Many people ask me why I’m called Just Plain Marie, or they ask why I dress so oddly or why we choose some of the things we do. I want to explain some of them to you and invite you to join me, just for a little bit of what I have learned while living Plain in a fancy world.
I promise it won’t be preachy, but yes, there will be some Christian-speak.
What Is Plain?
Plain Folk is a term given to those Christians who practice “separation from the world” and espouse a simple lifestyle that includes very modest dress, prayer coverings for women, and little decoration.
There is a difference between “plain” and “Plain”. 😀
Simplicity and some degree of separation from the world are the key features, but there are degrees of simplicity and separation.
The Old Order Amish will not connect to the power grid, for example, while Conservative Mennonites can often be found online. Old Order Mennonites and Old Order Amish drive horse-and-buggy, some churches are “black car” which means that only black vehicles are permitted, and many drive regular vehicles. Some feel that separation means being separate in all things and not interacting with outsiders, while others feel that we can be IN the world but not OF the world, interacting while not participating in the more worldly pleasures like drinking and dancing.
Not all Mennonites (or even Amish) are Plain. Jane at Thy Hand Hath Provided, for example, is a wonderful example of a Mennonite but she is not Plain.
There are Plain Mennonites and Amish, as most everyone knows, but there are also Plain Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Quakers and more. And, like our family, there are simply Plain Christians who are not affiliated with any denomination.
Of course, the question comes up – why would anyone choose to live Plain?
I suspect that many of us who did not grow up Plain have had it chosen for us by God, being led slowly, and sometimes painfully, to an acceptance of this as a right path for our lives. That is, I have no idea if being Plain is right for anyone else, only for me and for those who feel a calling to it.
For that reason, nothing in this series is intended to convert anyone. That is not my job.
I identify as a Plain Christian of no denomination. There is no church that tells me I “must” dress or act in a certain way. For me, it is a matter of listening to the Holy Spirit and being guided in the right path.
ADVANCED SUSTAINABLE & SELF-RELIANT LIVING
Wait --- what IS that?
How about we just call it ...homesteading?
That's shorter, easy to read, easier to remember.
But the truth is that homesteading IS advanced sustainable and self-reliant living. It's about learning to take control of your food, your electricity and fuel needs, and your life.
Over the next two weeks, I'd like to teach you what homesteading is and why it's the ultimate in both sustainable living and self-sufficiency. (And here's the best part - you can do it right where you are now!)
That is, we are not Amish or Mennonite, although some of my dearest friends are Plain Mennonite and our clothing is quite similar to Old Order Mennonite. (There are differences.) Mennonite friends have told me that they consider us “unaffiliated Mennonite”, and I feel honoured by that. My mother-in-law feels that I would be quite at home in the Catholic church and I appreciate the compliment that she intends. We are not, in fact, affiliated with any church and will join any of our Christian friends for worship.
Wiser minds than mine have written about Plain living, and so I beg you to take this series only as my humble thoughts. Most of those great writers, though, have grown up in a Plain church or with significant Plain influence.
Living Plain is certainly easier if one lives physically separated from society, away from the internet and radio, popular culture and all of the other distractions that come from living in this world. It is easier if friends and family are Plain. We have friends who frequently urge us to sell the homestead and move into a Plain Mennonite community – where it is safer, with less temptation, less distraction.
I believe it is, however, quite possible to live Plain in a fancy world, to be in this world but not of this world. Harder, but not impossible, and I believe it is what God does ask of us.
Despite what many think, living Plain is not about living a life full of rules and restrictions. In fact, I would venture to say that my life is more free and less stressful than before we went Plain.
Plain living is about developing a connection with the Holy Spirit, not about seeking out a list of rules. Plain living is to make Christ one’s main priority and to diminish those things which distract from that and pull one into conformation with the world.
Rules are comforting and having someone present a list of “Thou shalt not” feels safe. The problem, though, is that Christianity teaches that rules – ie., the Law – will not save us.
And yet there are many actions, characteristics and ways of living that are common to Plain folk. How is one to reconcile this “not rules-based” living with what seems to be a litany of restrictions and rules?
Among the most obvious Plain folk – the Mennonites and Amish – rules are set by the membership and differ from church to church. Their purpose is to maintain community and family relationships and not, as some believe, to earn their way to Heaven.
I want to make this clear – Plain folk may seem very “Law” oriented with their rules, but these rules are about their relationship with other people and not about their relationship with God.
Others, like Quakers and other Plain folk who attend fancy churches, rely on the Holy Spirit to lead them personally on a difficult and sometimes lonely path.
Of course, these are based upon what I have seen and experienced, so they may not match how other people view Plain living. And, hopefully, this will lead you to further reading and exploration – I am certainly not an expert on Plain living.
Whether you are following your path to Plain living or are merely interested in understanding one varied group of Christians, I hope you enjoy the coming series, and I invite your comments and thoughts.
Find the rest (so far) by clicking on the Faith label. 🙂 And I would absolutely love shares on social media – use the hashtag #plainlife