Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs.  They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out of us.  That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

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In each of us there is a mockingbird – a sweet voice of good; this: evidence of harmony and proper perspective as to others, and those things all around us. Yes, a purity within us.

But there is within us, each of us, the capacity for sin – manifest in so many ways.

No less than St. Augustine observed in his Confessions, “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution.”  No earthly, man-made solution.  Yet, Augustine learned, as St. Paul and St. Timothy expressed, that in the mystery of our living God alone there is truth which conquers evil, defeats sin. (2 Thess 2:7, 2 Tim 3:16)

Sin is personal.  Individuals commit sin, do wrong deeds.  They hate, offend, divide, malign, exile, exclude, kill.  That individuals do wrong, sin, commit evil deeds, is a “given,” or was so for many centuries.

But alas, in the West we have deflected this proposition in favor of a focus on social sin, on institutional wrong-doing as if to say: “I sin no more, but they do or it does.”  Yes, as if to say, “I am cleansed eventhough I participate in the institution, live on its salary, receive its benefits, participate in it … am a human.”

Gone is the understanding that the individual sins and that no matter the social ill, or the institution deemed to have transgressed, it was the individual all along the trajectory of the sinful act who collaborated to make it so, whose acquiescence made the transgression possible.

This is a very serious and bad development.

The evaporation of individual responsibility for wrong-doing robs us of truth, of God, of community, of our fullness of being; for, one cannot be whole unless one recognizes and “owns” his or her own inevitable (and, frankly, multiple) sinful acts.

Indeed, there can be no humility or mercy, compassion, wisdom, love or joy without recognizing that we sin.

Plain and simple, we sin – each of us.  We are made in the imperfect image of God.  Ignorance of this inclines us toward evil, and that is where we are today.

Want evidence of this?  In the interest of brevity I give you one example, but there are more.

Those who led the Civil Rights movement of 1960’s spoke of God, led from their faith.

It was simply impossible for them to speak without referencing their faith, God and their religion.  They were anchored in truth that allows us to confront injustice with ample room for reconciliation with those who are unjust.

Those who speak today about race are neither Rev. King nor Nelson Mandela.  Why is that?

The language of social sin, you see, fits today’s dialectic of a Marxist analysis which dismisses God from man’s life; in this context those who now speak are more political than spiritual, more divisive than unifying, more destructive than helpful.

” … it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”


Work with you faith.  Freely use this blog (if you like) to cultivate faith in our time and place.  God bless you.