Along the lines of repressive religious cultures, the Amish at least aren't as frightening as the FLDS. Girls grow up before marrying and everyone seems to get enough to eat. But, to borrow Wagler's simile, being Amish is like living in a box. And not in that cool danceable box from the early 90s (Imma living in a box! Imma living in a cardboard box!). It's a small, tightly hewn box, and every time you try to peek out, someone is there to slam it down on your nose. And tell you that you're going straight to hell if you even so much as lift that lid again.
And if you're thinking well, at least they have Rumspringa to explore the world
, then you've been watching too much tv. Turn off ER, mail Devil's Playground back to Netflix, and read this book.
Not that it's actually anti-Amish, although the first 80% or so reads very much as if it is. The Amish life was simply not right for Wagler, and no matter how many times he left and returned, no matter how good his intentions were, it just wasn't a life he could live. Half of his siblings felt the same. The other half married and raised good Amish families. That's just the way it is.
Ultimately, Wagler declined to make one point that seems important to me. The Amish people's insistence on protecting themselves and their children from the evils of the outside world borders on obsession with that very world. It seems to be a belief system defined not by what it is
but rather by what it isn't
. And, in the end, it's just another way of controlling people with force and threats. Something I don't recall Jesus ever trying to do.