A woman of compassion and courage prevents a school shooting

Friday, August 23, 2013

Antoinette Tuff’s Weapon of the Spirit: How Compassion Stopped a Gunman
Theologian Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite draws a spiritual lesson for all of us as she shares her thoughts about the heroism of the woman who prevented an attempted school shooting outside Atlanta, Georgia, this past Tuesday.  By showing compassion, trusting God for wisdom, and applying principles from her Christian faith, a school bookkeeper, Antoinette Tuff, talked to the gunman for a long period and persuaded him to lay down his weapons, thus preventing the mass murder of children that he planned.  Alluding to 2 Corinthians 10:4, Thistlethwaite writes, “Tuff used the ‘weapons of the spirit,’ not a gun to stop the gunman. . . .Spiritual strength and compassion were the weapons used here, not a physical gun.”  She goes on to provide further commentary about what the incident can teach us about nonviolence and more.

For More on This Story.  Take some time to read PolicyMic’s report on Antoinette Tuff and watch their embedded 16- minute video interview with Ms. Tuff from Atlanta’s station WSBTV, Channel 2.  This is the television channel that Tuff phoned when the gunman insisted that she call a TV station to have a crew there. (He wanted the planned shooting to be on TV.)  Listen to Ms. Tuff as she is interviewed after the incident and tells how she empathized with the gunman, sharing her own story as a mother of a multiply-disabled son and as a woman who had gone through a devastating divorce and knew what it was like to feel hurt and lonely and unloved, just as the gunman felt.  She told him she loved him, and gently persuaded him to lay down his weapons and ammunition.  The video is amazing—and deeply moving.  Don’t miss it.  Related: When I first heard the news story of Antoinette Tuff’s heroism Tuesday, it reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Fred Small, based on another news story a number of years ago.  The song, “Scrambled Eggs and Prayers” (from his album, No Limits) can be downloaded as an MP3 single through Amazon or iTunes.  It tells a true story about a dangerous armed group of escaped convicts, one of whom suddenly burst into the home of a 73-year-old woman.  She, too, spoke compassionately to that young man, and told him he must be tired and hungry, and persuaded him to sit down while she made him some breakfast and talked about the Bible and prayer. Here’s a link to the lyrics of the song.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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