Ever heard the name before? I'd heard about him once, but that was a long time ago. Frankly, it's been years since I even thought about him. That's just the way it is when your life becomes a part of history. Not many people remember you, even if you did something significant.
So it was nice this past weekend to see a movie that reminded me of what faithful Christians have done for the cause of Christ in past generations. "Amazing Grace," goes back to 18th century Britain to tell the story of William Wilberforce, the man principally responsible for getting the then world's super power to abolish slavery.
Converted in 1785, Wilberforce had a long career in the British parliament. Because of his efforts, laws forbidding the slave trade were passed in 1806 and 1811. Shortly after his death in 1833, freedom was decreed for all slaves in the British Caribbean, and similar laws were later issued for other colonies. In many ways, the voice of Wilberforce set the stage for American abolitionists.
The movie is a bit heavy of dialogue, but the plot moves quickly. When Wilberforce realizes he can both serve God and do the work of a political activist, he pours himself into the abolitionist movement. His courage and perseverance is inspirational.
There's one historical inaccuracy: At Wilberforce's wedding, the church sings John Newton's tune, "Amazing Grace." However, as Steve Turner documents in his book, "Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song," Newton didn't write the song's tune and he never heard the music we now associate with his song.
The movie will be on DVD in August. It's definitely worth seeing.