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Some ideas too important to keep quiet

Some people were surprised to witness the remarkable acts of forgiveness seen in the Amish community after the recent murders of five Amish schoolgirls in central Pennsylvania.

But the forgiving nature of the Amish is no cause for wonder for Scott King, a lifelong Quaker and charter member of Gwinnett Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (www.gwinnettfriends.org).

To King, the Amish people's reaction was what would be expected in keeping with their faith.

King is quick to point out that although people tend to group the Amish, the Mennonites, the Brethren and the Quakers together, there are distinct differences among the faiths.

"But one thing they all hold in common is their Christian pacifism," said King of the four churches, commonly known as "Peace Churches."

While theologians consider them to be orthodox Christian denominations in matters of doctrine, these denominations follow literally the words of Jesus and Paul to "Love your enemies," "turn the other cheek" and "render not evil for evil," he said. The standard goal for all four denominations, therefore, is to avoid fighting under any circumstances.

A year and a half ago, long before the Amish tragedy in Pennsylvania, Norcross' Lionheart Theatre Company tapped King to direct their presentation of Ann Chislett's play "Quiet in the Land," about an Amish family dealing with war. This play explores the meaning of pacifism.

Set during World War II, the play stars Yock, a young Amish man whose best friend lost both legs in the war. Yock rebels against the strict pacifist belief of his elders and joins the Army. By enlisting, Yock alienates himself from his family and community.

When Yock returns from the war, the very acts of bravery that made him a hero to the rest of his country have made him a bloody-handed villain to his own people.

"The play is not judgmental," King said. "It presents both sides of Yock's struggle between pacifism and fighting for what he believes is right."

King has directed and starred in many Gwinnett County theater productions, including with County Seat Players, New London Theatre and Knight Elementary School Community Theatre.

"Quiet in the Land," starring King's son Jeremy, who also has quite a dramatic history in Gwinnett County, will be performed at the Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center for the next three weekends. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. The play will be dedicated to the families of the five slain Amish girls.

For more information, call 770-806-0935 or visit www.lionhearttheatre.org.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.