Apr 06, 12
Read from March 30 to April 05, 2012
The memoir genre is an over-used one these days, so if an author chooses it, there needs to be a commitment to unique insight if the story is going to avoid self-indulgence. Wagler's work does not avoid this. The Tyndale published piece reads as one would expect a story developed by an Evangelical Christian publisher to read. It is tale filled with self-loathing declarations of sinfulness ultimately resolved in the emotional reasoning found in conventional salvation theology. Wagler had many opportunities to provide a nuanced and specific look at the Amish culture but every time he could bring historical, theological, sociological or psychological insight to circumstances, he devolved into a self-centered emotional wallow. We never learn any depth of the Amish traditions that entrap him outside of the the emotional fact that they make him feel claustrophobic. He spends 200 pages railing against the "willful ignorance" of his traditional Amish family, only to finally break away by embracing the facile emotional reasoning in the altar call of "letting Jesus into your heart." I learned a little about who the Amish are and how they define themselves but mostly this book reads like a boiler plate Christian testimony one might hear in the local mega-church prior to adult baptism. It is probably more interesting to Wagler than it was to me and doesn't seem worthy of publishing. It's not a bad piece of journal writing but fails to offer a new way of seeing the world.