Thursday, October 05, 2006


Today the families of the Amish girls shot to death by Charles Carl Roberts will bury their daughters. In this media and retributive age, modern society isn't quite sure what to make of the Amish:
The Amish say they are quietly accepting the deaths as God's will.

"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death," said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher who has written a book about children in Amish society.

"The hurt is very great," Huntington said. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."

In just about any other community, a deadly school shooting would have brought demands from civic leaders for tighter gun laws and better security, and the victims' loved ones would have lashed out at the gunman's family or threatened to sue.

But that's not the Amish way.

In the aftermath of Monday's violence, the Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack in a one-room schoolhouse.

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts' survivors are his wife and three children.

Yes, much of Amish practice is anachronistic and insular in a way that I don't necessarily endorse, but there is a lot about them and their response to this situation that ought to provide food for thought to those seeking to be in the world but not of it.

Being a father of three daughters shapes your perspective about a lot of things. This shooting has disturbed me in a way that most of the Big Media stories doesn't. But I've thought a lot about those poor, poor girls who lived an unimaginable nightmare that they did not in any way deserve. Vengeance is something properly left to God (and in this life, his minister of vengeance, the state), thus when the idea that Roberts cheated justice by killing himself crosses my mind, I remember that God's justice will be far more severe.

Remember the victims' families in your prayers.

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