It’s a big week for book lovers with the arrival of the much anticipated and almost too good to be true second novel of Harper Lee.
Many of us would consider “To Kill a Mockingbird” an important work in race relations, a book that looked at racial injustice from the eyes of a child.
The book was released in 1960. Many believe it was deeply inspired by events Harper Lee saw in her home state, including Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the riots at the University of Alabama over the admission of two black students.
The book helped many of us to see the issue of race through a child’s eyes, where things were much less complicated and evil was seen as evil.
It’s intriguing to me that now this book, “Go Set a Watchman,” is being released 55 years later in another period of racial turmoil.
In the last year, we have seen countless acts of racially fueled violence, including the most recent murders in a Charleston church.
In the last month, we have seen a debate on the role of the Confederate flag’s place in our nation today.
In the last year, we have once again taken up the conversation on race and realized how far we have to go despite the significant gains that have been made since “To Kill a Mockingbird” was released.
Amid all this, Lee’s voice is coming forth once again, but this time Scout is not a child.
She is a grown woman who has lived in New York for some time and is coming home to her father, Atticus, where her hometown continues to face issues of justice in terms of its racial history.
It almost seems prophetic, as if the voice that so deeply influenced our understanding of racial equality 55 years ago is reminding us there is still work to be done.
And it comes from the voice of a woman who is deeply shaped by her regular participation in the church.
She is a writer who looked at the world around her and thought, “I can find a way to address some really big issues through a story because story is the language of humanity.”
I am glad that Harper Lee is telling another story because we need another one of her stories; the world is always made better by story. Look at the parables. Or look at God’s fullest revelation, Jesus Christ, God in skin-and-flesh story form.
To me, it’s just one more reminder that we all have stories to tell and we all have stories that will help make this world more fully the Kingdom of God.
We all have a gospel story to share and in doing so to form the world more fully.
My hope is that we will all be as bold as our sister, Harper Lee, and we will all share our stories with the hope of helping to heal a very broken world. We all have stories of salvation to share; let’s begin healing by doing so.
Griff Martin is co-pastor of University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.