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".