Visiting The Hutterites

by Richard Kovac

I was in a pig barn one time over where swine never see the light, in Manitoba, when I went to visit a Hutterite colony. One of the young Hutterites said, "The pigs get rum-flavored pellets to increase their appetite, but we never are given rum." It was a facetious complaint. (In fact Hutterites enjoy dandelion or grape wine on special occasions of sorrow, stress, or ceremony.)

One of the younger Hutterite women at a colony in Minnesota told me reassuringly, "There will be Catholics in heaven." I guess so, and know that many Hutterites will be there because they are a special people chosen to be separate from this world and holy. (But they are not useless - they donate blood, and help in emergencies.)

The Hutterites have many martyrs since the Reformation, but do not believe at all in violence or retaliation. They live ahimsa or "non-violence" before the great Gandhi coined the phrase. They are insular, inbred, and do not send out many missionaries. But anyone who wants can visit them if he's willing to also work while there. The food is great and ample.

They live in community like the earliest Christians. They have no television. I asked an older Hutterite woman what she thought about television, and she said, "I don't know because I have never seen it." But for business, they have computers.

I would have joined the Hutterites (who speak an old-fashioned German but are bilingual), if they hadn't recognized my "first" marriage in a Mennonite ceremony. There can be no re-marriage except through widowhood. Worship is mostly in German, of which I can manage a few phrases. Woman are still second class members, I think, because in practically all colonies in W. Canada, Minnesota, and the Dakotas women don't drive. Dress is severely conservative,

Their fiscal system and theory or economics interests me. They are superb businessmen with a variety of industries. But mostly I was delighted by their devotion.

They are seeking new genes for their inbred population, where cousins have had to marry cousins, and there have been some instances of genetic defects in offspring. I arrived at a colony near Winnipeg, and was told that I should have married so-and-so because her cousin was a lout. I couldn't, because I wasn't there that month before (and beside had already divorced my first Mennonite wife). But I wish I could do it over again. The women make most outside counterparts seem like hussies...

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