Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Amazing Grace (2006 film)

My book group in CV couldn't stop talking about this movie in the theaters during the month of Feb. and March. I made a mental note to remember to rent the DVD when it came out. THEN my other book group at Liber Academy couldn't stop talking about it either. We had just read Uncle Tom's Cabin and then the biography of the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and this movie was like the missing piece of the puzzle. We all got babysitters and met up in Dublin to see it. It was well worth the time and effort. My baby didn't even cry or disrupt anything the whole time.

Amazing Grace the movie was released on the 200Th anniversary of the date the Parliament of the United Kingdom voted to ban the transport of slaves by British subjects. Later this helped in the freeing of the slaves in Britain. William Wilberforce is a member of Parliament during the 18Th Century. He has quite a following if you Google him. He was the one that had enough courage to see this through despite the toil on his health and family.

"Wilberforce was elected to the House of Commons at 21 and took on the issue of slavery, successfully assembling a diverse coalition that went up against the most powerful men of the time."

He was so successful because of the people that helped him. They had some great ideas for letting the people become more aware of the horrible things that happened to slaves and pointing out that Christians could not be part of something so horrible.

What is also interesting is that this guy did a lot more then just free the slaves...he just didn't stop there even though that was a pretty big thing. Anyone else would call it a life and just sit around and drink wine and stroll around the extensive grounds near their mansion but he actually was the guy that made some very important matters of social reform some to light. He started a lot of societies but unlike most these actually made a difference and most were very successful. Here are a few of the things he started.

Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice in 1787 a remedy for immorality and vise.
He introduced Christianity to India with religious teachers being sent there and missionaries. Eventually, this resulted in the foundation of the Bishopric of Calcutta.
Wilberforce was also a founding member of the Church Missionary Society (since renamed Church Mission Society).
Also founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
He also gave his support to local projects and was treasurer to a charity school near where he lived...much much more but some of it I didn't understand.

He also published many books and was a very religious man. He wanted to do what was right before God. He did this through politics.

The man that wrote the famous song Amazing Grace was his friend. He was a former slave ship person and then turned to religion and Christ's gift of repentance when he was older. The first verse of Amazing Grace is particularly interesting because John Newton was blind in his later years (this was pointed out in the movie) and yet he couldn't see with his body his soul could finally see the grace of God. This part was a big tear jerk er for the audience. I think the whole song is very powerful not just the first verse which is what we usually only hear.

Original form by John Newton
As published in 1779 and 1804, the lyrics read:

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

I really liked the movie and learned a lot more about the "freeing of the slaves" America was not the only bad guys in this ugly history, many other countries contributed to slavery. It took very brave and inspired people to make a change in societies thinking and greed. I learned that even though Harriet, Lincoln, William, and others did so much for the cause the slaves were still under oppression for many years to come. It is hard to imagine that even right up to before I was born there was so much hatred and laws and discrimination running strong.

Martin Luther King Jr's I Have A Dream speech was really inspired. (even though it was plagiarized) It wasn't given until 1963. That was only 10 years before I was born. It was a powerful truth that prompted the Civil Rights Act. The Declaration of Independence was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How did we get so far from these words promised by the "architects of our republic"? Martin L King Jr was to America like William Wilberforce was to Europe.

Now we look back on slavery as if it was all a bad dream. Anyway hopefully by learning about the past we learn from the past and do not repeat it in the future. If you haven't seen Amazing Grace then rent it on DVD soon. We saw it on the last day it was showing in the Bay Area, whew. Also take another look at Uncle Tom's Cabin. Good stuff.

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