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Intentional Communities

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23 November 2015

Intentional Community
THE AMISH

The Amish are a group of the Christian church fellowship. The Amish movement was founded by Jacob Ammann as an attempt to change some practices of the Mennonites. The history of the Amish takes about three centuries. They started to emigrate to Pennsylvania U.S. in early 18th century after being chased and criticized by the Catholic сhurch. The main idea of their religion is to keep themselves far away from the world and conveniences of modern technology such as follows: electricity, cars, TV, radio, computers, planes, watches, and rings. Moreover, they totally decline to have any relation with the state and are against the individualism. All these are done in order not to let things from outside effect the internal world of the person and its perception of the reality.

Rules and the leadership. The Amish are strictly keeping their rules that are called the Ordnung. It is a symbiosis of religious rules and practices concerning how to organize everyday routine, work process, lifestyle, and clothing. The Gelassenheit is the other semi - formal concept that is regulating the life of the Amish. It is a general view of a good person rather than a guide on how to behave. Due to the Gelassenheit, the honorable person should be modest, calm, kind, and quiet one.

The nature of the Amish leadership is ministerial, which means they are choosing a minister for each district. A ministry is concerned to be an awesome and honorable responsibility. The ordained bishop is recognized as the mayor, the president, and the head of all matters. Moreover, he controls if members of the community are keeping to the Ordnung.

Personal Life. The Amish family is probably the strongest in the world. They do not recognize divorces and believe that the big families are blessed by the God. Thus, they are likely to have from five to ten, or even more, children. The Amish are trying to help old people or people that need extra attention within their community with all their powers, without participating in the social security programs. Furthermore, they tend to rely only on themselves, knowing that each member of the community will help as much as he/she can. Therefore, this is maybe the main reason why most of the teenagers, after having a possibility to see the world and try things they have been deprived of, come back with the decision to be baptized in the Amish religion.

The Ordnung allows marrying only the person of the Amish, sometimes the Mennonite movement. Girls and boys usually meet each other on chants and weddings. From sixteen years, the boy can show his interest in the girl. The sex before the marriage is forbidden. It is strictly forbidden to marry cousins, although such practice has been done earlier.

Lifestyle and Culture. Originally, the Amish are very good farmers. Men are usually working in the field, manufacturing furniture, and in cottage industry. Women are housewives, taking care of their children and parents.

Generally, it is a very common practice to graduate after eight classes for the children as the Amish believe that the basic knowledge gained in the school is enough for their life and work. Thus, the Amish schools are mainly concentrated on plant biology, zoology, arithmetic, and basic geometry.

The Amish cuisine is a very healthy and simple one. Typically, they are eating sweet corn, celery, beets, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and a wide variety of other vegetables. They are also eating meat, especially chicken one.

Best features and problems. Without using innovative medicine, electricity, and technologies, being far away from the State, the Amish have saved the biggest values of the people: a family, childhood, and honesty. Although, they have faced lots of problems, for instance, a problem of blood mixing or violent conflicts based on the religious field. In order to solve the problem of blood mixing, the Amish include a new rule into the Ordnung that forbids marrying a cousin or another close relative.

MORMONS

Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, the principal branch of the Latter Day Saint movement, which began in 1830 in New York. Nowadays, Mormons are one of the biggest intentional community in the world. They strongly believe in the Bible and other books of scripture such as The Book of Mormon and consider themselves to be a part of Christianity. However, Mormons religion declines some ideas of the Bible and suggests things which are totally unacceptable for the Christian church. The key points of Mormons church are the friendly universe, a pre-mortal existence, a plan of salvation, and kingdoms of glory.

Rules and the leadership. The Book of Mormon and The Word of Wisdom are regulating the life of Mormons. The Book of Mormon is the most important book for the whole Mormons community. On most religious issues, the content of this scripture is the same as in the Bible. However, the book also suggests ways of organizing the political process and financing of the church. The Word of Wisdom is a health code that forbids the consumption of the tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol. Furthermore, some harmful practices or substances, such as pornography or drugs, are prohibited too.

Mormons church has a hierarchical structure that is strictly vertical. The president - prophet prescribes revelations for the whole church. Since the establishing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is also guided by twelve main apostles and seventy additional one, chosen by the president - prophet.

Personal Life. Generally, Mormons tend to be very family - oriented and are trying to keep the connections with their relatives, including older generations, and other Mormons as well. Therefore, they hold weekly family meetings, participate in church activities, and pray together.

They have a strict law of chastity that forbids any sexual activity outside the marriage. The same - sex marriage is also not widely recognized. However, Mormons who identified themselves as lesbians and gays are a part of the community.

Lifestyle and Culture. Each Mormon is deeply involved into the community. Typically, young people are working as volunteers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, participating in church-sponsored activities, and religious education programs. Since, the connection between church and its members is very strong, a lot of practices are conducted including studying scriptures, praying daily, and attending Sunday worship services.

Mormons are not drinking tea, coffee, and alcohol. The consumption of other unhealthy and dangerous products is also prohibited.

Best features and problems. Mormons are keeping to a lot of important values, such as helping others or humanitarian aid. They have launched a lot of volunteers programs that help young people to gain new experiences and achieve their goals.

Of course, it is quite clear that Mormon church is very authoritarian and deeply involved into political processes. There have been a lot of scandals around it. Furthermore, some people are considering Mormons to be a sect.

CONCLUSION

I am positively surprised by the ability of these intentional communities to save and prosper the main values of the mankind such as a family, childhood, honesty, modesty, and helping each other. Of course, there are some negative things in each community as the lack of technologies in the Amish and a strong political lobby of Mormons. But until people feel happy inside their communities, I do not see any difficulty.

I definitely cannot see myself joining these communities because, first, I do not feel mature enough to take such important decision, and second, I have been always too free to follow strict requirements and orders.

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