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Growing Up Amish: A Memoir (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Ira Wagler

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One fateful starless night, 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 AM, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. Now, in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life—from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26. Growing Up Amish is the true story of one man’s quest to discover who he is and where he belongs. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming yet poignant coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most enigmatic cultures in America today—the Old Order Amish.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1343 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 283 pages
  • Editeur : Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Édition : Reprint (28 juin 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1414339364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414339368
  • ASIN: B0051CC7LC
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°329.777 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  586 commentaires
150 internautes sur 159 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Captivating, emotional look into Amish life 26 juin 2011
Par Carmen - Publié sur Amazon.com
I always wondered what it would be like to be Amish, hoping that my profession as a writer might grant me an opportunity to live life--even just temporarily--among the Amish.

While that has never happened, I have been able to get a closer look into the life of the plain people by Ira Wagler's memoir, "Growing Up Amish." Indeed, Wagler did grow up Amish, but after two decades of wrestling with his peoples' ways, finally left the fold.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers and read it within days of starting. It was captivating as it drew me into his lifestyle and all the heartaches it wreaked for Wagler as he shares how he struggled with his desire to remain with the community he loved and his desire for freedom outside the faith's strict rules.

Wagler's first-person account peels away the facade of piety that we usually imagine when we think of the Amish. They are not perfect, and he showcases many instances that remind us that we are all human, even the Amish. Filled with raw emotion and honesty, "Growing Up Amish" is a riveting and eye-opening tale of life inside this close-knit group of believers.
80 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The story of a lost man 23 décembre 2011
Par Peace - Publié sur Amazon.com
In his memoir, Growing up Amish, Ira Wangler chronicles his agonizing, decade-long search to find a place where he belongs. Mr. Wangler was born and raised in an Old Order Amish community. His life is stable and predictable, perhaps a bit too predictable for his liking. He experiences his father as emotionally distant and he regards his church in a similar light. As a teenager, he can no longer tolerate the sense of being boxed in by his daily life, his community, and his church, and so he departs from the Amish community and the life he has known and sets off on his own in the "English" world.

I had high hopes for this memoir but ultimately found it an unsatisfying read. The book's title is misleading as the author struggles to adequately provide the reader with a fleshed-out picture of what it is like to grow up Amish. A more accurate title would be Leaving the Amish. His story is that of a lost man. He feels restless and discontented in both in the Amish world and outside of it, and his internal struggle is something he expresses well. The anguish over being unable to find peace with staying or going is palpable as he goes back and forth, attempting to conform and working hard to fit in somewhere. He begs for a "third option" but seems unable to find or create one. Unfortunately, even narrating his own story, he remains at a distance from it and one is never really pulled in enough to deeply understand exactly what his life is like both when he is with the Amish and when he is not. There is a sense of void and emptiness that pervades his story. Certainly, I was left with a sense of sadness about what appears to be lacking in both his childhood and adult life. One senses he is someone who really needed more warmth, relationships with more depth and more open communication, and some guidance with his spiritual life.

I longed to understand the issues underlying his discontent more completely and I really wished he could have provided a more descriptive picture of the Amish community life and relationships. At times the book was a tad repetitive and I was never engrossed enough to stick with it for more than a half hour at a time. Readers who are looking for any analysis of the larger issues that confront the ex-Amish or even a more general explanation of why there is a greater exodus of young adults in the past few decades will be disappointed. I was curious to hear more about the author's life after he reached his final decision about staying or going, but this was not provided. He describes himself as more content now and he provides a spiritual reason for this but it's difficult to get any real sense of what has changed for him, if anything, in his daily life that would allow him to find peace or contentment.
43 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Different World 25 juin 2011
Par BeckyB - Publié sur Amazon.com
I enjoy books on the Amish - I see I am not alone, as even Wagler, in this book, mentions that people are intrigued by this group of people. But this book was FAR better than any Amish Fiction read! Ira Wagler LIVED Amish - he was born into this people, he struggled to be one of these people, and he tells his story in Growing Up Amish. It really is a story that caught me from the first page - how they live, what they believe, and how some people find it very hard to live in that culture. Wagler is honest and yet tender toward the people he shared much of his life with. I enjoyed every part of this book - his story is sad and still real. This memoir is one I will passing along to friends and encouraging them to read - it gives new insight into these people that intrigue the rest of us - and shows us the reality of "growing up Amish."
109 internautes sur 126 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A heart-breaking quest for freedom amid spiritual torment 12 juillet 2011
Par Michael Hoffman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Ira Wagler's "Growing Up Amish" is an impressive book in part because Wagler can really tell a story. The reader gets the impression that it is a true story (though I would love to hear the other side, from those who are still Amish and are mentioned in the book). When it comes to writing, Ira is obviously his father's son. David Wagler is an Amish author renowned for his eloquence and co-founder of Pathway Publishers.

This book has universal appeal beyond an Amish interest due to its themes -- the quest for freedom, the struggle against tyranny, the father/son divide, modernity versus tradition and the simultaneous torment and elation that freedom brings. The book's title is not entirely accurate. It is only partly about life as an Amish youth. The latter half of the book centers on adulthood and concerns the author's struggle to free himself mentally from his birth-culture's deep roots and enormous spiritual and psychological hold. "Leaving the Amish" would probably have been a more apt title.

If Wagler had not been raised Amish, if he were just another American youth on the path of rebellion against his family and his church, then the villain of this book, aside from the unnamed "mad" Amish bishop in Indiana, whose alleged cruelty struck Ira to his core, would surely have been Ira's father. The son occasionally portrays him as petty, foolish, tyrannical and obsessed with his writing to the detriment of his family. Yet, perhaps in spite of himself, the son adheres to a basic Amish virtue that trumps his resentment -- gratitude. While the book is dedicated to his mother, Ida Mae, on p. vii Ira offers a "special thanks" to his father for "lighting his path." More importantly, the narrative itself gives testimony to his father's humanity and his willingness to sacrifice and suffer on behalf of what he believed was best for his family, beginning with their migration from Canada to Iowa, a "gallingly difficult task."

This book in part concerns the Amish sense of duty, stoicism and the Germanic tendency to hold emotions in check. In our "let it all hang out" age and in particular in those Protestant and Pentecostal churches where a premium is placed on emotion, it is easy to revile those who follow an ancient counter-culture that harkens to what was once considered the manly characteristic of suffering in silence and without complaint. Decades ago it was common practice to teach German children of any background the old adage, "Lerne leiden, ohne zu klagen." Part of Ira's anguish is born from this suffer-in-silence ethic. The modern spirit will automatically concur with his dissent from it. How much of this dissent is valid and how much is the product of a fractured zeitgeist is open to debate.

In one of the book's most moving scenes, when tragedy strikes one of Ira's siblings, his father wrestles with his grief while leading the family's morning devotions. As he struggles to get through a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, "Abruptly his voice broke, and he faltered. He struggled silently for some moments. Through the vast gulf that separated me from him at the time, and in the grip of my own shock and grief, my heart cried out for him. A tough, stoic, hard-bitten old Amish man. Broken. Hurting. In anguish before God. For his son. Fighting emotions he could not show."

The only account to rival this one in impact is Ira's story of his brother Nathan's relationship to his family and in particular, his mother (pp. 159-163). In the departure that is recounted, in the separation that tears at the fabric of this long-suffering woman's life and that of her tormented youngest son, we encounter a profound archetype.

Ira's personal struggle is recounted with courage and brutal candor. This is as much a confessional as a "memoir." The story of him toiling on a bleak "English" ranch in Nebraska, of having to confess his most intimate sins to a roomful of shocked Amish ministers, and the cruel jilting of his bright and beautiful Amish fiancé, will not be soon forgotten. Due to the fact that for years he truly believed, in spite of his rebellion and departures, that the Amish faith was the only true salvation from hellfire, the reader observes a frustrating cycle of Wagler's abandonment and return to the Amish church, which is by turns excruciating and fascinating.

Most of the people we encounter are identified by their actual names. (The Amish don't engage in lawsuits). A number of embarrassing charges are leveled in some instances. For example, Elmo Stoll, an electrifying Amish preacher and polemicist who replaced Ira's father in a position of authority in Canada, is portrayed as a callous fanatic. To Ira's credit, this severe portrait is mitigated a few chapters later when Elmo rallies the readers of the Pathway publications to send charitable financial relief to the Waglers, who are drowning in debt from medical expenses.

This is not a perfect book and one reason for that may be the publisher's editing. On his blog, the author mentions (not as a complaint but as a statement of fact), that about 40% of his original manuscript was discarded by his publisher, Tyndale House. We can understand the need to craft a pithy text that packs a punch by virtue of its brevity, but in this case, the publishers sacrificed too much continuity and closure in pursuit of that objective. Reading this book you will not know what happens to the author's parents, David and Ida Mae Wagler, even though a seemingly ominous harbinger of their fate is dangled before the reader (bottom of p. 188; top of p. 189).

There is a brief section devoted to an "epilogue" but it mainly concerns Ira's gratitude to a seminal friend in his life, a man who means more to him even than the friends with whom he grew up. Irony of ironies, this man, one of the few in the book assigned a pseudonym ("Sam"), is in fact Amish. Sam is an American "(English") who converted to the Amish and who, in a chance encounter with the author, leads him to a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Though Ira says Sam cut him off after Ira quit the Amish for the last time, and it has been 20 years since they last met, he offers his undying gratitude to him. This loyal act of friendship is a fine thing of course, but as an epilogue it is wholly inadequate. What happened to Sarah, his fiancé? What of Ira's parents? Elmo Stoll deserves a brief mention in any epilogue (Stoll left the Amish and founded a reform movement in Cookeville, Tennessee that preserved Amish forms of spirituality and discipline, using English as the language of worship and inviting "seekers" from outside the Amish to join; he died of heart failure while bicycling to assist a farmer in need).

The last chapters focus on Ira's inner thoughts and philosophy, departing from the book's earlier structure, where such musings are mixed more judiciously with the people and events that give "Growing Up Amish" such a powerful narrative drive.

I gave this book five stars even though I am conflicted by some of its premises. In pursuit of his personal freedom Ira broke his solemn promise before God to join and then, after his numerous abandonments, to re-join the Amish. In an American society plagued by divorce wherein promises are "made to be broken," what sort of testimony is Ira offering to the Me generation? That he is one of them? Where does the pursuit of freedom end and the aggrandizement of ego and pride begin?

The Amish are under assault from various "born again" Protestant groups who make much of their "new birth" compared with Amish tradition and yet who have themselves departed, in at least some cases, from the Christian path of peace and non-conformity. I wonder to what extent this book will serve as ammunition for those worldly "missionaries"?

On the positive side, "Growing Up Amish" will serve as an antidote to saccharine Amish hagiographies written mostly on the fly by journalists with pixie dust in their eyes, for whom the Amish can do no wrong and where a great deal of the misery caused by heartless bigots masquerading as Amish bishops and ministers is passed over. As you can see, I neither canonize nor condemn the Amish. It is a valid Christian path for those called to undertake it. It is in need of a return to original Anabaptist zeal; an English-speaking branch that is Amish in all other respects except language, should long ago have been founded.

Having perused his blog, I have learned that Ira Wagler's life since leaving the Amish is anything but a tidy, happy ending. He still struggles mightily with his pursuit of freedom and to a certain extent has been lacerated by it. He has an appetite for intellectual adventure and controversy. He seems to be constantly on the move mentally and spiritually. I hope he finds the peace that he is seeking. In the meantime, he has bequeathed to history a searing account that cannot be disregarded; a page-turner that cannot be put down, by a restless spirit who cannot be ignored.

Michael Hoffman spent six years (1989-1995) in Old Order Amish settlements in Ohio, New York and Montana. Ira Wagler's father, David, is the author of thousands of pages of magazine articles and the books Stories Behind the News and Through deep waters: A father's story of his son's tragic accident. Elmo Stoll is the author of Give Me This Mountain a selection of views and values.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 As an insider, I love Wagler's honesty! 26 août 2011
Par Janet Oberholtzer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Growing up Amish is an excellent book ... with great writing and a story that captures the reader. There's adventure, struggle, joy and sadness in the book as Ira Wagler continually searches for truth, which brings him the freedom and peace he desires.

'Outsiders' to the Amish world often wonder what it's like to live as an Amish person ... and most have a glamorous view of it, which too many other books promote. The reality is that world is not glamorous. I did not grow up Amish, but I grew up traditional strict Mennonite ... some of the rules are different, but the two cultures have similarities. I've been frustrated with the view that is painted of these cultures, which is why I like Growing Up Amish. Wagler does an excellent job describing the frustrations within that world, while not being malicious about it. He states the facts of his life in a way that I appreciate and according to 'outside' friends, makes them understandable to readers that aren't familiar with that world.

I've noticed some being critique of Wagler's feelings towards his family ... unless one is from a strict sheltered community, I think it's next to impossible to understand the relationship dynamics in those worlds. I don't know Wagler's family, but I know when someone is convinced that the way they do life is the only right way and you choose otherwise, there will be some strain in the relationship. Wagler is honest about those differences and about his families reactions to his decisions, but I don't detect any bitterness there. I see honesty about the past and about where he and they are today ... but honesty doesn't mean bitterness.

If you prefer to view the Amish culture as simplistic, perfect and a great way to live ... don't read this book. If you want an honest view of those worlds, of the frustrations and tensions that can be present, especially when someone questions the norm ... read it.
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