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Look Homeward, Amish Son: Ira Wagler’s Journey between Amish and “English” Worlds

By Maryann Henck

GUAWhat is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish community? Can the allure of tradition and a sense of belonging to such a community override the longing for freedom and the opportunity to experience the great wide world? This unrelenting push and pull between secure Amish community life and the tempting siren song of the outside world have shaped ex-Amish author and blogger, Ira Wagler. In his best-selling memoir, Growing Up Amish, the author offers his readers an honest, bittersweet, and moving account of how he left the Amish, only to return and eventually leave for good.

As one of the guest speakers at the Plain People Conference, Ira Wagler gave a heartfelt talk as well as read excerpts from his memoir about coming of age and his first love, Sarah Miller. But why don’t you listen for yourself?

Winnetou Rides Again

By Drew Hayden Taylor

Picture 1
Drew at the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg

After a dozen trips or more to Deutschland, I can officially say I consider Germany to be my home away from home. Each visit reunites me with old friends, and if I’m lucky, I get the opportunity to make new ones. I’ve grown fond of the land and the people. Upon reflection, I think I have quite probably seen more of Germany and its cities than most of its citizens. I lost track after the thirtieth town. Or was it the fortieth. … Hard to say. After this many trips, it’s all a blur of schnitzel and white asparagus.
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AWP: In Love with Words, at a Loss for Words

By Daria Radler

awp

Writers are a special breed. Constantly shifting through their perception of the environment with detailed attention, they store and analyze any piece of information on the endless shelves of their flourishing mind. Everything is of value. The way the grumpy barista was holding the pen as he scribbled their name on their cup of take-away coffee; the momentary silence before a daughter answered her mother, assuring her that she would be home in time for dinner; the way he brushed her cheeks ever so slightly, tracing the outline of her cheekbone with the tip of his thumb as they sat on the park bench next to each other, their eyes drinking in each others’ presence.

Writers are like magicians. They turn to the world for inspiration to create a universe of their own, using a handful of words to later engage their readers. They feed the pages of a satirical play, a lost romance, or a spectacular crime. I’ve always found writers fascinating.

When I came to America as an exchange student in the spring of 2015, I was burning with curiosity but rather shy of expectations. Little did I know that the U.S. would be my literary haven.  Read more »

A New National Holiday – A Riddle

By Maria Moss

By all rights, I should be a national holiday in the United States.

I am not as politically incorrect as Columbus Day which Native Americans are not really crazy about (who can blame them?);

I’m not as solemn as Veterans Day, which is more a day of remembrance for those who served in the wars than a day of celebration;

I’m not as general as Presidents’ Day that was originally supposed to only commemorate George Washington’s birthday but now has become the generic holiday for all U.S. presidents;

and I’m certainly not as cruel to the unsuspecting turkey as Thanksgiving Day is (although the tons of food that are consumed on my special day are certainly not vegetarian either).

Despite all of these discouraging facts, I feel hopeful since the people who like and endorse me will soon be in the majority – at least in California. And we all know what happens once it has happened in California, right?

Curious? Read more.

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From Ronald to Donald: The Inaugural Speeches of Reagan and Trump

By Jan Gudlowski

By Ronald Reagan presidential campaign, 1980

“Make America Great Again.” Again. Despite what the media coverage lead us to fear, the world did not end with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. No candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign was as omnipresent in the public perception as Trump. It has been said that the speech Trump gave on January 20 did not foreshadow a good presidency; it was aggressive, simple, and populist. But is that really something new?

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Eye of the Storm

By Michael Lederer

Hurricane Rita Peak. Source: Wikimedia Commons

History never crawls or walks. It runs. Sometimes silently as if on the softer sands of time. Sometimes we can hear its footsteps louder as they hit the hot pavement.

As I write this on January 19, 2017, Barack Obama is still the President of the United States. But only just. Great Britain is still a member of the European Union. But only just. And after the painful lessons of the 20th century, nationalism is still a sleeping giant. But only just. The giant is waking.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the vote for Brexit in 2016, Europe and the United States have known over a quarter century of relative peace. No wars, hot or cold. Some exceptions: Sarajevo, Srebrenica, 9/11. But for the most part, some 10,000 mornings, afternoons, and evenings have unfolded in secure calm. But as in the eye of a storm, calm can be deceptive. And temporary. Read more »