A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse massacre, a pastor said on Wednesday.Also in the same article:
"As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, 'We must not think evil of this man,' " the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN.
"It was one of the most touching things I have seen in 25 years of Christian ministry."
I admire their ability to forgive, the depth of the compassion they demonstrate, but I have to wonder how much of that is a result of their belief that all things are God's plan. If you hold a fatalist point of view, you can more easily forgive the person who does you harm, since it was God's will.
Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, said local people were trying to follow Jesus' teachings in dealing with the "terrible hurt."
"I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.
Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker who lives a few miles away from the shooting scene, told The Associated Press that the victims' families will be sustained by their faith.
"We think it was God's plan, and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," he told AP. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."
This is one of the things that bothered me as a grew up, and one of the reasons I questioned so much of what the Church tried to teach me. I believe that human beings commit evil acts as a result of a variety of factors -- none of which are divine in origin -- not that God has a plan and that we are merely acting out our parts.
However, I can see the comfort in holding such a viewpoint, especially in the face of such horror.