But as most locals know, the Amish often have calendars, books, magazines and newspapers with pictures in them. Some Amish enjoy sketching, and some Amish have even become known for their folk art. Mirrors are found in Amish homes. Should not these also be considered "graven images?" It seems there may be more to all this than we may at first think.
Let’s begin with an interesting story concerning Christian Beck, who came to America from Bern, Switzerland in the mid 1800's. One of his sons brought his dog on the ship, something that was not allowed. During the voyage, the dog had puppies, which was discovered by the captain. But the kind captain merely selected one for his own and, "reaching into his pocket, he handed John a silver dollar and a daguerreotype (an early type of photograph) of himself. When the father heard of this, he took both the dollar and the picture from the boy. It was wrong to have the picture, according to Amish beliefs…" So writes, David Luthy in perhaps the earliest story about the Amish and photographs.
Football faced a version of this question a hundred years ago, after a series of ugly incidents. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt called an emergency summit at the White House, alarmed, as the historian John Sayle Watterson writes, “that the brutality of the prize ring had invaded college football and might end up destroying it.” Columbia University dropped the sport entirely. A professor at the University of Chicago called it a “boy-killing, man-mutilating, money-making, education-prostituting, gladiatorial sport.” In December of 1905, the presidents of twelve prominent colleges met in New York and came within one vote of abolishing the game. But the main objection at the time was to a style of play—densely and dangerously packed offensive strategies—that, it turns out, could be largely corrected with rule changes, like the legalization of the forward pass and the doubling of the first-down distance from five yards to ten. Today, when we consider subtler and more insidious forms of injury, it’s far from clear whether the problem is the style of play or the play itself.
my love sleeps besides me—in the faint light—I see his manly jawgive way—and the mouth of hisboyhood returnswith a softness softerits sensitiveness tremblingin stillnesshis eyes must have look outwonderously from the cave of the littleboy—when the things he did not understand—he forgot
In one of the handful of sweet and affecting poems included in this archive, Marilyn, still in the first flush of her love for Miller and imagining what he might have been like as a young boy, wrote a poem about him:
Barangaroo's world would be perfect if only Mani, the biggest boy in her group of friends, would stop trying to be number one. Deep down Mani knows she's better than he is. That's why he keeps shutting her out from important adventures - to make himself look good.
Amish author Stoll concludes, "No, let us not slip gradually, bit by bit, into the ways of the world that lead to an emphasis on pride and personal vanity. When we are gone, let us be remembered not by how broad were our noses, the height of our brows, or the angle of our cheekbones, but by what truly matters --- the lives we have lived and the examples we have left. Dust we are, to dust we shall return. Why frame and embellish and hang on the wall the pictures of this house of clay in which we live? Let us beware lest we permit Self to be exalted becoming unto us a graven image."
Obviously, the best way to make contact with one of our Amish neighbors is not with a camera in your hand. The next time you are out in your yard, imagine how you would feel if a carload of people drove up, stopped, and started snapping pictures of you, and video-taping your activities. Refraining from taking photos is more than just a courtesy. As the local Visitors Bureau notes, "While you talk and mingle with the Amish, please remember that they are not actors or spectacles, but ordinary people who choose a different way of life. Please respect their privacy and refrain from trespassing on their land or taking photographs."
Stoll admits that some Amish may long for and have pictures of their children or parents. Indeed, some local photographers tell stories of Amish parents who request copies of photos of their children. Elmer Smith, in , tells of an Amish couple that cherished a photo of their family, hiding it under a paper lining in a drawer. When it was found by a visiting sister, it was seen as "a self-image that shows pride in oneself." According to the story, the wife hid the photo "under the insulation of the roof outside the second floor window. She hid it so well she couldn’t find it, and asked the non-Amish friends who gave it to her if another copy could be obtained."
I mean, you never see photos of Mike dragging the usual 3 or 4 little boys around with him, at some awards show and see people in the background throwing up.
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