Friday, March 09, 2007

Revisiting the Power of Faith | The Jewish Exponent

Revisiting the Power of Faith | The Jewish Exponent:

The above-linked article is written from a Jewish perspective, and has some surprising things to say. Jonathan S. Tobin of the Jewish Exponent begins with a review of the issues that cause many Jews to view evangelical Christianity with suspicion -- in spite of the common goals that the people of these two faiths share. Tobin begins the heart of his article with the following:
"...Given the persistence of this debate, perhaps this is an apt moment to re-examine the role of faith in democratic politics with a recently released film as the starting point.

The movie is "Amazing Grace," which depicts the long struggle by English parliamentarian William Wilberforce to end the British slave trade.

Arriving on the 200th anniversary of the House of Commons' vote to outlaw the slave trade in 1807, the film tells of the triumph of Wilberforce and the abolitionists. For 20 years, they persisted despite repeated defeats at the hands of a large and wealthy pro-slavery camp. This faction was funded by West Indies sugar planters whose money enriched the British Empire, as well as corrupt members of Parliament. But this film is not merely the history of a good cause. It is primarily the tale of how religion can improve, rather than pervert, politics.

Any telling of Wilberforce's story must come to grips with the fact that his primary motivation wasn't an abstract vision of the injustice of slavery, but one based almost entirely on his evangelical Christian faith. ..."

His opinion of the film was that while it set out to portray the forces that drove Wilberforce, it failed to follow through, perhaps to avoid offending secularists. Tobin summarizes a portion of his thesis by saying:
"...But its shortcomings as art should not divert us from Wilberforce's heroic example and its influence on Christians and Jews today. The truth is, modern Jewry has long embraced Wilberforce's faith-based activism on issues from civil rights to freedom for Soviet Jewry. Those non-Orthodox Jews who regularly speak of tikkun olam or a Divinely ordained mandate to "repair the world" are, ironically, most likely to fear evangelicals who revere the same tradition. ..."

Food for thought...

I am beginning to think that Amazing Grace will not get to Columbia, so I expect I will have to await its release on DVD.

[UPDATE] -- It just hit Columbia today, so I know what I'll be doing this evening.

No comments: