When All Else Fails... Read the Instructions by James W. Moore is a very easy book to read. Its core subjects are the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments and the Commandment that Jesus gave us to love one another just as He loved us. In his own words, Moore encapsulates the meaning of those three major Christian precepts.
The author helps us understand the Beatitudes by changing the wording to help it make sense in modern society. He changes the word “blessed” to “oh how close to God”. I have always stumbled over the first Beatitude and the meaning of being poor in spirit. This book explains this phrase means “humble”, so the first Beatitude could read, “The poor in spirit are the humble-minded and those that trust God completely.” Or better put, “Oh how close to God are those humble-minded people who put their whole trust in God and who honour and serve God as the king of their lives.” (Page 23) Moore also explains the eight Beatitudes as a progression of faith. First, we are humble but gradually move up to become a peacemaker, sadly followed by persecution.
This is a perfect book for those who have recently found Christ as their saviour. Everybody who comes to Christ should read this book because it explains the key ideas of the Bible in everyday language without overwhelming the reader with religious jargon. It is a shame Moore did not include other concepts because it is such a down-to-earth book that could benefit many people’s understanding of the Bible.
When All Else Fails… Read the Instructions was recommended to me by two people whom I hold in high regard. It did not disappoint.
I have been amazed at how much power one person can have. If we knew we were so powerful, I think we would achieve anything. Sadly, this power goes untapped and unutilised. The power of one person was strikingly brought home to me when reading a series of articles by Hazel on eight Black Lives Matter heroes. These stemmed from the poem:
Dream like Martin
Lead like Harriet
Fight like Malcolm
Write like Maya
Build like Madam C.J
Speak like Frederick
Educate like W.E.B
Challenge like Rosa
These individuals had amazing powers of resilience, vision, and charisma, which they used to improve the qualities of society beyond recognition. Martin Luther King Jr, the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, dreamed of a better future for his children. His campaigns and peaceful protests made this dream a reality. Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and spent the rest of her life helping over 70 other slaves flee from their cruel owners. Malcolm X stood up for both black people and Muslims in a time when they had no voice. Maya Angelou defended the rights of black women and wrote books in defence of oppressed Black cultures. Madam C.J. Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in America. With her money, she helped black women learn a profession and fend for themselves in a male-oriented world. Frederick Douglass sought to put an end to slavery and believed everyone should receive equal treatment, regardless of race. W.E.B Du Bois fought against the constraints on his race to become the first African American to earn a doctorate. He fought to remove the barriers so more black people could obtain qualifications. Finally, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, sparking boycotts and campaigns throughout the United States.
An exhibition at the British Library called Unfinished Business, which I attended last year, emphasised the power of an individual. The display highlighted women who had fought for their rights and made society a fairer place. They refused to be muted, their voices rang clear, and they challenged society’s norms for the better. These people were no different from you and me. They were not necessarily highly educated or articulate, and they did not always come from a family of wealth. What they did have was a vision.
Another example of vision and power occurred after the BBC aired a programme that I thought was not very fair. Approximately 6 million people watched, and the BBC received around 1000 complaints, compelling them to do something. Out of 6 million people, only 1000 people voiced concern, but it was enough for the BBC to respond. It only needed 0.02% of viewers to complain to make a difference.
Proverbs 29:18 reads “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” It suggests that without vision, there is no change and no hope for the future.
In a competitive, consumerist market, businesses look after their reputation. It is the most important hidden asset they have. So, if you feel like complaining, the chances are your voice will be heard. We have power; we have the power of one. What will galvanise us, what has to happen to prompt us to complain? Our MPs are very keen to hear from their constituents, but how often do we write about our concerns for ourselves, our town, our country, and our world? We have the power of one, and we just need to use this power with vision. Let’s see what we can create.
Home at Last by Ruth Pearson is about faith journeys and trusting in God during challenging times. Ruth uses Biblical stories such as the Prodigal Son, Joshua, and Ruth and Naomi to demonstrate a journey in faith, while focusing on keywords, including relationship, engagement, trust, obstacles, love, forgiveness and promise. There is a sense of hope that this journey is not a road we have to travel alone. Characters in the Bible, as far back as Noah and Abraham, conducted faith journeys. Now it is our turn to find and have a fulfilling relationship with God.
The book contains three questions, to which it continually refers:
1. How important is God in your life?
2. Do you have a personal relationship with God?
3. Where are you planning to spend eternity?
The first two are well-used in books of this nature, but I had not thought about the third question concerning our place in eternity. So, this was particularly useful for me. I liked the idea we should have a plan but that it is God’s plan which is paramount, and that we have an integral place in God’s plan. For example, Rahab had no idea about Jesus Christ, yet she played her part in God’s plan and became part of Jesus’ family tree. This reminds us that, even if things do not go well for us, we must trust we are part of a bigger plan where God is in control. While we cannot see our place in eternity, we will one day look back and realise that, because of what we did, positive consequences occurred.
Ruth includes some good exercises, such as describing who you think you are. E.g. I am a Christian, I am an uncle, I am a child of God etc. A list of ten “I am”s remind us of our importance. These exercises helped me extract a great deal from this book to guide my thinking and the progression of my faith journey, aligned with God’s will.
Title: This Shining Life
Author: Harriet Kline
Expected Publication: 3rd June 2021
Ollie's Dad died. Richard had an incurable brain tumour, and before he passed away, he sent everyone a special present. He also told Ollie that "being alive was like a puzzle and it was all falling into place." Ollie is autistic. He thinks his father left him a puzzle to solve. Could it involve the gifts? Why won't anyone help him solve the puzzle?
This Shining Life by Harriet Kline is a heartbreaking tale about a family coming to terms with death. Told from several people's point of view, Kline explores different portrayals of grief. Ollie's mum wants to stay in bed; his aunt wants life to carry on; his maternal grandmother tries to exert control; his paternal grandmother wishes she could understand her grandson; and his grandfather has no idea what is going on. No one has time for Ollie and his obsession with his puzzle.
Before Richard's death, Ollie dominated family life. Ollie had a strict routine, always had a few spare pairs of socks with him because he hated dirty ones, and had meltdowns if his parents used the "wrong" tone of voice. Without his familiar habits, Ollie's life was a mass of confusion - an apt metaphor for the grief the rest of the family experienced.
With a contemporary novel such as This Shining Life, there is no "happy ever after". People do not come back from the dead. There is no answer to the meaning of life. Grief is a long process and different for everyone. It causes depression, anger and confusion, but hidden under all these negative feelings is love.
Harriet Kline takes death and grief seriously but adds a touch of humour to the narrative for the reader's benefit. It is not a light read, nor is it markedly profound. Instead, This Shining Life is painfully honest, and for that reason, it is beautiful.
I do not often, in fact, I cannot remember if I have ever spoken about my vulnerabilities, but two or three evenings ago, my mind was not in a good place. A coping technique I have devised over the years is to write my concerns in a book. This refines the issue, depersonalises it, and gives me an element of clarity to ensure a way forward, which I put into practice in the morning. Having written my problem, I go back to bed and sleep swiftly follows.
During one of these moments, prayer struck me at a different level of intensity. Before I offer you this prayer, which helped me significantly, I wish to share the idea through the context of something I read in a daily motivation article:
“Only in my pain, did I find my will.
Only in my chaos, did I learn to be still.
Only in my fear, did I find my might.
Only in my darkness, did I see my light.”
The prayer that gave me so much peace is attributed to St Teresa of Ávila:
“Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God alone is changeless
He who has patience wants for nothing
He who has God has all things.
God alone suffices.”
We all have a daily prayer life, but sometimes it may seem our prayers are just part of our routine. It is only when one is on the rocks of despair that prayers may speak to you, help you, encourage you and move you forward. So, I offer St Teresa’s prayer for anyone who suffers from bouts of apprehension.
Description: Jayda Talhoun is the adored daughter of a wealthy Jordanian businessman. Driven to have a successful career in her own right, she is determined not to live a comfortable but servile life in Amman. After persuading her father to send her to London, she encounters an amoral society stricken with lust, greed jealousy and duplicity.
When she meets insurance broker William Clive, she is swept up in a romance which is soon challenged by their past, their faiths, their families, their very essences...
Set in London and Amman, this novel asks whether love and ambition can overcome the boundaries marked by birthplace and background.
Rating: 4.09 out of 5
Fragile Boundaries is the debut novel of English lawyer Johnny Leavesley. It is a contemporary romance with a heartbreaking ending that, as well as relationships, explores themes of racial differences. Set in London and Amman, Jordan, this is the story of two different people, one British, one Arab, and their determination to be accepted as a couple.
Jayda Talhoun, a woman in her early twenties, has temporarily moved to London to attend university. At a party she meets William Clive who falls in love with her at first sight. After a little persuasion, Jayda agrees to go out with William and it is not long before they consider themselves an item. The next challenge for William is to be accepted by Jayda’s family and so the two of them fly out to Jordan. How will the Talhoun’s react to their Muslim daughter dating a supposedly Christian, foreign man? One family member that it appears will take a lot of effort to get on the good side of is the eldest brother, Jamil, who is completely against his sister’s new relationship. Back home, however, William’s one time fling with the emotionally unstable Lady Caroline is about to have repercussions.
Fragile Boundaries touches on some very real issues within the world today. Boundaries such as differences in culture and religion can be very difficult to cross. The characters from Jordan view Britain as having a very weak culture due to it being very diverse however their own culture and values are very strong. Sexism is still an issue in Arab families which can be seen through Jayda’s relationship with her older brother and her father. The fact that she is at university is an anomaly in itself, but introducing an English gentleman into the family may be pushing the limit.
It took a little while for the story to get going and to work out (without reading the blurb) whom the main characters were. Both William and Jayda were likeable characters, which made the ending all the more shocking and emotional. Although written in the third person it was a little confusing to keep up as the writer quickly changes between the characters’ point of views; sometimes even within the same paragraph. It was not until the very end that the story begun to get exciting but then it sort of fizzled out, which was a little disappointing.
For readers who enjoy reading about different cultures and like a little bit of romance then give this book a go. But do not be expecting any happy endings…
At the time of writing, it is still the period of Advent. Preparations are underway for Christmas celebrations in our “bubbles”. Covid-19 remains a concern, but the vaccine has arrived in the country. Brexit talks are causing anxieties for many people. By the time you read this, we will no longer be part of the EU. By the time you read this, hundreds or thousands of people may be vaccinated. By the time you read this, our many worries and fears for the future may already be something of the past.
As we go into the new year, I would like us to focus on the word Hope. Admittedly, it is difficult to plan and think positively of the future. We have learned from 2020 that plans can be disrupted. This time last year, we did not know the challenges we would face. Should we approach this new year with apprehension or with hope for the future?
God sent Jesus to Earth as a gift of hope, which we celebrate each year on Christmas day. The shepherds and wise men that came to worship the child were full of hope, but we must not forget the confusion and mayhem this hope also caused. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3) Herod feared for his position as king, and Jerusalem feared the changes this baby, this “hope”, would bring.
Hope manifests in many different ways. For some, it is a feeling, for others, it involves major changes. Being afraid of change prevents hope from becoming a reality. Some people are hopeful this vaccine will work, others fear it. By the time you read this, we may see evidence of the vaccine working, or we may not. There could be other vaccines in circulation, or there may not. Brexit may have gone smoothly, or it may not. We cannot predict these things, but we can hope and trust in God and know that, no matter what, we are loved beyond our comprehension.
So, as we go into this new year, look for signs of hope. Hope is not necessarily something huge, Jesus was only a baby, after all, but hope may appear in the most mundane of places: a smile from a stranger, a budding flower, blossom on trees, an act of random kindness. We do not know what this year will bring, but we can embrace the small glimmers of hope that prove life goes on and that God is always with us.
Many people know Rosa Parks as the black girl who refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. Even Doctor Who portrayed the story in a recent episode, but how many people know Rosa’s background? How many people know more about her than the bus incident? She is a recognisable name in the Civil Rights Movement, but is that all - just a name?
Born Rosa Louise McCauley on 4th February 1913, Rosa grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama, until her parents, Leona and James, separated. Rosa moved to Montgomery with her mother and younger brother Sylvester, where she lived on her grandparents' farm and attended the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rosa’s mother taught her how to sew, and by the age of ten, Rosa completed her first quilt. She continued to sew while studying academic courses at the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, making herself dresses to wear. Although Rosa enrolled at a high school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, she dropped out when her grandmother became unwell.
In 1932, Rosa married the barber Raymond Parks, who belonged to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Rosa took on jobs as a domestic worker, but her husband encouraged her to complete her high school education, which she achieved in 1933. A decade later, Rosa joined the NAACP, becoming its first female secretary. For some time, she was also the only female member. As part of her role, Rosa investigated false rape claims against black men and the gang-rape of Recy Taylor (1919-2017), a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama. The Chicago Defender called the resulting campaign concerning the latter "the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade."
Rosa experienced “integrated life” while briefly working for the Maxwell Air Force Base, which did not condone racial segregation. This made her realise the extent of the differences between the lives of blacks and whites. Rosa also worked as a domestic and seamstress for Clifford (1899-1975) and Virginia Durr (1903-99), a white couple who encouraged and sponsored her attendance at the Highlander Folk School to learn more about civil rights in 1955.
To travel to and from work and school, Rosa used public buses, which since 1900 had specific seating areas for blacks and whites. The front four rows were for whites only, and blacks were encouraged to sit at the far end of the bus. Over 75% of passengers were black, which made the rear of the bus very crowded. Blacks also had to use the back door of the bus, but on one occasion it was too crowded for Rosa, so she used the front entrance instead. After paying, the driver insisted she leave the bus and enter through the back door. As soon as Rosa had stepped out of the bus, the driver sped away.
Rosa avoided that bus driver until 1955 after a long day at work. She did everything right: she entered the bus through the back door and sat in the first row of seats designated for black people. During the journey, crowds of people entered the bus, meaning many people had to stand, including white people. Seeing this, the driver asked those in the first row of black seats to stand up so the whites could sit. Whilst three blacks got up and moved, Rosa remained seated. The driver demanded her to move, and when she did not, he called the police. The police arrested Rosa and charged her with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. The NAACP bailed her out of prison that evening.
“People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” - Rosa Parks, Rosa Parks: My Story, 1992
Rosa Parks was not the first person to refuse to give up her seat, but her actions inspired the NAACP to organise a bus boycott. On 5th December 1955, the day of Rosa’s trial, campaigners distributed 35,000 leaflets saying: “We are ... asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday.” That day, over 40,000 black people walked to work instead of getting the bus. Some had to walk more than 20 miles through the driving rain.
As Rosa’s trial continued, so did the bus boycott. For 381 days, black people in Montgomery avoided using the bus. Since they made up at least 75% of commuters, the bus companies suffered from a loss of bus fares, forcing the city to repeal its law about segregation on public transport. Rosa did not wish to take credit for this success, and Martin Luther King Jr agreed that Rosa was not the cause of the boycott but the catalyst: "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices."
Although Rosa became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, she suffered as a result. She received many death threats, disagreed with King’s approaches, and both she and her husband lost their jobs, prompting them to move to Hampton in Virginia in search of work. Rosa found a position as a hostess but soon moved to live with her brother in Detroit, Michigan. Her brother believed the discrimination against blacks to be less severe in the northern states, but Rosa failed to see any improvements.
When African American John Conyers (1929-2019) stood for Congress, Rosa gave him her full support and convinced King to do the same. After Conyers' election, he hired Rosa as his secretary and receptionist, a position she kept until she retired in 1988. She visited schools, hospitals and facilities with and on Conyers’ behalf, plus attended Civil Rights marches across the country. During this time she became an ally of Malcolm X. She later took part in the black power movement.
Rosa continued to support the Civil Rights Movement in various ways, although she never took up a leading position. During the 1970s, she helped to organise the freedom of several prisoners whose actions of self-defence had landed them in police custody. Unfortunately, Rosa could not contribute much later that decade due to the poor health of her family, although she donated what little money she could to the cause. In 1977, both her husband and brother passed away from cancer. Following these losses, she broke two bones after slipping on an icy pavement, prompting her to move in with her elderly mother in an apartment for senior citizens. Her mother passed away in 1979 aged 92.
With renewed vigour, Rosa returned to the Civil Rights scene, co-founding the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships for college students. When asked to speak at various organisations, Rosa usually donated her speaking fee to her scholarship foundation. Later, she established the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which aimed to "educate and motivate youth and adults, particularly African American persons, for self and community betterment.”
In her later years, Rosa faced several challenges. At 81, a man broke into her house and demanded money. When she refused, he attacked her, landing her in hospital with facial injuries. Naturally, Rosa suffered severe anxiety after the attack and moved to a secure complex. Whilst she felt safe there, her fragile mind made it difficult for her to manage her finances. In 2002, she received an eviction notice due to lack of rent payment. When members of the public found out, the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit raised funds to pay the rent on her behalf, allowing her to remain in her home for the remainder of her life.
Rosa Parks passed away at age 92 on 24th October 2005. Before her funeral, a bus, similar to the one on which she refused to stand, drove her casket to the US Capitol in Washington DC where she became the first non-government official to lie in honour in the rotunda. At her memorial service, the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (b.1954) said she believed that if it had not been for Rosa Parks, she would not be Secretary of State today.
At her death, Rosa left an extensive list of legacies, which continues to grow. Long before she passed away, places were named in her honour, such as Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit, and she received many medals and awards: Martin Luther King Jr. Award (1980), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996), Congressional Gold Medal (1999), and several honorary doctorates. Since her death, the Rosa Parks Transit Center has opened in Detroit; Michigan renamed a plaza Rosa Parks Circle; the asteroid 284996 Rosaparks was named in her memory; and the Rosa Parks Railway Station opened in Paris. Americans also remember Rosa Parks with a statue in Montgomery, unveiled in 2019.
This article was originally posted on www.hazelstainer.wordpress.com on 18/12/20. Hazel has kindly allowed us to repost her work to coincide with our blogs about Black Lives Matter.
In the National Gallery, is a painting called The Sharp Family by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810), a German neoclassical painter. Zoffany, who spent his early years in England under the patronage of George III (1738-1820) and Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), captured the Sharp Family making music aboard their pleasure boat, Apollo, with All Saints Church, Fulham in the background. The Sharp siblings regularly appeared on the River Thames with their instruments to entertain the public on the banks.
Produced between 1779-1781, Zoffany’s painting indicates the wealth of the family through the portrayal of the upper-class fashions of the 18th century. Their musical boating parties attracted many people, evidencing their popularity, particularly among local dignitaries and even royalty. Yet, the family came from a more humble background.
The siblings grew up in Durham with their parents, Thomas Sharp (1693–1759), Archdeacon of Northumberland, and Grace Higgons, the daughter of English clergyman and travel writer George Wheler (1651-1724). Although they had an honourable upbringing, they did not have the financial advantages of the upper classes. Through sheer determination, love of music and fondness for each other, the Sharps worked their way up the ranks, first giving recitals at one of the brother’s home, before performing fortnightly water-borne concerts on their large barge between 1775-1783.
Seated in the centre of the painting is the most well-known of the Sharp siblings. Granville Sharp, born in Durham in 1735, played a variety of instruments, including the clarinet, oboe, flageolet, kettle drums, harp and a double-flute. He also sang with an impressive bass voice, which George III described as “the best in Britain”. Respected for his musical skills, Granville often signed his name G#, but it was not only in music that he made his name.
At the time of Granville’s birth, he had eight older brothers, although only five survived infancy. Five sisters soon followed, bringing the total number of children to 14. Their parents put away money for the children’s education, but by the time Granville reached his teens, the money was exhausted. Although he began his schooling at the all-boys school in Durham, Granville and his siblings received most of their tuition at home.
At the age of 15, Granville travelled to London to work as an apprentice for a linen draper. He found the work tiresome and longed for opportunities to hold discussions, arguments and debates. To fuel his passion, Granville took an interest in his fellow apprentices, learning Greek in order to debate the orthodox Bible with a Socinian colleague (someone who believes in God and Christian ideals but not the divinity of Jesus). He also learnt Hebrew so as to have theological discussions with a Jewish friend.
Not all of the Sharp brothers entered apprenticeships. The eldest, John, followed his father’s footsteps and was ordained into the Church. Whilst their father had not found wealth in that position, John worked hard to establish a miniature welfare state in his home in Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland where he was the perpetual curate. During his career, John oversaw the establishment of a school, a library, a hospital, and the first lifeboat service.
At the age of 14, William Sharp (1729-1810) moved to London to study surgery. His exceptional skill and demeanour attracted the patronage of George III, who hired William as his private surgeon. After attending to Princess Amelia (1783-1810), who was often in poor health, the king offered William a baronetcy, which he turned down. Although William was well-off, he never forgot his past and paid attention to the needs of the poor. He considered his high position in society to be a stroke of luck, so established a free surgery for those denied such good fortune.
Like Granville, his brother James came to London as an apprentice. After completing his apprenticeship in ironmongery, James rose through the ranks to become a pioneer of the industrial revolution. James enjoyed making music in his spare time, often meeting with Granville and William, as well as his sisters Elizabeth and Judith who had also moved to London. The siblings usually met at William’s house in Mincing Lane, where they also gave concerts. Unfortunately, James passed away before the family began performing on the Thames.
Granville’s apprenticeship came to an end in 1757, the same year both his parents passed away. He quickly secured himself the position of Clerk in the Ordnance Office at the Tower of London, a civil service position, that also provided enough free time to pursue his musical talents and intellectual hobbies. Being so close to his siblings, both familially and geographically, allowed his passion for music to flourish. He also discussed his work with his brothers, who informed him of the goings-on in their careers.
On a visit to William’s surgery in 1765, Granville met a young black slave with severe wounds to his head. The slave, Jonathan Strong, originally from Barbados, received the injuries from his master David Lisle, who bashed the young lad repeatedly over the head with a pistol. After almost blinding him, Lisle discarded Strong on the streets where he was discovered and taken to William’s free surgery. Granville assisted William to treat Strong, but his condition was so severe, they needed to transfer him to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Out of the kindness of their hearts, Granville and William paid for Strong’s four-month stay.
After Strong left hospital, the Sharp brothers continued to look after him. When he was strong enough, they found him employment with a Quaker apothecary, where he worked for a year and a half before being discovered by his previous master. David Lisle, a lawyer, believed he still owned Strong, despite discarding him in the street two years previously. Lisle wished to sell Strong to his friend James Kerr of Harley Street for £30. Kerr owned a plantation in Jamaica and wanted to ship Strong to the Caribbean to work there. Lisle and Kerr employed two men to kidnap Strong but did not anticipate the slave’s new contacts.
Following his capture, Strong managed to get word to Granville, who immediately went to the Lord Mayor of London to plead his case. The Lord Mayor, possibly Sir Thomas Davies, in turn, spoke to Lisle and Kerr about their claim on the slave. Kerr produced the bill of sale to prove he had purchased Strong from Lisle, but without more evidence, the Lord Mayor ordered Strong’s release from his imprisonment. The case, however, was far from over.
Almost immediately after his release, a second kidnap attempt took place, this time by West India Captain David Laird, who threatened to take Strong straight to James Kerr. Fortunately, Granville witnessed the attack and claimed he would charge Laird with assault if he did not let the young man go. Meanwhile, Lisle tried to sue Granville £200 for taking his property. When Granville approached his lawyers on the subject, they told him Lisle had every right to claim Strong as his possession. Unable to “believe the law of England was really so injurious to natural rights,” Granville spent the following two years studying English laws.
Lisle soon gave up the fight, but Kerr remained determined to win his case. After two years of persisting, the court dismissed the case and fined Kerr for time-wasting. For the first time in his life, twenty-year-old Jonathan Strong was a free man. Sadly, his freedom did not last long, and he passed away five years later.
Granville’s association with Jonathan Strong earned him the moniker “protector of the Negro”. A couple of slaves approached Granville for support, hoping for similar results, but the courts were reluctant to be involved in human possession disputes. At this time, British organisations were the largest slave traders in the world. Slave labour was vital for the British economy, therefore, owners were reluctant to free their slaves.
Determined to put an end to slavery, Granville published A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery: Or Admitting the Least Claim of Private Property in the Persons of Men in England in 1769. He expressed the view that “the laws of nature” make everyone equal and it is only laws imposed by society that state otherwise. He demonstrated that slavery was illegal because the freedom of a man was priceless. Granville received support from James Oglethorpe (1696-1785) of Cranham Hall, the founder of the American state of Georgia. Together, they unsuccessfully attempted to convince British leadership to give slaves the same rights as Englishmen.
Slavery had never been authorised by law in England and Wales. Granville used this to his advantage when learning of the plight of another black slave in 1772. James Somerset, an enslaved African, travelled to England with his American owner Charles Stewart in 1769 but managed to escape a couple of years later. Unfortunately, slave hunters found Somerset and locked him in a ship bound for Jamaica. Before Somerset attempted to flee, Charles Stewart had him baptised as a Christian. On learning of his capture, three of Somerset’s Godparents complained to the courts. When Granville heard of the case, he supplied the lawyers supporting Somerset with his formidable knowledge of English laws.
Granville proved that slavery was illegal under English law, so Somerset became a free man the moment he stepped on English soil. Although the court case lasted five months, the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William Murray, Lord Mansfield (1705-93), announced James Somerset’s freedom and ended the proceedings. Somerset and his supporters celebrated the result, but this was not the end of slavery. Whilst it was illegal to own a slave in England, the law condoned using slaves in overseas territories.
Plantation owners in the Americas continued to exploit slaves, abducting them from their homes in Africa and forcing them to work in harsh conditions in a foreign land. In 1781, 60 slaves died from neglect and over-crowding aboard the British slave ship Zong, causing the crew to take drastic action, massacring over 130 slaves by throwing them overboard. To add to the morally corrupt event, the shipowner tried to claim compensation for the loss of his property at sea.
Granville learnt of the massacre in 1783 from Olaudah Equiano (1745-97), a freed slave from the Kingdom of Benin. Horrified by the events aboard the Zong, Granville immediately involved himself with the court case against the Liverpool merchant claiming insurance. The merchant’s lawyer John Lee (1733-93) claimed: “the case was the same as if assets had been thrown overboard.” Granville argued that jettisoning slaves was murder and should be punished accordingly. Unfortunately, the judge dismissed Granville’s accusation but ruled the slave owner could not file for insurance due to lack of evidence.
The more Granville learnt about the lives of slaves, the greater his wish to abolish slavery entirely. He was not alone with this wish, but the largest groups of anti-slavery protesters were Quakers, a domination forbidden from participating in Parliament. In 1787, nine Quakers and three Anglicans established the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, but to make an impact, they needed someone with parliamentary connections. A vote unanimously elected Granville, one of the Anglican founders of the society, to present their petitions.
Due to modesty, Granville refused to chair the meetings for the society but regularly attended for the following twenty years. Parliament rejected many of their petitions, but they continued to work tirelessly nonetheless. The society received support from other anti-slavery campaigners, including the founder of the Wedgwood company Josiah Wedgwood (1730-95), who arranged the production of anti-slavery medallions, and the politician William Wilberforce (1759-1883), who presented the first Bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791, albeit unsuccessful. Through Granville’s connections, the society also received support from abolitionists in America.
Granville made attempts to return freed-slaves in Britain to their native countries. Many worried they would return to slavery, so Granville drew up plans for a new Christian society called “The Province of Freedom”. The first attempt struggled from the start, with fires on ships and many Africans returning home before the plans were fully operational. The first settlement, named Granville Town, lasted a few months before local tribes burnt it down. A second attempt to create “The Province of Freedom” proved more successful. With the help of a former American slave, Thomas Peters (1738-92) and British brothers, Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) and John Clarkson (1764-1828), Granville helped to found the port city Freetown in Sierra Leone.
In 1807, the society’s hard work paid off when the Houses of Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act/Act of Abolition. When Granville, now 71 years old, heard the news, he fell to his knees in prayer. Many of the original abolitionists did not live to see the result and Granville received the affectionate accolade of the “grand old man of the abolition struggle”.
As well as anti-slavery campaigns, Granville supported American colonists, which meant resigning from his job due to its support for the British forces fighting in America. Away from politics, Granville enjoyed his music but also established the British and Foreign Bible Society (now known as the Bible Society) with Wilberforce and Methodist preacher Thomas Charles (1755-1814) to spread the use of the scriptures throughout the world. Initially, the society focused on printing bibles in Welsh but soon produced bibles in Scots Gaelic and Manx Gaelic. They sent Gospels abroad in the languages of the Iroquois and Romani people in Canada and America to make the Bible accessible for more people. By 1824, the British and Foreign Bible Society had “distributed 1,723,251 Bibles, and 2,529,114 Testaments—making a total of 4,252,365.” Today the society is global with 150 Bible Societies around the world.
Granville Sharp passed away on 6th July 1813 before he had the chance to see the full effects of the Slave Trade Act. His tomb lies beside the graves of his siblings William and Elizabeth in All Saints Church, Fulham, which is visible in the background of the painting of the Sharp family.
“Here by the Remains of the Brother and Sister whom he tenderly loved lie those of GRANVILLE SHARP Esqr. at the age of 79 this venerable Philanthropist terminated his Career of almost unparalleled activity and usefulness July 6th 1813 Leaving behind him a name That will be Cherished with Affection and Gratitude as long as any homage shall be paid to those principles of JUSTICE HUMANITY and RELIGION which for nearly half a Century He promoted by his Exertions and adorned by his Example“
INSCRIPTION ON GRANVILLE SHARP’S TOMB
A memorial in Westminster Abbey remembers the life of Granville Sharp and, in 2007, he featured on the 50p Royal Mail stamp issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom. His is also memorialised in Granville Town in Sierra Leone and Granville in Jamaica, both named in his honour.
The Sharp Family by Johann Zoffany intrigues viewers, who wonder about the identity of the musical family and the reason behind their public concerts. At a glance, it is impossible to tell that one family member made such an impact in the 18th century, helping to bring about changes that continue to shape our societies today.
Granville’s legacy suggests that not everyone has forgotten him, but the majority of people have not heard his name. It goes to show how quickly good deeds of others are overshadowed by new events, which in turn get buried beneath the ever-growing pile of history. In an attempt to discover the Sharp Family in Zoffany’s painting, a lesser-known period of Georgian Britain has emerged. Next time you view a portrait of someone you have not heard of, “google” them. You may be surprised by what you learn.
"Finding Noah's ark ... would be fun, but it wouldn't be instructive... wouldn't teach us about God or each other." This is the view of Amanda Hope Haley in The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel, a book about the author's travels in the land of the Bible. As a Harvard-trained biblical archaeologist, Haley spent time in Israel excavating areas of land where Jesus once walked. Her goal was not to unearth evidence of Jesus but to discover what life was like for the everyday person during Christ's time on Earth.
Only the first couple of chapters mention items and foundations Haley found on her digs. After that, Haley describes her holiday in Israel with her mother, father and husband. She writes honestly, admitting to tourist errors she and her family made. She describes the places she visited as though speaking to a reader who plans to make the trip too. Yet, it is far from a holiday diary.
In each location Haley visited, she describes the history of the place, the biblical references, the antagonism between the Jews and Muslims, and its current state. She discovers why Jesus chose to preach in certain areas, locates towns and cities mentioned in the Bible, and notes how much places have changed since the 1st century.
It is interesting to learn how the three religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, both merge and alienate each other. Haley visited areas that banned Jews, yet as a Christian, she could enter. She paints Israel as a dangerous place but also highlights its beauty spots.
The title, The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel, is misleading because there is little physical digging mentioned. Haley only documents a few of her finds, and readers do not learn a great deal from them. On the other hand, Haley's metaphorical dig into the history of Israel proves fruitful, enhanced from her first-hand experience.
Those looking for a book about archaeology may be disappointed with The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel but those wishing to learn more about the biblical land of Israel, past and present, will appreciate Haley's knowledge. For Christian readers, this book will enhance their understanding of the Bible.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon