Friday, October 06, 2006

Christian values and the Amish

Even as various self-professed "Christian" organizations ratchet up their messages of hate, we have all been given an opportunity to see real Christian values in action. In Pennsylvania the Amish community endure unthinkable tragedy in full view of the world, and have given us a heart-rending embodiment of the core Christian values of grace and forgiveness. They have asked that the family of the killer share in any funds raised to support victims. Can we imagine any of Pat Robertson's or Tony Perkins' flock exhibiting such courage? To the contrary, Robertson and Perkins have inculcated a spirit of vengeance that forgives nothing and no-one. In their fear and desparation they pray nihilistically for the End of Times, when all including the Amish, whom they despise, will perish in flames.

We can be sure that the Amish never asked to be in the national spotlight, or to become role models, yet there they are, bearing up with such fortitude as to put the rest of us to shame. I never understood them, in part because I could not imagine forgoing the pleasures and conveniences of modern life, but I have only respect and admiration for the way they have lived their values out under such unbearable pain. It is time for our leaders, religious and secular, to re-examine what we mean by "values". We now have an example for all to see, and it would be tragic if we didn't get the message.