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Kraybill, co-author of the new book "The Amish," said he wasn’t surprised to hear that traditional communities like New Wilmington have concerns over solar power since the Amish "are reticent to display things or have public displays of the technology" and are cautious about electricity.
Sam Stoltzfus, an Amish farmer in Gordonville, Pa., said that there was some resistance at first to solar power there, but that it’s widely used now. On the issue of gas drilling leases, Stoltzfus said outsiders often overlook some important facts about the Amish lifestyle.
"It doesn’t matter where you go in America, if a farmer doesn’t have some sort of subsidy, he is not going to be able to survive," Stoltzfus said, adding that a gas drilling boom in Danville, about two hours north, helped the Amish communities there by generating considerable carpentry and repair work.
And the Amish value work for more than the income it brings, Schlabach said.
"Human beings are by nature lazy. Free money basically equals free time," he said. "Idleness is the devil’s workshop."
Still, Schlabach hopes that strong Amish family and church traditions will enable people to use fracking wealth wisely, perhaps even to help start new communities in other states.
"Use it to help others rather than consuming it on yourself," Schlabach said. "Life doesn’t consist of your possessions. Possessions are nothing, and it is what you do for other people that lasts."
But whether the fracking boom helps or hurts the Amish is up to the community itself, he said, since it’s just another chapter in an ongoing struggle to maintain their beliefs in a fast-moving, modern world.
"The inflow of all the money is going to really expose the spiritual level of the community," Schlabach said. "If it does corrupt in a big way, then we know we have drifted spiritually."
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