i’m sure i’ve mentioned it before sometime… (here.) my favorite book of all time. to kill a mockingbird by harper lee. well, as i was catching up on some news this morning, i ran across a blog post relating the book’s main character, atticus finch, to the votes on equality & inclusion facing the methodists at the conference in florida these next few days. it is an amazing post. short, simple, to the point. and since it discusses issues that are near & dear to my heart in light of the main character of my favorite book, i just had to post it here to share with all of you.
i most definitely could not have said it any better, so here’s the post below: (or click here to go to the website).
The African Americans (we were called “Negroes” then) were in the balcony of the court room after the jury had found Tom Robinson guilty of raping a white woman. Rev. Sykes, the Negro preacher, had invited the children of Atticus Finch, the white lawyer, to be with them in the balcony because the court room was so crowded.
Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) sat in the court room after everyone else had gone out, but the Negroes remained in the balcony with his children, waiting for him to leave.
As Atticus Finch got up and walked to the doors of the courtroom, passing under the balcony, Rev. Sykes had everyone stand up (he had to coax the daughter of Atticus Finch to stand up). They stood because this was their way of honoring a white man whose conviction and conscience about rightness and fairness were so strong that he dared go against a history and a culture of prejudice and bigotry that in so many ways said that Negroes were unworthy of respect, equality, and justice.
As I saw that scene, I thought of another white man of long ago. His name was Gilbert Haven, a New England Methodist preacher who became a Bishop. He was an outspoken ally and advocate of black people who felt that the bans against interracial marriage, from a faith and democratic perspective, were wrong.
My preacher father and my mother named me Gilbert Haven Caldwell, not because my father was named for him, but because they, like Rev. Sykes, believed that those who allow their conscience, rather than a culture of bigotry to guide their words and actions, were worthy of respect.
I wonder how many United Methodist delegates in Tampa, when matters related to same-gender loving persons come up for discussion and vote, will allow their inner Atticus Finch to come forth? Once, many persons used the Bible to support their bigotry against persons who were black. Today, there are those who ignore Jesus and the message of love in Scripture as they judge and condemn persons because of whom they love. But hearts are changing.
I believe some delegates who have been unable to be “Atticus Finch” before now will remember him in Tampa as they vote “yes,” to affirm the humanity, equality, and God-given gifts of all those who are called to serve God, regardless of whom they love or how they express their gender.
How could they do anything else in light of Jesus command to Love Your Neighbor?
~ Gilbert Haven Caldwell, Jr.. A Retired United Methodist Minister
i am holding onto hope that everyone’s “inner atticus finch” will guide their thoughts and actions in florida during the next week. actually, in all areas of life, we all could learn to let our “inner atticus finch” lead us.
wishing you all peace & love for your neighbor.