Saturday, March 31, 2012

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy

by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, David Weaver-Zercher

Have you noticed how many books I'm given by my sisters? Well, I have another one for you! Amish Grace is a non-fiction work that illustrates the incredible grace & forgiveness practiced by the Amish people. The authors begin with a concrete demonstration of Amish forgiveness in the school shooting that occurred in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. A man burst into a one-room Amish schoolhouse, and shot many of the small girls there before killing himself as well. What truly amazed the nation, however, was the uncommon forgiveness offered by the victims and general Amish population to the family of the offender.

Kraybill, Nolt & Weaver-Zercher go further in depth to demonstrate that this was not a one time incident of forgiveness, but rather the expression of a culture built on a foundation of forgiveness. Where many Christian faiths practice that humans should forgive because we have been forgiven by God first, the Amish teach that God's forgiveness is dependent on our first forgiving others. While it may appear that forgiveness comes easily to them, these people struggle with anger & pain in the process of forgiveness. Research demonstrates that the Amish believe forgiveness to be beneficial to both the offender and the victim, and necessary for the victim to heal. The authors also make the important distinction between forgiveness & reconciliation, which is often overlooked. For example, in the Amish tradition of "shunning" members of the community may be forgiven; but continue to be excluded in certain matters until they express regret for their actions and can be reconciled to the church. While they may have their shortcomings, these communities approach forgiveness with a practical mindset and open hearts. The Amish have customs that may seem bizarre to many in our modern world (forsaking many of the comforts & conveniences we so love... e.g. my blog), but I think we could all learn something from the demonstration of their "Amish grace".

Friday, March 30, 2012


by Ally Condie

As you know, I'm a fan of young adult fiction... The authors build entire fantasy worlds with boundless imagination that is often lacking in adult writing. Matched begins in a future world, where everything is controlled by the Society in order to build a better society - your job, your activities, your choice of mate... Our story opens when Cassia learns that her match is her lifelong friend (and all around good guy), Xander. But she is shown another possible match when the face of Ky appears on the screen. Although she's told it is simply a mistake, this event calls into question everything that she accepts about the Society and her life. As she gets to know Ky more, this questioning turns into rebellion.

While Matched is an entertaining read for fans of the genre, it falls short of other popular, current dystopian novels (The Hunger Games, Divergent) for one reason: lack of character complexity. The characters in this first book of the series are underdeveloped, and while I have hope for stronger character building in the upcoming sequels - it is sadly missing here. For the majority of the book, Xander is portrayed as a bland, good, obedient guy that everyone likes. Ky is the rebel boy who learned too much at an early age. Xander is simply too likable for the reader to support the relationship that begins between Cassia & Ky. Instead, you just feel sorry for Xander, and Cassia appears cruel in her dismissal of him at times. The ending is intriguing, as Cassia begins her search for the truth of what is truly going on in the Society and leaves behind the City that she has known her entire life. The mysterious ending of this story and the excerpt from the sequel (Crossed - narrated by both Cassia & Ky) kept me interested enough that I will continue to read the series. Future reviews to come.