In Praise of the Amish

One of the biggest worries of religious believers seems to be that they fear mockery. Which doesn’t display much depth of faith, to be honest.
On a recent routine God Vs Science internet dead end, one believer was urged to defend (and express) his religion through the recommended medium of prayer for the welfare of the unholy. Which seemed totally in keeping with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, as I remember it. His first reaction was:

jobi258 – 04:34am Dec 12, 2008 GMT (#406 of 420)
‘I would be happy to pray for you, but if I was to do so, wouldn’t you just laugh at me and ridicule my prayers?’

Why should we? It’s a perfectly serious solution, seeing as the biggest worry non-believers have about religion is how it relates to the physical world, not the metaphysical.
The biggest threat to religious faith doesn’t come from atheists putting the mockers on, but from its political exploitation and the mobilisation of its believers. That not only increases tension between religions and between the religious and non-religious, but also insults religion itself. Political activism is not religious. But naturally, religions can fuel political action. Nowadays they do little else.
I don’t notice the Aimish, for instance, complaining of being persecuted or having their rights abused or being offended by contraventions of their own code. And this doesn’t mean they don’t have fun. I was once privileged to sit on the next table to a bevy of teenage Aimish girls on a night out at the local village community centre in Kent, watching a performance by a travelling flamenco company retailing some of the sexiest dance and music in the world. They absorbed it with every appearance of relish and applauded as wildly as all the other villagers.
They seem to see the world through genuinely faithful eyes, with its sins and stupidities as a total and utter irrelevance compared with the immensity and perfect bliss of eternity. And therefore the scurryings and pettiness of wars and depressions must seem a bit pathetic and pointless to them. ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’ And that must be a nice way to live. They mean it, and they keep their noses clean.
They don’t presume to judge for god. As Karen in ‘Outnumbered’ says:

‘God could blow up the planes Himself, if that’s what he wanted..’

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