Rod Dreher on the example of the Amish

“Is there any place on earth that more bespeaks peace, restfulness and sanctuary from the demons of modern life than a one-room Amish schoolhouse? That fact is no doubt why so many of us felt so defiled – there is no more precise word – by news of the mass murders that took place there this week. If you’re not safe in an Amish schoolhouse … And yet, as unspeakable as those killings were, they were not the most shocking news to come out of Lancaster County this week.”

Read the entire article here.


  1. The Ironic Catholic says

    “I don’t know about you, but that kind of faith is beyond comprehension. I’m the kind of guy who will curse under my breath at the jerk who cuts me off in traffic on the way home from church. And look at those humble farmers, putting Christians like me to shame.”

    Amen to that. I don’t know if this kind of faith is beyond comprehension, exactly, but this forgiveness–even as that community attended the funeral of the one who murdered those girls–truly does put ALL of us to shame, and reminds us how radical Christianity is.

    As a nation’s jaw drops, some beauty out of unspeakable tragedy.

  2. The story is a great example of what happens to someone who’s faith is lacking, or not strong enough when trials come (house built on sand maybe) he stays angry, angry enough to take it out on inocent children for a pain that only God can take away from him.

    These families are such an example of how to react when you are harmed. Coming on the heals of the bombing of churches and the murder of a nun, well.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Jeff Jacoby has a different, yet equally impassioned, interpretation: “But hatred is not always wrong, and forgiveness is not always deserved. I admire the Amish villagers’ resolve to live up to their Christian ideals even amid heartbreak, but how many of us would really want to live in a society in which no one gets angry when children are slaughtered? In which even the most horrific acts of cruelty were always and instantly forgiven? There is a time to love and a time to hate, Ecclesiastes teaches. If anything deserves to be hated, surely it is the pitiless murder of innocents.”

  4. The Ironic Catholic says

    Common mistake. Forgiveness does not mean “no anger,” and it certainly does not mean foregoing “hating murder.” It means moving beyond the (still very wrong and evil) act and praying for a reconcilied relationship.

    What say you guys?

  5. 4HisChurch says

    “Had my child suffered and died that way, I cannot imagine what would have become of me, for all my pretenses of piety.”

    At first, I too was amazed at the Amish. Then I became embarrassed about myself. Now I’m afraid for my own soul.

  6. Jonathan Potter says

    IC: To be fair, Jeff Jacoby was quoting one of the Amish folks who said something like, “We’re not angry; we just don’t feel that way.” But to extend his argument from saying that such horrors should anger us to saying we should hate the perpetrator … well, I think you have to go with Augustine and make the distinction: love the sinner, hate the sin. How would I react? That’s more difficult. Murderous rage is a distinct possibility. I don’t know, though. I can only say how hearing about such horrors affects me as an onlooker and as a father. My anxiety level as a parent tends to go up a notch every time I hear a story like this, of horrible, horrendous, evil acts against children. It’s hard to entrust a child to others’ safekeeping in a world where such things happen. It goes back to a lot of what SK talks about in Quidam’s Diary and elsewhere — the anxiety pushes you towards the religious sphere where the only resolution possible is to trust God, trust that God has a handle on even these horrible events, that He can bring good out of it even if it is impossible to see it in the moment. But when children are involved — it’s like Henry James put it: the turn of the screw. The anxiety seems nearly insurmountable to me at times, as a parent wanting to protect my child. And there’s, possibly, a grave temptation in that, but also a real responsibility.

  7. The Ironic Catholic says

    Ok, thanks for making me read the cited piece. I get it.

    But I do want to honor what the Amish are doing though. Perhaps if you are enculturated into being totally dependant on God and the practice of forgiveness, maybe it is possible to abandon anger. Forgiveness always happens through the work of God in us; we can manufacture the actions of forgiveness but it may mean nothing without the work of God. I’m reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s story of meeting a Nazi soldier after her WW2 imprisonment and freezing, thinking “I can’t talk to him, I can’t forgive him,” and then praying to God to make her want to forgive him. She immediately was able to greet him and shake his hand afterward.

    Mind you, I’ve had difficulty this year forgiving two people who did me wrong in ***much*** smaller ways, so I’m not pretending this is easy in any way. I can picture myself in the murderous rage. I just hope I could try to imitate Christ in such a horror.

    Think of what a witness this has been for the world.

  8. Jonathan Webb says

    This kind of forgiveness is scandalous even to many Christians, therefore it deserves the Korrektiv seal of approval.

  9. I remember a priest who gave a retreat on forgiveness saying that one should start with the prayer”

    “God grant me the will to do . . . because at this moment I cannot do it and I know that to do it would be in your will for me.”

    God never expects us to immediately be perfect, He only expects us to offer our weaknesses to Him so that in them He can be glorified.

    I too have had a hard time forgiving someone who harmed me, but in the end it was what I needed to do for myself, not because the person deserved or asked for my forgiveness.

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