My mother’s first cousins came over for lunch last Saturday. They’re Dunkards, also known as Old German Baptist Brethren, also known as Anabaptists.

An Anabaptist is a generic term for “Plain People” who broke away from the Catholic Church in the 1500s-1600s. Dunkards share the same doctrinal roots as the Amish and the Mennonites, believing in adult baptism rather than infant baptism. It might seem, in 2009, like splitting hairs, but in the 1600s, it meant instant martyrdom. The Anabaptists were hunted down and tortured, burned at the stake or beheaded for their beliefs.

Like the Quakers, Amish, and Mennonites, the Dunkards are pacifists. If drafted, they serve as conscientious objectors–working in non-combatant areas, such as local hospitals.

Though not as strict as the Amish, the Dunkards do live a life of intentional simplicity.

We had an interesting discussion over lunch about what that really means. They choose to have practical technology but avoid technology that includes entertainment. They will use cell phones but not have television or radio. They prefer spending time together as a family or with other church members…sharing a meal, playing board games, rather than going to the movies. They live modestly and dress modestly.

They’re extremely intelligent people–sharp memories (uncluttered by the visual bombardment of television, perhaps?) and well read (more time in their day?!). In fact, they struck me as gifted conversationalists.

I guess you could say that they really believe in moderation…except for laughter. No restrictions on that!

We laughed and laughed throughout lunch–I think these cousins have some of the best senses of humor (very gentle, dry wit) that I’ve ever observed.

(Note to readers: The first picture of the black hats was taken at my home…but the pictures of people were found on Google and are typical clothing and appearance of Old German Baptist Brethren.)

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