Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Amish Grace- A story of Forgiveness"

A typical Amish one-room schoolhouse,

I photographed traveling through Amish country in Ohio.

“Amish Grace”

Forgiveness in the Face of Utter Evil

Our family was greatly challenged by the video version of the Lifetime movie “Amish Grace.” It depicts the unexpected reaction of the Amish people to an incident that seems to me to be the very personification of evil itself.

On October 2, 2006, a gunman carried out a well-planned shooting at the one-room West Nickel Mines Schoolhouse, in an Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Charles Carl Roberts IV set the boys free and barricaded the door. He kept young girls hostage, bound them and lined them up. One set of sisters volunteered to be shot first, to help save the others and buy time. He shot ten girls execution style, in the back of the head. He then took his own life. Five of the youngsters died.

The disturbed shooter had left suicide notes for each child and for his wife. The one to his spouse laments the loss of a premature daughter years earlier:

"I don't know how you put up with me all those years. I am not worthy of you; you are the perfect wife you deserve so much better. We had so many good memories together as well as the tragedy with Elise. It changed my life forever I haven't been the same since it affected me in a way I never felt possible. I am filled with so much hate, hate toward myself hate towards God and unimaginable emptiness it seems like every time we do something fun I think about how Elise wasn't here to share it with us and I go right back to anger."

The response of the Amish community differed greatly from the reaction of most communities scarred by school shootings. The movie, through some fictional composite characters, tells the story.

On the very day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls was heard saying, "We must not think evil of this man." It is said one Amish father explained that, “[the gunman] had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God." Amish neighbors reportedly comforted the Roberts family and extended forgiveness to them just hours after the mass murder.

In time, the Amish visited Roberts' widow, parents and even his extended family. It is reported that the gunman’s own father cried on the shoulder of an Amish man for an hour. The Amish even raised money in charitable fund for the family of the Roberts. Astonishingly, dozens of Amish community attended the gunman’s funeral. The widow of the shooter, Marie Roberts, attended a funeral of one of the victims as well.

Following the tragedy, Marie Roberts wrote an open letter to the Amish stating:

“Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you've given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you."

The week following the shooting, the one-room schoolhouse was torn down, leaving only a pasture. Six months later, The New Hope School, intentionally built as "different" as possible from the original, was opened nearby.

The extreme forgiveness the Amish so promptly and completely gave has been, at best, difficult to comprehend. For others, it has actually been offensive. They have argued that forgiveness should only occur when remorse has been expressed. Some critics allege they are denying the evilness of the act with their forgiveness.

However, a story told to the children in the movie, prior to the shootings, may provide more Amish context for their forgiving actions. The story was about Dirk Willems. In 1569, he was able to make his escape from those who sought to take his life for teaching Anabaptist doctrines in violation of Roman Catholic orders. When a pursuer fell through the ice, however, he was recaptured upon turning back to save the life of his pursuer. They burned him at the stake. Today, he is one of the most celebrated martyrs among the Mennonites, the Brethren, and the Amish, all offshoots of the original Anabaptists.

What about us? Are there limits to our forgiveness? If you are like me, there truly are limits—clearly exceeded by these actions.

However, Scripture teaches us that Jesus’ forgiveness has no limitations. “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47(NIV).

The Lord’s forgiveness shocked the people of Jesus’ day, much like the forgiveness of he Amish might surprise us today. Indeed, I fear our natural lack of forgiveness stems from a lack of love. That shows just how far we have fallen from being made in the image of the One True God, Who is—after all--Love.

*Mr. Peel, a Christian Injury Lawyer, may be available to speak to your church or community group. He may be reached through Other articles maybe found on his blog at


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“Gun Control” is Misnamed Try: “Disarm the Victims”

“Gun Control” is Misnamed
Try: “Disarm the Victims”

Every time there is an insane person who shoots innocents, as in Tucson, we are all shocked and saddened. No one wants these acts to continue. People want to do something.

However, you know what they say about good intentions.

With the best of purposes, many misguided leaders have called for stiffer gun control in the wake of the shootings. This occurs each and every time there is newsworthy gun violence. They seldom decry the way the mentally ill are shuffled through the system, and multiple warning signs are ignored. But they often fixate on the instruments of the violence: the guns.

First off, let’s be clear that guns are not good or evil. They are inanimate objects. Contrary to some uninformed souls’ opinions, they never go off by themselves. Like money, they can be used for good or for evil. If an evil wife pays a hit man $5,000.00 to have her husband murdered, no one suggests we ban money. Money, guns, matches and automobiles are all items that can be used for good or evil.

Secondly, it is already illegal for people to use guns for illegal purposes. If the criminals were going to follow the laws, gun violence would not exist anyway. Additional laws further restricting firearms only serve to disarm law-abiding citizens. They are the ones that follow the laws to begin with. My understanding is that criminals, when asked, prefer unarmed victims.

Thirdly, the problem is not too many guns. One could argue that there are too few. How would that shooting have changed if several of the heroic victims had been armed? You know, common sense is about as rare now as fiscal conservatism in government. But, how many times have you heard of a police station being robbed? A donut shop? A hunting camp? A shooting range? What do these have in common? Trained, lawful citizens wearing guns at the ready. That is also why we have armed air marshals flying randomly on our flights, and armed security at many banks.

Oddly, Arizona has liberal gun laws, consistent with the Second Amendment. Many could have been carrying legally that day. Who would have thought that it would bee needed for an event hosted by a grocery store? If we have learned anything by Tucson, let us agree that more trained citizens wearing guns would have actually saved lives. As established, it deters violence on the whole. Further, the guns don’t cause crime anymore than matches cause arson.

If you do not wish to carry, that is fine. Don’t take the illogical position that the government should disarm all victims! If, God forbid, a criminal is ever holding you or your child hostage with a knife at the throat, I suspect you would want the police to come with more than mace and a nightstick to deal with him.

Mr. Peel may be available to address your church or community group. Contact his office through

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Locally Shot Movie Truly Moving
“The Grace Card”

I had the opportunity to attend a private preview of a Memphis movie that does not come out in theaters till February 25, 2011.

It is called THE GRACE CARD. It is the very first movie from Graceworks Pictures located right here in Shelby County. Graceworks is the vision of Memphis optometrist Dr. David Evans, who directed and also served as the executive producer of THE GRACE CARD. Calvary Pictures is a ministry of Calvary, a Church of the Nazarene, led by Pastor Lynn Holmes in Cordova.
The church-based moviemaking ministry that spawned Fireproof inspired Memphis' own Calvary Church to make this movie.

It is about two Memphis policemen who have very different backgrounds and beliefs. And they have one other difference—the color of their skin.
Set in present day Memphis, we first see a Caucasian father endure the tragedy of losing a child senselessly. It is clear, as we fast-forward about 17 years; this event shaped him almost exclusively. He is now a Memphis cop that reminded me a lot of the type of cop that the O.J. Simpson defense team made Mark Fuhrman out to be. Angry. Racist. Distant. Bitter.
Then, thanks to a supervisor (played by Shelby County Commissioner, Chris Thomas) this atheistic racist cop is paired with--of all people—an African American part time preacher.

While award-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr. maybe the only face or name you will recognize in this moving drama, the acting by amateurs is still superb.
There is a transparency in the way the home life of these two men is portrayed that seems so real. It is like you are a fly on the wall of their homes. Troubles with a rebellious teen, struggles with money and the pressure of career plans all are laid bare, with a ring of truth. While the movie earned a PG-13 rating due to its police action, I still believe it to be a family movie suitable for kids several years younger.

But forgiveness and grace are not normal Hollywood commodities. The movies will not have a large release, but neither did similar movies like Facing the Giants and Fireproof. If you want to see if it is near you, see the website at

If you don't see your town on the list, contact to help bring the theater to your town.

Grace is not easy and it is not cheap, though desired by us all. Living here in Shelby County, we know how often the so-called “race card” is played…What about playing a “Grace Card?”

You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Noteworthy Email on Nursing Homes

Received this the other day and want to share:
Here's the way it really should be:

Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.

This would correct two things in one motion:

Seniors in jail would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical
Treatment, wheel chairs, etc.

They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.

They would have constant video montering, so they would be helped
instantly... If they fell or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed
and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.

All meals and snacks would be brought to them.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual
counseling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house
concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.

Simple clothing - I.e.. Shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be
free, upon request.

There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor
exercise yard complete with gardens.

Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no

They would receive daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU
would fight for their rights and protection.

The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with
attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their
families from abuse or neglect.

As for the criminals in the nursing homes:

They would receive cold food.

They would be left alone and unsupervised.

They would receive showers once a week.

They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000
per month.

They would have no hope of ever getting out.

"Sounds like justice to me!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Law School in Just Five Minutes!

Dave’s Five Minute Law School

If you are from my generation, or before, you are officially old enough to remember when Saturday Night Live was actually funny. Names come to mind like Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. There is one other character that comes to mind: Father Guido Sarducci. Comedian Don Novello played the unlikely chain-smoking priest with tinted eyeglasses, who always had a different take on things.

Father Sarducci’s most famous skit was the “Five Minute University.” As I recall, a study had come out back then and concluded that a four year degree, some five years following graduation, only results in the memory of about five minutes of information. He reasoned then, that he could just open a “Five Minute University.” It would only cost $20.00.

The Five Minute College curriculum was simple:

Spanish: “Como esta Usted. ““Muy bien.” (“How are you? ““Very good.”)

Theology: “God is everywhere.”

Business: “Buy it cheap, sell it for more.”

Spring Break: Sun lamp for 20 second and a glass of orange juice.

Economics: “Supply and demand.”

This famous skit (preserved for us all on ends with the joke that he might open a Law School next door. “You got another minute?” he asks playfully.

So, carrying the torch, I will attempt to pick up where he left off:

Dave’s Five Minute Law School

Orientation: “Look at the persons to your right and left…one of you three will not be here at graduation.” (Yes, they really say that).

Contracts: “Offer + acceptance + consideration = a Contract.”

Torts: “A hurts B, B wants money. B must prove A’s breach of reasonable care was the proximate cause of B’s injuries.”

(It is desirable that A has a large insurance policy).

Civil Procedure: “’Jurisdiction’ tells what type of court hears what case, and ‘venue’ tells which one of those courthouses to pick.”

Criminal Law: “A Latin phrase ‘mens rea’ = ‘guilty mind.’ Most crimes require the act (‘actus reus’) be done intentionally, or at least knowingly.”

Property Law: “The best way to own property is outright, and that is called a ‘Fee Simple Absolute.’”

Constitutional Law: “The Supreme Court determines what is constitutional. Most people think they are right about half the time. Most people disagree on what half.”

Commercial Paper: “Yes, even if the sectional couch falls apart, you still have to pay the ‘Holder in Due Course’ all the monthly notes because the Furniture Store sold them your finance contract when you did that great ‘No payments for 12 months deal.’”

Decedents’ Estates: (Also known as “Gifts & Stiffs.”) There is something called the ‘Rule Against Perpetuities.’ Don’t violate it! Also, for the love of all that is good and Holy, get a Will done!” (Everyone dies.)

Ethics: “Avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Tax: “Pay your taxes.” (Hire a good CPA so you don’t screw it up.)

Environmental Law: “If your clients dump acid in a river, he gets fined, and sued in tort.”

Employment Law: “Make your clients have a good, non-discriminatory reason to fire their employees and make sure they document their file before termination.”

Business Law: “Bow when you meet your Chinese clients.”

Evidence: “Object when anything hurts you at trial, decrying it as ‘hearsay.’ Your fellow law school graduate can’t remember all 18 exceptions to that rule either.”

Family Law: “Either don’t get married, or don’t ever get divorced. Custody of children is to be determined by the so-called ’best interest of the child.’ Of course, the best interest of the child is actually served by being raised securely with mature, loving and selfless Mommies and Daddies who do not get drunk and have affairs, but this phenomenon provides no fodder for divorce lawyers.”

Congratulations on your graduation! Now, if Father Guido Sarducci was to summarize all we can now recall from grades 1-12, I fear it may not even equate to a Five Minute University. It may be a Drive Thru University.

Hey, now there's an idea!


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