Well, first off, I want to apologize that this post is happening on Tuesday of this week as opposed to Monday. Things have been a little bit crazy around the Robinson household this week.
Jason asked me if I’d be willing to kick things off for our discussion of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and for some reason I can’t quite remember, I agreed.
I have to admit, going into this book, I wasn’t all that excited. I’ve seen more movies about Scrooge and his 4 ghostly visitors more times than I can count, or care to remember. This story just feels old and worn to me, I was sure that it held very little promise of helping me experience something new and fresh.
I was wrong.
From the first page, I realized that as much as I knew about this story from the movies, I had somehow missed the humor and the passion and the insight that beat at the heart of this ghostly little tale. First off, I found that I had forgotten (or perhaps never paid enough attention before) just how good of a writer Dickens is. There are so many great phrases, lines, and images that he uses to convey his message of having a compassionate commitment to loving our fellow human beings. Second, I discovered that Dickens was doing far more than writing the script for a movie about a grumpy old man who undergoes a supernatural change of heart. On the contrary, Dickens is telling a story about you and about me, about the people we live with and next to, asking all of us to be better towards each other.
There are all kinds of quotes I could use to point this out, but if you’ve read the first two chapters, you already know what I mean.
I do want to share one quote that has haunted me (and yes, I intended for that to be a groan inducing pun) ever since I stumbled across it. It comes on page 12 of my copy. Marley, Scrooge’s deceased old business partner is warning Scrooge about his selfish ways and their undeniable consequences. Marley confesses that he made the same mistake in life, and that now he sees things far differently. He closed himself off from the basic needs of the people around him, and Marley would give anything to go back and change things. He says, “At this time of the rolling year, I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of my fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that Blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?”
The first Christmas start led three men who had more than they needed, to visit a poor young couple who were sleeping in a barn. Where have I allowed the light of Christmas to lead me, through the years? I’m a man who has more than I need…why haven’t I let the light of Christmas lead me to the doorstep of a family in need? Why do I tend to think that the light of Christmas is more about leading Christ (and all His blessings) to me, rather than understanding that that light is sending me out as Christ’s representative to people like Mary and Joseph? These are the questions that I haven’t been able to escape this week.
There’s my two cents. I wanted to let everyone to have a chance to share their first impressions with the book so far, so I strongly encourage you to do just that in the comments section.