer, I buy the world’s sweetest cantaloupes from a Thirty-Fiver just north of New Holland on Hoover Road. They’re on a self-serve stand for a buck apiece. There’s a sturdy little wooden locked box to put your dollar in.) And they ride bicycles everywhere, with a little cardboard box strapped on the rack behind the seat. And often on a summer night, the OOM youth will swarm the roads in great rolling convoys of bikes. Right down Rt. 23 they go, their little red blinker lights flashing in wild and random patterns. It’s really quite a sight.

The group is tightly controlled by its leaders. Computers are forbidden, as are smart phones. I’ve said it before, about the Amish. The smart phones are going to affect that culture in ways that the Bishops simply cannot imagine today. And it’s going to happen soon, within a generation, I’d say. The Old Order Mennonites got that horse penned in, kept it from leaving the barn. Long term, I think they have a better handle on their survival as a distinct and separate group. Not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just the way it is.

They are a frugal people. Well, I guess tight would be a more accurate word. More harsh, though. Their farms aren’t quite as cleaned up as the Amish farms. They’re a little more ragged. But their houses look nice and worn and comfortable, too. In a tightly controlled world like the one they live in, being frugal is not only expected, it is the norm.

Years ago, my brother Steve was cruising around a few miles up north, around Voganville, one sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s Maudy country, up there. There were yard sales going on, and Steve stopped to browse a bit at one OOM place. They had a cooler there with ham and cheese sandwiches for $3.00 each. Steve overheard the house father asking his daughters. “How many sandwiches did we sell?” It was getting close to time to shut things down. Apparently they had not sold many. The cooler was still almost full. The house father looked glum. Then he took a marker and discounted the sandwiches from $3.00 each, all the way down to $2.50. Steve told me that little story, and we laughed and laughed. I mean, sure. People are going to rush in and load up on ham and cheese sandwiches for $2.50, where before they weren’t interested at $3.00.

Still. It all comes down to personal experiences, I guess. I deal with OOMs, some, at my work. Sell them building materials, and we have used OOM crews to install Graber pole barns. They are hard-working, like the Amish. And like the Amish, by far, far the vast percentage of them are as honest as the longest day in summer.

A funny thing happened one morning recently at the office. Well, I thought it was funny, at least a little. A local builder stopped in to pick up an order he had called in. He got to talking to one of the other guys in the office. While he was doing that, I chatted with his worker, an alert-looking young man. Turned out he was a horse and buggy Joe Wenger OOM. And he told me, in the conversation. He just got married last year. This was astonishing to me. Looking at the guy, you could hardly tell he was Old Order anything. You can’t really tell, looking at a lot of the younger OOM guys, when they’re wearing a jacket that hides their galluses. I would have guessed that he came from Plain blood, but not that he was a married, current OOM.

I asked him a lot of questions about the ways and traditions of his people and his church. There are two preachers in a service. Plus a deacon, who reads Scripture. Much like the Amish, that setup. They sing faster, though, in both English and German. He claimed the New York settlement of Joe Wenger OOMs will soon be the largest in the world. People are moving up there, because you can buy a farm for way less than the millions it will cost in Lancaster County. I found much of it fascinating, what he said. I kept asking questions. Our talk was a very genial.

Eventually, he figured out that I was raised Amish. He asked about it, and I told him. Yep, I wrote the book on that. I pointed to a poster of my book. He had heard of it, he claimed. And he felt like he had to admonish me a little bit. Good-naturedly, of course. “If you leave the horse and buggy, you’re never satisfied,” he said, stoutly.

I chuckled. I’m pretty satisfied, I told him. And I pointed outside. See that black Jeep out there? I drive that. If I had to go back to a horse and buggy, I would be extremely unhappy. I can’t even imagine such a thing. There’s not enough money to pay me to go back to that world.

“Yeah,” he shot back. “But you won’t be happy long, with that Jeep. What’s next? A Lamborghini? You know it’s never enough. You won’t be satisfied.”

That’s the kind of thing I heard many times in Amish sermons, growing up. Apparently Amish preachers aren’t the only ones who talk that way. (Decades ago, a well-known Beachy preacher thundered that young men who get caught speeding will be drafted to drive tanks in the next war. I mean, how ludicrous was that?) I laughed and laughed. Driving a Lamborghini has never been even remotely on my bucket list, I said. It’s just about the last thing I can imagine ever wanting to do. But even if I did, so what? Sounds like you’ve been listening to your preachers, there, a little too much.

I don’t know if he really heard what I was saying there, the nice young OOM man. Somehow, I don’t think my words registered, quite. And that’s OK. It was completely fascinating to me, just to have that conversation. To hear words I had heard so long ago, to hear that same message spoken by a young man from another culture. It was fascinating and a little startling, too. Still. Whatever our conversation would or could have been, it was going to be OK.

And there’s one more scene that happened, right that very week, along similar lines. It all got me to thinking, and then to writing this blog. Late one afternoon that week, a local builder walked in to pick up a few things. He’s OOM, I’ve known him for a few years. Good guy. Today, he was dressed in his Sunday best, with a plain, straight-cut suit and spiffy little black hat like the OOMs wear. I greeted him cheerfully and we chatted a bit about business. And then I asked what that was all about, seeing he was dressed for church like that. He looked somber.

And he told me. His twelve-year-old nephew had passed away the day before, and he was over at the boy’s home, making funeral arrangements. Wow, I said. I’m sorry to hear that. Such a loss has to be tough on his parents and his family. And on you and your family, too. We kept talking, and I heard how the boy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia just this Christmas, less than two months ago. He never got out of the hospital after the doctors figured out what was wrong.

The Amish always have their stories about eerie and uncanny things. Not dark stuff, necessarily, at least not mostly. But strange and surreal events that unfold, guided by an unseen and supernatural hand. Every Plain culture has its stories of such happenings at such times as this. And the Old Order Mennonites tell their stories of comfort, too.

My friend’s young nephew was still conscious and talking, up until a few days before he died. One of the last things the boy told his mother. He wanted to come home, the next time it snowed. She made no promises, but smiled through her tears. She held her son’s hand and pondered his final wish in her heart.

My friend stood there and spoke the details of the story. His eyes got a little wet and mine did, too, when he told me. “Yesterday, it snowed. And yesterday, he went home.”


And here, I cough politely. How about that Super Bowl? Umm. Who called it? I was a little off on the final score, sure. But I got the winner right.

I got together with some good friends on the big night. Only a few of us were die-hards. My brother Steve and I sat, glued to the game all the way through. We got tense a few times, we did. What a game it was. We shouted and high-fived everyone in sight after Brady’s Hail Mary was knocked down and time expired.

I’m happy for the Eagles. They never were intimidated, not in the least. When they had to score, or when they had to make a fourth down, they did it. That TD to Foles just before halftime was a thing of rare beauty. It was simply breathtaking, the sheer audacity of it. The game was fun and refreshing to watch.

I’m not taking anything away from Brady and the Patriots. Tom Brady played in eight Super Bowls in seventeen years. He won five. That is an accomplishment that will never be matched, I don’t think.

So congrats to Doug Peterson and his team. They are for real. And there’s a real good chance we’ll see more of the Eagles at the big game in the next decade or so.



  1. So, My father was one of those OOM who visited your father. He was a writer as well – wrote many articles for Family Life. The day of my father’s funeral was very stormy, enough that Davey and Joe Stoll and a few others never did try to make it.

    And yes, I had lunch at your home one Saturday noon – Joseph and another brother hitched up a horse and gave me a ride out to the highway so I could have a better chance at hitch hiking. Joseph told me a car load of youth including Rosemary and Joseph were heading to Elmira to visit OOM friends but the car was too full to give me a ride.

    Well, as I trudged along, several hours later, not having much luck with getting rides, who should stop and pick me up but this car load of Aylmer younge.

    Comment by OSIAH HORST — February 16, 2018 @ 8:10 pm

  2. Thank you for your explanation on the differences in some of the “Plain” sects. I believe that you, personally, have a more evolved spirituality than some of the people you wrote about. May God continue to bless you.

    Comment by Rosanna F. — February 16, 2018 @ 8:52 pm

  3. The 35er split was during world war II, off the Joe Wenger. The reason was, they didn’t believe in negotiating with the government about doing alternative services. They believed that you should just refuse to go in the service and go to jail. The 35ers after that, were a very contentious people. They had a lot of splits.

    One joke was made one time that the 35ers used to mean 35 families, and now it means 35 splits. May not be that many, but it was a lot. And because of that, cousins marrying cousins. Even they would marry siblings if it was that small. Divorce was forced if one of the spouse’s family went with the split and the other didn’t. It is a mess.

    Comment by Ken Martin — February 16, 2018 @ 8:57 pm

  4. Very interesting. We once passed a church near Walnut Creek, OH, and something seemed a little strange about it. Further on, we figured out what it was. Every car in the parking lot was black.

    Comment by forsythia — February 16, 2018 @ 9:13 pm

  5. I missed one of your blogs, my computer wouldn’t let me get into my email. Finally got it partially fixed.
    I have no idea about the different groups of Amish or Mennonites. I just know that there are so many different groups of people with different beliefs. There is only 1 God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity. The Bible is absolutely true and I believe it. I believe that Jesus Christ came died on the cross to pay my sin debt so that I can go to heaven when I die.

    Comment by Linda L Morris — February 17, 2018 @ 12:43 am

  6. Very well written. I enjoyed reading your blog, Ira. I believe that same Mennonite fellow when I was taking care of his horses at his place told me that same story about how the neighbor told him he will never be able to make it.

    Comment by Amos — February 17, 2018 @ 7:08 am

  7. Thanks Ira. Those are my people you write about there, and I enjoyed the blog immensely.

    Some of your thoughts are on target with my experience, some a bit foreign… but then my experience was primarily in the newer Central Missouri group we started in 1970.

    Thanks again, and please post the Lamborghini photos when you get one!

    Comment by Steve Hoover — February 17, 2018 @ 7:56 am

  8. Hmmm, great blog. A lot of energy. You must be feeling quite well.

    Comment by lisa — February 17, 2018 @ 8:37 pm

  9. Greetings, Uncle Ira.

    Yours is one of the few blogs which I read or at least skim read almost every time the blogger posts. It’s been a great way to learn some choice bits of Wagler lore and all the other interesting thoughts that go through your head.

    I hadn’t known about the quirks of the Old Order Mennonites, so this was informative–and a little disturbing. I might point out though that, regarding the two themes of your post–Old Order Mennonites and the NFL, the two have something in common; namely, if a space alien were to visit our world he would be baffled by both. In the case of the O.O. Mennonites, they subdivide at the rate of nuclear fission, and for no apparent reason. In the NFL, people are celebrated and fawned over for beating each others’ skulls to the point of hemorrhaging and other, more extensive brain injury, all while getting paid hundreds of times more than people involved in the classic, truly noble professions such as teaching and farming. Hm… Life is rife with incongruities and absurdities.

    Best regards to you,
    Gideon Yutzy
    Dunmore East, Ireland

    Comment by Gideon Yutzy — February 19, 2018 @ 7:17 am

  10. This is a really interesting post. Sometimes wonder where German Baptists fit into the Plain spectrum (from an Amish or Mennonite perspective). What do yall think about the GB Old Orders??? Would have to count up, but guessing a large percentage/maybe majority of non-electric no tractor horse/buggy members were born into other car/electric denominations…although I remember way back when there were only a couple of us outsiders hanging around. How will this affect “our” future?

    Comment by Phyllis — February 20, 2018 @ 8:48 am

  11. Anarchy = “As in the days of Noah”

    The foundational world continued to run, after Eden, on this principle of voluntary submission to moral law, with “an-archy” of lack of a civil government force. Because of the result of great demonization of the people, in order to preserve Humanity, in MERCY, the Lord used His war-bow and sent a Flood, ending that “foundation of the world” (or foundational world). He hung up His bow (the “rain bow” in Hebrew is the word for a war bow), and put a sword in the hands of Humanity, so we would have to learn to do justice. Genesis 9:5-7 will not result in a Utopia, but it is a God-ordained function until we see the restoration of Eden through spiritual government powerful enough to have nations voluntarily “beat their swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.” Anarchy is not working on this side of the veil; there is no Utopia. But there is Hope and a Redeemer, who works through new creations (2Corinthians 5:17) to restore (Acts 3:21) as He again makes a New Creation (Revelation 21:5), this time not through water but by purifying fire.

    Yes, your nod to “anarchy” brought all this up for me; and the Bible still gives light in the midst of human philosophies. I’m not disagreeing with you; but it is not as simple as “live and let live,” and Genesis 6 real experience … and our modern world … shows. Civil government restraint of evil is necessary and God-ordained (and LIMITED, Psalm 149). That does not mean it is a vehicle for bringing in Kingdom, either. So, how will we build that Kingdom here – this seems to still be the pressing question.

    I appreciate your down-to-earth writings.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — February 20, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

  12. Great post. Some of it is rather humorous. You pretty much nailed the culture of all of them for what they are and what they believe they have to do to get to where they think it all ends. It has been said one definition of the word “religion” is “vain attempt”for the practices man engages in before he feels ready to worship. That makes sense seeing the convoluted explanations, rules and hoops put in place before some congregations believe they are worthy. I don’t read the Good Book much these days. Don’t do church either. It just gets too complicated and contradictory but I recall a phrase from my youth.

    Went something like this. My yoke is light and my burden is easy. Signed. Jesus. Funny how the God of my understanding is like that. He doesn’t give a rat’s behind about requiring a bunch of dogma and legalism before I can get in touch with him. And when the gurus and expert’s start the hair splitting and explanations of their arguments, this God of mine starts laughing. Something about not taking yourselves so seriously. Oh,and don’t waste my time trying to win me over. If you ain’t got something I want, I don’t want it. Perhaps rather selfish of me, that’s just the way the ball rolls. Attraction, not promotion wins this race.

    Yup, got it wrong calling the Big Game. That’s ok. Got some good trash talking practice in. Hollar when you win. Don’t cry when you lose…peace to all..

    Comment by lenny — February 21, 2018 @ 4:39 pm

  13. So my lil sis said she read an Ira Wagler blog about you being a lawyer & somthing about OOM. I was sure she was talking about another Ira, but alas I was wrong!! She said it wasn’t her style of writing & she took your words with a grain of salt, & somthing about maybe it was how you were raised as how you perceived stuff! That’s funny I said. I never read that blog!

    I decided to do a little bit of digging. Sure enough, in February there it was everything you need to know about OOM!

    I do have to tease you about one thing tho…. Remember when you met me & a bunch of us went to the races together I told you my background….you had no idea I came from Maudy descent????

    Comment by Angie A — May 5, 2018 @ 9:34 pm

  14. Hey great article but we in New England can’t quite recall the Eagles lol

    Comment by bill dudley — April 23, 2019 @ 7:47 pm

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