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Best TV Show of the Week

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Amish Grace

 

Lifetime Movie Network

Sunday, March 28

8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 PT

 

Review By Ally Matteodo

 

 

Based on the true story of the tragic school shooting in the tranquil Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, Amish Grace explores the ideas of faith, grief, and ultimately, forgiveness. This moving film, which will premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network Sunday, March 28th at 8:00 p.m. ET, is the PTC’s choice as Best TV Show of the Week. 

 

We first bear witness to the peaceful and simple life at Nickel Mines, with a focus on the Graber family.  Ida and Gideon Graber raise two little girls: Katie, a seven year-old, and Mary Beth, a fourteen year-old who wishes to become a schoolteacher.  However, this dream died when Charlie Roberts, a milkman who delivered to the Amish community, entered the schoolhouse in the fall of 2006 and killed Mary Beth, along with four other girls.  None of this violence is shown; it is only implied through images of Charlie entering the schoolhouse with a shotgun, and then afterwards when covered bodies are brought out on stretchers.  Amish Grace centers on Ida Graber’s struggle with her grief and her battle to find forgiveness in her heart.  While others in the Amish community visit Amy Roberts, the widow of Charlie Roberts, and express their forgiveness and desire to help her, Ida feels resentment and anger towards the man who killed her daughter, and by extension his widow.  The turning point for Ida occurs when Rebecca, a young girl wounded by gunfire at the schoolhouse, awakens from her coma and tells Ida that Mary Beth was the bravest one at the schoolhouse that tragic day. Even when she knew Charlie Roberts was about to shoot her, Mary Beth still told him she would pray for him.  Ida, shaken to her core, realizes that if her beloved daughter could exercise such forgiveness, so can she. 

 

In one telling moment of the film, Amy Roberts’ father notices a basket of toys at her house.  After the shooting, the Amish brought Amy these toys for her children, since their own children would be unable to play with them.  The father comments, “They really put their money where their mouth is.”  This off-hand statement reflects the incredulity of people in general when observing the Amish ability to forgive.  A reporter covering the shooting cannot fathom such forgiveness herself, and attempts to seek out “an angle,” reflecting that perhaps the head of the Amish community is coercing devastated parents to stifle their grief and anger. While comforting Ida, the reporter says, “Some things are unforgivable.”  In an age where sentiments of revenge and “an eye for an eye” saturate both the news and fiction media, the story of Amish Grace almost seems unbelievable – yet it is true. 

 

Kimberly Williams-Paisley plays the part of Ida Graber. She amazingly captures the inner turmoil, anger, and sadness of a mother who has lost her child. Her ability to find forgiveness is truly exceptional considering the pain she’s experienced.  The film also explores why forgiveness is superior to anger.  The Amish explain that “hate will eat up your whole heart and leave nothing left for love,” and that “God is the one who doles out punishment.”  When the reporter expresses that she cannot understand forgiveness in the absence of remorse or regret, an Amish man explains to her that “forgiveness comes without condition, or it doesn’t come at all.”  Yet the most telling line is this: “If we hold onto anger and resentment, we are the ones who are punished.”  Forgiveness is a form of acceptance, which is the last stage of grief…and thus, frees one to love and find joy in life again.


Best TV Show of the Week

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