Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Among the Savages

See, it's not rectangular.

Students of US geography will know where I've been when I relate that I was first in a Commonwealth and then in a neighboring state with a non-rectangular state flag. (That flag foreshadowed how wackos would reveal their ignorance while jumping to ridiculous conclusions about Obama.)

Part of my trip was in Amish country. Though I didn't see any Amish I did cross paths with those other Anabaptists, the kindly Mennonites. I was surprised at the marketing of both Amish and quasi-Amish products and services, including a four-page tabloid-sized flyer of Amish businesses ranging from the plausible (buggy-harnesses) to the less expected (restaurants--presumably fully equipped).

Through no fault of their own, the Amish are kitsch culture now. General understanding of their beliefs is crude and sometimes misguided. For instance, while they frown on electricity from utilities (with lines which 'tie' them to the greater world), quite a few of them use generators to produce power. And the practice of Rumspringa certainly gives many "English" (as they call non-Amish) pause. But the lack of education and the immersion in a distinctive subculture means that few children leave the faith after this sometimes frenzied interregnum.

Fun fact: If my calculations are correct, the Amish and the Hassidim were started within a few decades of each other, probably about six hundred miles apart. Much as most ancient British traditions date to the second half of the 19th century, our most pseudo-primitive European-spawned sects are just a few hundred years old.

On the return flight the airline offered XM Satellite radio, and one channel was Monty Python Radio. Oddly enough, when I listened it leaned more on audio from films and TV and rather less on the audio recordings (LPs and CDs). The channel appeared to tie in to the broadcast of Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) on Independent Film Channel. Regardless of any tie-in, I was amazed an XM channel was given over to Python for ten full days.

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