Amish Grace

Amish Grace

How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy

Book - 2007
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On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution with an automatic rifle and four hundred rounds of ammunition that he brought for the task. The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, begged Roberts to "shoot me first and let the little ones go." Refusing her offer, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? "I'm angry at God for taking my little daughter," he told the children before the massacre.

The story captured the attention of broadcast and print media in the United States and around the world. By Tuesday morning some fifty television crews had clogged the small village of Nickel Mines, staying for five days until the killer and the killed were buried. The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their children.

The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered so quickly for such a heinous crime. Of the hundreds of media queries that the authors received about the shooting, questions about forgiveness rose to the top. Forgiveness, in fact, eclipsed the tragic story, trumping the violence and arresting the world's attention.

Within a week of the murders, Amish forgiveness was a central theme in more than 2,400 news stories around the world. The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, NBC Nightly News, CBS Morning News, Larry King Live, Fox News, Oprah, and dozens of other media outlets heralded the forgiving Amish. From the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) to Australian television, international media were opining on Amish forgiveness. Three weeks after the shooting, "Amish forgiveness" had appeared in 2,900 news stories worldwide and on 534,000 web sites.

Fresh from the funerals where they had buried their own children, grieving Amish families accounted for half of the seventy-five people who attended the killer's burial. Roberts' widow was deeply moved by their presence as Amish families greeted her and her three children. The forgiveness went beyond talk and graveside presence: the Amish also supported a fund for the shooter's family.

AMISH GRACE explores the many questions this story raises about the religious beliefs and habits that led the Amish to forgive so quickly. It looks at the ties between forgiveness and membership in a cloistered communal society and ask if Amish practices parallel or diverge from other religious and secular notions of forgiveness. It will also address the matter of why forgiveness became news. "All the religions teach it," mused an observer, "but no one does it like the Amish." Regardless of the cultural seedbed that nourished this story, the surprising act of Amish forgiveness begs for a deeper exploration. How could the Amish do this? What did this act mean to them? And how might their witness prove useful to the rest of us?

Publisher: San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass, c2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780787997618
0787997617
Characteristics: xv, 237 p. ; 24 cm.

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Librarian_Deb May 22, 2017

An excellent coverage of the Amish reaction to the Nickel Mines school shooting. The authors show great understanding of Amish theology and thinking. The book is well written, allowing the reader to ponder the Amish way of practicing forgiveness. I found their example to be an inspiration and it challenged me in how I live my own life. I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in reading about the Amish, forgiveness, and Christian living.

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Emily_J_Black
Nov 22, 2012

I saw the movie and it's really sad. It's a good movie on forgiveness. I like it but I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids. It's a good movie though. How the Amish forgive Charles Roberts is a good reminder that there is no sin too great for God to forgive. And since He forgives us we should be willing to forgive others. (even when it seems impossible).

TJBookworm Oct 23, 2011

A wonderful read. The authors remain neutral, while describing the tragedy that occurred and explaining the Amish reaction to it. A very good book on forgiveness as well. It made me really think about what it means to me, while being honest about what it means to our culture. Highly recommend!

v
vaivata
Jan 04, 2011

A great look at the first and only Amish school shooting and the delicate way in which Amish people live their lives and raise their children.

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Emily_J_Black
Nov 22, 2012

Emily_J_Black thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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