Friday, April 3, 2015

Missing members

As I recently watched a PBS series about the Amish (Shunned/American Experience-possibly still available for viewing online), a testimony in the very beginning spoke to the heartache of not being able to sit at the same table as those being cast out.

And that resonated with me.

"Blessed are those that are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Revelation 19:9)

Not all will be present at the Banquet, and sometimes we get a glimpse of this here on Earth, with the empty seats at the dinner table just one way to illustrate this.

Are the Amish justified in their "shunning" practice and general separatism?

"Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" Matthew 13:30

I don't know. BUT I do know that the documentary brought up several parallels to spiritual life and the pain of having unsaved family/friends.

As people who had left the community gave testimonies, the single biggest regret by far to having left was not being with their families. Family ties are strong, and that reaches across cultures!

One young man told of the unbearable grief he experienced when an older cousin (or brother?) left the community..."Just imagine being in hell," he wrote to his beloved relative...only to leave himself a year or two later. There are parallels in that, too. We don't want anyone we care about to leave the flock...and yet, we ourselves can fall into temptation in an instant. 

Are our churches holding us on too tight of a "leash"? Do they seem too legalistic or intolerant? Too cultlike or displaying "shepherding" tendencies? Of course we must be cautious. But, the pursuit of freedom can be dangerous, too.

The documentary ends with an Amish man saying the following:

"If a boy or girl leave the home, their place at the table is always set....that's a very powerful thing."


  1. I think shunning certainly seems Biblical in many ways. And, the result of "hanging with" unbelievers (or even "believers" who have a "cafeteria" ethic) is dangerous. It is very easy to be influenced by the people around us. I think our Catholic Church needs to demand more of its members.

  2. I'm trying to remember what my first thoughts were...I like that there is a high standard and form of church discipline, similar to parenting. I guess similar to what you said. Yet a lot of the testimonies in the documentary told of being hurt by legalism and punished for the smallest violations, where grace was needed. And I think that just like in parenting, one child will respond well to being disciplined, while another child might see it as unjust or abusive. So I don't know if there is a one-size-fits-all answer. And I believe in living "apart" but while still in the world. I know they have a whole system where young people are often allowed to experiment a little before they are baptized, but in general I think that having so many things be forbidden opens the door to even more temptation.


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5 years later

 After my latest  weird dream sequence , I found my mind wandering to an alternate scenario where our church never split up . I did the math...