Book Summaries

Almost Amish

Nancy Sleeth’s book, Almost Amish, builds on the basic principles of Amish life and shows readers how making conscious choices to limit (and in some cases eliminate) technology’s hold on our lives and getting back to basics can help us lead calmer, more focused, less harried lives that result in stronger, deeper relationships with our families, friends, and God.

Rather than mastering technology, we have allowed technology to master us. We are an exhausted nation. No one has enough time, everyone feels stressed out, and our kids spend more hours staring at a screen each week than they do playing outside.

It’s time to simplify our lives, make faith and family the focal point, and recapture the lost art of simple living.

  • Quote: “One tactic is to avoid temptations. To this end, Matthew and I receive very few catalogs in the mail. This does not happen by accident. Every year or so, I visit the Direct Marketing Association website (www.dmachoice.org) and Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org) to take our names off any mailing lists that we no longer want to be on.” (7)
  • Quote: “Second, don’t try to keep up with the latest fashions. Designers send billions to convince us that brown is the new black and the tie width we thought respectable three years ago is totally out.” (14)
  • Notes: One way to avoid temptation to buying things we don’t need is avoiding it. The first quote given is a perfect example of one way to avoid temptations. The media we view also plays a big role on tempting us to not be satisfied with what we currently have. If we understand marketing and how it works, it will be easier to sense temptation it’s trying to get to us.
  • Notes: This chapter discusses investing our money in good quality things that will last. For example, instead of spending your money on a designer coat that’s “in style”, buy a coat that will keep you warm and better quality.
  • Quotes: “How can we hear the voice of God if we are multitasking nonstop? How can we see the face of God in still waters and green pastures when we are chronically refreshing the screen? The digital generation is a distracted generation.” (29)
  • Quote: “Don’t buy into the necessity of fitting in.” (38-39)
  • Note: People are addicted to technology. Everyone is obsessed with television, social media, and video games. We can help lose these addictions by either cutting back on them or completely eliminating them from our lives.
  • Note: It is parent’s responsibilities to limit their kid’s usage of technology.
  • Quote: “What I find most beguiling about Amish finances is the underlying principle of humility. They do not buy things to impress or to draw attention to themselves or to win love. They understand every single thing on earth is a gift from God, meant to be shared with others.” (52)
  • Quote: “As we get out of debt, we also need to start saving- a lot more than we are now. People in China, for instance, save over 20 percent of their income.” (63)
  • Note: We should always give regardless of our financial status.
  • Note: Give generously, stay out of bad debt, make good investments, live more simply.
  • Quote: “But there is ample evidence that green time is being replaced by screen time.” (78)
  • Quote: “Physical work is necessary to keep us healthy in mind, body, and spirit.” (88)
  • Note: We are replacing our enjoyment of nature with the enjoyment of technology. It is important that we appreciate God’s gifts to us more than mans.
  • Note: Ways in which we can enjoy nature more is by spending more time outdoors. This could be by working, playing, community service, gardening, or any kind of recreational activities.
  • Quote: “While parental hovering may seem harmless in elementary school, it can set a pattern with lifelong consequences.” (103)
  • Quote: “The world believes bigger is better, yet recent history has revealed the high cost of our mega sized world. Big farms fail. Bank mergers collapse. Big schools become just another form of big business. In our anonymous communities, we don’t know the neighbor down the street or the person sitting beside us at church.” (108)
  • Note: Life can be easier if we choose to live more simple lives. The more we own, the more responsibilities we hold.
  • Note: The author suggests supporting local farms and businesses for a simpler life. They also suggest getting to know the people around us like our neighbors, people we casually encounter all the time, etc. Doing all these things will make our lives a little easier.
  • Quote: “The Amish serve their children by doing the hard work of parenting, teaching them the skills and habits that will make them healthy spouses, colleagues, and neighbors. Instead of short-term distractions or coddling, they aim for long-term character and strength.” (127)
  • Note: Today’s society teaches us to find joy in things that are temporary and many people focus on allowing their children to find joy in worldly riches. Too often we see wrong lessons instilled on children and we see the works of the world play a part on the younger generation instead of the Lord’s demands. I think that the Amish have the right idea in preparing their kids with lessons that will be valuable for all of eternity.
  • Note: The beginning of this chapter discusses the importance of community inside the body of Christ. I find this to be very helpful because I myself struggle with trying to be too independent and never find myself asking for help from others. This chapter talks about how people in the Amish community come together to help people in times of need.
  • Quote: “The Amish approach: yes, walk in faith in God but also use the wisdom that he gave us to make good decisions.”
  • Note: This chapter is focused around the idea that the only security we have in life comes from God himself. I like the idea that is portrayed in the beginning of the chapter when the topic of how dangerous motorcycles are came up. Ultimately we have to have faith in God, but that does not mean that we need to “test” God and see how far we can push a risk factor before realizing God’s greater plans. We must trust in God with all our might, but there is no reason to take a risk that is not worth taking.
  • Note: Later in the chapter Nancy Sleeth compares boating accidents in Biblical times to car accidents today. Nancy discusses Paul’s journey to Rome, when the crew hits a storm, “Paul prays, and God assures Paul that no one will perish. The ship falls apart, but- as God had promised-everyone makes it safely to shore.” I can use this as an example in my life because I often forget to put my trust in God during a sticky situation and I try to pull out of it alone, but having faith in the security that God promises us is the only way to assure the right outcome.
  • Quote: Nancy Sleeth discusses that the Amish towns thrive because they all work as a community to better the lives of each other, but in the next paragraph she makes a comment that could not be truer, “Unfortunately, such support and loyalty are dwindling in much of America. Soon after a supercenter moves in, the small-town grocery store, hardware store, and pharmacy close.”
  • Note: America has quickly turned to a “do it yourself” country where everyone wants to strive for the American dream and most people do not care about the relationships that are threatened and they care a lot less about how some decisions will hurt others. Sadly this is the world that my kids and their kids will learn to live, unless we start to make a change by raising our children with morals and ethics.
  • Note: “Once the kids were grown out of school, the neighbors lost the thread that had connected them on a day-to-day basis.” In today’s world, parents put so much time and effort into their kids’ sports and social lives that they forget to teach their kids the idea of unity.
  • Quote: “Because the Amish do not drive, everyone tends to keep close to home….Amish independence from technology means that leisure time brings them closer, rather than dividing them apart. Instead of being wired to digital entertainment, they spend downtime together.” (176)
  • Note: In American society today, kids do not come home till late at night and they hardly see their parents due to sports, work, school, and anything else that can divide a family.
  • Quote: “The big promise of many ads for telephone and Internet services is that we can ‘stay connected’.” (178)
  • Note: The best way for families to actually stay connected is to stay close geographically.
  • Amish Proverb: “More is caught than more is taught.” (195)
  • Note: In society today because to be honest, most people are going to learn from others, this could be learning from mistakes or even learning from success.
  • Note: Faith is not just something that is used on Sundays but instead is something that should be expressed everyday, in events such as how to finance God’s way.

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