I watched Amazing Grace on Thursday night and was totally inspired.

I had never done much research on the Wilberforce story, but seeing the movie has certainly provoked me in that direction. It was great to see a man who took seriously the way his faith impacted his place in the world. There were several ‘quotable’ moments in the film, but the first visit of the Clapham Sect was certainly poignant as they suggested to Wilberforce that he didn’t need to choose between praising God or a life in political activism, but rather he could do both. Hmm… I thought it would have been much better for him to ‘go into the ministry’…

I don’t know about you but I often find myself walking out of movies like this wondering if my life will be as significant as his… and then catching myself as I ask again ‘what does significant mean?’ and ‘what has God called me to do & be?’ I would reckon the Wilberforces of the world are maybe one in a million, or less, and yet the danger of seeing a movie like that, is to then see your own life as pretty lame by comparison. I know (right or wrong) that is one of my first responses and to be content with making the much smaller contribution that is mine, is sometimes a challenge.

One of the things the movie did well, was to show the agonisingly extended length of time it took for Wilberforce to see any change come about, to be continually opposed and to fight for a cause we now see as so bleeding obvious, but at the time to be considered a fool. His tenacity in the face of enormous personal opposition as well as failing health was powerful. Also we didn’t see much of the ‘dark side’ of this type of work – the effect on family or marriage – but I’m sure it had to be there. There is always a personal cost when you devote yourself to a cause. (William Booth’s story in a case in point.)

It was interesting that the moral question was not the one driving the debate in the British parliament, but rather it was economics. There were too many $$$ invested in the sugarfields for the English to outlaw slavery. In many ways not much has changed. I was reading New Internationalist this week and reflecting again on the genocide in Darfur where the primary reason for non-intervention my the west was economics and politics of the oil trade.

We may appear more civilised these days but…

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