Let There Be Light! By Sarah Price

Did you know that the Amish are changing how they light up their homes?

That’s right. They are modernizing at last, but perhaps not in the way you think.

Let me start by saying that, while I’m not a gambling person, if I were, I’d bet that one of the first things (behind horses and buggies) that you think of when asked to describe the Amish is that they do not use electricity.

Am I right? 🙂

Years ago, when I first began staying on the Amish farms, one of the things I really loved was how, after the sun set, they illuminated their houses. Back then, it was with kerosene lanterns and sometimes propane ones, especially in the larger rooms. Those lanterns were absolutely the neatest. The light was so bright that you simply dare not look at it directly. And they made a hissing noise.

Today, more and more Amish families are turning to LED lights that run on batteries. Frankly, I find this disappointing. There’s something about a battery-operated light that just doesn’t feel Amish-y to me. Most of those lights look like regular lights. They certainly don’t feel old-fashioned.

The fact that the Amish are changing worries me that other things might change, too. I remember when most church districts did not permit the women to wear black sneakers. They wore shoes. Black shoes. And, to be perfectly honest, they were really pretty.


Full disclosure: I’m not a sneaker person. I am, however, a boot person. And a shoe person, I suppose, although on our thirty-acre ranch in Archer (aka T.A.R.A.), I basically wear cowboy boots. I definitely do not have a pair of sneakers in this house. Maybe in New Jersey…

Then came cell phones which, believe it or not, is basically a staple in the lives of the younger (non-baptized) Amish and the business professionals.

What’s next? I’d sink into a terrible state if Amish began driving cars instead of buggies. Or if bishops permitted clothes dryers and the beautiful lines of pretty dresses and dark pants disappeared from the landscape.

Of course, with the lights, there is a safety factor in switching from kerosene and propane to the battery-operated lights. I know this personally because I have so many of those kerosene lights and even one of the hissing lights…and I never use them.

Yes, that’s correct. I don’t use them because of my cockatoo. I’m petrified that she would knock it over and start a fire or break it and then drink the liquid (she’s cute but not always the brightest lightbulb in the pack…pun intended).


Still, it just doesn’t feel right. There is no flicker or dancing shadows on the walls. There is no hissing noise coming from the lanterns. It’s just so modern and I suppose that’s the one thing I don’t want the Amish to change: their aversion to modern life.

But, like everything else, eventually they will change enough bits and pieces that the life they live today will seem terribly old fashioned, with or without those LED lights.

Sarah Price is the author of the Plain Fame series and the Amish of Ephrata series, among other books. She comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, and her writing reflects accurate and authentic stories based upon her own experiences with several Amish communities. Visit her at sarahpriceauthor.com and on Facebook.

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