Still getting e-mails about this post from last week. There are three schools of thought, roughly: the Dreher camp, which aspires to emulate the Amish’s beatific capacity for forgiveness; the Allahpundit camp, which aspires to pee on the killer’s grave; and the Jacoby camp, which strikes a balance. Quote:
[H]atred is not always wrong, and forgiveness is not always deserved. I admire the Amish villagers’ resolve to live up to their Christian ideals even amid heartbreak, but how many of us would really want to live in a society in which no one gets angry when children are slaughtered? In which even the most horrific acts of cruelty were always and instantly forgiven? There is a time to love *and* a time to hate, Ecclesiastes teaches. If anything deserves to be hated, surely it is the pitiless murder of innocents.
To voluntarily forgive those who have hurt you is beautiful and praiseworthy. That is what Jesus did on the cross, what Christians do when they say the Lord’s Prayer, what observant Jews do when they recite the bedtime Kriat Sh’ma. But to forgive those who have hurt — who have murdered — someone else? I cannot see how the world is made a better place by assuring someone who would do terrible things to others that he will be readily forgiven afterward, even if he shows no remorse.
The key word being “readily.” How readily is too readily? My Christian friends tell me it’s perfectly okay to get righteously angry; witness Jesus’s behavior in the temple vis-a-vis the moneychangers, etc. It’s good sense, too: an evildoer worried about an angry reaction might be deterred, even if he knows he’d be forgiven later.
Of course, Jesus said “turn the other cheek,” not “hit back, then forgive.” But we needn’t rehash that.
The question is, should we (and by “we” I of course mean our religious readers) emulate the Amish or not? Do they forgive too readily? Most of the writing about their reaction is along the same lines as Dreher’s, suggesting they’ve attained a state of grace which we can and should aspire to, but can’t really because we’re mere mortals and they somehow aren’t. That logic reminds me of how a vet once told me he finds it worrisome when the troops are admired too much. Not because it indicates a martial impulse in society but the opposite: treating the bravery of soldiers as superhuman puts it safely beyond the ken of what should be expected of us ordinary citizens. Is that what’s happening here with the Amish? I.e., “I wish I could be like them. Too bad I can’t.”