Title trouble: ‘Amish Grace’ little to do with Nolt’s book

By Jennifer Speight, a third year English Secondary Ed major from Cleveland, OH

On October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school, killing and wounding 10 young girls. The nation was shocked by this act of incredible cruelty to a community who strives to separate themselves from the senseless violence of the modern world.

This community, the Amish of Nickel Mines, Pa. went one step further in beliefs that many would already consider radical: they forgave the gunman. Not only in word; but in deed. They set up a fund for his widow and children. These events took place within the course of days.

Goshen College Professor of History, Steve Nolt, along with Donald Kraybill of Elizabethtown College and David Weaver-Zercher of Messiah College coauthored a book entitled “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Redeemed a Tragedy.”

In “Amish Grace,” the authors explained that forgiveness is deeply interwoven into the faith and society of the Amish and that one of the deeply held beliefs of the Amish is that forgiveness is required by the New Testament. It’s a counter-cultural example of following Christ that is often hidden from or ignored by the average American.

While many on and around the Goshen campus may be familiar with the publication of this book, as well as with the tragic events of Nickel Mines almost four years ago, what people may not know is that Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) is also taking the opportunity to have their say on the issue, and they are using the same title as that of Steve Nolt’s book.

Nolt, Kraybill and Weaver-Zercher can do nothing about this synonymous title. Although misleading, and wrongly affiliating the movie to the book, the nature of the publishing industry leaves them with no influence.

Nolt said that he knows very little about the movie other than that which is on the LMN website movie trailer.

“I’ve never seen a script,” he said. “We as authors had nothing to do with it. The publisher of our book owns the copyright to the book’s title and contents (as all publishers do). Some time ago the publisher sold the right to use the title to a film company. We had nothing to do with the sale, and even if we had known they were considering selling the title, we could not have done anything about it. A publisher legally owns a book’s title and can sell the title.”

Nolt goes on to state that… “the movie is not based on our book. It has the same title as our book and is very loosely based on events of October 2006, but the story it tells is very different from our book.”
“Amish Grace,” the movie, premiered on the network this past weekend. The movie is loosely based on the real life story, but relies on fictional characters, Gideon and Ida Graber.

According to the LMN Web site, “Devastated by her daughter’s death, Ida Graber (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) finds herself struggling with her community’s belief in the transcending power of forgiveness. Deeply conflicted and unable to forgive the gunman and his family, Ida is tempted to leave the only life she’s ever known before re-embracing her faith.”

For those of you interested in viewing the movie, an encore viewing is available today, April 1, at 8 p.m. on LMN. The book is available for purchase at the Goshen College bookstore, Amazon and several other locations.


Written by Emily Taylor

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