Wilberforce & the Reformation of Manners
It isn't exactly about books----well, I do mentioned three, in passing---and I've already done several posts on the Amazing Grace film and the great batch of newly published Wilberforce books. But recent events made me want to share this essay with our broader Hearts & Minds circle of friends.
My new piece in the local paper used Wilberforce's second great goal (after the suppression of the slave trade) as a way into the conversation about manners and morals, culture and policy, popular entertainment and the arts, heart change and social change. I need not remind most BookNotes friends that my previous piece in that paper most likely appealed to human rights activists and liberal politicos while this new one might appeal more to those with more traditionally conservative cultural leanings. Please read it here at the York Sunday News website; not sure how long it will be up, so do check it out soon. Why not post your feedback---what do you think about the coursening of our public discourse, the obvious lack of modesty, the ways in which pop culture has become so vulgar?
I wrote this, by the way, before the Imus flap, and the recent debates about X-rated rap, before the horror at Virginia Tech, and the renewned discussions about violent computer games and the gunman's sexual violence. That I used Wilberforce is no cheap trick, as he indeed had a variety of concerns, saw deep relationships between the arts and politics, between the deepest matters of faith and the most arcane details of global economic justice. He was an advocate for Bible distribution and early spokesman for animal rights, was apparently kind and honest and good.
The original Dubya was a lover of books, a great singer, a man of deep faith and solid theology and a lovely host at the many good parties he threw. Walden Media did him right in their marvelous film and I'm glad for the recent biographies, such as the splendid one by Eric Metaxas which I celebrated a month ago (browse back to 2-4-09.) If only we all could, in our own places, nurture this kind of thoughtful, engaged, principled, prayerful activism.