Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

“Turning Tragedies into Triumphs:  Stories & Conversations with Torah Bontrager” is a weekly podcast that features amazing and courageous individuals who have come forward to share their stories with the world.  The conversations between two fellow survivors take place over a virtual dining room table in a safe, judgment-free zone where we not only learn about accounts often never publicly disclosed before, but we also learn a little bit more about Torah along the way.

A companion show to her memoir An Amish Girl in Manhattan, Torah created the podcast to emphasize that trauma (of all colors, shapes, and sizes-- not only sexual) knows no boundaries and that her story of repeat sexual assault, abandonment, parental rejection, identity crises, disastrously failed romantic relationships and trust issues are heartbreakingly universal in our national and global cultures. 

Watch the episodes to be inspired and to know that you're not alone and that you don’t have to be extraordinary to be Extraordinary.  New episodes air each Wednesday. 

Please ask us questions and leave comments.  We will read all of them.  We want this to be an interactive show and build a strong community of support both online and offline.  Every four or five episodes, we will do a special "Question and Answer" segment where we pick from what's been submitted.  The more you comment/ask, the higher your chances of getting answered via the special. 

INVITATION CALL:  If you would like to share your story with the world, please contact us at  No story is insignificant.  The seemingly smallest things that happened to us as children can have a lifetime negative impact if left unaddressed.  This podcast and community is designed for you to feel safe, speak out in your own words and experience non-judgment and unconditional love from a human-hood of strong women, men and other/no-genders.

Mar 9, 2017

James Schwartz, author of The Literary Party: Growing up Gay and Amish in America, addresses dilemmas that challenge every Amish person who wants to leave the church.  He talks about how he had to take personal responsibility to educate himself in order to learn about the outside world and find answers that make sense to him.  James has always loved books and when he was a child, he wanted to skip church and stay home to catch up on his long reading list.  That love for reading led to works like Rumi, Buddhism, Judaism, meditation and other philosophical viewpoints.  

James also answers Torah’s set of questions that she asks every guest on the show: 

  • In one sentence, why did you leave the Amish, your community or situation?
  • What were some of the challenges you faced navigating a foreign culture?
  • What is your guiding principal in life?
  • What is your understanding of forgiveness?
  • What is your definition of acceptance?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Is there a God?


  • A very brief history of Amish origins (we’re immigrants from Europe) and what it means to be Amish (it’s not just the clothes, peeps)
  • James’ message to those inside the church who want to leave
  • Resources for Amish gays who are both inside and outside the church
  • More Trump politics and the Amish connection


  1. James’ Facebook:
  2. LGBT Amish:
  3. Twitter:  @LgbtiAmish
  4. See S1Ep1: James Schwartz on Growing up Gay and Amish in America, Unconventional Schooling and Trump Politics for Part 1 of James’ story
  5. See S1Ep5: Fiona Teng on Breaking the Cycle of Societal & Romantic Traumas—Trauma Doesn’t Discriminate—and How Mindfulness Can Help PTSD & Abandonment for what motivates Fiona to keep working on her personal growth