Amazing Grace Inspires Our Family

Our family experienced spontaneous education and inspiration in our home when Netflix unexpectedly restarted our subscription and delivered Amazing Grace. What surprised me even more than its appearance was the announcement from my husband that our children (ages 14, 11, 9) could watch it with us. I expected that this movie about a decades-long political fight in the British Parliament to end the slave trade would be too mature for them, even though it was rated PG. However, after considering its educational value, we all watched it together that very night, even with school the next day.

Amazing Grace Trailer

On the website for the movie, Amazing Grace, you can share your story of how Amazing Grace impacted you. The movie’s impact on us can be summed up in three words: Questions, Compassion, Inspiration.

An important part of viewing media together as a family is the questions that come to mind and the discussions that follow. The main character, William Willberforce, is full of questions himself about the slave trade. He was taught as a boy in school by John Newton, who wrote the hymn, Amazing Grace. Newton had been the captain of a slave ship for years, and he witnessed and participated in horrific acts against the African slaves they were transporting for sale. Newton found God, repented, and became a minister. That inspiring song was like a testimony of his conversion.

As a man, the hymn and education motivated Willberforce’s personal stand against slavery, and he was encouraged by another friend, William Pitt, to make that a political fight, as well. The question for Willberforce is how can he best do God’s work. To persuade his friend, Pitt introduces him to a group of abolishionists, one of which is a former slave.

I could see questions in my children’s eyes as this man, Olaudah Equiano, describes the atrocities that took place on the slave ships. When he told his own story as a slave, he showed the branded mark he bore on his chest and explained its purpose, “To let you know you no longer belong to God but to a man.”

Personally, his words left me with my biggest question: Have I seen slavery just as a historical issue? Or is the resulting pain of slavery so deep that its history continues to unknowingly mark nations and individuals?

Compassion followed the questions and registered on all our faces. In the inspirational moments when Pitt said, “Surely, the principles of Christianity are needed for action as well as meditation,” I was glad that that our children were beginning an education about racial relationships at home.

Just as music stirs my emotions and motivates me to good works, Amazing Grace inspired our family. As Newton expressed, “I once was blind, but now I see” in the lyrics of his song, I considered what cultural or spiritual blindness I might overcome myself so that I might not pass my ignorance along to my children. Passing along this story of faith and perseverance to them certainly inspires our desire and our wills to learn our individual mission and use our resources and talents to pursue worthwhile societal change.


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1 Comment

  1. Rachel Corbett
    Apr 15, 2008

    That movie is on my list, hope I get to it soon.

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