Though I don't want to be a humbug sort of person, I should say that we have no evidence that Scrooge made any attempt to right the social wrongs of his day apart from his commitment to private generosity. We don't see Scrooge becoming a crusader for the right of the poor to, say, a decent education. Of course we don't see much of anything about Scrooge's transformed life. I'm simply pointing out that Scrooge's generosity, however laudatory, is not explicitly tied to any effort to help the poor in more structural ways. His transformation may have changed his private relationships, but it may also have left his politics intact.
I do think Dickens is right in his notion that a softened heart is a childlike heart. Jesus Himself says that one must become like a child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Though I'm pretty sure He wasn't thinking of playfulness at Christmas, Jesus rightly saw that a life renewed by God has an essential childlike aspect to it. The more our hearts are touched by the Spirit of God, the more we are able to be like children: trusting, free, expressive, spontaneous, enthusiastic, joyful. I'd like to be this sort of person, even more next year than last. I don't need any ghostly visitors, however. But I do need to pay more attention to the One we used to call the Holy Ghost. The third member of the Trinity is able to do in fact, what the spirits of Christmas were able to do in fiction, and much, much more.
Mark D. Roberts, as Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, is an advisor and frequent contributor to TheHighCalling.org. A Presbyterian pastor, Mark earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University. He has written six books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer (WaterBrook, 2005). This series of reflections on A Christmas Carol were previously posted on his blog, www.markdroberts.com, and are reprinted with permission.