From the Boston Globe, The shock of the old:
Joe Mackall’s new book, “Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish,” explores the role of religion in modern society by looking closely at the life of a small devout religious community in Ohio: the Swartzentruber Amish. The struggle of the Amish people to live with “the English” (the non-Amish), and of the English “outsider” (Mackall) to understand the Amish, is a unique story of culture crossing in rural white America.
The complexity of the bridge that Mackall attempts to build between the Amish and English cultures is mirrored in the Latin root of the word “religion” — religare, to bind together again. This is the problem/promise that Mackall confronts: Religion can both liberate and indoctrinate, both create a community through the bonds of tradition and doctrine, and enslave a community through the binding of minds and control of behavior. The book points to a difficult truth: A religious community is bound to be freed.
If you need more than the first two paragraphs of the review, click the link above.
If you want the book, click the book graphic. 😉