Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

A Christmas Carol

Every Christmas I read Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, and am in Stave 4 now. It is the story of a conversion from miserliness to generosity, from self-preoccupation to other-directedness. One assignment I give when I teach about conversion is to examine this Christmas book to determine if the student thinks Scrooge’s conversion is a Christian conversion. Some of you might have comments on that.
What struck me this time in reading the book was how Scrooge had to come to terms with who he was, who he is, and who he might become if he does not change the course of his life. That story of going back into his past to see how he had been treated is insightful, but no scene does it for me quite the way his lost love story does it. Scrooge wants to marry a young woman, and they had been in love, but she came to terms with what controlled Scrooge’s life: Gain. The young woman releases him “for the love of him you once were” (35, in my Oxford edition).
It was that decision, Scrooge’s that is, to live for Gain that turned that young man into a miserable miser.
Well, I hope you find time to read A Christmas Carol.

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John Byron

posted December 23, 2005 at 9:35 am

This is the first year I have read the story. Although I know the story, I was impressed with the tale the Dickens wrote.
I think we could describe Scrooge as a convert. His change towards humanity is evidence of one who is fulfilling the command of love of neighbor. I also think the interchange between Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas present is an interesting commentary on the 19th century church (or even today). If you remember, the short interchange was about the closing of the bakers on Christmas day. (I gather that the poor of London had to go to the bakers in order to have their Christmas dinner cooked since most homes did not have an oven large enough to produce such a feast.) In the story scrooge assumes that it is the spirit of Christmas present (i.e. the spirit of Jesus?) that wants the bakers closed on a ‘Christian Holy day”. This was the one day of the year that the poor could actually catch a glimpse of what it must be like to not live in abject poverty. But the spirit corrects him by pointing out that it those who claim to work in the name of Christmas (i.e the Christians) that are doing this, but that they do not really represent the spirit of Christmas (Christianity). I suppose Scrooges realization of what is really happening is part of his conversion. He realizes that not everything that is represented as being “the spirit of Christmas” is accurately represented.
BTW, I have traditionally read O’Henry The Gift of the Magi. This is story also, I believe, truly captures the message of Christmas.
Merry Christmas
P.S. I love the Mr. Magoo version of “A Christmas Carol”. I have not seen in it in over 25 years, but Lori got it for me this year. Follows the book very c

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Scot McKnight

posted December 23, 2005 at 10:43 am

Thanks for this. Same thing I’ve observed about that chp — Dickens defines Christianity as generosity of spirit and goods, but that scene is one of his best I think.
Not read O’Henry but I saw an old, old TV Christmas Carol the other night for awhile. Too many liberties with the text for me, but it was fun.

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posted December 23, 2005 at 1:41 pm

To live for “gain” is literally impossible.
To “gain” is ONLY possible through GIVING.
“A Christmas Carol” IS the Christmas story.

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John Byron

posted December 23, 2005 at 1:55 pm

Here is on online version of “Gift of the Magi”.

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Paul Hill

posted December 23, 2005 at 9:25 pm

I too read ” A Christmas Carol” every Christmas. I tried to read it to my young children but found that all of our time was spent trying to explain archaic English terms.
Dickens does two important things with the story. First, he has Scrooge scared of the horrible things that he sees that can happen and have. This is one point of motivation for his heart to change. Second, Scrooge’s heart is wooed by the good and the beautiful that he sees in his young love affair, the joy of his nephew’s Christmas party, and, most importantly, the joy and sheer grace that he is shown by Cratchit’s gentle response to his wife and children.
It seems to demonstrate two sides of the Gospel story. One side is the beauty of being in the community of the redeemed and the other side is the sadness and horror of being on the outside.
“…I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been…”

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Call Me Ishmael

posted December 25, 2005 at 7:47 pm

I love Christmas carols! Here is one that I wrote:
I trust it is not a total failure.

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