Last night we watched “Amazing Grace” for the first time, only about 7 years late. Had I known it co-starred Benedict Cumberbatch, I certainly would have seen it sooner.
But seriously, folks. Here’s the deal:
There were many, many lessons to be learned from this depiction of William Wilberforce’s intense dedication to the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain. Much to discuss about topics of theology. Much to discuss regarding character.
But what struck me most forcefully about this excellent film was the uncanny similarity between rich, powerful, old white men over 200 years ago and rich, powerful, old white men today.
These people held all the cards then, and they hold all the cards today. Their fellow human beings – fellow children of God – who happen to be less educated, less powerful, less privileged are completely immaterial to them. In “Amazing Grace,” these powerful old men orchestrate damning lies about those who fight for justice and human dignity, merely to perpetuate the security of their own interests. They make up data out of thin air to frighten the people into believing whatever they want them to believe – again and always to perpetuate the security of their own power and wealth. These same reprehensible tactics are still being used today, for the exact same reasons.
So, my take-away from “Amazing Grace”: The more things change, the more things stay the same. This world is still in great need of the amazing grace described in the hymn from which the film received its title. And this kind of grace is unlikely to come from those rich, powerful, old white men who hold all the cards.