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The Christmas Carol as Christian Truth

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Title: The Christmas Carol as Christian Truth


1
The Christmas Carol as Christian Truth
Session Five Dec. 21, 2014
  • Come and Know Me Better Man!

2
By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John
1335 KJV). But whoso hath this world's good,
and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up
his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth
the love of God in him? .
  • The Word to Live By

(1 John 317 KJV).
3
The central quality of Christians should be love.
. .love for one another and love for the
poor."Vide", inquiunt, "ut invicem se diligant"
("Look," they say, "how they love one another")
  • Session Truth

(Tertullianearly church father.
4
Chapter Overview
  • Unlike the Ghost of Christmas Past who takes
    Scrooge out of time, the Ghost of Christmas
    Present is anchored within time. In fact he is
    the only ghost who ageshe comes unlooked for
    and when he is gone he is gone.
  • Thus, like life, he is not to be wasted.
  • Christian love and fellowship presents the
    magnetic image of God even more than doctrine.

5
7 Beloved, let us love one another for love is
of God and every one that loveth is born of God,
and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth
not God for God is love. 9 In this was
manifested the love of God toward us, because
that God sent his only begotten Son into the
world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein
is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins.
  • Scripture

6
  • 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also
    to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at
    any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in
    us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby
    know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,
    because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we
    have seen and do testify that the Father sent the
    Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever
    shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God
    dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have
    known and believed the love that God hath to us.
    God is love and he that dwelleth in love
    dwelleth in God, and God in him.

7
  • 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may
    have boldness in the day of judgment because as
    he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no
    fear in love but perfect love casteth out fear
    because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not
    made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he
    first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and
    hateth his brother, he is a liar for he that
    loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can
    he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this
    commandment have we from him, That he who loveth
    God love his brother also.

1 John 47-21 (KJV)
8
The Ghost of ChristmasPresent is a Recognizable
Spirit of Christmas
  • As with the traditional elements of ghosts used
    by Dickens in Marley, so the Ghost of Christmas
    present stands in the long line of traditioal
    mid-winter spirits of pagan folklore.

9
Evidence of a dark past
  • He wears an empty sword scabbard perhaps
    indicating that he may haveas Christmas does
    bloody origins but he has been transformed a
    vessel of peace. Girded round its middle was an
    antique scabbard but no sword was in it, and the
    ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.

10
Human Justice Blood Divine Response
Abundant Grace
  • Midvinterblót the pagan festival which occurred
    in Sweden and many surrounding parts of Europe
    around the Winter solstice involved animal and
    sometimes human sacrifice to stop the light of
    the world from going out. Of course it is an
    ancestor to our modern Christmas revels.
  • Thus the quality which the ghost presents is
    unbounded love, not the severity of the law.
  •  

11
  • These traditions have themselves merged with the
    legend of a generous Christian bishop named
    Nicholas who lived in the fourth-century in
    the Lycian port of Myra, (in the south-west of
    modern Turkey) and whose feast day is Dec. 6th.
  • Dickens Ghost may not be Santa Clause, but as
    many an American viewer has noted, hes
    definitely related.

12
However, note that Dickens spirit is not pagan
anymore but is overtly connected with the coming
of Christ.
  • Have you never walked forth with the younger
    members of my family meaning (for I am very
    young) my elder brothers born in these later
    years? pursued the Phantom.
  • I dont think I have, said Scrooge. I am
    afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers,
    Spirit?
  • More than eighteen hundred, said the Ghost.
  • A tremendous family to provide for, muttered
    Scrooge. (Jesus was born 1800 years ago)

13
Dickens giant of Christmas present is an
illustration of the quality of Christian love
both in the joy it brings to all who experience
it as well in the practical good it manifests in
its care for those whose physical needs are
great.
It was clothed in one simple green robe, or
mantle, bordered with white fur
This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that
its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining
to be warded or concealed by any artifice.
14
  • Everything about the ghost matches the
    abundance which is the nature of Gods love I
    am come that they might have life, and that they
    might have it more abundantly (John 10 10). he
    is a jolly Giant, glorious to see, who bore a
    glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's horn,
    and held it up, high up, to shed its light on
    Scrooge. . . . Its dark brown curls were long and
    free free as its genial face, its sparkling eye,
    its open hand, its cheery voice, its
    unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air.

15
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present is an exemplum
    of Christian love.
  • An exemplum is an anecdote that illustrates or
    supports a moral point, as in a medieval sermon,
    and you will notice that he is described as
    preaching and teaching in ways no other spirit
    is.
  • He is the physical manifestation of what humans
    should be in their livescarriers of Gods love
    and therefore Gods very image into the world.
  • Such love must also be extended to those who are
    poor.

16
If memory is vital in the movement towards
Salvation, the love of believers that gives hope
for a new direction
  • If memory is vital for the journey towards
    salvation in that it overtly shows an individuals
    how much they are in debt to others and how far
    they have fallen into evil, then the ever drawing
    quality of Gods love characterized by the love
    of Gods people is the next.
  • See how they love one another was the remark
    made by many in the first century. In fact what
    drew you to the family of faith of which you are
    a part? In my personal experience, it is the
    fellowship and love of believers far more than
    the nuts and bolts of their belief system which
    attracts others to the family of God.

17
Sadly, we Christians have much to answer for as
illustrated by one of Dickens contemporaries,
Mark Twain in the voice of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and
    allowed she would sivilize me but it was rough
    living in the house all the time, considering how
    dismal regular and decent the widow was in all
    her ways. . .Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable
    slim old maid, with goggles on, had just come to
    live with her. . .Then for an hour it was deadly
    dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say,
    "Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry" and
    "Don't scrunch up like that, Huckleberry -- set
    up straight" and pretty soon she would say,
    "Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry --
    why don't you try to behave?" Then she told me
    all about the bad place, and I said I wished I
    was there.

18
  • She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All
    I wanted was to go somewheres all I wanted was a
    change, I warn't particular. She said it was
    wicked to say what I said said she wouldn't say
    it for the whole world she was going to live
    so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't
    see no advantage in going where she was going, so
    I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I
    never said so, because it would only make
    trouble, and wouldn't do no good. Now she had
    got a start, and she went on and told me all
    about the good place. She said all a body would
    have to do there was to go around all day long
    with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I
    didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I
    asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go
    there, and she said not by a considerable sight.
    I was glad about that, because I wanted him and
    me to be together (Huck Finn 1-4).

19
  • Sometimes the widow would take me one side and
    talk about Providence in a way to make a body's
    mouth water but maybe next day Miss Watson would
    take hold and knock it all down again. I judged I
    could see that there was two Providences, and a
    poor chap would stand considerable show with the
    widow's Providence, but if Miss Watson's got him
    there warn't no help for him any more. I thought
    it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the
    widow's if he wanted me, though I couldn't make
    out how he was a-going to be any better off then
    than what he was before, seeing I was so
    ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery
    (Huck Finn 15).

20
  • Clearly one, of the sisters, who truly loves
    Huckleberry, is an effective witness, but the
    other is not. Sadly in their society both would
    be seen as Godly women.
  • While Dickens does not dwell on the failure of
    fellowship (that was covered in the first stave),
    there is an interesting discussion between
    Scrooge and the Spirit about individuals who see
    themselves as righteous but lack the love which
    needs to be a part of that righteousness.

21
  • These were those who would forbid the poor to
    enjoy recreation on the Sabbath which ends this
    way
  • Sabbatarianism, the Christian doctrine of strict
    observance of Sunday as a holy day reserved for
    worship, was attacked by Dickens throughout his
    life. Closed SundaysIn 1836 he published the
    pamphlet Sunday Under Three Heads in opposition
    to a Bill that would have extended already strict
    limitations to Sunday recreation. Dickens felt
    that these Bills were an attempt by the upper
    classes to control the lives of the lower classes
    disguised as religious piety.

22
The Ghost of Christmas Present is an exemplum of
Christian love.
  • It separates itself from those who use
    religion rather than express it (like Miss Sara
    in Huck Finn) and thus identifies itself as a
    minister of Gods grace itself
  • There are some upon this earth of yours,'
    returned the Spirit,' who lay claim to know us,
    and who do their deeds of passion, pride,
    ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness
    in our name, who are as strange to us and all out
    kith and kin, as if they had never lived.
    Remember that, and charge their doings on
    themselves, not us.

23
The Nature of Christian Love Illustrated by the
Ghost of Christmas Present
It is required of every man,' the Ghost
returned, that the spirit within him should walk
abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and
wide to share. . .on earth, . . .so that it
may be turned to happiness!'
  • Christian Love is unexpected Scrooge is
    unprepared for what he experiences Now, being
    prepared for almost anything he was not prepared
    for nothing.
  • The Ghost of Christian fellowship is typified by
    abundance It was his Scrooges own room. There
    was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a
    surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling
    were so hung with living green, that it looked a
    perfect grove from every part of which, bright
    gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of
    holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the
    light, as if so many little mirrors had been
    scattered there and such a mighty blaze went
    roaring up the chimney, as that dull
    petrification of a hearth had never known in
    Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many
    a winter season gone.

24
  • The Spirit of Fellowship There was nothing very
    cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was
    there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the
    clearest summer air and brightest summer sun
    might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.  For,
    the people who were shovelling away on the
    housetops were jovial and full of glee calling
    out to one another from the parapets, and now and
    then exchanging a facetious snowball.
  • The Joyful Welcoming! But, if you had judged
    from the numbers of people on their way to
    friendly gatherings, you might have thought that
    no one was at home to give them welcome when they
    got there, instead of every house expecting
    company, and piling up its fires half-chimney
    high. Blessings on it, how the Ghost exulted. How
    it bared its breadth of breast, and opened its
    capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with
    a generous hand, its bright and harmless mirth on
    everything within its reach.

25
But How Christian is the Carol?
  • The matches Christs own mission on earth
  • The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he
    hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the
    poor he hath sent me to head the broken hearted,
    to preach deliverance to the captive, and
    recovering of sight to the blind, to set at
    liberty them that are bruised. ((Luke 418 KJV)
  • Jesus ministry was two fold to bring help to
    the poor and to bring salvation to the individual
    and so does Dickens Christmas Carol. It is
    notable that all of the activities described as
    such fun have at their center Jesus.

26
Note that the Spirit of Fellowship is based in
the body of Christ
  • But soon the steeples called good people all, to
    church and chapel, and away they came, flocking
    through the streets in their best clothes, and
    with their gayest faces.
  • His Nephews Party also affirms the need for Joy
    which is tied to being like a child and that
    also leads to Christ But they didn't devote the
    whole evening to music. After a while they played
    at forfeits for it is good to be children
    sometimes, and never better than at Christmas,
    when its mighty Founder was a child himself.

27
The power of the Spirit is not hindered by
unpleasant or harsh realities.   
  • Poor Miners of the Earth And now, without a word
    of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon a
    bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of
    rude stone were cast about, as though it were the
    burial-place of giants and water spread itself
    wheresoever it listed, or would have done so, but
    for the frost that held it prisoner and nothing
    grew
  • What place is this.' asked Scrooge.
  • A place where Miners live, who labour in the
    bowels of the earth,' returned the Spirit. But
    they know me. See.'

28
Since the spirit of Christ is not limited to only
comfortable parlors and dinner tables, neither is
the Ghost of Christmas Presenthe goes where he
is needed the most
  • Out to Sea a Lighthouse The Spirit did not tarry
    here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and passing
    on above the moor, sped -- whither. Not to sea.
    To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw
    the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks,
    behind them. . . But even here, two men who
    watched the light had made a fire, that through
    the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a
    ray of brightness on the awful sea.

29
  • On board a distant ship Again the Ghost sped on,
    above the black and heaving sea on, onuntil,
    being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any
    shore, they lighted on a ship. . .but every man
    among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a
    Christmas thought. . .And every man on board,
    waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder
    word for another on that day than on any day in
    the year

30
Wherever vain man in his little brief authority
had not made fast the door and barred the Spirit
out, he left his blessing
  • Much they saw, and far they went, and many
    homes they visited, but always with a happy end.
    The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were
    cheerful on foreign lands, and they were close
    at home

. . .by struggling men, and they were patient in
their greater hope
31
  • . . .by poverty, and it was rich. In
    almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every
    refuge, where vain man in his little brief.

authority had not made fast the door and barred
the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught
Scrooge his precepts.
Scripture Reading at a Night Refuge from
Gustave Dores London A Pilgrimage
32
The Poor Mans Christmas
Under the Bridge from Gustave Dores London A
Pilgrimage
33
  • From his earliest original planning, Dickens had
    always intended for his Christmas book to be a
    critique of his Christian societys treatment
    of the poor.  The adjective appears
  • Under the impression that they workhouses and
    prisons scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind
    or body. . .a few of us are endeavouring to raise
    a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink.
  • any Christian spirit working kindly in its little
    sphere, whatever it may will find its mortal life
    too short for its vast means of usefulness.

34
Also the Ghost of Christmas Presents warning is
couched in Christian terms
  • If these shadows remain unaltered by the
    Future, none other of my race,' returned the
    Ghost, will find him here. What then. If he be
    like to die, he had better do it, and decrease
    the surplus population.' . . .Man,' said the
    Ghost, if man you be. . .forbear that wicked
    cant until you have discovered What the surplus
    is, and Where it is. . .It may be, that in the
    sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less
    fit to live than millions like this poor man's
    child."

35
Stave Three with the Ghost of Christmas Present
is the most overt Cultural Criticism within the
Carol the demon children Ignorance and Want
  • They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre,
    ragged, scowling, wolfish but prostrate, too, in
    their humility. Where graceful youth should have
    filled their features out, and touched them with
    its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand,
    like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them,
    and pulled them into shreds

36
  • Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils
    lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no
    degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any
    grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful
    creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

37
  • They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down
    upon them. And they cling to me, appealing from
    their fathers.
  • This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware
    them both, and all of their degree, but most of
    all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that
    written which is Doom, unless the writing be
    erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching
    out its hand towards the city. Slander those who
    tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes,
    and make it worse. And abide the end.'

38
  • Have they no refuge or resource?' cried Scrooge.
  • Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning
    on him for the last time with his own words. Are
    there no workhouses?'
  • The bell struck twelve
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