The Budget, an Amish-Mennonite Newspaper

A 123-year-old weekly newspaper bearing news of, by, and for Amish and Mennonite communities
photo of portion of The Budget
a portion of the April 17, 2013 Budget

The Wall Street Journal had a piece about The Budget, which we get third-hand.

The corn stands 5 feet tall, the temperatures are in the 90s and Johnny Byler got hooked on his head while fishing with a friend, reported Mrs. Jerry Ray Byler in a recent front-page article of the Budget.

Mrs. Byler is one of about 860 correspondents for the Budget, a 123-year-old weekly newspaper, which carries the news of Amish and Mennonite communities […]

They write about who got married, who went to church, who received dentures—and how 11 chickens went missing when Toby Schrocks of Cisne, Ill., forgot to close the chicken-house door.

Budget Correspondent Paul Troyers in Genesee, Pa., reported that family members held an auction with good results. “The medium-sized dinner bell that mom wanted to throw out brought $400,” he wrote.

“It’s like someone talking over the back fence to a neighbor,” says Budget publisher Keith Rathbun. Mr. Rathbun, who isn’t Amish, covered sports and put out an alternative entertainment weekly before coming in 2000 to the Budget.

The Budget runs about 500 letters a week on 44 to 46 pages that contain no photos. It costs $45 a year; newlyweds pay $42.

It does have competition. Die Botschaft—German for the Message—costs $44 a year, has a circulation of about 12,000 and also consists of letters and reports from contributors. It’s a more conservative alternative to the Budget, which some Amish readers thought was too liberal, say Amish scholars.

Of course, there’s much more to the WSJ article — Amish Newspapers Thrive in Digital Age — but in closing I offer you its crowning paragraph:

Both papers like variety—and letters about interesting, if benign, events. Included on Die Botschaft’s recent Worth Mentioning list: “Mineral deficiency causes a dead cow” referring readers to a letter from a man in Plains, Montana, who found his only milk cow dead one Saturday morning. One woman wrote about her cousin who stuck something up her nose and didn’t tell anyone. Sometime later, her mother noticed a sprout growing out of her nostril, pulled on it and out came a corn kernel.

Have you read the Budget?

Bonnet Rippers

Branches that hang low and ruin passing coverings on female Amish heads? I wish...

I learned a new expression day before yesterday: Bonnet Books. So I Googled it and learned another new one: Bonnet Rippers.

Great. Just great.

There’s a new kind of romance novel out there and its plot includes forbidden love, a mysterious outsider and a heroine who has to decide between new love and her old life.

But these are not sexy Harlequin-like romances nicknamed bodice-rippers.

These are bonnet rippers.

Amish love stories are occupying many of the top spots in religious fiction.


The books’ plots usually include a young Amish woman who falls in love with an outsider. The woman is young enough, however, that she has not yet officially entered the Amish church, so she still can make a decision to leave the community.


In most cases, the woman does leave with the community and the reader perceives a happy ending.

If she doesn’t turn her back on her faith, does the book qualify as a bonnet ripper? (Get it? In case you don’t…she keeps her faith and her bonnet, ripping neither.)

One more quote from the article:

The books are marketed at conservative Christian readers, often showing up in devotional sections of bookstores.

Those things qualify as devotional?! 🙄

Source: ‘Bonnet rippers’ new kind of romance novel

The Budget

First, I saw it mentioned in the print edition of World Magazine.

Then I saw a Google Alert link to it at the Los Angeles Times.

No, no, no! Not the federal budget. The Budget.

We used to “take” the Budget. I bought Ruby a one-year subscription several years ago. She enjoyed using it to catch up on old friends from Bible School days. Maybe I should teach her how to use Facebook as a less-expensive substitute.

Well, anyway. Here’s a bit from the LA Times piece:

For the Amish, newspapers are in no danger

With online competitors posing no threat, the Budget holds steady, linking communities with news about new silos, tomato blight and neighbors who’ve been kicked by a horse.


The Budget is not your typical newspaper. Since 1890, it has served as the primary communication link among Amish settlements across the country.

And at a time when papers big and small are struggling amid plummeting circulation and intense online competition, the Budget is holding steady. The vast majority of the paper’s reporters — called scribes — are Amish and Mennonite volunteers, hundreds of men and women who send handwritten dispatches in from rural outposts. Their only payment is a free subscription, worth $42 a year.

I should see if they need a scribe from Yoder, Oregon. Maybe I could pen a weekly report as a handwritten dispatch from our rural outpost. That’d be pretty neat.

“This is news we care about, and it comes fast enough for us.”

That sounds kinda revolutionary these days.

(OK, OK — they do have a Web site: The Budget.) 😯

“Nothing Less Than Prophetic”

For those who have taken our religious freedom for granted or have gradually slipped into lukewarmness or even hypocrisy, this book may jolt us back to reality.

The Whirlwind Cometh“Have you read The Whirlwind Cometh?” asked my Arizona friend shortly after noon today.

He just came across the book and is probably done with it by now. He said reading it in the context of what’s going on in the United States these days made chills go up and down his spine.

“It’s nothing less than prophetic,” he said (and I think that’s an exact quote).

He thinks every young man and young woman in our Mennonite churches should read it. “Required reading for” is the way I recall him putting it.

Maybe some day I will get around to posting some excerpts from this novel, set in Canada.

Apparently written by an Amish author who chose to remain anonymous, this inexpensive little book is published by Pathway Publishers. (Maybe this qualifies as one of the few truly profitable amish novels!)

This is an unusual book, a story you will not soon forget. A new Canadian government under Prime Minister John Smith sweeps into power, and at once begins a program to bring reform to Canada. One result is that the historic peace churches are put to a test to see if they are truly nonresistant and if their faith is genuine. The young people must appear before tribunals before they are granted conscientious objector status.

For those who have taken our religious freedom too much for granted, or have gradually slipped into lukewarmness or even hypocrisy, this book may jolt us back to reality. This gripping story is not a history, but a challenge to examine the present and be ready for the future.

Hey — an idea! You could buy your own copy and post your comments here!

Anabaptist Bookstore: The Whirlwind Cometh

Book Review: Plain Secrets

A unique story of culture crossing in rural America explores the role of religion in modern society by looking closely at the life of the Swartzentruber Amish.

Amish buggy in traffic

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. 😉

link to Plain Secrets

Above all, love God!