Some years ago my wife asked me to read a book by Beverly Lewis, called "The Shunning." Beverly wrote about the communities we annually visit; the towns of Lancaster County, Pa. I don't read fiction but Kathy convinced me that I might enjoy it. While in Pennsylvania this fall, we visited those communities again. While we were there, a play was presented - how the Amish folks try to rebuke the rebellious attitudes of young people. Beverly's book contained a section on this which is called "Shunning."
Amish communities limit most contact with the outside world because it is full of corrupt ideas and sinful people. Amish elders believe that young people just cannot see the presence of the world's evil. When I read the book I felt it was rather slow and uneventful but the emotions of the actors in her play made this event very powerful. We were two rows from the back of the auditorium. There were two ladies behind us and one in my row. When the moment came that the Amish turned their backs and could have no more contact with the offender, it provoked an emotional response from the lady next to me. She stifled a spiritual moan, her hands twisted together, her crossed leg began to shake and it was all she could do to quiet the angst in her soul. Her throat constricted to the point she had to cough to breathe. It was obvious she had undertaken this rejection and was still an outsider with unforgiven family obligations. God's spirit yearned to comfort her. I can understand the Amish wanting to keep their children from the influence of the world; we "outsiders" have our own troubles keeping our children focused on spiritual truth and the power of sin. Parents have the same desire the Amish do -keeping our children from wrong choices. Who is to say if there is a better way than that which the Amish practice? Most of us realize that every person is on a collision course with the world's influence - perhaps the Amish are more aware of sin than we are. At the end, the actors gathered to greet all who were there. I asked how they could bring such emotion night after night (for eight months). Their response was they have witnessed the grace of God themselves and want the world to know the truth of his awesome forgiveness.