I ve always been a bit confused about various plain folk and this book straightens it all out The writers do torture the metaphor of backroad to Heaven a bit but its a small flaw that is than made up for by the sensitive and careful delineation of each group s similarities and differences Picked this up at the library because it featured a chapter about the Hutterites It s a neat book that compares and contrasts four different Old Order groups The first few chapters cover each group and the last few compare and contrast them then talk about what makes them continue "on despite changing technology the chapters on the "despite changing technology The chapters on the order Mennonite and Amish were ok probably because I already knew some things about them The most interesting to me were the chapters on the Hutterites and the Old German Baptist Bretheren Probably because these two groups aren t as well known If ou are interested in the Amish and similar groups at all I recommend this book On the Backroad to Heaven is a fascinating comparative study of four Old Order religious groups Amish Old Order Mennonites Hutterites and Brethren providing an overview of the culture growth distinctive way of life and uniue religious heritage Further analysis is also done on the effects of Post Modernism on these communities so deeply rooted in tradition Kraybill and Bowman do not treat the Old Order communities neither as cultural relics nor overly romantic anti Modernists but rather as committed Christian communities living by faith and as having made rational and sincere choices to protect that faith in the face of Modernity s onslaught Both Kraybill and Bowman are respected and known scholars of Old Order Anabaptists and so this book naturally is informative and scholarly It provides a welcome addit The authors of this book take a
look at four Old Order Anabaptist groups and explain the history beliefs and practices of at four Old Order Anabaptist groups and explain the history beliefs and practices of groups their similarities and differences and why they chose to live the way that they do The Old Order groups are the most extreme in their beliefs and separation from modern society Some eschew automobiles and electricity while others allow some modern devices while denying others such as the Bretheren s use of automobiles as long as the radios are removed I found this book to be very informative and well researched I chose to read this book for several reasonsI have recently read books about the Amish and have read about the Hutterites in the past but did not know much about the Mennonites or the Bretheren I was most interested in the Bretheren because I am aware that many of their teachings and practices have influenced the Christian group that I meet with the Lord s Recovery While there are many differences I did see many things in the beliefs and practices of the Brethren that are definite influences on those of the Lord s Recovery Some of "those include the practice of meeting with the church according to locality having no bishops having an attitude that worldly " include the practice of meeting with the church according to locality having no bishops having an attitude that worldly should be shunned and a focus on the inner transformation of the believers I read this admittedly decade old book because I wanted to learn about Hutterites and this is what my local library had available without getting a loan from an university Having grown up in Pennsylvania I was somewhat familiar with Mennonites and th. On the Backroad to Heaven is a uniue guide to the world of Old Order Anabaptist groups Focusing on four Old Order communities the Hutterites Mennonites Amish and Brethren Donald B Kraybill and Carl Desportes Bowman provide a fascinating overview of their culture growth and distinctive way of. E Amish and even some Brethren and it was nice to read a well researched text that explored their social organization and how technology or the avoidance of it fits into their separatist beliefs Having grown up This is a sociological study of four Old Order Anabaptist sects the Amish the Horse Mennonite the Dunker and the Hutterite communities written for the "General Reader By Authors With "reader by authors with knowledge of their history culture and faith traditions This work is particularly valuable for the information it provides on the lesser known sects on the Hutterites and the Dunkers the Old Germen Brethren But it contains a plethora of information on all four And is objective It does not romanticize their communal life styles does not "IT SEE THEM AS ECOLOGICAL HEROES "see them as ecological heroes as unspoiled naturally wholesome primitives nor as tourist attractions or curiosities Although the word heaven is in the title and heaven is the ultimate goal of the groups discussed
and is in fact the original and continuing motivation for the existence is in fact the original and continuing motivation for the existence these groups this work is sociology not theology Is primarily a study of the countercultural social structures of these sects particularly the means by which they define themselves organize their society preserve their traditions The authors provide a good description how each actually functions They evaluate each community s success in creating group loyalty in fulfilling the physical and emotional needs of its adherents They do a costbenefit analysis of the price paid the compensation gained by adherents for replacing their individuality with group identify They also provide an economic analysis of each society of the means by which they support themselves how successful those means are whether the group is prospering growing or declining In the past the groups were primarily dependent on agriculture on farming but this is changing The growth in their population resulting from the large size of their families coupled with the unavailability of suitable cheap farm land has forced some particularly among the Amish to turn to other sources of income This change to work outside the farm to work in construction or in manufacturing or in retail trade has stressed the traditional system of social control in these groups They have had to adapt to new economic conditions while finding a way to preserve what is essential in their communal life The authors evaluate these changes assess how successful these adaptations are and assess the future viability of these communities Probably the most informative portion of the book is its delineation of the particular techniues that the individual groups use to mark their borders the fences they build to keep members in the contemporary world out The Hutterites primarily use the communal ownership of property all use idiosyncratic customs horse transportation particular clothing hairstyles headwear and measures of social control eg shunning and all avoid various aspects of modern technology that are seen to weaken communal life the family structure Particularly illuminating was the book s explication of the true significance of these peculiar customs their true role in these societies as the functioning means by which the community consciously defines itself from the surrounding culture they are the signs of loyalty of. Life Following a general introduction to Old Order culture they show how each group uses a different strategy to create and sustain its identity The Hutterites for example keep themselves geographically segregated from the larger society whereas the Brethren interact freely with it The Amish. ,
Submission of the members to the group For "example the use of hook and eye fastenings by the Amish instead of buttons while seemingly unimportant in "the use of hook and eye fastenings by the Amish instead of buttons while seemingly unimportant in and of no particular religious value serves as a visible sign of submission to the group as proof of a willingness to follow the guidance of tradition of the Ordnung Therefore a change to using buttons sewing them on would not be just an expression of clothing preference but would be regarded as an expression of clothing preference but would be regarded as sign of rebellion against the group a sign of independence of openness to the world Because the authors give each of the four groups a separate chapter and then add a chapter on their similarities and another one on their differences there is inevitable repetition The same material is presented than once However it would be hard to find a better sociological study of how these four groups maintain their cohesion preserve their individuality and guard their distinctness from the surrounding culture Excellent book that explains the history and present of the Hutterites Mennonites Amish and Old Older Brethren Written in 2001 this study of the four main Old Order groups is interesting It is a sociological study and includes a lot of statistics It is very much like a text book and it repeats itself a fair bit but if ou are interested in the subject I would recommend it The authors pride themselves on their access to informants among the Plain People and they gloss over most of the current negative publicity or popular culture though they do touch on some of it in the postmodern chapter I do have a better understanding of the history and the differences among the groups I found this book very helpful in explaining these religions especially the Brethren the German Baptists I had some as neighbors and they were very nice and friendly Our children played together and attended school together and I worked with some Although they are the most modern of all the groups they are still considered an old order It really helps to understand other religions and respect their ways without judging Fascinating description and comparative analysis of four Anabaptist denominations of Old Oder Whenever someone makes an argument this society works this way because of human nature throw this book at them Not only is it a bad argument to boot but it s completely and utterly wrongWhilst patriarchal and parochial they reject all notions of individual egotism engendered by today s society the Hutterites going so far as to reject private property altogether and having their personal property reduced to the contents of a box The mental gymnastics and non bureaucratic institutions that people have set up in order to perpetuate and preserve very successfully their way of life are also absolutely fascinatingNot only does this book dispel myths about these communities it shows uite clearly that in terms of mental illness depression suicide rates alienation and loneliness they are far better off than society at large But unfortunately on the brink of having their culture objectified monetized and sold as a novelty item for the desperate modern consumerIt would be really interesting to see how the Old Orders welcomed the very evident rise of the internet seeing as how this book was researched and written almost 20 ears ago published 16 Laurus years ago. And Mennonites are alike in how they engage the outside world adopting a complex but flexible strategy of compromise that produces an evolving canon of social and religious rules This first comparative study sketches the differences as well as the common threads that bind these groups togethe.