Tips for Achieving an 'Almost Amish' Lifestyle

Organization illustration, marekuliasz /

Organization illustration, marekuliasz /

Editor's Note: This post is a follow-up to yesterday's Ten Ways to Live "Almost Amish.' Author Nancy Sleeth offers tips for achieving each of her principles for "almost Amish" living. 

1. Homes are simple, uncluttered, and clean; the outside reflects the inside.

Almost Amish Decluttering Tips:

  • Start small:  Clean one shelf of a closet, once corner of the basement, or one drawer of your desk each Saturday; by the end of the year, your house (and heart) will be much lighter.
  • For each item you bring into the home, give (at least) one away one.
  • Limit temptation by reducing catalogs and junk mail:  visit and to remove your name from mailing list.

Book Review: Almost Amish

Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth

Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth

If I had seen just the title of Almost Amish, I probably wouldn't have been attracted to it: I'm not a fan of Amish fiction, and I've heard too much about Amish puppy mills.

If I'd also noticed the name of the author, however, I might have picked it up: several years ago I met the Sleeths at the home of mutual friends, and I greatly respect the choices they have made about a simpler, more hospitable lifestyle.

Religious Questions for Pa. Voter ID Law Draw Fire

Amish buggies, Weldon Schloneger/

Amish buggies, Weldon Schloneger/

HARRISBURG, Pa.—Nothing is sacred about your religion when it comes to getting a state identification card without a photo.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers ID cards for those with religious objections to being photographed, including the Amish and certain Mennonite groups. But in order to get a nonphoto ID for religious reasons, applicants must answer a series of 18 questions that delve deeply into their faiths and other personal information.

Now that Pennsylvania has passed one of the nation's toughest voter ID laws to prevent voter fraud, the scope of the questions is drawing criticism.

Hate Crimes Law Used to Prosecute Amish Beard Attacks

Metal scissors, Aaron Amat,

Metal scissors, Aaron Amat,

A pair of scissors transported across state lines has emerged as a controversial element in Ohio's first case under a landmark 2009 federal law that expanded government powers to prosecute hate crimes.

The case involves a dozen members of an Amish sect in central Ohio who are charged with using the shears -- made in New York and brought to Ohio -- to forcibly cut the hair and beards of fellow Amish to avenge a religious dispute.

The travel history of the shears may seem like a peculiar point in the peculiar case that has focused national attention on Ohio's Amish community. But the hate crimes law -- like many other federal statutes, including health-care reform legislation -- is rooted in Congress' far-reaching power to regulate interstate commerce.

Enacted in 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was named for a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten and tortured to death by two men in 1998, and a black man who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to death in Texas that same year.

7 Essential Tips for Fitting in With the Christian Literary Underground Scene Near You!

While perusing everything from Amish fiction to Zondervan's latest publications at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing this past April, I discovered what we here at Sojourners affectionately call the "Christian Literary Underground" -- a small group of literary magazines and independent book publishers that have "staked a cl