Blogger's Note: Since this blog is somewhat Amishcentric, I get questions from time to time from readers about Amish life and culture, which I refer to my Aunt Tillie, an opinionated, but humble Amish woman. Here is a recent question and answer. Please leave a comment or email me if you have questions you want me to refer to her in the future.
Dear Aunt Tillie:
My sister wonders what you would say about borrowing her picture from a school publication and publishing it on my blog. What is it about Amish and pictures anyway? Have you ever had your picture taken? Could you give me a copy to put on my blog so I can convince readers you really do exist?
So many questions; so little time. First of all, I have never read your blog, so I don't know how appropriate it was to publish your sister's picture. I hope you didn't show her face, not that there's anything wrong with her face, but we Amish prefer to be photographed from the rear. I think your sister's rear would have been just as nice to show your readers as her face, and it would have been less embarrassing for her.
What it is about Amish and pictures is kind of puzzling to me, too. Our preachers tell us that one of the Ten Commandments is that we are not to have any graven images, and that is why we don't have our pictures taken. The problem with that explanation is that we do have graven images of landscapes, animals and other things on calendars which we have all over our houses, so I don't think it's really the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments don't say don't make graven images of people, but maybe that's what they mean. I try not to do too much interpreting of the Bible, but just go by what it says. We don't like tourists taking our pictures, but who does? Even the Hollywood people, I'm told, get mad when tourists stick cameras in their faces and those are people who make their livings getting their pictures taken.
I did have my picture taken once, before I joined the church, and I gave it to Abner when he was courting me, but when I joined the church, I tore it up. It wasn't the sin so much that made me get rid of it as the feeling that if I kept looking at that thing, I would want to start improving my face and then could lipstick, liposuction and Botox be far behind? Since then I've only been photographed from the rear (and I have to confess that I start thinking about liposuction again when I see those ample shots) when some photographer showed up when I was in town buying groceries or some worldly nephew showed up at a funeral and wanted to take some souvenirs to show his friends.
As far as getting a picture of me to prove that I exist, I'm afraid I can't go along with that. What would a picture prove other than I'm getting a little old and wrinkled. The skeptical would think you just found a picture of some other Amish woman and the believers don't need pictures. I guess if God doesn't have to produce a picture to prove he exists, I shouldn't have to either.