Sunday, August 11, 2013


for August 4, 2013

Kingston upon Hull

Kingston upon Hell was Home
for William Wilberforce,
An Independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire

William Wilberforce (1759-1803)


William Wilberforce was an English member of the British parliament in the eighteenth century. He was a social reformer. He was very influential in the abolition of the slave trade and slavery itself in the British Empire. He formed a society of philanthropists. They campaigned for morality.

He served in Parliament from 1780 to 1825. He supported popular education, overseas missions, parliamentary reform and religious liberty. He formed an organization for philanthropists in 1802. It was called the Society for the Suppression of Vice.

He teamed up with the reformer Hannah More in the Association for the Better Observance of Sunday. Its goal was to provide all children with regular education in reading, personal hygiene and religion. He was active in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

He is best known for his untiring commitment to abolish slavery and the slave trade.

He had experienced a turning point in his life during a tour of Europe in 1784. He saw a copy of William Law’s book, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” in the luggage of a travelling companion. He asked his friend, “What is this?” His friend replied, “One of the best books ever written.” The two agreed to read it together on their journey.

Wilberforce embarked on a lifelong program. He set aside Sundays and an interval each morning for prayer and religious reading. He considered life in the clergy. He was persuaded by friends that his calling was to serve God in politics.

He said, “So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade's wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition."

English traders had raided the African coast on the Gulf of Guinea in the late 1700’s. William Wilberforce was still a teenager. They had captured between 35,000 and 50,000 Africans a year. They had been shipped across the Atlantic and sold into slavery.

It had been a profitable business. Many powerful people had become dependent upon the trade. One publicist for the West Indies trade had written, “The impossibility of doing without slaves in the West Indies will always prevent this traffic being dropped. The necessity, the absolute necessity, then, of carrying on, must, since there is no other, be its excuse.”

The economics of slavery were so entrenched by the late 1700’s that only a handful of people thought anything could be done about it. William Wilberforce was one.
He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in the House of Commons in 1788 with a three hour oration. The motion was defeated. He brought it up repeatedly for eighteen years. The slave trade was finally abolished on March 25, 1806.

He continued the campaign against slavery itself. The bill for the abolition of slavery in British territories passed its crucial vote just four days before his death on July 29, 1833. 800,000 slaves were set free a year later on July 31, 1834, chiefly in the British West Indies.

The slaves in the US remained enslaved.
History of Abolition in the UK
Dutch and German Quakers signed the first anti-slavery statement at Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1688.

English Quakers began to express official disapproval of the slave trade in 1727. They promoted reforms.

A number of Quakers in Britain’s American colonies also began to oppose slavery in the 1750’s. They called upon English Quakers to take action. This call for reform was not aimed at abolition.

American Quakers called on the English to encourage their fellow citizens to improve conditions for slaves, to educate them in Christianity, reading and writing and to gradually emancipate them. This call was also directed to Quaker slave owners.

 The British abolitionist movement was pioneered by an informal group of six Quakers in 1783. The London Society of Friends’ presented a petition against the slave trade signed by over 300 Quakers to parliament yearly. They also formed a non-denominational group to gain greater Anglican and Parliamentary support.

The non-denominational committee had nine Quaker members and three Anglicans. It was formed in 1787. The Quakers were debarred from standing for Parliament as non-conformists. The Anglican membership strengthened the committee’s likelihood for influencing Parliament.

"Many women were horrified that women and children were taken away from their families. In 1824, Elizabeth Heyrick published a pamphlet titled Immediate not Gradual Abolition. In this Heyrick urged the immediate emancipation of the slaves.

“The Anti-Slavery Society had been founded to promote gradual abolition and though dominated by members with this view, who sought to downplay the challenge, a ginger group of members formed to campaign for immediate progress. The Female Society for Birmingham had a network of women's anti-slavery groups and Heyrick's pamphlet was publicized here."

William Wilberforce
Early Parliamentary Action
The first meeting for ‘the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade’ took place on May 22, 1787. It brought like-minded British Quakers and Anglicans together in the same organization for the first time.

The committee chose to campaign against the slave trade rather than slavery itself. Many members believed that slavery would eventually disappear as a natural consequence of the abolition of the trade. Wilberforce was informally involved with the committee until he joined in 1791.

Slavery was tolerated even though it offended the innate sense that military technology does not warrant the ownership of one group of people by another. The abolition of slavery struck a blow to the economy defined by imperial conquest. 

People that had been oppressed by the enslavement of the conquered were liberated along with the liberation of the captives.

The innate sense of justice has proven to be correct.  It was the outlawing of slavery; the provision against cruelty in punishment; the provisions for due process of law by the body of evidence; the provisions for voting; and the provisions for citizenship that increased representation in government. It has been war and economic oppression that has reversed gains in the building of fairness in society.

There is one life to live in terms of individual sensation, perception and conception. The one life needs to be lived accordingly. Use it to love others with respect for yourself.

from Ps.49

Hear this people.
Listen, all you who dwell in the world;
you of high degree and low;
rich and poor.

Wisdom will speak.
My heart will meditate
on the understanding.

I will listen to the logic of experience.
Truth will be set to music.

Why fear evil?
What does it do?
It seeks profit from destruction.
It seeks to rule by death, punishment,
threat and debt. It seeks to control behavior

Are the days uncertain because of
the inequity of those who put their trust
in their profit and boast of great riches?
Do the ways of these days require change?
Does wickedness pervade the air?

We cannot ransom ourselves
or deliver to nature’s God a price for life;
the value of life is so great
that there will never be enough
to pay for it.

Eternity cannot be bought.
Passage past the judgment
before the grave
cannot be purchased.

Wise people among the wealthy die also.
Like the poor and less educated, they perish.
They leave their wealth to those
who come after them.

The grave will be the dwelling after death.
Though they identify places by their names
the dwelling place from each generation
to the next will be the tomb.

They cannot change the experience of life after death.
Individual perception ends with the end of sensation.
Set your mind on the things that are above the earth.

The world turns. Air flows.
It goes with the force of the flow
but it is redirected over the irregular surface
of the globe.

Jet streams turn back against the flow.
Expectations change with the weather.
Inequity will be corrected.

Don’t be a hater.
Oppose cruelty.
Don’t resort to violence.
Don’t commit crime.
Don’t support war.
Vote for officials
that represent people.
Stand against the death penalty.

The imposition of death by human judgment
is only legitimate when it is known
beyond the shadow of a doubt
that the person charged with murder
is the one who commit the crime.

High crimes are worse than murder.
Wars of aggression and genocide
murder many.

Live for goodness in life
while you are living your life.


Care for the poor builds an economy that corresponds with the representation of rights by government for people with participation.

Place for Care

Bethany is located less than two miles from Jerusalem.
Ancient Bethany was the site of an almshouse for the poor. It was a place of care for the sick. Mark’s gospel places the house of Simon the Leper there (Mark 14:3-10). Jesus received word about the illness of Lazarus from there according the gospel of John (John 11:1-12:11). 

Three places of care for the sick were to be located east of Jerusalem according to the “Temple Scroll” from Qumran (XLVI:13-18 ). The passage also defined a minimum radius of three thousand cubits (about 1,800 yards) around the city. Nothing unclean was to be seen within the limit.

Bethany was fifteen stadia (about 1.72 miles) from the city according to John. Care for the sick there corresponded with the requirements of the “Temple Scroll” (a stadion was 600 ft.; 180m. ; or 400 cubits).

It was located out of sight from the temple mount. It was down to the southeast. Bethphage has been identified with At-Tur. It was located on the Mount of Olives. It had a magnificent view of Jerusalem.

Mary and Martha of Bethany
Mary and Martha lived with their brother, Lazarus, in Bethany. They are mentioned a number of times in the gospels.

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him when Jesus and his disciples were their guests. Martha prepared food and waited on the guests. When Martha complained that Mary was not serving, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better thing. (Luke 10:38-42)

Jesus went to Bethany when Lazarus died. Martha went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house until he sent for her. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:1-44)

Mary poured a flask of expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet about a week before the crucifixion. She was criticized for wasting that which might have been sold to raise money for the poor. Jesus defended her action. (John 12:1-8)

Many Christian writers have seen Mary as representing contemplation (prayer and devotion) and Martha as representing action (good works, helping others); or love of God and love of neighbor respectively.

The same kind of comparison in categorization has been seen in Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban (Gen.29 & 35). Leah was near sighted, but had many children (action). Rachel had few children, but one saved the family from destruction (contemplation).

Leah represents action. It is limited in the contemplation of concept, but produces many worthwhile results.  Contemplation produces fewer outcomes, but faith is the product that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) Action comes first in responsibility, so Leah was wed before Rachel. Contemplation is necessary for improvement so Rachel was the favorite.

Modern Bethany
A Palestinian Village
In the Shadow of the Wall
“The nearest point of entry into Bethany from the city is via an army checkpoint located in a gap in the 20ft high solid concrete wall. Young armed soldiers ask visitors to explain why they want to enter. They check passports and bags before allowing them to walk through a metal gate then along a narrow path bordered by steel barriers. Although the soldiers are polite, they are carrying automatic weapons and the looming wall and steel barriers together create a threatening atmosphere.”

Magic Show Visits Two Schools
“Afterwards the boys crowded round and we showed them some tricks and they, in return, showed us theirs. One boy walked on his hands for 20 seconds. The boys obviously enjoyed the show, as it is uncommon for them to see strangers – let alone strange strangers doing magic, juggling and comedy. It is difficult to comprehend how disadvantaged these boys our by being limited to their ghetto home.

“The next day we visited a girl’s orthodox Russian school. They were a much more receptive audience and the rough edges of our show had been smoothed. It was a good school with high fees, but despite their relative affluence the disadvantages of lack of opportunities and opportunities are the same. The girls see little more than their school and home; even the rough streets of their Bethany are off limits. We are a breath of fresh air and some fun to lift the stress of their daily lives.”

The place of care with contemplation and action has always been the guiding force for building fairness in society.

Israel has been a place of dramatic change. The existence of the nation is a call to recognize the role that concern for the poor holds in building society according to the prophets.

The importance of security has been overstated over the last decade to defend the right to existence according to that which defines Israel as a province of industrial imperialism. 

Representative government with participation reduces the risk of violent rebellion considerably.  Social security programs reduce the risk further. When national security is overstated with crimes sponsored by covert agencies, the overstatement becomes high crime.  

Further, it is the reduction of the representation of rights to one group of the society that increases the threat of violence, insurrection or invasion.  The establishment of a state religion then, is a major impediment to societal respect for those who are not in the one group.

Israel differs from a number of “Muslim” nations that declare that Islam is the religion for the state. It does not declare Judaism as the religion for the state. Like many allied nations it suffers from a de facto state religion whenever sectarian policy controls foreign policy.

Israel has a president, a prime minister, the Knesset and no constitution. It has been used by the industry for war to impose tyrannical policies on allies in the western coalition, the US included.

The US holds the dubious distinction of being both the largest culprit and the biggest victim.  Our government has been victimized by corporate spending through Citizens United.  International corporations have expanded their power over government decisions. Our liberties have been repressed with legislation like the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.

We have a history of struggle with corporate power. When industry structures government infrastructure to support their advantage to take profits from people, our rights have suffered as a result. The financial industry has had the most impact on promoting the industry for war. The old association of weapons technology and government has a new counterpart in electronics technology.  When Big Money gets its way in Washington DC, profits are given power over people.

The budget holds the greatest favor for the military and law enforcement i.e. national security. Having the largest budget for national security does not prove integrity in intent. Quality of life is not insured for the people who pay the largest percentage of taxes.  Threats are amplified or orchestrated by covert agencies in an effort to increase spending at the expense of social security.

The constitution with the bill of rights constitutes a plan for achievement. Having the plan does not prove accomplishment. We need to live for life, not attempt to rule over others with the threat of death or punishment.

Life is one singular sensation.
 “One moment in her presence
And you can forget the rest.
For the girl is second best
To none”

The life of William Wilberforce gives us an idea of how difficult it is to achieve progress in the face of imperial aggression. The lives of Martha and Mary remind us that Christ endorses charity in action for social welfare with contemplation regarding investment in improvement.

Live with love for others and respect for yourself.
Don’t incorporate yourself as an agent for industrial imperialism
or any other evil.

Steve K.

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