“The American Experience on PBS has produced an engrossing series, The Abolitionists, that has captured my imagination. Viewing the setbacks, the quarrels, and the pain that people endured . . . so that the curse of the enslavement of Africans might be ended reminds me how easy it has been to turn away from hard issues.
Weaving together biographies and history, the docudrama is a primer on how long and costly the fight for the abolition of human slavery was in the United States. People, who were too often names to be memorized, are emerging three- dimensionally. Historical events, like the Mexican War, and subsequent laws that Congress passed to appease the South are more comprehensible, when people’s reactions to them are dramatized. Being reminded of this “history” isn’t quite the same as watching the rise and fall of folks living in a grand manner across the pond. (A.K.A. “Downton Abbey)
The writers freely credit the Christian faith many leading protagonists shared in this struggle. Many abolitionists would not bow to the conventional wisdom that slavery was an unavoidable evil; many who fought the good fight were not ashamed of Christ’s name. Nor, did they recant that slavery was (is) an abomination when facing the cost of their convictions.
Some people believed God would use them to change their world. This series on the abolitionists showed that over decades the things they spoke and wrote changed their nation – it was a dreadful battle, a long battle; but each did what they could, and involved many whose names we don’t know to take a part in forcing the end to chattel slavery. And even as they fought with other Christians who justified the institution!
What would Harriet Beecher Stowe or Angelina Grimké say if they could speak today to the women in the church? What message would Frederick Douglass, or William Lloyd Garrison say to the young men who have so many children by so many women they couldn’t remember their names (a possible new reality TV series)?
Theirs was an era that was more biblically literate than ours – our challenge is change the minds of many who have no idea or interest in what God thinks. Maybe too many Americans have never even been taught the value of human life?
Believing we have a purpose, and the infinite, personal God has a plan – who knows, that for such a time as this we engage again the hearts of some? We might save one child or their mom and dad from the pain of abortion? (Esther 4:14)
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?"