I am not proud of the fact that I had never read the novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. It was a terrible pothole in my educational journey. There. I’ve said it. But I’ve read it now. Just finished it this morning.
I must say now, today, without wasting another minute, that it is a book of enormous moral and spiritual courage, profoundly moving, beautifully written, and a book that has made an enormous difference in how I think about myself and others.
It is a book about character and race and understanding. It is a book about children and adults. Finally, it’s a book about believing that all human beings are more alike than unalike, and while evil exists in this world, goodness and justice and love also exist.
This July I’m doing a little experiment at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. I’m encouraging the church to do a One Summer Read. Every sermon during the month of July will have at least one reference to the Harper Lee novel. On July 14, I’ll lead a book discussion after church. On July 21, I’ll lead a film talk on the movie version starring Gregory Peck. It’s the kind of month that can change a church, just as it’s the kind of book and film that can change a life.
Take a Breath today and consider reading or re-reading one of the great books in American literature — To Kill a Mockingbird. I should have read it a long time ago, but it’s never too late to turn off the television, shut down the computer, and take a few hours to read a book that will — without a doubt — change your life.