It was October 2, 2006; a day in which nobody in the town could have predicted the horrific act that would occur that day. Charles Carl Roberts IV stepped into a schoolhouse and shot and killed 5 young girls, while wounding 5 others before finally killing himself. Instead of the Amish community reacting in rage towards the murder, they reacted in an astounding way that shocked American culture. They forgave the shooter and then proceeded to care for his distraught family. The tale Amish Grace tells the incredibly touching story of this small community's reaction to an insensible shooting and explores its exceedingly countercultural practice of forgiveness. In this novel, the authors relay that the Amish are virtuous in their life of true, honest forgiveness; that there is more to it that simply words. Because of the astounding exercise of forgiveness in the Amish community, the authors break down the art of their grace into their habits of forgiveness and the spirituality that drives their practice.
One of the main claims by the authors is that “our actions are rarely random. We all embrace patterns of behavior and habits of mind that shape what we do…”(pg 108) to dictate our lives. There is truth in this, as we have all noticed. We have our driving habits, and habits in our interactions as well. So it is no surprise that the Amish were so quick to forgive the murder: through their habits. Specifically, their routine in their culture. As the authors explain, “culture reflects people’s history and teaching…”(pg
109). The Amish culture dates back to the habits set hundreds of years ago, in the goal that society should attempt to live by Christ. These habits are ingrained within the Amish culture, and so can be acted in without significant internal conflict. They show grace as
a life lived for the Lord. As in the words of Kime, “Forgiveness...is not a onetime event”(pg 116). The authors do well in creating the framework in this part of their argument, by tying in modern day experiences the reader can relate to.
The novel explains that the Amish live by the Old Order spirituality by
Gelassenheit, or “submission”. Just as Jesus claims that “greatness comes not from ruling over others but from serving others’ (Mk 10:42), the Amish believe that submission “should characterize one’s relationship with God” (pg. 151). In their life of spirituality, they surrender their will to God’s and accept God’s plan. With this, it is evident that in the shooting, it was not only their habit of forgiveness, but their spirituality that allowed them to forgive. I enjoyed this part, as the authors work well to bring further light to the ideas of this virtue. Forgiveness is an outright desire to overcome the pain of the injury someone has inflicted upon you. The Amish spirituality Gelassenheit, fully captures this, as it brings forth both external and internal healing.
The authors of this novel have argued that the life of forgiveness is not tied solely to a belief system, but to a way of life, and it is sound. The main argument of the book appears to be that forgiveness is not a lone action; it is an intense practice, and the author’s make valid points into proving this that I agree with. The “extension of grace was neither calculated, nor random” (pg 16) in this story. Forgiveness is a virtuous act, that requires patience and time to become proficient at. This is shown well in the Amish community and culture of Nickel Mines, and their reaction to injury. Their immediate reaction [aside from grief] was to forgive and help the family of the one who took their children away. This is astounding to our