Your call

When visitors ask whether the local Amish use telephones our immediate answer is yes. Now, as to whether they have telephones … that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. Amish certainly do not have telephones in their homes and this is part of the Ordnung, a set of unwritten rules which guide Amish life. Although the rationale for this practice is complex, the primary argument against phones in the home is that they represent both a real and a symbolic connection to the world. Amish are not, however, prohibited from using phones and in today’s increasingly complex world phones (including cell phones) are necessary, especially because they allow the Amish to maintain connections with distant family and to conduct business. The welding shop about which I posted back in December has a phone, complete with voice mail. Several families will often share a phone which can be situated in a barn, workshop, or in a Phone Shanty. Having the phone in a Shanty at some distance from the home preserves the requirement for physical separation but also allows that it be present when needed. Perhaps the Amish are playing what I would call a Lawyer’s Game when they place the Shanty out by the road and off the legal limit to the property, like the one I photographed this morning. So, what do you think … do the Amish have phones?


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