Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Amish Example

Apparently, there is no event in America so tragic that it can’t be quickly exploited by those who want to trumpet their own cause, regardless of how unrelated that cause may be. Witness the recent Amish school shootings:

  • The Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas was going to protest the funeral because America is so homosexual-friendly. They are normally content to protest at military funerals (because America is so homosexual-friendly). If this doesn’t make any sense to you on several levels, then just be happy that you are still apparently sane.
  • A woman in Georgia is using the tragedy as fodder to ban Harry Potter books at her local school. She thinks school shootings are the result of JK Rowlings’ desire to indoctrinate children into witchcraft. As the comments on the link mention, it is fascinating how Harry Potter is famous all over the world, but school shootings by crazed citizens mostly happen in the US.

This is annoying to me because now I would look silly in trying to tie this to my own pet cause, which is the confluence of liturgical constantinianism and epistemological foundationalism as a corrupting influence on eschatological ecclesiology (and why it is ruining America). Like homosexuality and Harry Potter, the Amish have nothing to do with this. But I figure they had it coming, since we all know that God punishes random people when America doesn’t conform to the dictates of those Christians who are most in need of medication.

Instead, I guess we should grudgingly look to the Amish themselves for wisdom on the matter. They are heartbroken and grieving. And yet, shockingly, they remain faithful to their religious convictions. They invited the mother of the shooter to the funeral, as a way to extend forgiveness. They are quoted as saying “Forgiveness is a choice, but it is not an option if we want to be saved." Many even showed up to the funeral of the shooter. They extend grace far beyond what makes sense to the wider world.

I don’t want to sentimentalize the Amish, who certainly have human failings like everyone else. But geez. What a stunning example of how to be Christian. Imagine if we American Christians had all decided to be this grace-filled in response to 9/11. Imagine if we decided not to give in to fear and revenge, but to trust in God rather than Guns. We might not be fit to run the country, but I can’t help but think it would have tempered our national response in ways that would have made us stronger five years later. Instead, we are facing a world justifiably angry at our response to evil, since its main accomplishment so far has been the creation of new terrorists.

Given how interwoven the Christian message is these days with state power and domination over others, the Amish provide a healthy counter-example to aspire to. In this instance, they have provided a powerful example of Paul’s message to “overcome evil with good”. Too often we attempt to eliminate evil through violence and revenge.


Brownie said...

Concerning "...forgiveness is a choice, but it is not an option if we want to be saved..."

"I thought you would have learned by now, Love is a choice, not a feeling." -M.K. Brown, in "The Heart of the Graystone"

Boy, there are some really clever folks in these here parts!


Brownie said...

Concerning "...if Christians really followed Jesus' teachings (like the Amish in this instance), our country wouldn't be in the mess it is in..."

Which group of Christians is it your talking about here? The Mennonites? The Catholics? The Methodists? The Evangelicals? The Lutherans? Most of whom oppose the insensible, indefensible waste of human life?

I think you're confusing Christians with the power hungry, world dominating wannabe, nepotist, greedy, blood-thirsty, Neo-cons. These "human beings" are a lot of things--but I don't think "Christian" is one of them.

Peace On Earth!