6/4/21: I interviewed an Amish community on zoom?
Overall it was a humbling experience. The Bruderhof community is worldwide but has branches in the UK, Australia, South Korea and many others. Founded in 1920, it is a long term project which many will be familiar with from watching dramatisations of such communities- personally I learned of them from the epic film “Witness” (1985). But this experience gave me a more nuanced view of what their philosophy is all about.
The member we were speaking to had been living in this same community in East Sussex his entire life, and so was able to answer and go into detail about everything: from them having a little football team that his sons went to, towards more integral points such as why they simply are brought up not to question but to accept the Word.
I subscribe to a very anti-realist version of philosophy and I think that in practice here it reinforced that idea. One of the other attendees complimented him on how successful these communities had been, and straight away the answer was that it was not individuals but a community following the teachings in Acts and using the Grace of God rather than their own reason and wills. It is certainly a compelling narrative, as this philosophy of self accepts that to question is for the self, and the communities give up self and questioning altogether in a very brave way. This really reminded me of antirealism because people like Wittgenstein talk about language games and this one, beyond simply theology, is centred around acceptance, community living and self-sacrifice (no holidays!) Whether ultimately all their doctrines are ‘true’ or not is irrelevant to the value and purpose of their lives; to impose this post-Enlightenment standard onto them seems bankrupt in a refreshing way.
Here are some links for further reading:
More info from their end: https://www.bruderhof.com/en/our-faith/foundations
Sign up for a zoom session yourself: https://www.bruderhof.com/en/visit-us/zoom
BBC article with Bruderhof-leavers: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51310036