Saturday, December 03, 2022
12/03/2022

How cancel culture makes liars of us all

  • by:
  • Source: UnHerd
  • 06/11/2020
Born in New Orleans in 1911, Mahalia Jackson was often referred to as ‘The Queen of Gospel’. A civil rights activist, Jackson used the music of church spirituals and hymns to powerful public effect. “I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free,” she said.

Many of the spirituals that she sang were taken from the Biblical book of Psalms, often from passages that lament the conditions of slavery into which the people of Israel were taken. She sang at her friend Martin Luther King’s funeral. Harry Belafonte called her “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”.

Among her favourite hymns was ‘Amazing Grace’. I find it hard to hear her sing it without welling up. It is utterly beautiful and captivating. And the opening words are such a direct and powerful statement of the Christian doctrine of redemption:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.


The hymn was written by John Newton. And John Newton was a slaver. Not in Edward Colston’s league, perhaps. But he captained slave ships, trafficking his human cargo to a life of utter misery, and he personally profited from the slave trade. ‘Amazing Grace’ is such an extraordinarily powerful hymn precisely because it was written by a man with such a shameful past.
Source: UnHerd
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