|Limestone Offers Community Resources for Healing from Tragic Killings|
Limestone College unveiled plans today for a speaker series intended to help heal the wounds of the Gaffney community after a terrorizing two-week summer reign of brutality by a serial killer.
Entitled "Through the Darkness; Toward the Light," the series is sponsored by the Chaplain's Office at Limestone and will bring three nationally renowned speakers who are all too familiar with evil and the void left in its wake. Scheduled to appear are Dr. James Waller (September 14), author of Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing; Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin (October 12); and Dr. Donald Kraybill (November 16), author of Amish Grace, an account of how the Amish were so quick to offer forgiveness following the 2006 gruesome shooting of ten Amish school girls in Pennsylvania, which left five dead and five others seriously wounded.
"No satisfying explanation can be given regarding why such a disturbing evil descended upon Cherokee County this past summer; though we are nonetheless compelled to wonder why," said Rev. Ron Singleton, chaplain at Limestone.
For two weeks in late June and early July, Patrick Tracy Burris terrorized the citizens of Cherokee County. When the brutal mayhem came to an end in a shootout with law enforcement, Burris lay dead before being identified as the man who fatally shot peach farmer Kline Cash, retired teacher Hazel Linder, her daughter Gena Linder Parker, also a teacher, and businessman Stephen Tyler and his 15-year-old daughter Abby in Cherokee County between June 27 and July 2.
"It was senseless violence, and we are left to pick up the pieces of our shattered peace and try to move forward without allowing the darkness to prevail against us," said Singleton. "We cannot deny, nor can we forget, what has happened; but we can both pray for and seek a renewal of our hope, trusting that God will help us heal." Waller, a widely-recognized scholar in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies, whose mother resides in Gaffney, will lead off the series on Monday, September 14. His book on perpetrators of genocide, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, was praised by Publisher's Weekly for "clearly and effectively synthesizing a wide range of studies to develop an original and persuasive model of the process by which people can become evil." In addition to being used as a textbook in college and university courses around the world, Becoming Evil also was short-listed for the biennial Raphael Lemkin Award from the International Association of Genocide Scholars and was released in a revised and updated second edition in March 2007. Concepts from Becoming Evil have been the basis for an international best-selling novel (The Exception by Christian Jungersen) and a play currently being workshopped at UCLA. A Hungarian translation of Becoming Evil is scheduled for release this fall.
Waller is currently working on a comparative research project on church-state relations in the context of genocidal violence in the Holocaust, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Rwanda. The focus is on the church as a social institution, with institutional actors, and how it shapes a culture in which genocidal violence may occur and how it responds to such a culture both during and after the genocidal violence. This book, already under contract with Oxford University Press, will break new ground by being the first comparative analysis of church-state relations in genocidal societies.
Godin, who will speak at Limestone October 12th, was born in Siauliai, Lithuania where she lived with her parents and two brothers until the Nazi invasion. She is a survivor of the Shauliai, Lithuania Ghetto, the Stutthof Concentration Camp, four labor camps and a death march. She has dedicated her adult life to teaching and sharing memories of the holocaust.
"On June 26, 1941, the Germans occupied our city, just four days after the invasion of the USSR," recalled Godin. "In the weeks that followed, SS killing units and Lithuanian collaborators shot about 1,000 Jews in the nearby Kuziai forest. In August, we were forced to move into a ghetto, where we lived in constant hunger and fear. There I witnessed many 'selections,' during which men, women, and children were taken to their deaths. My father was among them. In 1944 as the Soviet army approached, the remaining Jews were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. There I was given the number 54015."
Kraybill will conclude the series on November 16th. Nationally recognized for his scholarship on Anabaptist groups, he is the author or editor of numerous books and dozens of professional articles. His books have been translated into six different languages. His research on Anabaptist groups has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on radio and television programs across the United States and in many foreign countries.
All three events are free and open to the public, and will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Fullerton Auditorium on the Limestone campus. For more information, call the Limestone Chaplain's Office at (864) 488-8274.