The Fourth Tuesday and Mystery Book Club
Amish Grace by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher
We initially thought that this book was going to center around the tragic schoolhouse killings of Amish girls near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After reading the book, we realized that the authors wrote a book about the concept of forgiveness, using the murders as an illustration of Amish beliefs. Amish Grace examines the idea of forgiveness from a theological, sociological, psychological and even an historical perspective. They rely on experts to explain why the Amish quickly forgave both the man who gunned down 10 young girls in a country schoolhouse and the killer’s family. Shortly after the crime was committed, the families of the slain girls visited the murderer’s wife and children. They consoled them and treated them as victims. This became the main news story.
The authors delve into the nature of forgiveness and pardon. Although many of the Amish feel that it is their duty to forgive offenders, they may not be as quick to pardon them. To pardon someone means to release that person from punishment for the wrongdoing. The book examines the church’s use of excommunication and shunning, along with the Amish view of technology and why it is not appropriate in their society. It was interesting to hear that it is easier for the Amish to forgive someone, especially an outsider, for a transgression than to forgive a member of their own group for a much more minor offense.
In some ways the book’s discussion of forgiveness and grace seemed somewhat redundant, repeating key points again and again. Nevertheless, the authors explained these concepts by using this sad story to illustrate that the Amish are people who really try to live their faith. We recommend the book to people who want to learn more about forgiveness and the Amish, including the history of the people and their religion.
Key Ideas from different club members:
Very thought provoking; repetitive; too much on forgiveness; fine for a theology class or church group; it provokes discussion.
The Club Members rating this book:
Linda Bowman, Pat Kuna, Bill Simmons, Lynn Simmons, Helen Skalski, Linda Troll, and Mona Herrell
Club’s Average Rating: 3.4 of 5
Rating Range: 2 to 5