This is how I read a lot of the non fiction I review. I try to be a good steward of my body and exercise but I must confess that stationary machines are sooo boring! I'm also able to knock out a lot of my non fiction reading list this way.
Annnnd....I am listening to Pour le Piano L.95 Movement 1: Prelude by Claude Debussy. I have really been on a French music kick lately and I haven't even begun to post my travelogue about my visit to Paris last December. This particular performance on youtube is by Arthur Rubenstein in his old age when he suffered from Macular Degeneration and only had peripheral vision. Rather amazing isn't he?
But enough about me. My latest review:
Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the life story of William Wilberforce, the man who devoted his life to ending the slave trade.
Eric Metaxas gives us a thorough outline of Wilberforce's life.
Wilberforce was born to wealthy parents and was as religious as your average English citizen. Which is another way of saying, he was not religious at all. Of course, every good English citizen belonged to the Church of England, that was only civilized. But to actually apply any of the fundamental attributes of Christianity as prescribed in the Bible, well, that's the sort of thing those "fanatical, radical Methodists" did. Funny that Methodists were once considered fanatical.
Wilberforce lived a privileged life that was filled with drinking, gambling and all sorts of parties. He bought his position in Parliament with lavish expenditures on those in positions to vote for him.
He became close friends with William Pitt, the future Prime Minister. At some point in his political career he underwent a spiritual rebirth. This no doubt had to do with his friendships with some of the "radical Methodists" who influenced his life, including an aunt and uncle whom he once lived with as a child.
Thomas Clarkson, a major abolitionist, also influenced Wilberforce and through him, became aware of the horrors of the slave trade.
Metaxas' book takes the reader through Wilberforce's life, people of influence, marriage, sickly heatlh and his lifelong struggle fighting the slave trade.
One of the most amazing things the book describes is the fight slave traders gave, the waffling of politicians and the indifference of the English people against one of the worst and grossest exhibitions of man's inhumanity to man.
Most harrowing are the descriptions of how Africans were treated as they sailed the Middle Passage (route from Africa to America). It's not for the faint of heart.
The political backdrop of the American and also the French revolutions give context as to why the struggle was as long as it was. He also writes about the corruption of King George's progeny who were more interested in emptying the Royal coffers on wine and women than any humanitarian endeavors.
Not only was Wilberforce concerned for the African people but also for the poor in England. He championed the cause of the down and outcast in his own country. It seems heartless to us today but the contemporary attitude of the time was to leave the poor alone and it was no one's duty to help them.
Again, the Methodists created the soup kitchens and did their best to pass laws that would require more humanitarian living conditions for England's poor. This was derided by the rest of the country. This is evident even in certain writers such as Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Both lampoon Missionaries and Evangelical Christians in their novels.
For those interested in history and the life of one of our greatest heroes (in my opinion), this is an excellent resource.
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