What do you mean by that?

Amy and I went out for a delicious meal at Troyer’s (an Amish style restaraunt) on Friday night. If Hooters is at one one end of the waitress uniform spectrum, Troyer’s is probably at the other end of it. In addition to the non-flattering uniforms, we noticed that some of the waitresses had some sort of head scarf (if that’s what you call it).

So I asked our waitress if those women with the head scarf things were, like, veterans who had worked their way up to the head scarf status (although that doesn’t necessarily seem like a desirable goal to shoot for). She explained to us that those were the ‘conservative’ Mennonite ladies. She was a lot more ‘liberal.’ And BTW-there were actually NO Amish waitresses at all, so I’m thinking about a false advertisement suit.

These words ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are loaded with meaning. So I was curious about exactly what she meant by the word ‘liberal.’ Thus I inquired a bit.

Those who were conservatives didn’t believe in much electronic stuff. ‘Liberal’ meant that she was open-minded. So we inquired in regards to her open-mindedness: about life, church, social issues, etc…?

Since we had very limited time (Amy reminded me to let her go since she technically was working), I couldn’t exactly figure out what ‘liberal’ meant. It could have been liberal in the sense that she drives fast cars, uses an Ipod, believes in signing more modern music in church, or using power point slides for worship and preaching. Or she could have meant it socially. Or she could have meant ‘liberal’ in the sense of accepting every religion as equally truthful (I did notice a book in the store library while I was waiting that was a little concerning to me).

Regardless, I’ll probably never know what she meant by that word, even though Amy advised me to leave my business card on the table. Nevertheless, there are scores of words loaded with meaning. The only problem is that they mean something to one person and something totally different to another in a different context.

Then how can we know if we’re saying the same or different things? Do something I don’t like and am not good at: take time, ask the question “What do you mean?” and (this is the hardest) LISTEN.

Otherwise you may be fighting with someone you actually agree with (been there, done that) or agreeing with someone (or them agreeing with you) who you should be ‘fighting’ (been there as well).

4 thoughts on “What do you mean by that?

  1. Geoff, for a real “Amish” (PA Dutch) meal you need to visit Lancaster, PA.The food served here locally is nothing like the food served in the Amish Country. I was born and raised there. The caps the ladies were wearing are prayer caps. Many of my paternal relatives were/are Mennonite. As you discovered, there are very conservative and more liberal Mennonites, just as there are very conservative and liberal Presbyterians. For example, there are “black bumper Mennonites” who shun any form of glitz and glamour so paint the chrome bumpers on the cars black so as not to be “worldy.” They use all the modern conveniences. There are Mennonites who dress as we do. They are not liberal in the sense one would associate with the political and social liberals one ordinarily thinks of. Mennonites are not Amish and vice versa. Amish drive horse and buggies, do not use electricity, don’t allow themselves to be photographed,(worship of graven image), etc. Lot’s more info.than you probably wanted. Gail

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