Why We Love Atticus Finch

On the 50th anniversary of 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' we celebrate a true American hero

The 50th anniversary this year of the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird has many of us remembering the Oscar-winning film and Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch—voted the greatest American hero of 20th century film by the American Film Institute. One key scene shows why this character has become enshrined as an iconic hero and a model of courage: Atticus, alone, facing down an angry, drunken lynch mob late at night with nothing but a newspaper.

Yet when you view Atticus Finch in light of many of our culture's heroes, something doesn't add up. Our society reveres success and power. Our heroes prevail in court cases, survive the island, win the big games. Christians seem just as determined to see our view recognized as correct, our argument heard, our sense of entitlement satisfied. Even the heroes of Christian culture seem to be winners these days.

So it's remarkable that a half century after the publication of Harper Lee's novel, we still celebrate this small-town lawyer who ...

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