I remember her name vaguely. She was somebody important during the time when William Wilberforce was fighting for the abolition of the slave trade. That is all I knew of her and I wanted to know more. I help manage a crisis pregnancy clinic, and it is my belief that abortion doctors and clinics are our modern day slaver traders. The people affected by slavery were voiceless, abused, powerless and mistreated. They were seen as less than human and their dignity was not a God-given right, but one exploited by shameless people. The life of a slave was based on the convenience it brought, never on their potential or individuality. They were just hunks of flesh to be used at the pleasure of others and it was wrong. It was Christian abolitionist who lead the charge for the slaves’ freedom and their persistence and passion is admirable. I know that the more I read on these abolitionists, the more I can learn about leading a cause now to end the murder of those who are also voiceless, powerless and mistreated. I too want to be an abolitionist.
Goodreads recommended this book to me. Oh, I love Goodreads, and if you don’t have it and are an avid reader, get it. The book I read is called Fierce Convictions and it is written by Karen Swallow Prior.
Christianity in England during the 1700’s was a lot like it is now is the United States, it was nominal. Everyone was a Christian, and so was Hannah. It wasn’t until later in her life that she realized she had to experience her Christianity, in other words, she had to live out her faith, and when she decided to just do that, her actions and obedienced changed the world.
Hannah More is known for not only being a slave abolitionist. She was also a writer and poet and she, along with her sisters helped cultivate a society that saw the importance in educating all children regardless of social status. Schools were not free then, and she helped champion the cause to teach all children mathematics, geography, reading and writing. Many of her contemporaries looked down on this because they saw no use in educating the poor. I was delightfully surprised also that she was so progressive that she even advocated against animal cruelty. She, along with William Wilberforce, help set up laws that made it against the law to abuse animals. She makes a great point on treating all life with dignity, including animals, the poor and slaves. These social stands were extremely liberal at the time. She made it clear in the tracts she distributed to be “religiously and politically conservative, but socially liberal.” Besides all these extraordinary causes for her time, she also believed that women should not focus so much on dainty hobbies that were done just to pass the time, but actual rigorous learning! This is what Prior wrote:
More argued for a rigorous education for women. One that would illicit truth, foster precision in thinking and cultivate an exact mind. Female education should bring the imagination under dominion and lead women to think, to compare, to combine, to methodize. It should confer such a power of discrimination that the student shall learn to reject what was dazzling if it be not solid, and to prefer not what is striking or bright or new, but what is just.
More also saw the importance of mixing social inequalities with politics. Her and William Wilberforce – a member of parliament – became very close friends. Wilberforce treated her as an equal and many times they spent hours conversing about political and social matters. Wilberforce wrote to her saying: “That in parlimentary measures of importance more is to be done out of the house than in it. In other words, changing the minds of parliament would require changing the mind of the nation.” What true words!
More used her writing and social skills to help others see the sheer inhumanity of the slave trade. Wilberforce used his eloquence in speaking to help his peers to see and then vote his way. Both forces, united, as one is what changed their country for the better.
I read about these two pillars of our faith and tried to learn from them. They were extraordinary Christians that changed their world through media (newspapers, books, tracts, pamphlets, drawings) and politics (voting, town hall meetings, friends in parliament, law making). A lot of times, I want to move away from politics. I want to just live my little Christian life and leave to Ceasar what is his. But like 1700’s Britain had some atrocious laws, so does the present United States. And unlike Hannah, I can vote for these changes, not just speak about them. I want to type out a testimony of a witness that was taken to a slaver traders post. This testimony was given in parliament in 1790 for the abolition of the slave trade. Here it is:
“The witness was taken to a small gathering of slave traders about to put an infant to death. I asked him why they were murdering it, and they answered ‘Because it was of no value.’ I told them, ‘if that’s the case, I hope they made me a present of it.’ They answered that if I had any use for the child then it was worth money. I first offered them some knives, but that would not do. They however sold the child to me for a mug of brandy. It proved to be that of a woman whom the captain of our ship had purchased that very morning. We carried it on board and judged of the mother’s joy when she saw her own child put on board the same ship – her child, whom she concluded was murdered. She fell on her knees and kissed my feet.”
The words “because it was of no value” rung in my head. I stopped what I was doing and just repeated those words in my mind. What is the value of a “useless” infant? Unfortunately, in our society, the answer is relative if the baby happens to be in utero. Foster kids, orphans, babies born alive after a botched abortion, poor kids, don’t we all put a value on them. Some maybe worth more than others? Put action to your passion, don’t just let it fester and dissipate.
I admire Hannah More, she never stopped using her God-given talents to bring about justice and kindness to those who bore God’s image. She says this: “It is part of Christianity to convert every natural talent to a religious use.” This is so true. What are your talents, and are you using those talents to glorify your Savior by beings His hands and feet here on earth? Read Matthew 25.
Hannah More died an old lady with hands upraised to her Lord. She wrote 11 books after the age of 60 and three weeks before her death, the slave trade was abolished! There is much for us to do in our world and it is time that we move from the sidelines and experience our Christianity.
I recommend Fierce Convictions to all Christians, especially women. Stop reading those darn Amish romances and get into these kinds of books. You can buy the book here. I listened to this book on audible, and you can get that here.
#life #abolition #hannahmore #dosomething #experiencechristianity