Saturday, February 24, 2007

Metaxas Interview

N.R.O. editor, Kathryn Lopez interviews Eric Metaxas, author of Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his battle to abolish both the slave trade and then slavery in early 19th Century Britain.

The historical context: (A quote from the book taken from Rich Lowery's article, 'The Wilberforce, How faith moved a nation', also in N.R.O.)

“Slavery was as accepted as birth and marriage and death, was so woven into the tapestry of human history that you could barely see its threads, much less pull them out. Everywhere on the globe, for 5,000 years, the idea of human civilization without slavery was unimaginable.”

Lopez: "What’s the Wilberforce message for today’s politicians — besides the obvious: slavery, human trafficking, is evil?"

Metaxas: "One needs a core. If one is merely a “party man” one cannot succeed any more than one who governs by poll or focus groups. Wilberforce was an exceedingly canny politician, and he understood the political process brilliantly — but at the end of the day, he played to a constituency of One. And it needs to be said that he did it with the very greatest humility, not with any sort of moralistic or triumphalist arrogance. He didn’t think that he was God’s vector, to get back to Euclid and others. He knew that he was a sinner, saved by God’s grace. He really knew that and one can see it in how he lived, and how he treated his political opponents, with a disarming and quite extraordinary graciousness."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Black History Month

Marvin Olasky writes a piece on about an upcoming historic anniversay:

"I hate your little whittling sneer
Your pert and self-sufficient leer
begone, for shame
Thou dwarf with big resounding name."

This little ditty was penned by James Boswell, the famed biographer of Samuel Johnson, directed to the 5 foot giant, William Wilberforce. There were many such sentiments directed to Wilberforce during the first 20 years of his politcal career, but Wilberforce did not react in kind. Rather, he continued to press his agenda forward.

Finally, on February 23rd, 1807, the patience and determination of Wilber Wilberforce began to pay off. On this day, the British Parliament finally voted to abolish the slave trade. (It was another 30 years before the Brits abolished slavery in the Commonwealth, just 3 days before Wilberforce died.)

Olasky quotes Wilberforce, showing that his words are as applicable today in America as they were in 19th Century England, "...the national difficulties we face result from the decline of religion and morality among us. I must confess equally boldly that my own solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend, not so much on her navies and armies as on the persuasion that she still contains many who love and obey the Gospel of Christ. I believe that their prayers may yet prevail."