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Exiled in NJ

Yesterday we stopped at Shoprite to get cut-up fresh fruit for Pam's physical therapists. On leaving I wanted to post a sign, "Scrooge Lives' for never have I seen so many people only bent on getting their wares and barging through line. One man came close to knocking Pam down, never noticing the cane that helped her walk. Don't even ask about the behavior of drivers in the parking lot.

Seems to me your target needn't be a few Evangies doing their own thing, but the mass of us forgetting the lesson of being in our own world to the exclusion of mankind. Dickens harkens back to Donne's message, doesn't he?

Merry Christmas to the Mannions, every one of them.

Lance

NJ,

Oh, I can be as Scrooge-like as the worst of them. In fact, every year it seems harder to be Nephew Fred and easier to be Scrooge. But today I am Feziwig, alive again! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Linkmeister

"I am Fezziwig Hear me Roar," says Mannion. ;)

Mele Kalikimaka to all from the chilly suburban landscapes of Oahu!

Susie from Philly

Nice piece, Lance.

Rasselas

A few comments: first, it is easy and common for those of us who find the overt, aggressive religiosity (let us set aside piety and definitional disputation in honor of the season) of modern GWB-style evangelicals too reminiscent of salesmen of every kind, while nurturing some small nostalgic reverence for something, to elide the doctrinal demands that we may dimly if at all remember into a generalized affection for everybody and everything. This is perfectly acceptable, and it's better than the "kill 'em all, I'm saved" message of the average megachurch. But I think it is incorrect to state that "[t]he reason for the season isn't Jesus, it's what Jesus came to remind us to do." Dietrich Bonhoeffer had other reasons for the orbital decay in the German Church in mind when he wrote several books trying to restore Christ to the center of religious practice, both internal and external, but when we find ourselves tempted to reduce Christmas, Jesus and the Gospel to a pamphlet's worth of admirable advice to be kind to one another, it is worth recalling Bonhoeffer's assertions that God is love, Jesus is love, and what God did by sending Jesus, and what Jesus did, were love, and not just a matter of advice.

(Now it occurs to me that among liberal, humane people with some knowledge of 20th century history, appealing to the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is not too far removed -- in exactly the opposite direction -- from comparing one's opponents to Hitler, so I apologize. I don't mean to usurp the moral high ground in that way.)

As to Scrooge's miserliness and his abandonment of his fiancee, in one of his sermons John Donne condemns the hardness of heart produced by "perpetual progress" from sin to sin: lying, one plots to steal; stealing, one plans to debauch; etc., etc. He uses several vivid metaphors for the hardened, shut-up heart, and one of them sticks with me: "a wretched miser's bag of gold." John Donne had not been rich much, but had spent a good amount of time around rich people, before and after becoming Dean of St. Paul's, and I wonder whether he threw that phrase at the congregation with particular venom.

Kevin Wolf

Was on the road for the holiday when this was posted. Just want to make a late comment that this was a great post and I very much enjoy the allusions that come directly from Dickens's book. Much as I love many of the dramatizations, it's the wordsmithing Dickens did that made it so popular and the story that still rings true today. Man, could he ever write!

Hope you and yours are enjoying the holidays.

Honour Amongst Steves

"The Gospel According to Scrooge ignores this, because the churches that put the play on reject the idea that good works are what get you into heaven. I was raised Catholic and I've never been able to get my head around this; but if that's what they believe then that's what their sermons are going to preach. Their business."

I think this is a common Evangelical blind spot. Since one cannot ever merit salvation, they would say, then it follows that one cannot earn it by doing good works. So don't remind them about the Epistle of James (which Luther apparently disliked so much that wanted to drop it from his New Testament), which makes it pretty clear that charity without works is meaningless -- in fact, I believe the common paraphrase is "Faith without works is dead."

FavorofGospel

I really would like to say I enjoyed Gospel according to Scrooge! I found it a light hearted version of the Charles Dickens story.
I am sorry if you celebrate Christmas, then you do know that JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON, thus CHRIST-mas. Jesus birthday represents the salvation that he was sent here to give us by God's love for us. The story was not changed to discredit Charles Dickens in anyway but to give him credit for what he did represent, As is the way in any new adaptation of a written story turned into a play or movie. We don't discredit GREASE because the screen version and play version are diffrent. Lighten up! Merry Christmas!!!

Bob

It occurs to me that the author's original comment ("Their lack of charity is their sin") is true enough but misses the mark. One of Scrooge's final lines in the play is "Bob, will you forgive a wretched (?) old man who has not had the eyes to see with or the ears to hear with . . . ". The problem of a lack of charity is not the real problem that salvation through Christ remedies; it is only a symptom of the deepest problem of the human heart. Christ did not come, minister, heal, preach, die on a Roman cross and rise from a tomb because humans lack charity or any other of the myriad of sins humans perform and needed a better example of how to behave. All sin is merely a symptom of the heart's greatest sin: hatred of God and rejection of his authority (Romans 1-3). This was Scrooge's greatest and deepest problem that manifested itself in greed and a lack of charity. In fact, one of the scenes between Scrooge and his fiance carry this very theme: you cannot serve two masters. The simple message of the production (often debunked) was that rejection of the greatest love ever demonstrated (the cross of Christ, where justice and mercy meet) is the greatest sin ever performed. That sin resides in every human heart and can only be remedied by turning from some other treasure under the sun to the greatest treasure: the Son. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to respond! Be of good cheer.

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