Honor and Defeat


I neither know, nor care, what side of the political spectrum this places me on, but I, for one, am disgusted with that Biloxi Mississippi School Board's decision to remove To Kill A Mockingbird from their High School curriculum. "There is some language in the book that makes people feel uncomfortable," was the palaver given out by the board's Vice President. 

Uh, excuse me? It is not at all uncommon for good literature to "make people feel uncomfortable". That is often what it's intended to do. Besides, the users of racial epithets in the novel are all properly exposed and vilified. Were the 'uncomfortable' ones too dull to perceive that? 

Are you as sick as I am of all this 'sanitizing' and 'coddling'? My what a spineless generation we are breeding these days! 

I've always loved that book, and the old 1962 film version is every bit as excellent. 

Which all brings to mind that marvelous scene where Gregory Peck loses his case. It is such a beautiful thing. 

He is Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer, deep in the south, back in the 1940's. He's also a young widower, struggling to raise his two kids by himself. 

Finch's client is an innocent young black man, falsely accused of a terrible crime, and Finch is determined to save him. His two children watch their father endure angry threats from members of the community who hate him for taking the case. They watch in awe as he sits out in front of the town jail all night, shotgun in hand, to fend off a lynch mob. 

By the time the case finally goes to trial, the whole town is stirred up. The courtroom is packed. The upper balcony is packed too: the segregated section where family and friends of the defendant are allowed. Atticus' two kids sneak up there to watch the proceedings. 

Atticus presents a very powerful defense. He completely impeaches the testimony of the accuser. It becomes obvious to everyone watching the movie that the charges are false and the defendant is innocent. 

But, of course, it is not obvious to the jury. In a very emotional scene, they file back into the courtroom and casually announce the verdict of "guilty". 

Atticus' face reveals the shock and disbelief. His jaw twitches; he swallows hard! He couldn't have done a better job! It was an open-and-shut case for acquittal. He turns to his client and promises an appeal. But there will be no appeal; the injustice is just beginning. 

But it's at that very point, when court is dismissed, that this beautiful scene ensues. The prisoner is taken away and the courtroom is clearing out. Atticus, very distraught over his failure, has gathered his papers and started to leave when, all of a sudden, one-by-one, the black people seated up in the balcony start standing up out of respect. One of them is a minister and when he sees Atticus' little daughter 'Scout', still sitting, he turns and speaks down to her: "Miss Jean Louise." When she doesn't respond, he says it again: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up," he commands. "Your father is passing by!" 

By the time Scout stands up, the entire balcony is on their feet, standing in awe of the man down below. He leaves the courtroom with his head hung low, completely unaware of the honor being shown him. 

I cannot remember a more moving scene! The point of the scene—as I see it, anyway—is unforgettable too. Well...several points really... 

Honor is more important than success and greater, by far than defeat! No amount of failure can lessen a man's honor or negate the reward that it brings. Real honor is a by-product of justice and truth, righteousness, and mercy, not power, success or worldly acclaim. Real honor comes as God's gift to the righteous, and it sometimes comes in the wake of great loss! 

My message this week is for every weary soul...beaten...disheartened...weighed down by it all: by the burdens, the failings and the injustices of life. Does that describe you? Does the verdict look grim? Are you starting to waver? 

Don't do it, dear Christian. Stand firm. Keep on! God sees what you face, and He will never lose sight of the marvelous fact that you are His child! He counts every loss and every defeat as part of the 'honor' that's coming your way. The Bible does tell us this, you know: 

"There is honor for His godly ones," we read in the Psalms (Ps 149:9). It's in the Proverbs too: "The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life." (Prov 22:4) \ 

And who can forget the assurances of Peter (who knew a little bit about defeat, don't you think?) 

"The honor is for you who believe..." 1 Pet 2:7 

"These trials of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, shall bring praise and honor and glory at the coming of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 1:7) 

Love worshipping with you each week! 

See ya there! RAS 

The First Half of the Journey
Our 'Dream' Ski Vacation