Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Expert Marksmen In The Eyes of Men

I am reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the the 10th time (I think). I participate in a neighborhood book club and this book is our selection for the month, to my delight. I have always gleaned so much from this book. I have picked up a few thoughts during my reading lately and may post a couple over the next few days.

The title of the book is derived from a conversation Jem and Scout (two kids) have with a neighbor. Their father had given them air rifles for Christmas and stated that they could shoot tin cans, and he supposed they would want to shoot birds. Since Blue Jays and other birds ate crops and wreaked havoc in particular ways, Atticus, their father, said they were fair game. He told his children never to shoot a Mockingbird. Miss Maudie, the neighbor lady, explained to the kids that it was a sin to kill a Mockingbird because all they did was sing their hearts out for us to enjoy. As the story progresses, that whole idea gets fleshed out in other ways, but I was struck by her comment and put it together with another quote in the book by Miss Maudie concerning Jem and Scout's revelation that their stodgy old father is quite the marksman with a rifle. He had to shoot a rabid dog, and he had a second to do it as the dog would have attacked. He had to get it right.

If your father's anything, he's civilized in his heart. Marksmanship's a gift of God, a talent - oh, you have to practice to make it perfect, but shootin's different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn't shoot till he had to, and he had to today.
" Looks like he'd be proud of it, " I said.
"People in their right minds never take pride in their talents," said Miss Maudie.


I have always had a bit of a crush on Atticus. He is portrayed as a very dignified, respectful man with a dry sense of humor and a sense of responsibility towards his children, his neighbors, and the downtrodden. As a lawyer, he defends a man that nobody else would ever defend, and he warned his children that they would bear the brunt of that decision, but that they would have to make the best of the situation.

I was struck recently by ongoing abrasiveness in Christian blogs. Recently, rather acerbic comments have been made by Christians who may be expert marksmen but seem to take pride in their talents and flaunt their ability to shoot. I wish that men would study the character of Atticus and practice what C.J. Mahaney calls "humble orthodoxy". The emphasis on shooting often and hitting the mark overrides the idea of shooting only when absolutely necessary.

Some shots heard recently that have caused me to ponder the lesson in To Kill A Mockingbird are:

  • Personal attacks on Al Mohler regarding comments he made and tried to clarify. Whatever comments are questionable and possibly regrettable, does not negate his ministry and contributions to the cause of Christ.

  • Slams on Mark Driscoll regarding his confession of exhaustion and discouragement.

  • Slams on John MacArthur's personal position in Christ. Statements that he is not REALLY reformed.
I read recently that C.J. Mahaney traveled up to visit Mark Driscoll, play basketball with his sons, and encourage Mark in the faith. I respect Mahaney so much for taking time to mentor and encourage another pastor. His approach is far superior than public slams against Driscoll on the internet. Mahaney gets my silent award for being most Atticuslike this week. May more men learn by his example.

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