One of the few podcasts I download and listen to avidly is 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg. I have learned so much just listening to this regularly.
This weekend, I picked up a signed copy of Bragg's latest book, '12 Books That Changed the World'. It was worth buying this book, just to read the chapter on William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery.
One of the greatest arguments against him was that this wasn't a clear cut issue, that to abolish slavery would be to deprive workers in the UK of huge sums of money, and that it would affect trade around the world and cause economic collapse. Yet eventually slavery was abolished. The British government paid millions of Â£'s in compensation (most likely equivalent of billions in todays terms).
Some interesting information:
1. Spent Â£9,000: Wilberforce bought his way into politics (as everyone did, and perhaps still do today) to become a minister. In todays terms that must be a huge amount of money. 2. Conversion: He converted to evangelical christianity (the UK version not the current US form). It was his faith that drove him to consider social justice, and take action. 3. First Bill: He first introduced a bill in 1791, that was voted down. 4. Accepted Bill: His bill was accepted in 1805, but the House of Lords blocked it. 5. Became law: In 1807 it became law, but would take some time to become implemented. 6. Slavery Abolished: Wilberforce died in 1833 a month before the Slavery Abolition Act gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom.
An inspiring story of a man who put his reputation and livelihood on the line for his faith and convictions.
It made me wonder again, how many issues of global warming, child labour, human rights violations, are not challenged, as they are deemed to economically complex to challenge. How many christians in positions of power will put their faith into action again, and challenge the abuses still taking place. And how many of us regular christians will be prepared to consume differently, and not give in to economic and lifestyle pressures.