Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


A Powerful Example of Forgiveness

"They don't balance the hurt with hate."

The sign above the chalkboard read "Visitors Brighten People's Days." Scattered around the room were 11 people hurt or killed in the gunfire. Five students were killed, five injured and their assailant, Charles Karl Roberts, lay dead by his own gun. Another of the girls who was injured has since died.

The Amish school shooting was the most horrific of a recent spate of terrifying incidents. But is has already turned from a story of death to a story of forgiveness. You have no doubt read that the Amish farmers of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania began reaching out to the family of the killer soon after the attack on the one-room schoolhouse.

The Amish are so different in their practice of Christianity, that it would be easy to shrug off their actions as unreal. Yet, these are real people, suffering some real deep shock and grief. In an Associated Press article on the shooting, Gertrude Huntington, a researcher on Amish children and society said, "The hurt is very great. But they don't balance the hurt with hate."

In another report on the funeral, the mid-wife who helped birth several of the girls was quoted in response the killer's wife, Marie Roberts, attending one of the funerals, "I'm sure it will help with the healing process. "She's grieving for the victims' families. The victims' families are grieving for her."

The same news article gave a humbling detail of what took place inside the school according to survivors. The 13 year old who was eldest of the girls told the killer to shoot him first. The article says,
Marian faced death with remarkable bravery, according to dramatic new details that emerged yesterday after one of five surviving witnesses was removed from a ventilator and could speak again.

"Shoot me first," the girl told Roberts, bravely offering up her life in an attempt to save her terrified younger classmates.

Then another of the older girls stepped up and said, "You can shoot me second," according to Mennonite midwife Rita Rhoads.

"They were hoping maybe if they offered themselves, the younger girls would either be saved or rescued in time," Rhodes said. "It really showed a tremendous amount of courage. It's really amazing that girls of that age would offer themselves up. I know a lot of adults who wouldn't do that."
The story of what happened in the school and the forgiveness that follows is so clearly a Christ-like example. The deep, abiding faith of the Amish made the acts of courage and forgiveness possible. I am humbled by their actions.


The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church


  • At 10/06/2006 6:30 PM, Anonymous terrell said…

    Thanks, Frank. I had just read another post about this that used the heroic action of Marian, nonsensically, as an excuse to strike a hateful jab at a couple of politicians. People are strange critters. Anyway, it was refreshing to read your thoughtful post that reminds us that folks can also be strangely forgiving and faithful to their beliefs even under heartbreaking duress.

    Did you take the picture?

  • At 10/06/2006 10:59 PM, Anonymous Robert Christian said…

    I couldn't listen to or watch the news when this story was on. After hearing and reading about how the Amish Community has responded to this tragedy I now can watch. They gave me something, a sense of peace or faith I didn't or wouldn't have had on my own. I find myself wanting more and more to be like the Amish.

    I wonder if The Amish ever read the prayer +Frank posted in, "The Fruits of Suffering? They certainly do exemplify it and in doing so let us know, doing all Christ ask is possible.

    I wonder, Could I forgive? Not today but I'm hopeful that one day I can be like the Amish and forgive and even offer help to the offender.

    What is that statement, offer the other cheek?

  • At 10/08/2006 3:03 AM, Blogger CSL said…

    We read so many stories of victims' families angrily consigning the killer to hell. It makes sense on an emotional level and we all have moments of the wish for what Walter Wink calls "redemptive violence." I am reluctanct to criticize those families in the midst of their loss. But I wish we read more often about reactions like this Amish community's. To respond with forgiveness in spite of terrible and unjustifiable loss - that seems like as good an example of Christ-like behavior as I can imagine. For anyone with a WWJD? bracelet - this is the answer to that question.

  • At 10/10/2006 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I found this on one of my Via Media messages.
    What kind of people are these?
    From Where I Stand by Joan Chittister, OSB

    Here's a quote. I wish we all, especially myself learn this...
    "But it was not the violence suffered by the Amish community last week that surprised people. Our newspapers are full of brutal and barbarian violence day after day after day -- both national and personal.

    No, what really stunned the country about the attack on the small Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania was that the Amish community itself simply refused to hate what had hurt them.

    "Do not think evil of this man," the Amish grandfather told his children at the mouth of one little girl's grave.

    "Do not leave this area. Stay in your home here." the Amish delegation told the family of the murderer. "We forgive this man."

    No, it was not the murders, not the violence, that shocked us; it was the forgiveness that followed it for which we were not prepared. It was the lack of recrimination, the dearth of vindictiveness that left us amazed. Baffled. Confounded.

    It was the Christianity we all profess but which they practiced that left us stunned. Never had we seen such a thing." (Sr. Joan)

    Peace, Bob

  • At 10/10/2006 4:57 PM, Anonymous Robert Christian said…

    Sorry last post was from Robert Christian aka Bob


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