Legacy of spiritual truths in ‘Mockingbird’
by Robin Russell
In the 50 years since Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published, it has left an indelible impact. Set in a small Alabama town, the novel about racial injustice is beloved for its unforgettable characters and moral courage.
Author and high school English teacher Matt Litton says the novel is also rich with spiritual lessons. He talked recently with managing editor Robin Russell about his new book, The Mockingbird Parables (Tyndale House).
Why do you think To Kill a Mockingbird is still so relevant?
I think the characters and the themes and the life lessons are just timeless. It’s become the most widely read novel in secondary schools in the English language. It still sells close to a million copies a year. That’s a testament to the power of the lessons that people take away from this. For me, it’s a deeply spiritual novel.
How did you come to see the book’s themes as spiritual parables?
Over the years of teaching it, I noticed the way it started to affect the way I live out my faith. There’s a quote in the novel that I just love. Miss Maudie says: “There are some kind of men who are so busy worrying about the next world that they never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the streets and see the results." It set me on a journey to look at these lessons. I grew up evangelical in a Wesleyan tradition. After hearing all the religious language for so many years, we become desensitized. To find these gospel messages out there in another story we’re all familiar with, that kind of woke me up.
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