Amish grace: how forgiveness transcended tragedy

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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?

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Grouped Work ID 49f03bb1-039f-271e-9b6f-6c7650b92ea3
full_title amish grace how forgiveness transcended tragedy
author kraybill donald b
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-11-18 15:41:59PM

Solr Details

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auth_author2 Garcia, Paul Michael., Nolt, Steven M., 1968-, Weaver-Zercher, David, 1960-
author Donald B. Kraybill
author2-role Garcia, Paul Michael., Nolt, Steven M.,1968-, Weaver-Zercher, David,1960-, hoopla digital.
author_display Kraybill, Donald B
collection_arlington Adult Nonfiction
detailed_location_arlington Central Adult Nonfiction, hoopla
display_description The remarkable response of the Amish Community to the horrific shooting of ten schoolgirls at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in October 2006 stunned the larger world. Amish Grace tells the incredible story of this community's reaction to this senseless shooting and explores its profoundly countercultural practice of forgiveness. Outsiders often hold a stereotypical view of the Amish as a stubbornly backwards people-a view rooted In the picturesque images of buggies, beards, and bonnets. But there is a much more to know about the Amish as a people, as we discovered after the Nickel Mines incident. The community's collective and radical act of forgiveness-the loving and compassionate response to the shooter and his family-gives us insights into who the Amish are and how they live their faith. Amish Grace explores the many questions the story raises about the religious beliefs that led the Amish to forgive so quickly. In a world where religion spawns so much violence and vengeance, the surprising act of Amish forgiveness begs for deeper consideration.
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subject_facet Amish -- Doctrines, Amish School Shooting, Nickel Mines, Pa., 2006, Forgiveness of sin
title_display Amish grace : how forgiveness transcended tragedy
title_full Amish Grace How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, Amish grace : how forgiveness transcended tragedy / Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver-Zerche, Amish grace [electronic resource] : how forgiveness transcended tragedy / Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David L. Weaver-Zercher
title_short Amish grace :
title_sub how forgiveness transcended tragedy
topic_facet Nonfiction, Religion & Spirituality