Friday, April 13, 2007

amazing grace

I saw Amazing Grace last night. The film premiered at the closing of the Toronto Film Festival on September 16, 2006. It is a film well worth seeing. The theatre at Gateway in Kitchener was about 3/4 full.

If you're not familiar with Wilberforce... 2007 is the 200th anniversary of his major accomplishment: the abolition of the slave trade in England. Converted in his early twenties, Wilberforce continued serving as one of the youngest members of the British Parliament and lived out his faith by working to abolish the trade and later to bring emancipation. As if so great an accomplishment were not enough, he and his co-laborers in the Clapham Circle worked to bring reform to the prison system, establish a society for prevention of cruelty to animals, a society for the reformation of manners (think culture and piety), a tract society, a Bible society, a mission society, the Sunday School movement, and more.

The screenplay by Steven Knight succeeds in focusing on Wilberforce and his accomplishments, never shying away from his 's faith but never making it artificial or preachy. When Wilberforce is coming to faith, his butler asks him if he has found God. Wilberforce responds "He found me."

Director Michael Apted succeeds in making the story authentic. You have to applaud a film that makes Parliamentary legislation suspenseful, even when you know the outcome.

As Wilberforce began to wrestle with the implications of what it means to embrace the Christian life, he contemplated leaving politics to pursue some sphere of Christian service. Men like John Newton, the former slave trader, convinced him he could do both.

Bonhoeffer writes:
In Jesus, the service of God and the service of the least of the brethern were one.
The Cost of Discipleship.
We like to keep our categories seperate & therefore manageable. And so, we limit, what God calls us to.

The film ends with these words:
William Wilberforce will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow, and remember the slave trade is no more.
Lord Charles Fox
If only, that were true.
Slavery and the slave trade is, sadly, not no more.
“A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of modern-day slavery, both internal and transnational. The International Labor Organization (ILO) –the United Nations (UN) agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment and social protection issues—estimates that are 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million.
The Amazing Change
Source: Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2006, Department of State, USA
See: to download a full copy of the report.

There is slavery, not just in in places like the Sudan. But in many places throughout the world, including North America. We call them illegial immigrants

Slavery exists. Sometimes we call it trafficking, bonded labor, forced labor, or sex slavery. It exists.

From The Amazing Change site:
Bonded labour affects at least 20 million people around the world. People become bonded labourers by taking or being tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, up to 365 days a year. They receive basic food and shelter as 'payment' for their work, but may never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations.

Early and forced marriage affects women and girls who are married without choice and are forced into lives of servitude often accompanied by physical violence.

Forced labour affects people who are illegally recruited by individuals, governments or political parties and forced to work -- usually under threat of violence or other penalties.

Slavery by descent is where people are either born into a slave class or are from a 'group' that society views as suited to being used as slave labour.

Trafficking involves the transport and/or trade of people -- women, children and men -- from one area to another for the purpose of forcing them into slavery conditions. Human Trafficking is now ranked as the second largest criminal industry globally—second only to drug smuggling, and tying with illegal weapons transactions. The U.S. Department of State estimates that between 15 and 20 THOUSAND individuals are trafficked into the United States to become slaves EACH YEAR! This does not include those U.S. citizens trafficked from city to city within our borders.

The recent Restoring Justice conference is a positive sign that we are awakening to the reality that Jesus has called us to speak on behalf of those who have no voice.

N.T. Wright writes:
“It may come as a surprise to learn that in all sorts of ways I believe postmodernity is to be welcomed. It offers an analysis of evil which the mainstream culture…still resists; it deconstructs, in particular, the dangerous ideology of ‘progress.’ I regard the main function of postmodernity under God to be the preaching of the doctrine of the Fall (the truth of a deep and fatal flaw within human nature) to the modernist, post-eighteenth-century arrogance that supposes it has solved the world’s problems.”
(N.T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, p. 32)
Darryl Dash has some discussion on social concerns here.

Keith Green sings:
…my friends, the only difference between the sheep and the goats, according to the Scripture, is what they did and didn’t do.
Keith Green from the song “The Sheep and the Goats
(riffing on Matthew 25: 31-46)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good posting!