BY STEVE FARRELL
A cynical conservative magazine I used to subscribe to did the most irritating thing come every Christmas. They would go out of their way to destroy – no, annihilate – my family’s and perhaps your family’s favorite Christmas story, Charles Dickens’ classic work, “A Christmas Carol.”
When Dickens’ Scrooge dramatically burst upon the scene for his annual television debut, reminding us – with a marvelous degree of animation – of the worst and the best qualities present in mankind, this “conservative” magazine’s annual response was a Ronald Reagan-like “There you go again!” – but without the humor and the lightheartedness of Reagan.
Their excuse? Charles Dickens, the author of that wonderful tale, was a socialist! For heaven’s sake, a socialist! I suppose if one’s life rap sheet includes the fact that one is a socialist or a Democrat then that individual is incapable of having a heart, incapable of receiving inspiration in his work – and if at any time it appears that he did receive inspiration, it must be immediately and forever discredited as a fluke or a conspiratorial tactic.
I admit, I abhor socialism. And I readily admit that a few of them, and I do mean a few, are smoke-filled-back-room plotters (I’ve known some capitalists who fit the same description), but I do NOT hate socialists. Nor do I think that a majority of those citizens who foolishly fall for socialism’s wolf in sheep’s clothing ploys are themselves evil, plotting, America haters.
No! Most all of them are like you and me. They are filled with feelings, some of them good and some of them bad, about life, about politics, and about compassion. They, thanks to their education or other limitations, have errors in their thinking and abilities. Like every other human being, they make mistakes and they feel bad about them; they have triumphs and they feel good them. They also know a little bit about repentance and, hopefully, a little bit about redemption.
Dickens, who had much to justifiably protest in 19th century class-oriented “capitalist” England, was no Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, or Joseph Stalin. He was playing no trick in his protest, nor was there even a hint of socialism in his “Christmas Carol” message.
Rather, the fare he served up was Christian to the core – a message every man, woman and child, Christian or not, Democrat or Republican, who has read it, heard it or watched it, should remember fondly as being responsible for one of those few moments in life when a fire is lit in the heart, when animosities and pride are ashamedly pricked, stripped naked and gladly redressed, even if only for an hour, by a spirit of repentance and brotherhood.
Think about it. It was Christ’s two-part message brought to life as never before: It is harder for a rich man to enter into heaven as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, and with God nothing is impossible.
The former Scrooge – “A tight-fisted hand at the grindstone … squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, covetous, old sinner. Hard and as sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; [whose] cold within him froze his own features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, [and] his thin lips blue” – that Scrooge was the rich man who couldn’t be saved.
The latter Scrooge – a man who was “as light as a feather … as happy as an angel … as merry as a schoolboy … as giddy as a drunken man … who went to church … walked about the streets … patted children on the head … [and] questioned beggars” – that Scrooge was proof that with God nothing is impossible.
Dickens’ message, then, was a message of hope for all those capitalists, socialists (and every other sort of “ist”) out there who are every bit as wicked as the former Scrooge that they can make their money and still do good, if they will repent, seek forgiveness, and use their money and means and talents and time to bless their fellow men.
What in the world is wrong with that message? And did any of these fussbudgets ever notice the key element in Scrooge’s transformation? It was from within. It was a change of heart, it was religiously oriented, and the service he gave from that point forward was voluntary, not a result of governmental coercion.
This Christmas season we can all benefit from a review of Dickens’ memorable characterization of one Ebenezer Scrooge. He represents the worst and the best in all of us. If we let the latter Scrooge into our hearts, perhaps it can be said of us, too, that we became “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew,” and that “if any man [or woman] alive possessed the knowledge” of “how to keep Christmas well,” it was us!
Steve Farrell is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Moral Liberal, a former pundit at NewsMax.com (1999-2007), and the author of the inspirational Christmas Classic, Dark Rose.