Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amazing Grace - The Movie

Amazing Grace was a good movie as movies go. It depicts an important step in western civilization: the abolition of slavery in England. Cinematographically, it was well done. I think it was particularly well-written also. However, I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to Hollywood. I know how insidious people can be when weaving arguments for worldviews into stories and messages. I sometimes do it myself, of course (I especially leave codes and hidden allusions for those with the wits to discover them). This is an example of the things I think when I watch movies.

Historical movies are most often made to argue for political positions on current events. This is why they are sometimes revisionistic. I don't know enough of the history of William Wilburforce to comment accurately on this particular movie in that regard. But I can comment on how this bears on current events.

This movie predates the revelation of Barack Obama's association with Black Liberation Theology. The events of the movie are predicated on the correct notion that civil activism and Christian devotion are not mutually exclusive. However, not all civil activism is good. The difference is in the truth. The lack of absolute truth is an untenable consideration. If truth exists, then it is reasonable to consider that the Creator of truth wants us to know the truth. Therefore, we can surmise that truth is knowable.

We stand condemned by the truth because we have not followed the truth. Therefore, there are a considerable number of people who yet deny the truth, because they do not desire to submit to it once they admit to knowing what the truth is. Unfortunately, many of these are the political activists of today.

In the movie, political tension was drawn between abolition and economic stability. Today, the same tension is framed between proposed measures used to address global warming and economic stability. There is an implied equivocation therefore between abolition and global warming. The two are not equal. Slavery was happening. Global warming has not been demonstrated to be occurring as the political activists purport, much less that it has anything much to do with human activity. The science is misreported and sometimes contrived. There is hardly a consensus among scientists.

At the end of the movie, William Wilburforce is contrasted with Napoleon. Wilburforce is upheld as a great man of peace; Napoleon as a great man of violence. In the year prior to an election where one President is vilified for proactive protection from a serious threat by taking the fight away from American soil, it seems likely that the writers are drawing implicit parallels between President Bush and the Democrat Party, although the key differences (Napoleon was an offensive conqueror, Bush responded offensively to an attack by religious-political terrorists) are ignored.

William Wilburforce did a great thing. His actions cannot be likened to liberal political activists of today. Yet this is the sort of literature that gradually changes the overall popular thinking. Now, how many of you would have caught these things? These were only a sampling of what I saw in this one movie. There are many more movies that seek to inform and sway our presuppositions. Be aware of them.

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