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Tobias of the Amish: A True Story of Tangled Strands in Faith, Family, and Community [Paperback]

By Ervin R. Stutzman (Author)
Our Price $ 13.59  
Retail Value $ 15.99  
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Item Number 132921  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.54" Width: 5.18" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.84 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 20, 2001
Publisher   Herald Press
ISBN  0836191706  
EAN  9780836191707  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Tobias of the Amish grew out of a son's loving desire to know his father, an Amish entrepreneur. The quest was daunting, since Tobias J. Stutzman died in a car accident when the son Ervin was three. Ervin delved into a pool of communal memory and peeked into closets with shelves of family secrets. The search revealed tangled strands of relationships, woven by father Tobe's ambition through the warp and woof of family, church, and community.

Publishers Description

"Tobias of the Amish" presents an intimate look at the life of Tobias J. Stutzman, an ambitious Amish entrepreneur. From installing electric lights in his woodworking shop to questioning the church's refusal of cars, Tobe continually pushes the boundaries of his Amish faith community. But as Tobe's ideas for inventions come up against delays, his growing debt to fellow church members raises the stakes. Can the Amish church support Tobe's grandiose dreams?

Follow the real-life journey of Tobias J. Stutzman from Amish communities in Oklahoma, through Kansas, and on to Iowa. Experience repeated heartache, triumph, and tragedy along the way as author Ervin R. Stutzman, youngest son of Tobias, paints this fictionalized but ultimately true story of his father's life.

Buy Tobias of the Amish: A True Story of Tangled Strands in Faith, Family, and Community by Ervin R. Stutzman from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780836191707 & 0836191706

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More About Ervin R. Stutzman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ervin R. Stutzman is Executive Director for Mennonite Church USA. Before taking on this role in January 2010, he served for nearly 12 years as Dean and Professor of Church Ministries at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Va. He has also served the Mennonite Church in the roles of pastor, district overseer, missions administrator, conference moderator and, from 2001 to 2003, as moderator for Mennonite Church USA.

Ervin R. Stutzman was born in 1953.

Ervin R. Stutzman has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Living Issues Discussion

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
what family is all about!  Sep 17, 2005
wasn't too sure what I might find in this book.Was ever so pleased to have selected an outstanding story. Tobias reminded me of someone I knew, my Dad. Smart as a whip but, always a day late and a dollar short. I was a depression kid and I remember so many families living from one meal to another, one bad break to another, and so on. Tobias was so much "the man of his era". Thanks to the author for an heart touching book. d.c. haas
Musings on "Tobias of the Amish"  Aug 28, 2001
Tobias of the Amish We are linked to our parents in ways we hardly recognize. For the child who grows up under a fractured roof there will always be something unfathomable about the parent who dies too young. It is important to fill in the gaps towards understanding, take the measure of that faded figure in the background.  Ervin R. Stutzman, Moderator of Mennonite Church USA, is that child. In a decade-long research and writing project, he went on an exceptional journey to find his father, Tobias Stutzman, who at age 37 was killed in a car accident. Ervin was only a toddler and has no memories of his father. In the years after Tobe's death, Ervin's mother Emma spoke little of him, nor did others in the Amish community of which he had been a part. It was as if a veil of silence had been drawn, secrets tucked away. Years later Ervin determined to dive into the wreck and retrieve the cargo of the past. Tobias Stutzman came to maturity in an agriculture community but knew early on that he did not get his juice from farming. He dreamed of his own woodworking business. In his first job he had permission to use his employer's shop for his own woodworking projects. He had what one might call an avarice for doing, seeing in every possibility an opportunity that might not come his way again. He made things out of wood, and later, metal: tables, cabinets, custom-built buggies, wooden wagon boxes, address lamps, chicken catchers, feed scoops, tomato racks, self-watering flower pots and glove display racks. He even marketed sewing machines. "If it is made of wood, we can do it!" said a sign outside his shop during the earlier years. A recurrent theme is borrowed money.  The Stutzmans got into debt even as a newly married couple. Tobe performed on a grand scale; he appears not to have foreseen or planned for major decisions. Things were entered but not balanced. Tobe was perhaps unpracticed in an awareness of his own needs. Because the contours of his heart were warm and generous, he was easily distracted by the claims of others. One is struck by his raw capability as he struggled to keep work and family afloat. Yet his story includes no turning from bad habits. Instead he carries on blindly, creating the same painful situation - a trail of debt - over and again. Had he seen his besetting sin with clarity, he might have asked his community to make him accountable much earlier than they later did, on their own terms. What went amiss with Tobe's strivings?  Sociologists remind us that behaviors in families are usually passed along and can become the emotional legacy of generations. Tobias' parents, John and Anna, kept their counsel about their financial woes and marital disappointments. John was rather given to abrupt announcements of upheaval ("We're moving!) without much explanation. He did not come to Tobe and Emma's wedding; it is not clear what the falling-out was about. Possibly Tobe carried this oblique and flawed communication - the constipated silence, the shutting down - into his own family life. Indeed, Tobe and Emma seemed bound by opposite needs in their subterranean drama of spenders versus savers  - his restlessness to wander and experiment, her need to find a settled place.   It is important to see our forebears in their lapses, in their all too human misdemeanors, for they are we. Their besetting sins are likely ours, too. Distinction and idiosyncrasy alike provide the flickering backdrop in all of our lives. We all carry invisible scars from childhood. None of us live up to our deepest principles. Yet when one writes about the past, it is tempting to present things in the best possible light against future scrutiny. There is many a lightly-sleeping dragon past which one must tiptoe, not least the beast called denial, for it would be much easier to idealize such a loss and leave some things well and alone. Ervin Stutzman does not assign to his past a grandeur it could never have possessed, nor does he hold an exaggerated subservience to it that would preclude a clear seeing.   Tobias of the Amish is a finely wrought portrait of Amish life in its observation of the Ordnung, those boundaries set by rule. The story invites questions about how one defines success. There is a certain poignancy in a wall motto Tobe once made: "If mistakes were money, I'd be rich." (Perhaps today he would be investing in stocks or conglomerates.)  Would Tobe have been accepted into the middle of his community, and not on its combative edges, had he put his energies into something perceived to be more "spiritual"? Perhaps the foibles of a well-meaning father set forth a compelling counter-schooling. Unlike his father, Ervin had educational opportunities that have drawn him into a many-sided academic world. In contrast to his father, he can live in a dozen cities of the mind, cities about which his father might only have dreamed.   Tobe exhibited a move-on spirit in a community that valued, rather, earning a living in an approved occupation in a settled place. He chafed under the patterns of authority and restraints on behavior, and he found ways around official channels. He installed electric lights in his shop without asking permission. He and his wife gave their children second names in a community that viewed an additional moniker as worldly. They eventually joined the Beachy church because Tobe wanted modern conveniences.  Clearly, his entrepreneurial bent and its attendant risk-taking fell outside the comfort zone of others, and eventually they turned away. Who knows, today Tobe might be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder: the powerlessness to focus amid many perceived competing urgencies. (One pictures his work area piled high with unfinished tasks.)    Ervin Stutzman's link to his father was renegotiated, even in death. On a clear day you can see a long way back.    

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