Photo by Mallory

Photo by Mallory

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Monday, July 20, 2015

From Mockingbird to Watchman

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”
--Isaiah 21:6

Not since Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey have I seen as much press coverage of a novel. The midnight release of author Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman last week drew waiting lines of book buyers and prompted many stores to open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday to accommodate them.

I live in Alabama, home of Harper Lee. Her hometown, and also where she now resides in an assisted living facility, is a small town of 6,000 named Monroeville. Alabama’s governor proclaimed Tuesday, July 14, as “Go Set a Watchman” Day in the state to honor the new release. Celebrations unfolded in Monroeville with parties, readings, and tours.

Harper Lee’s new book, a sequel to her To Kill a Mockingbird, is #1 on several book lists; in fact, it was #1 before it released. The Mockingbird book is an evergreen book—has remained popular since its release in 1960. In 1999, the Library Journal voted Mockingbird the “Best Novel of the Century.” Monroeville is the model for the fictional town of Maycomb in both books.
For some, Watchman was a difficult read. Readers who had elevated Atticus Finch to hero status after reading Mockingbird, are disappointed by his portrayal in Watchman, which occurs twenty years later.

In Watchman, Scout Finch returns home as a grown young lady to find that her father, Atticus, has changed. A 20-year-old reader said, “You grow up with this book…You think of him [Atticus] as the perfect gentleman, colorblind.” Another reader defended Atticus Finch’s mindset: “You have to kind of remind yourself he was human at the time he was raised,” no doubt referring to the impact of his surroundings as a youngster.

We all have deep-rooted values. We received them from influences of our upbringing by people and environment. There’s a mighty fine line between principles we hold onto to and principles we eliminate.

I live in the U.S. South. I had a Yankee male friend in college to tell me, “You Southern girls are different.” Yes, we are. My friend couldn’t pinpoint the difference, he only sensed that a difference existed. I’m honored to be a Southern girl. I believe in God’s creation and his recognition of humankind’s equality as he considers eternity—we’re all on the same footing as far as salvation is concerned (Galatians 3:28, Romans 10:12-13).

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