Read Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill Steven M. Nolt David L. Weaver-Zercher Online


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 ammunOn 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?...

Title : Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy
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ISBN : 9780787997618
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 237 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy Reviews

  • Fionna
    2019-04-24 08:20

    I found this book to be very repetative and dull. While the concept is interesting, the execution left a lot to be desired. The first third of the book tells of the events leading up to, during and immediately after the Nickels Mines schoolhouse tragedy. The last 2/3 is where the authors discuss forgiveness as practised by the Amish. It had the potential to be interesting but just didn't deliver. It seemed as if I was reading the same things over and over again, just worded differently, or using a different example. Every once in a while I would read a paragraph or two that really made me think about forgiveness and my faith so it wasn't a complete loss, but still....With more organization and many fewer pages this could have been an interesting book or article but just didn't do much for me as it was.

  • Owlseyes
    2019-05-21 09:16

    The facts are these: on the 2nd of October, 2006, in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania USA, a man got inside a school (belonging to an Amish community), shot 10 school girls and then killed himself. Five children got killed.I’ve watched the movie (Amish Grace) based on the book… and those facts.Obviously, it was a tragedy for both the children’s parents and to the wife of the shooter, namely. The story has an high point, because it revolves around the notion of forgiveness (a very distinct trait of the Amish community). Still, on the facts domain, I would refer the mother of the shooter who, some years on, said there are “no words to describe what it felt like…70 Amish people encircling us” (at funeral’s day). The wife of the shooter spoke of “redemption”. Defying logic and human common sense, the Amish community followed the way of forgiveness. The fictionalized story talks about a man ruminating upon a baby child he’d lost; he’s preparing the assault on the school, telling no one about that. When it happens (the tragedy) some of the parents of the children involved follow the way of forgiveness. But there’s one mother --Ida--who dares to “hate the man who took our daughter’s [Mary Beth] life”; she thinks about leaving the community; grief-therapy sessions won’t work. Her sister had been shunned in the past from the community. During those sessions, it’s easy to spot strong, opposing currents of feelings; on one side some mothers who point the way of forgiving, but Ida being very reluctant, facing the troubled wife of the shooter, unmercifully. Also, a reporter who wonders repeatedly throughout the movie: how genuine the forgiveness had been.The movie will surely make you wonder about those common terms (and dilemmas) such as “forgetting and forgiving”, “justice by man versus divine justice”; pardon or…. forgiving.Meanwhile, one of the children (Rebecca) who had been in a coma, in hospital, recovers and tells about the brave attitude of Mary Beth before being killed. MB asked to be shot first and nevertheless would pray for the shooter. Upon knowing these details Ida changes her attitude and affirms: “before she died …MB had forgiveness in her heart, I cannot do no less”. The story results great because it challenges one to see the difference between an world-view [check on the reporter] and the Amish community very uncommon way of life; one of humility, kindness …the community above the individual.

  • Heather
    2019-04-26 09:09

    I grew up near Lancaster, PA and when the shooting in Nickel Mines occurred in 2006 I was among the very, very shocked and very saddened. When I heard of the forgiveness bestowed by the Amish, I had disbelief and after reading this book, it became clearer to me that forgiveness wasn't really a choice, it's a way of life for the Amish. The book delves into the reasons behind the Amish practice of forgiveness when it comes to outsiders - and how the opposite occurs when a fellow Amish person chooses not to follow the Amish way of life. I felt the book did keep going back to things it had already discussed, a lot of breaks in the flow, but there were very interesting historical components and explanations for why the Amish forgive those who commit horrific crimes.The book made me think about my own life and how forgiveness is so hard for me. I will definitely try to be more forgiving in the future and use the Amish way as an example.

  • Glenn
    2019-05-03 09:07

    Forgiveness is at the core of Christianity, yet I suspect it is many times one of our least-practiced virtues. It is certainly among the most difficult, and flies in the face of human nature and modern society, both of which typically tells us to revenge wrongs. This book examines the concept of forgiveness in the context of the infamous and horrific Nickel Mines school shooting. Along the way, the authors, all professors in Amish history and culture, provide insights into both the Lancaster PA.-area Amish, and the Anabaptists in America as a whole. It also examines how difficult or easy it is to forgive, looks at the difference between forgiveness (exchanging hate for love) and pardon (releasing someone from obligation for an offense), and whether or not extending forgiveness in the wake of something as repugnant as the Nickel Mines shooting is even desirable.After reading this book, I am even more convinced of the necessity for forgiveness. Definitely recommended.

  • Benjamin Shurance
    2019-05-25 08:11

    Although I had no foreknowledge of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting when my aunt sent me this book, I was immediately intrigued, and got so caught up in it that I had read the entire tome within twenty-four hours of receiving the package in the mail. These Anabaptist kinfolk have an awful lot to teach us about life, especially about the countercultural values of simplicity and nonviolence. Included below are two quotations that I found especially convicting:“Rather than making their own way alone, Amish people must yield to the authority of the church community and ultimately to God. These sentiments pervade Amish religious life in was that many outsiders find puzzling. For instance, verbal expressions of personal faith in public settings are seen as prideful, as if one were showing off one’s religious knowledge. Reciting Bible verses publicly signals a ‘proud heart,’ and individual interpretations of the Bible and personal testimonies in a church service are seen as exemplifying haughtiness rather than genuine faith. For the Amish, genuine spirituality is quiet, reserved, and clothed in humility, expressing itself in actions rather than words. Wisdom is tested by the community, not by an individual’s feelings, eloquence, or persuasion.” (page 93-94)“Interestingly, the Amish apply the same humility to their own eternal destiny that they applied to Roberts’s eternal fate. They are loathe to speculate on both salvation and damnation, and unwilling to insist either that they are saved or that Charles Roberts went to hell. Amish people speak of having a ‘living hope’ of salvation. Unlike many evangelical Christians who openly pronounce assurance of salvation, the Amish resist declaring that they are saved. Such proclamations of human certainty are, in the Amish mind, an offense to God, for only God knows the mysteries of salvation. Our task, they would say, is to follow faithfully the way of Jesus in daily life and not to pressure to know the mind of God. Nevertheless, they have hope and confidence that God will be a just and merciful judge.” (page 168)

  • Yibbie
    2019-05-21 11:07

    The first section of this book is so heart wrenching. As the author says, in some way we lost last safe place in America. What those families suffered is terrible. Then they shocked the nation with their ready offer of forgiveness. That part of the book was interesting, and I learned quite a bit.It was the last two sections that were troubling. There the author delves into the philosophy, theology and psychology of forgiveness in general, and in the Amish communities in particular. Kraybill does't try to come to any conclusion, just explain what people believe.The Amish beliefs are so sad. While they are correct that we must forgive those that hurt us because the Bible says so, they are wrong in tying their forgiveness of others to their salvation. The saddest part of this book is, as you go along, you start to realize just how works basted their theology is. Salvation for them is not in trusting Jesus' sacrifice. It's in submitting to men and man's rules. It's in their keeping unity at all costs. It's in their own efforts. What could be sadder than a group who has the Bible but chooses to add Man's rules to it. Christ didn't die so we can continue to earn our salvation. He died so we can have the assurance that we are going to heaven. He has forgiven us our sins, and commands we show the same forgiveness to others. It's a way of showing His love to others, not a way of maintaining our salvation. The author's conclusion is strange as well. Yes the Amish have been taught to forgive since they were born, and it is a tradition for them. His conclusion though is that they are the only ones that could forgive a tragedy such as that because of their traditions. The Biblical command applies to every Christian, and even if it's not their culture. The Lord will strengthen those that want to follow His commands, making it possible for anyone to forgive. So really I won't recommend this book, unless your researching Amish beliefs. Even though the Bible is quoted as authoritative, it becomes quite clear that tradition caries just as much weight for them as it does.

  • Katrina
    2019-05-25 09:04

    Amazing discussion of forgiveness after a horrible community tragedy. I loved this book!

  • Dawn Livingston
    2019-05-23 12:18

    The first 50 pages detailing a horrific incident and it's aftermath are worth reading the book alone. And I think the book is worth owning, not just borrowing from the library. And it's worth reading (at least the first 50 pages) more than once. It's heartbreaking, uplifting, beautiful. I had to keep putting the book down because the tears in my eyes made me unable to see the pages clearly. The touching comments and views remind me of a poem by a 17th century Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet called In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet. It's a touching poem that shares the Amish view of life as fleeting and being grateful for what one has."Farewell dear babe, my heart's too much content,Farewell sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye,Farewell fair flower that for a space was lent,Then ta'en away unto eternity.Blest babe, why should I once bewail thy fate,Or sigh thy days so soon were terminate,Sith thou art settled in an everlasting state."The rest of the book after the first 50 pages talks about the culture of forgiveness in the Amish community and the difference between forgiveness, reconciliation and pardon. It also touches on Amish history here and there back when they were called Anabaptists (rebaptizers) in the 1500's. I highly recommend this book to anyone. If you're not a Christian I'm not sure what you might think of this book considering it focuses on faith, forgiveness in relation to Christianity. I think some might still find it beautiful.I recommend this book in particular to: Christians; people interested in the idea of faith, forgiveness, crime and punishment and the Amish.

  • Chase
    2019-04-27 12:53

    This book takes a look at the tragic shooting in a school house in the Amish community in Lancaster, PA. Parents lost five children in the shooting yet amazed the world by forgiving the man almost immediately after it happened. This book asks the question why and how were they able to forgive so quickly and "easily." I never really knew much about the theology of the Amish until I read this book. I would not say that this book is an extensive systematic theology of what they believe (for in fact the Amish do not have a systematic theology in the 300 years of their existence according the authors). But it does give us their motivation. These people basically believe that, "granting forgiveness to one's debtors is an act that God requires of those who seek divine forgiveness." The Amish see divine forgiveness very very closely intertwined with human forgiveness. If the Amish do not show grace to others how can God? In my opinion this makes logical sense but to me has a serious error. I feel that they could fall into a trap of a works based faith. The Amish clearly understand that Jesus came and died for the forgiveness of sins but at the same time they feel they have to do so something (i.e. a work) to keep this forgiveness. Also, "this understanding of salvation reflects the Amish focus on practice rather than doctrine..." The Amish have an emphasis on orthopraxy over orthodoxy. I think this can be seen in their view of salvation. This is an inspiring story and clearly a model of forgiveness but we must remember it is not the model of forgiveness. For THE model is of Christ coming to this earth and dying for a people he did not need to save. Dying for totally broken and depraved sinners like you and like me. When we realize that we never deserved any of the grace the we receive daily then and only then will be be able to start to see how amazing that grace is. So, would I recommend this book...sure (but read it with an eye of discernment) because it is inspiring but we must keep in mind THE model of forgiveness, the gospel.

  • Sally
    2019-05-22 13:22

    I learned a great deal about the Amish culture, far beyond what I thought I would. This book delves in to the actual tragedy that occurred in the Fall of 2006 at Nickel Mines, handling the situation with respect and sensitivity while still telling more of the story than I knew. I was glued to the television the week this horror story unfolded and then, miraculously, when the world learned of the Amish "forgiving" the murderer and extending a hand of support and fellowship to his family. Like so many other people, I asked, "How can they do that? How can they lose their innocent children in such a horrific way and then immediately forgive?" It bothered me, and it bothered me that it bothered me b/c I consider myself a follower of Christ.Reading this book helped me get a better idea of what they were thinking, how they have "forgiveness" deeply ingrained in their every day lives, and how healing such a process was for them. I also appreciated that the authors of this book did not seem to express in any way that they thought this was the superior method, they merely wanted to explain to the world at large why this works for the Amish and introduce us further into the Anabaptist/Amish way of life. I appreciated the interviews with the Amish, the explanations of the authors, the history, and the philosophy in this book. Excellent read - I enjoyed it and felt like I learned something new. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Amish people/culture or who - like me - tried quite hard to understand what happened that awful day in 2006 and the response that was literally discussed all over the world for weeks afterwards.

  • David
    2019-05-07 12:53

    On October 2, 2006, a disturbed and heavily armed man entered an Amish school in Pennsylvania and took the children hostage. He eventually sent everyone but 10 young girls away, and as police surrounded the school, shot the children and then committed suicide. Five of the girls died, and the others suffered critical injuries.The first section of the book gives background on the Amish and their beliefs, and then recounts the tragic events of that day. The authors then turn to the response of the Amish people, which they describe as "Amish grace" - the almost immediate forgiveness, lack of bitterness or anger or desire for retaliation. The families of the victims and others in the community not only openly expressed forgiveness for the shooter, but embraced his family with love and support (including attending his funeral). The book analyzes this response carefully, including the culture and teachings and habits that created it. The final section tries to give some insights into the place of forgiveness in modern Christianity and society.The book suffers a little from repetition, which may have been the result of multiple authors contributing. But I very much enjoyed the insights into Amish culture and teachings. In some ways, they are more Christian then most of us in their careful attempts to follow the teachings of Jesus. At the end of this book, I was ready to try harder.

  • Laurel Kooiman
    2019-05-13 09:12

    I first thought very highly (and I guess I still do)of the Amish's ability and willingness to forgive and reach to the families of offenders. But, now in light of knowing that the Amish believe that if they do not forgive then they will not be forgiven by God. The book talked about how important and how much they emphasis forgiveness in the Amish culture. Sometimes to their own peril. In cases of domestic abuse, sexual abuse ect. It was interesting to read the history of the Amish culture and how of course this has been the first of MANY times that the Amish forgived the people who were their enemies and were out to cause them harm. I guess it got me thinking about people or things that have occurred in my life that I need to let go or forgive. Its hard for me because I am not sure if they did anything to merit my forgiveness but I know that I am letting the hurt feeling control some aspects of my life. Its a interesting book ---probably alot of theology behind things but I find that interesting.

  • Karola Zambrano
    2019-05-10 11:22

    Amé este libro, me ayudó mucho a reflexionar sobre como vivimos nuestra vida actualmente: donde colocamos nuestras prioridades, a qué le dedicamos tiempo y en especial, nuestra falta de humildad muchas veces para acatar, perdonar y amar.A simple vista es una comunidad que se restringe demasiado y no "disfruta" de la modernidad, sin embargo leyendo el libro pude entender mejor en dónde están sus valores y cómo el auto-restringirse ayuda a que sus familias y comunidades tengan bajos índices de violencia, de delitos, etc. Lleva mucha entrega a sus creencias (ellos viven separados del mundo, aunque tengan vecinos no amish) pero a ellos les funciona, muy pocos se alejan de su comunidad e incluso unos pocos que lo hacen, regresan. Muy interesante y digno de leer, en estos párrafos no podría hacerle honor a lo complejo y hermoso de su comunidad, el libro lo hace mucho mejor, toma un estudio más profundo de sus costumbres y creencias el entender cómo fueron capaces de perdonar lo sucedido en el asesinato en su escuela, este libro lo explica muy bien.Lo recomiendo mucho.

  • Maggie
    2019-05-14 11:15

    excellent and balance account of "how" the amish live out of a center of forgiveness and consequently were quick to forgive the man who took the lives of their young school girls. it is difficult to wrap one's mind around such rapid and unconditional forgiveness and this book goes the distance in explaining the context of how such a thing can be done. it is balanced because those few in the media who criticized this act of instant forgiveness (even as most of us stood in stunned silence and awe) had their points fairly represented also. even though 98% of this book is about that dreadful event of murder and its aftermath of forgiveness, the book can be read as a serious treatise on what forgiveness means, both in the causes/reasons for it as well as the consequences of offering forgiveness even to those who obviously do not "deserve" forgivenessit is a christian centered theology explained through a practical dynamic of how they could have been so gracious and what it means to do so.

  • Eric Piotrowski
    2019-05-18 10:06

    Like many people, I was profoundly moved by the spirit of forgiveness that radiated out of Nickel Mines after the school shooting in 2006. When I learned about this book, I dropped everything and ran to read it. I was not disappointed with the in-depth exploration of forgiveness and the Amish culture that made it possible.The authors do a superb job providing important detail of the incident and its impact on the community, without watering down the severity of the atrocity or resorting to caricature -- either with the Amish community or the man who committed the crime.This book taught me important things about Amish life, their religious perspective, and how we can all learn from their example. (And, perhaps even more importantly, why we're not all poised to react to things in exactly the same way.) There's a bit of repetition, and some delving into the arcane backstory of Amish traditions, but those are minor critiques. Highly recommended.

  • Cindey
    2019-04-28 13:22

    Okay, first big mistake was to pick this up at 9:30 p.m. "just to read the jacket." That lead to opening the book, then to starting to read it, and now it is almost midnight and I haven't put it down. I've already highlighted a significant part of what I've read (for those who don't know me, I am an AVID highlighter -- which is why I have to BUY my books, not borrow then from a library). There is so much to learn from this book about REAL forgiveness and reconciliation...but lots of questions: Could we "English" really respond as the Amish did, since our culture seems justice with revenge or retribution? If the killer had lived, would the situation have been different? Lots more questions. Lots of things to think about. Can't rate the book, yet, because I haven't finished it, but so far, it gets 5 stars.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-27 11:02

    The first third of the book is utterly soul-shattering, in the best possible way. The calm, clear-eyed way the authors describe what happened in Nickel Mines (which takes up no more than a few pages), and then the beautiful succession of loving acts that transpired in its wake, will remind you that, despite all daily evidence to the contrary, sometimes people are good -- no, wonderful -- simply because they want to be.The last two thirds of the book are quite a bit drier, and although they're interesting, they're sort of a hard landing after the way it begins; it becomes more of an academic look at the nature of forgiveness, and its roots in Amish tradition, than the spiritual experience explored in Part One. The whole thing is still well worth reading, but after landing with so much initial impact, it's a little disappointing to feel the book's energy fade.

  • Sheila
    2019-05-13 07:17

    This true story is about the Amish after the Nickel Mines tragedy...and, to the world's amazement, their willingness to forgive. I enjoyed learning more about the Amish people -- their religion and their culture...but the real message of the book is the power of sincere forgiveness. I highly recommend this one!

  • Celia
    2019-04-28 13:57

    Such wonderful insight into Amish life, history and why precisely they look toward reconciliation rather than any sort of divisiveness. Such a lesson to us all.

  • Jonathan
    2019-05-01 08:53

    I recently finished reading "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy" by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher. From Wikipedia: "When a group of Amish schoolgirls are taken hostage and killed in their classroom, their parents and the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, stun the outside world by immediately forgiving the killer.I previously new very little about the Amish (mostly from the film Witness?). As I learned more, I couldn't help but notice some similarities to my own heritage. I loved the book both because of its thoughtful examination of the nature of forgiveness and because it's a fascinating story of a group of Christians who obviously and in many ways aren't excusing themselves from being transformed by the radical, counter-cultural demands of the gospel."I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.This quote from page 12 caught my attention: “We believe in letting our light shine,” said one Amish father, “but not shining it in the eyes of other people.”I love that phrase. It reminds me of 1 Thess. 4:9-12: 9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.The Amish take very seriously what Jesus said about forgiveness in Matthew 6. From page 95 of the book: "To say that the Lord’s Prayer is a “good, well-rounded prayer” covers a lot of territory. But the prayer’s words about forgiveness “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” ring loud in Amish ears. One elder explained emphatically, “Forgiveness is the only thing that Jesus underscored in the Lord’s Prayer. Do you know that Jesus speaks about forgiveness in the two verses right after the Lord’s Prayer? So you see, it’s really central to the Lord’s Prayer. It’s really intense.” The fundamentals of Amish forgiveness are embedded in those two verses: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6: 14-15). The Amish believe if they don’t forgive, they won’t be forgiven. This forms the core of Amish spirituality and the core of their understanding of salvation: forgiveness from God hinges on a willingness to forgive others. The crucial phrase, repeated frequently by the Amish in conversations, sermons, and essays, is this: to be forgiven, we must forgive. This notion was never clearer than in the aftermath of the Nickel Mines shooting. In response to a flood of inquiries about how the Amish could forgive, local leaders provided an explanation in an unsigned letter: “There has been some confusion about our community’s forgiving attitude, [but] if we do not forgive, how can we expect to he forgiven? By not forgiving, it will be more harmful to ourselves than to the one that did the evil deed.”"Here's an interesting passage from pages 126-128 where the authors explore the meaning of forgiveness: "Forgiveness is a concept that everyone understands - until they’re asked to define it. Many Christians say that people should forgive because God forgave them. The Amish say that people should forgive so that God will forgive them. But those statements point to theological motivations for offering forgiveness; they do not define what forgiveness is. Others argue that forgiveness brings emotional healing to the forgiving person, but this psychological motive for forgiveness also fails to define forgiveness. In recent years, psychologists such as Robert D. Enright and Everett E. Worthington Jr. have helped to define forgiveness and examine its effects. As a result of their clinical research, both Enright and Worthington have come to believe that forgiveness is good for the person who offers it, reducing “anger, depression, anxiety, and fear” and affording “cardiovascular and immune system benefits.” To make that claim, however, they’ve needed to clarify what forgiveness is and what it is not. Enright, in his book Forgiveness Is a Choice, uses philosopher Joanna North’s definition of forgiveness: “When unjustly hurt by another, we forgive when we overcome the resentment toward the offender, not by denying our right to the resentment, but instead by trying to offer the wrongdoer compassion, benevolence, and love.” In Enright’s view, this definition highlights three essential aspects of forgiveness: that the offense is taken seriously (“the offense was unfair and will always continue to he unfair”), that victims have “a moral right to anger,” and that for forgiveness to take place, victims must “give up” their right to anger and resentment. In sum, forgiveness is “a gift to our offender,” who may not necessarily deserve it. Forgiveness, then, is both psychological and social: psychological because the forgiver is personally changed by the release of resentment, and social because forgiveness involves another person. That other person, the wrongdoer, may or may not change as a result of the forgiveness. In fact, Enright and many other scholars argue that forgiveness does not and should not depend on the remorse or apology of the offender. Rather, forgiveness is unconditional, an unmerited gift that replaces negative feelings toward the wrongdoer with love and generosity. “In spite of everything that the offender has done,” writes Enright, forgiveness means treating the offender “as a member of the human community.” There are certain things, however, that forgiveness does not mean. Partly in response to their critics, forgiveness advocates have developed a long list of things that forgiveness is not: it is not pretending that a wrong did not occur, it is not forgetting that it happened, and it is not condoning or excusing it. To the contrary, “forgiveness means admitting that what was done was wrong and should not be repeated.” Similarly, forgiveness is not the same thing as pardon. In other words, granting forgiveness does not mean that the wrongdoer is now free from suffering the disciplinary consequences of his or her actions (for example, legal or other forms of discipline). Finally, forgiveness should not he confused with reconciliation the restoring of a relationship. That’s because “reconciliation requires a renewal of trust, and sometimes that is not possible.” Forgiveness may open the door to reconciliation, anti in some ways is a prerequisite for reconciliation, but a victim may forgive an offender without reconciliation taking place. For instance, a victim of domestic abuse may forgive her abuser but at the same time seek legal means to keep him at a distance. Forgiveness advocates such as Enright even argue that forgiving a dead person is both possible and appropriate, even though reconciliation cannot take place in such cases."In the following passage from pages 175-177 the authors emphasize how truly counter-cultural Amish Grace really is: "To hear the Amish explain it, the New Testament provides the pattern for their unique form of spirituality. In a certain sense they are right. The Amish take the words of’ Jesus with utmost seriousness, and members frequently explain their faith by citing Jesus or other New Testament texts. But the Amish way of life cannot be reduced simply to taking the Bible or even Jesus seriously. Rather, Amish spirituality emerges from their particular ways of understanding the biblical text, a lens that’s been shaped by their nonviolent martyr tradition. With the martyrs hovering nearby, offering admonition and encouragement, the Amish have esteemed suffering over vengeance, Uffgevva over striving, and forgiveness over resentment. All Christians can read Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” but Amish people truly believe that their own forgiveness is bound up in their willingness to forgive others. For them, forgiveness is more than a good thing to do. It is absolutely central to the Christian faith. All of this helps us understand how the Nickel Mines Amish could do the unimaginable: extend forgiveness to their children’s killer within hours of their deaths. The decision to forgive came quickly, almost instinctively. Moreover, it came in deeds as well as words, with concrete expressions of care for the gunman’s family. For the Amish, the test of faith is action. Beliefs are important, and words are too, but actions reveal the true character of one’s faith. Therefore to really forgive means to act in forgiving ways - in this case, by expressing care for the family of the killer. In a world where the default response is more often revenge than forgiveness, all of this is inspiring. At the same time, the fact that forgiveness is so deeply woven into the fabric of Amish life should alert us that their example, inspiring as it is, is not easily transferable to other people in other situations. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but how does one imitate a habit that’s embedded in a way of life anchored in a five-hundred-year history? Most North Americans, formed by the assumptions of liberal democracy and consumer capitalism, carry a dramatically different set of cultural habits. In fact, many North Americans might conclude that certain Amish habits are problematic, if not utterly offensive. Submitting to the discipline of fallible church leaders? Forgoing personal acclaim? Constraining intellectual exploration? Abiding by restrictive gender roles? Declining to stand up for one’s rights? Refusing to fight for one’s country? Could any set of cultural habits be more out of sync with mainstream American culture? Many observers missed the countercultural dimension of Amish forgiveness, or at least downplayed it, in the aftermath of the Nickel Mines shooting. Outsiders, typically impressed by what they saw, too often assumed that Amish grace represented the best in “us.” Few commentators did this as crassly as the writer who equated the faith of the Amish with the faith of the Founding Fathers. In his mind, the Nickel Mines Amish were not acting counterculturally; they were simply extending a long American tradition of acting in loving, generous, and “Christian” ways. Other commentators, eager to find redemptive lessons in such a senseless event, offered simple platitudes. Rather than highlighting the painful self-renunciation that forgiveness (and much of Amish life) entails, they extolled Amish forgiveness as an inspiring expression of the goodness that resides in America’s heartland. We are not suggesting that the Amish response to the shooting was not praiseworthy. We contend, however, that the countercultural value system from which it emerged was too often neglected in the tributes that followed in the wake of the shooting. As if to drive home the depth of this cultural divide, ministers in one Ohio Amish community forbade a member from giving public lectures on Amish forgiveness. Ironically, the very value system that compelled the Nickel Mines Amish to forgive Charles Roberts constrained a member’s freedom to talk about forgiveness with curious outsiders. No, the Amish response at Nickel Mines was not so much the “best of America” as it was an expression of love by a people who every day challenge many of the values the rest of us hold clear"

  • Marisa
    2019-05-24 08:53

    This is a book definitely worth reading. Forgiveness is such an underrated topic of discussion, and what an unfortunate opportunity to explore it in the context of the Nickel Mines Amish school massacre, when forgiveness was so freely and automatically given to the gunman and his family.While I feel that the authors could have explored the depth of forgiveness, they gave readers a broad explanation of forgiveness in the Amish and English cultures. It served to help readers understand how the Amish could forgive such an atrocity when the majority of Americans struggle to forgive and are encouraged to seek vengeance on perpetrators. What I loved most was the point the authors make of the public's harsh assessment of Amish forgiveness. The Amish did not respond appropriately from our culture's perspective, even though many people are Christians and would ideally be open to forgiveness. It is a virtue we hardly practice, although it would be unrealistic to expect quick forgiveness from ourselves, given that most of us weren't raised in the Amish (forgiving) culture.

  • Wendy
    2019-04-26 13:53

    When we were on vacation in Cowee Valley, Franklin, NC, we visited the local Methodist church. The preacher was ill that day but he gave a remarkable sermon about forgiveness drawing from this book, Amish Grace. He issued me a real challenge in working on forgiving people. I have yet to sit down and make a list but I know it is probably lengthy. In my family, we didn't learn much about forgiveness. It's only been in recent years, 2006 onward, that I've really learned about the need to forgive. The Amish way of forgiveness is something very special but it's been ingrained in them from the start. So, I have some catching up to do. One thing that is really hard with forgiveness as one of the authors points out is when offenses continue day after day. That is certainly part of my struggle. I had heard about this book but didn't wish to relive the Nickle Mines tragedy, but the minister that day in North Carolina shared that the book contains so much more, and it does. I would recommend it.

  • 'Chele
    2019-05-23 09:59

    What a great book! The book first talks about the tragic shooting at Nickel Mines and how the Amish people's belief in forgiving and then discusses the Amish beliefs and reasons for those beliefs/values. While I might not agree with some of their practices/beliefs at least I know understand their reasons for them.

  • Suezq
    2019-04-25 08:09

    Wonderful book on how the Amish practice forgiveness as a way of life. I learned of this book when it first came out but it was too soon after the tragedy in Lancaster for me to read at that time. I am glad that I went back and read it.

  • Jacki Patai
    2019-05-19 13:05

    A wonderful explanation about forgiveness and how the Amish demonstrate this feeling.

  • Marie
    2019-05-04 06:54

    Not bad but very slow. Got about halfway and gave up and skimmed rest

  • Dawn Meyers
    2019-05-04 07:13

    I really enjoyed this book. It discusses a lot of the details of the Amish faith, and beliefs regarding forgiveness, and how one should live life. An inspiring and peaceful read

  • Sharon
    2019-04-28 08:09

    Interesting portrait of what forgiveness looks like.

  • Emily
    2019-05-09 08:07

    This is my thirteenth attempt this week to write this review. I've started a dozen previous times only to scrap my feeble first sentences when I can't seem to get any traction. Words fail me every time I try to describe my emotions when I first read about the school shooting at the West Nickel Mines Amish School in rural Pennsylvania in October 2006. Of course, any school shooting is cause for sadness and anger, fear and heartbreak, confusion and worry, but the premeditated murder of these young Amish girls is beyond unfathomable to me. I can't imagine how it would feel to have a loved one so young and innocent taken away from me so suddenly, so violently. However, what I find even more extraordinary, almost inexplicable, is the response of the Amish families immediately following the tragedy. As a community, they reached out to the shooter's wife and children and to his parents, all of whom lived close by. Many attended the gunman's funeral to offer comfort to his family. The committee formed by the community to choose where donated funds would be spent designated some of the money they received for the shooter's widow. They grieved, felt anger, and wept; they mourned those they lost and supported those who were healing from their injuries, but unanimously reserved judgment for God and God alone.The authors, Drs. Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher, are not Amish – indeed, the tenets of the faith emphasizing humility and community while denouncing self-centeredness preclude the possibility of a first-person Amish account – but they have interacted with, researched, and written about the Amish extensively. They present the tragic story of the Nickel Mines shooting in a nuanced and respectful context, explaining the Amish faith in the words of anonymous Amish men and women who “believe in letting our light shine, but not shining it in the eyes of other people.”Significantly, the authors are careful to differentiate between forgiveness, pardon, and reconciliation. Where pardon would free the wrongdoer from any disciplinary consequence and reconciliation would mean the restoration of the relationship between the one who was wronged and the person who committed the wrong, forgiveness is an unconditional release of resentment, replacing “negative feelings toward the wrongdoer with love and generosity.” For the Amish, forgiveness is a way of life. It is an expectation, reiterated frequently in daily life and in every religious gathering. Drawing from the New Testament, particularly Matthew's recounting of the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of the unforgiving servant, the Amish see a direct link between their willingness to forgive others and their ability to be forgiven by God. One Amish farmer and minister stated simply “The Lord's Prayer plays a big part in our forgiveness. If we can't forgive, then we won't be forgiven.” This doesn't mean that it's always easy to forgive. “Genuine forgiveness takes a lot of work...even after a decision to forgive has been made.” However, Drs. Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher state that “unlike most people, an Amish person begins the task atop a three-hundred-year-old tradition that teaches the love of enemies and the forgiveness of offenders.”In one interesting section, the authors address a question they fielded from many media outlets in the aftermath of the shooting: “Are the Amish prepared to deal with a tragedy like this?” Their paradoxical answer was “Of course, the Amish were not prepared... – except, of course, they were.” In reality, “no community is ever prepared for such a calamity” and the Amish are no exception. In fact, with their low incidence of crime, extremely selective use of technology (which almost completely excludes violent images from video games, television shows and movies from their experience), and a deep sense of security that comes from living where your neighbors are also your family and long-time friends, the Amish would seem to be less prepared than most for such an event. However, the close-knit community of family and friends bound together by a common faith and culture provides an immense well of strength, support and “mutual aid.” In addition, “forgiveness is woven into the very fabric of Amish life, its sturdy threads having been spun from faith in God, scriptural mandates, and a history of persecution.” The forgiveness and grace that the Amish demonstrated were “spontaneous expressions of faith” that sprang from their love of God. If all Christians – all people of any faith – would emulate the Amish in this, our world would be much better off.For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  • John
    2019-04-30 09:20

    Written by three scholars with expertise on the subject, "Amish Grace" is about how the Amish community responded with forgiveness and grace to the horrific crime at Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, Pa., on Oct. 2, 2006, when a deranged gunman killed five Amish schoolgirls and wounded five others. The authors move quickly away from the event itself to discuss how the world was moved by the acts of kindness the Amish people extended to the gunman's family. The shooter killed himself, but by their actions the Amish showed that they had forgiven him and would bear no grudge against his family.The authors carefully and thoroughly explain how the Amish culture and lifestyle reflect their choice to follow Jesus as literally as possible. I learned a lot more about the Amish people and their worldview from this book. I knew they were Christians; I knew they used horse-and-buggies instead of automobiles; I knew their mode of dress was quaint. But the authors took me a lot deeper, and I was impressed by what I saw. It's a compelling fact that 90 percent of those who are raised Amish decide in their late teens or early adult years to commit to continuing in the Amish faith and lifestyle. How many Christian denominations can claim a 90 percent retention rate?I hadn't realized how various groups -- pundits, particularly -- tried to use the Amish response to the Nickel Mines shooting as evidence for their own agendas, sometimes from opposite sides of the same issue.I like how neatly the authors deal with one example of this (Page 177)For instance, numerous writers cited the Amish example at Nickel Mines to score points against the violence so prominent in U.S. foreign policy, particularly the Bush administration's war on terror. Many of the critiques contrasted the Christianity of President Bush with the faith of the Amish and then asked readers which one Jesus himself would endorse. From a rhetorical standpoint, the contrast worked well, though its proponents failed to mention that the two-kingdom Amish would never expect the government to operate without the use of force.The appendix offers a fine, succinct summary of the history, belief and practices of the Amish. Much of this comes out in the text, but it was a good idea to offer it all in one place. Although written by scholars, this book is accessible. The prose is straight-forward and easy to understand, if not compelling.Jan. 14, 2018 --I liked this book less on second reading (honestly, I'd forgotten reading it the first time). We'll let that go, except that I think there's nothing about this book that fewer sentences couldn't have improved. And that I liked the discussion in the penultimate chapter on the problem of pain. I particularly liked the comment from one (unnamed) Amish bishop: "Where was God when the school shooting happened? I like to say he was at the same place he was at when Jesus died on the cross."But what I really want to address here is the authors' apparent assumption that the grace extended in the wake of the horrifying Nickel Mines shooting was unique to the Amish. I don't agree. And I would cite, as one of many possible examples, an account of a sentencing hearing that appeared in the Duluth News Tribune, the newspaper for which I work, while I was rereading this book. A woman was being sentenced for beheading a man with a machete. No one involved was Amish. Here's part of the account:While many of the victim's family members were present in the courtroom, including his parents, none initially expressed a desire to address the court -- until Amanda Anderson stood to make a last-minute request, which the judge granted.Anderson read several lines of Scripture and told Greniger that she had forgiven her. Moreso, she said she wanted to be part of Greniger's life while she's incarcerated."I may have lost a nephew, but he brought you into my heart," Anderson said.Before sitting down, she handed Greniger a letter which contained her address and phone number, promising to keep in touch.The reporter told me that among the Scriptures quoted was Luke 15:10: "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."I write this not in any way to diminish the grace shown by the Nickel Mines Amish. I've never come close to being wronged in the way they were, and I don't know how I would respond if I were in that situation.But it is, as some of the Amish people pointed out to the authors, what Christians are commanded to do, the Amish and the rest of us.