14 October 2006

The Amish School Shootings

I've been reluctant to comment very much on this issue. Better people than I have already done so, and the families of the survivors have and should remain in our prayers. The site, theosebes has done a good job on the subject, and I recommend you check in there.

I confess to more than a passing interest in the matter. My extended family came from the Lancaster area, my grandfather was born there. Virtually my entire extended family is Amish, Old Order Mennonite, or if liberal, have religious convictions approximating those of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Some of the victims had last names that are in my family tree. This is, to me, very close to home.

One of the best takes came from the keyboard of Rod Dreher of the Dallas, TX Morning News. I found it at the http://tinyurl.com/pyjvj site. I hope that it is still available there. Rod has chosen to emphasize, not the violence, nor the innocence of the victims, nor any of the normal themes found in the accounts of these all-too-frequent evidences of a broken world. He has pointed out that the real shocking story is that the families of the victims have taken up a collection for the widow and orphans of the shooter. The story is one of forgiveness, of refusing to return evil for evil. That is amazing, nonsensical, extravagant forgiveness. And that's the point. They are doing as Jesus Christ has done for you, and for me, and for all who believe on His name. No one, NO ONE, can in their own human strength forgive like that. Most of us, even those who are called Christians, would not even try. That is a terrible reproach to us.

Forgiveness is a subject that should be dear to the heart of all Christians and preached frequently from all pulpits. That is not the case, in general. Most of us, and I include myself, have adopted far too much of the world's attitude on this subject. Most of us would have been calling lawyers and filing wrongful death suits against the estate of the shooter, even if it threw his survivors into the snow. The Amish of Lancaster County have shamed me, and perhaps others. They have done unto others what the Lord has done for us, and done it without publicity.

I should do likewise.