December 28, 2012

This year I supersaturated in Charles Dickens to celebrate his bicentennial and used his Christmas Carol as part of my jollification. Whatever the state of Dickens’ soul, and no man can judge, he lived in a pervasively Christian country. His books are shot through with references to the Faith and he assumes the Christianity of all but his Jewish characters and that appeals to Christian ethics make sense to his readers. Secularists have a poverty of writers before the nineteenth century, so they… Read more

December 25, 2012

Scrooge repents. He repents even though he is unsure of salvation. He is sorry for his misdoings and no longer attempts to bargain with Justice. He accepts that he is wretched and does not just retreat from selfishness, but to positive charity. C.S. Lewis made the point that too many of us confused unselfishness with charity, but charity, as he points out, is a positive virtue while unselfishness is merely getting rid of a vice. A husband may be utterly… Read more

December 24, 2012

We discount Scrooge’s sins too steeply if we make him merely stingy. Scrooge’s stinginess made him a bad neighbor and subject of the Crown. This was his chief sin and the Ghost of Christmas Future reveals that the City is better off without him. His story is the reverse of that of George Bailey: it was a Horrible Life chiefly because his absence made the community better. Mostly, Dickens lays the blame on his “worldly mind.” Secularists need not become… Read more

December 20, 2012

Christmas Carol has targets in mind and it isn’t Ebenezer Scrooge. Charles Dickens is after Ignorance and Want. Nobody, even Mr. Scrooge, is in the Ignorance and Want Lobby, but Dickens knows that many of us support both without intending to do so. My vices, small in themselves, added to the vices of my neighbors, can destroy a community. Dickens knew a people dedicated generally to Christian morality, which he took for granted, would generally fail in their moral ambitions, but… Read more

December 18, 2012

Ebenezer Scrooge has refused to make merry on Christmas and so Christmas jests with him. Sinners are always serious when they should be merry, and trivial when they should be serious. Christmas Past reminded Scrooge of chances missed and Christmas Present will teach him of opportunities about to be squandered. The Ghost of Christmas Present is really the Ghost of Christmas Soon to Be. One cannot actually live in the present . . . one can seize the “day” (to… Read more

December 6, 2012

Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, the memories of my Christmas past are happy. My parents worked hard to give us a holiday centered in Jesus and full of jollification. We went to Church, watched Christmas specials on television before video gave us even more control of our media lives, and practiced the American rituals of the season. They never pretended there was a Santa, but we enjoyed the Santa myth as fairy story. (Read Frank L. Baum on Santa!) Ebenezer Scrooge had… Read more

December 6, 2012

The murder, abuse, and suicide of a NFL player has brought all kinds of emotions into our national discourse. Some blame the “violent game of football,” but studies don’t seem to confirm that players are made more violent off the field. Some blame our “gun culture,” but the increasing rates of violence in the United Kingdom, which has strict gun control laws, and many other studies seem to challenge that idea. So maybe, but isn’t there another possible cause? What… Read more

December 4, 2012

He is a ghost, not a musician, old Jacob Marley, but his message, though less prominent on Google is more important to our times. Jacob Marley confronts a materialist comforted by his materialism. Scrooge lives in little world, one where death ends everything. Nobody is keeping score and so if Scrooge believes he is winner, then he wins. Marley finds him hard to convince, as even his senses will not break his materialist fantasy. Ebenezer Scrooge cannot afford Jacob Marley,… Read more

December 4, 2012

Recently, I have been asked why I do not just admit my “views” on any number of sexual issues are doomed. My short response is that morality always seems doomed, but prevails. Fortunately,  “my” views are not based on my preference, desires, or convenience. When discussing the slavery issue, Abraham Lincoln argued that the heart of the issue was morality. Defenders of slavery believed it to be moral and opponents immoral. One view or the other must prevail. Slavery could… Read more

December 2, 2012

The Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer invents an Island of Misfit Toys. These rejects garner sympathy and eventually Rudolph prevails on Santa to give them to children. This was cruel of Rudolph. The “misfit” toys are in toy classes: some are just different, but others are broken. A “jelly squirt gun” might be clever, but a train with square wheels is going to be disappointing. If Rudolph were kind, he would have the Elves whittle down the wheels of the square-wheeled… Read more

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