Plainspoken, an imprint of Herald Press, is an attempt to give the Anabaptist groups (Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite) a written forum to share their lifestyles and faith in a truthful manner. As the introduction to HUTTERITE DIARIES reports, "novels, tourist sites, and television shows offer second or third-hand accounts of Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite life. Some of these messages are sensitive and accurate. Some are not. Many are flat-out wrong."
About thirty years ago, Amish began moving to our rural community in Wisconsin. Now we have a strong Amish population, known for their furniture, greenhouses, and produce. Are they accepted? By some, but not by others. Are they misunderstood and misrepresented? Most certainly. Because they are my neighbors, I've always been interested in the "real story." Last year, I had the opportunity to hear a speaker who has been welcomed into Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite communities and has written several books about the Amish. His talk took us all the way back to the Reformation in the 1500s, cleared up some differences among the three groups, and peaked my interest in the Hutterite people who live in Christian community, sharing most worldly possessions. The day of his talk, I purchased a cd of a Hutterite choir, and it is one of the most beautiful hymn cd's I've ever heard. It is that talk and the purchased CD that led me to excitingly request a reader's copy of
HUTTERITE DIARIES by Linda Maendel to review.
Linda Maendel lives in a Hutterite colony in the Canadian plains. Everyone within the group has a job, and then there are many other tasks that are shared. While it may be someone's job to oversee the poultry barns or to work as a cabinet maker, every able person may help with grounds upkeep or the potato harvest. Linda herself is an educational assistant, teaching kindergarten and German. Linda's diary entries explain in detail the origins of the Anabaptists in the 1500s and the persecution they experienced over several centuries. Throughout the years that the Hutterites moved from one area of Europe to another, they tried to always hold to their ideal that they should follow the example of early Christians to live in common, sharing all. When the Hutterites came to North Dakota and then Canada in the 1800's, they continued that practice. Linda notes that other religious groups through time have tried communal living but have abandoned it. For the Hutterites, it works and Linda shares some of the reasons why. As shown in her diary entries and commentaries, Linda is clearly content in her lifestyle and faith. She often mentions the choirs within the community and the special times they sing. Having my own cd, I could just imagine the a cappela sound. I was also interested in her explanation of how the Hutterites embrace technology when it benefits the group, while the Amish still tend to abstain from most technology.
At only 154 pages, HUTTERITE DIARIES was very informational but short. I hope that Linda continues to write and can share more day to day glimpses into the Hutterite world.
To read Linda Maendel's blog or to learn more about her, check out http://hutt-writevoice.blogspot.com/ You may also learn more at this LITFUSE PAGE
I want to thank Litfuse for giving me the opportunity to review this title. All opinions are mine.