Last night I finished my first Beverly Lewis trilogy, Annie's people: The Preacher's Daughter, The Englisher, and The Brethren. The first book was the best of the trilogy, to be sure. The third felt a tad rushed to me, and I wasn't satisfied with how she didn't completely wrap up some loose ends with the supplementary characters. That being said, I enjoyed the series tremendously, and I've embarked on yet another Amish trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County.
The whole experience is making me dwell quite a bit on the way we all express our Christian faith in our everyday life, as well as on a sense of greater Christian community. Before I write on both of those a bit longer, here's a snippet of dialogue that gets at these points nicely. At a specific point in the story, Annie is worried and upset about something, and is having tea with her grandmother, whom she calls Mammi. Annie expresses her concern to Mammi, who replies:
"Don't you worry, Annie. The Lord God has us all in right in the palm of His hand."
"Really, Mammi? Are you certain?"
"Oh yes, I'm ever so sure."
I *love* how the author brings the Pennsylvania Dutch way of speaking into her writing, it's so very tender and sweet. I love how the Amish often refer to God as "the Lord God." It's just a very genuine expression. I also love the "ever so sure" thing. It's all just very charming.
What I enjoy most about all this is feeling a part of the close Amish community depicted in the stories. A sense of community is very important for a Christian, I ardently believe. Certainly, we all know that we're part of a larger worldwide community of believers, but as well our faith benefits from being a part of a local church community.
A large part of my attraction to Christian fiction of all kinds is seeing how the characters employ their faith in their everyday lives. And within the Amish community, they're constantly surrounded by the body of believers, which is just a refreshing contrast to having a secular career. I absolutely enjoy my secular career, but when escaping with a book, it's nice to feel a part of something different. I like how they talk about God so naturally during their work and when a crisis occurs.
Another interesting thing is the real dedication it takes to live an Amish life. Eschewing modern conveniences is not an easy thing to do. They do everything that they do because they believe it's what God wants them to do. They trust so fully. One thing that I'm noticing in the books is that this author conveys that the Amish do not have a personal relationship with God in the way that other American Christians would define it. I don't know if this is a fair assessment of the Amish or not, but it is the viewpoint of the author, based on my interpretation. And certainly, I think that an intimate prayer relationship with God is very important. That being said, it seems to me that the Amish believe that actions speak louder than words, and their hardworking lifestyle is *their* way of intimacy with God. It's all very, very intriguing. At least to me :)
These books have really gotten my creative writing energies going again. It's been stagnant for quite some time - I think graduate school sucked it right out of me :) But during a meeting today (snoozer :) I brainstormed on some ideas that I'll blog about shortly. Excited :)