June 9, 2000

Paradise, PA 0  Miles Hiked Today 1126 of 2167 Miles Hiked Total

Band and dancers at the Lancaster LiederkranzWe spent today touring some of the small towns in the area -- Paradise, Ronk, Bird-in-hand, Strasburg, and Intercourse. While somewhat charming, they are all overrun with tourists out to "see the Amish," almost like they are going to a parade or circus. The Amish are different in that they are conservative Christians with some unique beliefs, but they are human beings with the same needs and wants as the rest of us. I learned quite a bit about the Amish by going on a tour of an Amish farm and reading a book I bought. Essentially, they were invited here by William Penn because he knew they were facing religious persecution in Europe. They are a split-off from the Mennonite faith because them believe in shunning (social out casting of those members who defy the faith or are unrepentant sinners). They interpret the Bible quite strictly (e.g. men are in charge of women), and avoid participation or reliance on the outside world (e.g. no electricity, but can use propane).

We also played a round of Putt-Putt because I had been challenged (I won by 18 strokes), shopped for hand-made Amish quilts, attended a flea market, and finally, last night we went to the Lancaster Liederkranz. At least I think that is what it was called. It is a German music and dance party with food, beer, door prizes, live band, and dancing. We probably stayed for three hours watching a kid fish in a stream just behind the big tent, eating, drinking, and watching people dance. Mostly it was just everyday people dancing, but a dance group performed also. They were really good. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing, but one observation I made was disappointing. All of the people dancing were 40 years old or more. Two generations of people were missing. To me this is sad because it shows that a culture is dieing out, possibly because of a lack of family togetherness, lack of pride in one's heritage, or maybe a result of the great American melting pot. Whatever the reason, I think a lot of people my age and younger are missing out.

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