Below are some public mug shots of Amish men serving brief sentences in a Kentucky jail.
They refused to put yellow reflectors on their horse-driven buggies when using public roads. Their religion does not permit them to display vivid colors.
These images are haunting. They represent both human resilience and perversity, and put me in mind of Sophocles’s Antigone and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground.
Stubborn contrarians like these brought the Roman empire to its knees and ushered in the era of medieval Christianity. And they’re a reminder that one of the signs of religious faithfulness has always been an adamant refusal to follow the dictates of reason wherever it conflicts with an inner light or the Word of God (whatever you consider that to be). It’s why Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann—and other Tea Partiers—can blow-off the opinions of professional economists, biologists, and climatologists. In the culture they have been formed from, incorrigibility on matters secular and rational is a virtue. Nothing gets between them and their chosen form of anti-establishment contrarity. Nothing.
So it’s a scary and hopeful image at the same time. Mostly scary.