Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy

Donald B. Kraybill, Author, Steven M. Nolt, Author, David L. Weaver-Zercher, Author . Jossey-Bass $24.95 (237p) ISBN 978-0-7879-9761-8

When a gunman killed five Amish children and injured five others last fall in a Nickel Mines, Pa., schoolhouse, media attention rapidly turned from the tragic events to the extraordinary forgiveness demonstrated by the Amish community. The authors, who teach at small colleges with Anabaptist roots and have published books on the Amish, were contacted repeatedly by the media after the shootings to interpret this subculture. In response to the questions “why—and how—did they forgive?” Kraybill and his colleagues present a compelling study of “Amish grace.” After describing the heartbreaking attack and its aftermath, the authors establish that forgiveness is embedded in Amish society through five centuries of Anabaptist tradition, and grounded in the firm belief that forgiveness is required by the New Testament. The community's acts of forgiveness were not isolated decisions by saintly individuals but hard-won “countercultural” practices supported by all aspects of Amish life. Common objections to Amish forgiveness are addressed in a chapter entitled, “What About Shunning?” The authors carefully distinguish between forgiveness, pardon and reconciliation, as well as analyzethe complexities of mainstream America's response and the extent to which the Amish example can be applied elsewhere. This intelligent, compassionate and hopeful book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on forgiveness. (Sept. 21)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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