Sunday, April 06, 2008

Do we even consider living out what we say we believe?

Rod Dreher over at Crunchy Con put up a great post. Here are some excerpts:

Once again, Mennonites in the news exhibiting the virtue of forgiveness at a level that passes all human understanding.

CHEWELAH, Wash. — For more than a quarter mile, Clifford Helm veered in his pickup truck through a grassy median and oncoming traffic. What finally stopped him was another pickup truck, the one carrying Jeffrey Schrock and his five children.

Carmen, 12, Jana, 10, Carinna, 8, Jerryl, 4 and Craig, 2, were killed in the collision. Mr. Schrock, who had been taking the children to join their mother on some errands, had multiple broken bones.

Now, more than two years after the accident, Mr. Helm has been acquitted on charges of vehicular homicide. Mr. Schrock says he has accepted that he may never know exactly what happened or why. He also says he has a friend he did not have before, Mr. Helm.


Last month, when Mr. Helm went to trial, members of Mr. Schrock's extended family sat with members of Mr. Helm's family in the courtroom.


Friendship under such circumstances is complicated, Mr. Schrock said, like pretty much everything else that has happened since the accident. For him, the challenge has been to forgive Mr. Helm without expecting resolution, and to build a friendship regardless of the forces working against it.

"It's what the Bible teaches," Mr. Schrock said.

Dreher goes on to write in reference to the Amish school shootings from a while back:

"This is imitation of Christ at its most naked," journalist Tom Shachtman, who has chronicled Amish life, told The New York Times . "If anybody is going to turn the other cheek in our society, it's going to be the Amish. I don't want to denigrate anybody else who says they're imitating Christ, but the Amish walk the walk as much as they talk the talk."

It is not that the Amish are Anabaptist hobbits, living a pure pastoral life uncorrupted by the evils of modernity. So much of the coverage of the massacre has dwelled on the "innocence lost" aspect, but I doubt that the Amish would agree. They have their own sins and tragedies. Nobody who lives in a small town can live under the illusion that it is a haven from evil. To paraphrase gulag survivor Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the line between good and evil does not run along the boundaries of Lancaster County, but through every human heart.

What sets hearts apart is how they deal with sins and tragedies. In his suicide note, Mr. Roberts said one reason he did what he did was out of anger at God for the death of his infant daughter in 1997. Wouldn't any parent wonder why God allowed that to happen? Mr. Roberts held onto his hatred, purifying it under pressure until it exploded in an act of infamy. That's one way to deal with anger.

Another is the Amish way. If Mr. Roberts' rage at God over the death of his baby girl was in some sense understandable, how much more comprehensible would be the rage of those Amish mothers and fathers whose children perished by his hand? Had my child suffered and died that way, I cannot imagine what would have become of me, for all my pretenses of piety. And yet, the Amish do not rage. They do not return evil for evil. In fact, they embody peace and love beyond all human understanding.

It's when confronted with examples like these that I want to run and hide. I am ashamed to say that I can't stand the purity of the light.

Wow. Me, too.

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