A Timeless Classic for the Glory of God

A look into why Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Christmas Carol has been so timeless and captivating for generations. By Lexi Cannon

Let’s be honest it doesn’t take much looking around in our world today to find something that is dark and disappearing, and unfortunately things were much the same for writer and social reformer Charles Dickens in 1843.

Charles Dickens often found himself deeply concerned with the harsh conditions of the lower working class. Although many of his works seem to have some type of spiritual aspect to them Dickens was reluctant to make professions in any specific faith other than general Christianity. During the Victorian era England was a predominantly Christian country, so as a writer it was important for Dickens to lean towards Christian ideals in order to stay on the queen’s good side.

All of this to say, whether one identifies as a Christian or not most people desire to work towards the common good of all. Therefore he would continue to present ideas such as these to his audience until his death in 1870.

An article from Geva Theater Center of Rochester New York states,

“ Dickens was particularly concerned with the health, treatment and well-being of children, always among the most vulnerable members of any society. By the mid-nineteenth century, it is believed that well over 100,000 children in London had never attended a school of any kind.”

The article goes on to say:

“And of those who did receive some sort of education, many attended either schools run by private owners for the purpose of making a profit, or more often, “ragged” schools. Ragged schools were charity institutions created to provide at least a rudimentary education for destitute children. In many instances, the ragged schools also provided food, clothing and lodging for their students. These schools received no government support and existed solely on charitable donations. As a result, the schools were usually found to be in slum-like conditions in disreputable sections of town.”

Dickens cared about these social changes because throughout his life he and his family experienced hardships of their own. “Dickens never quite experienced the same levels of poverty as so many of his fellow Londoners, but his family did contend with hardship and separation. After losing his job as a pay clerk for the BritishNavy in 1824, Dickens’ father was sent to a debtor’s prison…” Sound familiar?

It is likely that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in order to reflect some of the harshness of his own life, the lives of those around him, and to promote ideas of social change. By the end of the novel the reader learns that people and circumstances change. Dickens’ work forces Scrooge as well as the reader to evaluate themselves. It cries out to us all that doesn’t always have to be this way – whatever one’s “this” may be -.

Psalms 46: 1 tells us, ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  If one looks outside of themselves and their own strength this is why it doesn't have to be this way. 

Link By Link: what makes Scrooge’s story so compelling?

Alright so you are probably thinking “blah,blah,blah boring history how does this thing apply to me?”, and that my friend is where the fun begins. Now I’m not so sure about other communities, but if you’re from West Monroe you likely can’t hear the word Scrooge without thinking about Family Church of West Monroe’s nearly 20 year streak of the performance. I know I can’t. Growing up I loved seeing that show. It was how my family and I kicked off our Christmas season from as young as I can remember until the show stopped in 2015.

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with West Monroe native, Phillip Brooks, who portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in the Family Church adaptation of “A Christmas carol” for nearly 20 years! I don’t know about you, but I kind of geek out at just the thought of that.

I think the most compelling aspect of the story is how much it makes us see and think about ourselves. One thing Phillip said is, “portraying Ebenezer Scrooge gave me insight into this character’s heart and showed me that I wasn’t much different without God in my own life.” Each of us have a God-sized hole in our lives that only God can fill. Whether the story be presented from a religious or a secular viewpoint it leaves us wanting to be different. To be better. Longing to fill that hole with something. You can hear more from Phillip and his experience portraying Scrooge in the podcast link below, but for now let’s explore how the story leaves its audience with these feelings. 

Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  

Unfortunately, much like old Scrooge himself we can all be self-centered from time to time. I mean his whole demeanor reeks of “I hate – well hate is perhaps a little harsh- nevertheless I have a strong dislike for society! Leave me be!” and let’s just face it, sometimes we can all be this way.

Imagine you wake up from a perfect dream, your bed is warm, and you can smell the coffee that your spouse made for you. As you begin to get ready for your day you put on some of your favorite tunes and everything in your world is perfect. Until you get in the car and traffic is jammed or that coworker that you are constantly having to beg the good Lord to give you patience with rubs you the wrong way. That is the moment when your personal perfect bubble has been burst. It’s moments like these that I have to fight for pure thoughts and motives daily.

Thankfully for the sake of others and my own the Lord is gracious.

I like to see Ebenezer Scrooge as one who has simply had his bubble burst – and maybe tends to hold a bit of a grudge about it. Not to say that the character along with Dickens himself, and each of us don’t have pain in our lives that caused us to be less than joyful. But the thing about all this bubble bursting is that it forces us to look outside of ourselves much like Scrooge is made to do.

Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 

When we look outside of ourselves and into the lives of others with the eyes of love we become more like Christ.

Financial debt

a family torn apart

prisons,

workhouses,

losing true love,

it is safe to say Scrooge wasn’t so unhappy for no reason at all. He had all the reason and no hope. If I’m being honest I would probably hate the world and everyone in it as well. I perhaps might not even have wanted to be in the world at all.

As Christians we often hear that things happen for a reason and to some extent that is true.

Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

But what about when those “things” happen to us? It doesn’t seem quite fair does it? God knew we would ponder these things within our hearts. Jesus even did when he prayed in the garden before his death.

God’s word tells us in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.”

We weren’t meant to understand why everything happens. We aren’t God, therefore we must not let anyone or anything else replace the one true God in our lives.

Now, I don’t know about you but if I ever got an invitation to “Mr.Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball” I think I’d like to go. I mean who doesn’t want to be friends with someone whose name sounds as cool as Fezziwig? One of the elements that makes “A Christmas Carol” so timeless is its fun.

One of my favorite moments of Family Church’s adaptation of Scrooge is the moment when the third angel referred to as Hope (aka the crazy angel) makes her grand entrance as she escorts Scrooge as her very first assignment. It is probably one of the most relatable moments for me because it encapsulates my ADD energy when trying to have a daily quiet time. This story reminds us to hold on to the fun memories and never take them for granted. Because the Lord has a sense of humor you know…

Final Thoughts

I believe the thing that makes this story so timeless is whether it is presented from a religious or secular standpoint it leaves us wanting to be better people. It leaves us wanting to fill that God-sized hole with something. Whether it be on purpose or not this story cries out to each of us that we desperately need Jesus.

So dear reader, I ask you to ask yourself if you have not already,

would you choose to accept the greatest gift of all this christmas season?

Would you choose Jesus?

If you have asked Jesus to come into your life I’d like to leave you with this question: will you be willing to allow Jesus to completely transform your life, and would you share God’s gift of life with someone else this season? Jesus is the greatest gift of all.

How Could I Ever Make Another Choice? 

Morgan Alexa Cannon December 2021

I deserve nothing but death  
But God being so gracious has chosen to bestow life upon me
I am greedy, I am mean, I am selfish, I am sinful
But God has given me the greatest gift of all His one and only son who died on a cross for me.
Some say that life is nothing more than just living and dying 
But how can I go on thinking that and believe that someone loved me enough
- As terrible as a person I am-
To give their very life for me
To love me unconditionally
I don’t claim to live a perfect life
In Fact I will never be anything near perfect But I do claim to put my trust in the one who is
I can hardly put all that He has done for me into words worthy of His very existence
So the only thing left for me to claim is this:  
“I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus, without a solitary doubt I choose Jesus.
Not for miracles - but for loving me- Not for Bethlehem - but for Calvary
- Not for a day - but for eternity-
I chose Jesus.”

Check out Lexi’s podcast interview with Phillip Brooks below!

https://tuxproductions-theunpackitpodcast.libsyn.com/website

Author: Lexi Cannon
Podcast Guest: Phillip Brooks AKA Scrooge