‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ holds life’s parables

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 7, 2010

Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, marks a milestone this year with the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication. It has sold 40 million copies worldwide and been translated into 50 languages.

In 1961, Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel and two years later, Gregory Peck won the Oscar for Best Actor playing Atticus Finch. Her book was selected as the “Best Novel of the Century” by librarians, according to a poll by Library Journal in 1999.

A group of local citizens in Monroeville, where the 84-year-old author, Miss Nelle Harper Lee, grew up and where she lives nowadays, perform the play, To Kill A Mockingbird, every spring. I highly recommend attending the play because it makes the story come alive. The audience becomes part of the story in the courtroom of the old Monroeville Courthouse.

To Kill a Mockingbird is required reading in schools across the country. It’s been described as a courtroom thriller and a morality tale. A high school English teacher named Matt Litton has written a book titled The Mockingbird Parables.

Having taught the book to his classes many years, he began to see spiritual themes in the novel. In an article about his book, Litton said he sees compassion as the main theme. For instance, while preparing to defend Tom Robinson, Atticus tells his daughter, Scout, “I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.”

According to Tyndale House Publishers, The Mockingbird Parables “takes readers on an inspiring and engaging journey through Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 literary masterpiece, introducing each character through the lens of faith.” Litton’s book asks compelling questions such as: Do we truly love our neighbors? Are we building community? Are we influencing society for the better?

“There are just some kind of men . . . who’re so busy worried about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results,” Atticus Finch remarks in the novel.

Christian author C.S. Lewis once said, “It may be possible for us to think of heaven too much, (whereas) it is impossible for us to think too often or too deeply about our neighbors.” In the words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Litton’s Web site, mattlitton.com, features a list of organizations in your neighborhood to demonstrate “Compassion in Action.” Litton encourages readers to do their own research and soul-searching and choose among many organizations such as “Habitat for Humanity,” “Samaritan’s Purse,” and “New Eyes for the Needy.”

Harper Lee’s character Atticus Finch explains what it means to love your neighbor as yourself when he tells his daughter, Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”