You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2016.

What I Learned About Racism From Atticus Finch

A scene from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
A scene from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (YouTube)

Besides the Bible, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book in the world—and the movie version is my favorite film. That’s partly because I’m a Southerner who appreciates this painfully probing look at Southern racism. I also love the novel because no one has ever made fictional characters come to life better than author Harper Lee.

Atticus Finch, the small-town Alabama lawyer who defends a black man in a rape trial in the 1930s, is a hero to me because of his courage to fight social injustice. I feel as if I know him, along with Atticus’ children, Jem and Scout; their black maid, Calpurnia; their neighbors Miss Maudie and Mrs. Dubose; the mysterious Boo Radley; and Tom Robinson, the man who is falsely accused of rape in a biased culture that refused to believe a black man could ever be innocent.

I thought of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson many times last week. I wished I could have invited them over to my house for a glass of iced tea. We would have a lot to talk about.

On July 4th we celebrated Independence Day, and then we mourned for the next few days—first because of the questionable killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, in Louisiana and Minnesota, and then because of the shooting of five police officers in Dallas during a peaceful protest. Not since the 1960s has America felt such overwhelming racial tension.

As I listened to the chatter on the news and on social media last week, I couldn’t help but remember Atticus’ advice to his daughter. He told Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Isn’t that what we should do today? We cannot hope to rid ourselves of the spirit of racism that haunts our country until we sincerely try to understand each other.

Atticus Finch felt compassion for his black client, Tom Robinson, because he drove to Tom’s house in the country and sat on his front porch and got to know his family. He saw the fear on Tom’s face and heard the racial slurs he endured from local townsfolk. Atticus saw the world from Tom’s perspective. Atticus’ children learned the same lesson when they went to church with Calpurnia and saw how black Christians worshiped.

That’s the only way we’re going to end this ugly racial divide. We have to talk to each other. We have to sit on our porches together. We have to become friends and share each other’s burdens. We have to worship together. Laws alone will never tear down the walls of racism. Only compassion can destroy this evil.

I was not born black so I don’t understand what my black friends have experienced. I have never been stopped by a police officer and interrogated when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I have never walked into a store and felt people staring at me or treating me with suspicion. I have never had to endure racial slurs. I have never been turned down for a job interview because of my race.

But I have black and Hispanic friends who have experienced racial cruelty. I’ve listened to their pain. I put myself in their place. I crawled into their skin.

When will we stop being afraid of each other?

For the rest of the post…

He (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) smoked many cigarettes when he engaged in difficult negotiations or concentrated writing. In conversation, he was an attentive listener, asking questions in a manner that gave his partner confidence and led him to say more than he thought he could. Bonhoeffer was incapable of treating anyone in a cursory fashion. He preferred small gatherings to large parties because he devoted himself entirely to the person he was with. 

~ Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Revised Edition); Portrait (1970), xvii-xviii.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1939

DSCN1327 “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Jesus in Luke 19.40)

IMG_1007“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” ~ Isaiah 55.12

DSCN1181

by

Stream contributor Eric Metaxas has a provocative new book out this week, If You Can Keep It, which explores the forgotten connections between faith-based virtues and the survival of freedom in America. Are Americans virtuous enough to keep up a free society? Or are we headed into a new age where self-interested, short-sighted citizens are so caught up in their habits that they allow, or even require, an omnicompetent State to run their lives for them? I asked Eric, an old friend, to share his insights….

John: This current election is deeply dissatisfying to many Christian voters. How would you answer those who see Hillary Clinton as a grave threat, but fear that Trump lacks the virtue (much less the religion) to lead a free people? Even if he’s the lesser of two evils, is his rise a symptom of our fading virtue and faith?

Eric: Yes, Donald Trump’s rise is certainly a symptom of our fading virtue and faith, but ironically he may well be our only hope for finding our way back to bolder expressions of them. The eerie waxworks automaton formerly known as Hillary Rodham Clinton will no doubt double down on President Obama’s two-term repulsion to Constitutional government, in which unutterably sad case we simply wouldn’t ever be able to claw our way back up the abyss into which we shall have been thrust. If two more anti-Constitutionalist judges are shoehorned onto the Supreme Court we will have a Constitutional crisis — actually a cataclysm — in which the last Justices of that hoary institution will take that thing once described by a Constitutionalist Executive as the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and place it into a coffin gaily decorated with smiley face and rainbow stickers.

John: Is there any alternative to fighting the “culture wars” politically, even though we seem to be losing? Could we opt out and try to exist in tolerated enclaves, as the “Benedict Option” envisions?

For the rest of the post…

July 2016
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.