Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"A Christmas Carol" Was Scrooge a Liberal turned Conservative?

My favorte Christmas movie is, was & likely always will be the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge) starring Alastair Sim. I grew up watching it rerun every year on KCRG-TV on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. There have been many other versions but this remains the definitive version.
I say this because, more than the others it captures the solid Christian message that Dickens includes when he wrote it in 1843. (More on that here)
Unfortunately KCRG no longer has the rights to air it, but thank to DVD I can dig it out any time I want. I will admit I also having & watching several other versions as well. Each has their strengths & weaknesses. But I still enjoy them. (No, the recent Jim Carrey version is not among them. & based on the trailer, not 1 I care to add to the collection.)
So naturally, I have been watching those various versions the past few days, as well as reading the book. This year as I started watching them, I noticed something interesting, how contemporary Scrooge is despite this taking place in 1843.  Scrooge at the start of the book would fit in today among the liberal elites & support their agenda. By the end of the book he would be more like the modern conservative.
Why do I say this? For several reasons.
1st of all, Scrooge hated Christmas. He wanted to stop people from saying "Merry Christmas!" or publicly celebrating it. Remember what he told his nephew Fred " Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! . . .   If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!" Don't we see that today with the way saying Merry Christmas is condemned as being insensative as well as all the attempts to keep even schools from celebrating Christmas because it isn't PC to do so?
Next up, let us look at his view on who should be responsible for the poor. We see this it what he said to the 2 gentlemen from a private charity seeking donations to help the poor with their needs, like food & fuel.
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir."
"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."
"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.
"You wish to be anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there." (emphasis mine)
In other words, Scrooge believed that it was the responsibility of government to deal with the poor & their needs.
Next up we have what he said next to the 2 gentlemen about "the surplus population."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." (emphasis mine)
That quote was  reference to the Malthusian view that we can only sustain a certain number of people on Earth. Thus, there need to be checks on the number of people born. This theory is the basis for the promoters of population control, especially in the 3rd world, that we see today. They use this much discredited idea to justify artificial birth control as well as abortion.
Malthus would also have been at home with Peter Singer's idea that a person has to earn the right to live as well.
It is also clear that Scrooge doesn't believe in God. Or at best, denied the existance of Hell? Remember how, at 1st, he doubted that Marley's ghost was real?
It wasn't until he admitted that he believed Marley's ghost was real that his conversion could begin.
It is also clear that despite the fact that he was "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" he didn't see what he, or Marley did, by not caring for the least of his brethren, was wrong. I'll get back to this later.
But, before I go on, I have to point out 1 other thing Dicken's criticizes, using Scrooge to point it out. In the 3rd Stave Scrooge tells the Spirit of Christmas Present that in his name the liberal elite of thier time were trying to pass laws that would shut down the bakeries where the poor brought their Sunday meat to be roasted as well as put limits on their recreation. These laws, sponsored by Sir Andrew Agnew would have left the elite unaffected.
I can hear some people saying "Wasn't Dickens attacking capitalism?" To that I say "NO!" What he was doing was attacking the abuses done in the name of capitalism. In fact, after his repentance we see Scrooge living out what we find in the Catholic Church's social teachings beginning with those by Pope Leo XIII especiallyRerum Novarum. I am going to make a few references from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church here, but I recommending reading the complete teaching as found in the Compendium as well as the Catechism. 1st of all, the Catholic Church condemns socialism in all forms (par 89 & 267). It also points out the "value of private property" (par 92) It calls for the right use of private property as well as profit.(Par 330-349) "The social doctrine of the Church recognizes the proper role of profit as the first indicator that a business is functioning well: “when a firm makes a profit, this means that productive factors have been properly employed”. " . . . . "It is essential that within a business the legitimate pursuit of profit should be in harmony with the irrenounceable protection of the dignity of the people who work at different levels in the same company. These two goals are not in the least contrary to one another, since, on the one hand, it would not be realistic to try to guarantee the firm's future without the production of useful goods and services and without making a profit, which is the fruit of the economic activity undertaken. On the other hand, allowing workers to develop themselves fosters increased productivity and efficiency in the very work undertaken. " (par 340)
As an aside I would like to have people look at par 291. It says "The duty of the State does not consist so much in directly guaranteeing the right to work of every citizen, making the whole of economic life very rigid and restricting individual free initiative, as much as (instead it consists) in the duty to “sustain business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job opportunities, by stimulating those activities where they are lacking or by supporting them in moments of crisis”." (emphasis & comment mine) Dicken's clearly opposed government efforts to control everything, just to ensure that workers would be treated fairly & justly, just like the Catholic Church does.
As I pointed out, Scrooge was a sinner. & Marley was allowed to return to Scrooge as the start of bringing about his conversion. In desribing the punishment of Marley & the other sinners of his ilk, we see echoes of Dante's Inferno.
Their punishment is based on their sins. We see that in the chains they wear that they "forged in life." We see that in how Marley's "hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven." & we see it especially in what Scrooge was shown by Marley from his window. "The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever."
The change in Scrooge began with Marley's visit. But it should be seen as only the door openning to the working of God's Spirit in his life. God then uses the 3 spirits to show Scrooge the path he took, the wide path to destruction & where it will lead in the end, to hell. These Spirits could be considered 3 angels or messengers from God. They are able to show Scrooge what he needs to know so that God's Spirit will lead him to repentance & conversion. That is what we see happen. We see Scrooge make right the wrongs he did. He reconciles himself to his nephew Fred & Fred's wife as well. We see him help Cratchit by giving him a raise. We see him improve Cratchit's working conditions. Scrooge also provides for Tiny Tim's medical care, without a governement mandate like we see today. IMHO, under what I see of ObamaCare, Tiny Tim would be told he wasn't worth the cost by the death panels. Scrooge makes up for his lack of support of private charity. We see Scrooge going to Church to celebrate Christmas. He now shouts out "Merry Christmas" rather than trying to stop the public expression of the holiday & what it stands for.
The main theme of A Christmas Carol was, & is, that Christmas is the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is the constant theme throughout the book. & while most movie versions downplay it, it is especially seen in the 1951 version as well.
I suggest that you read the book to your family & watch the 1951 version of the movie as well.
I conclude with what Dicken's wrote to end the book. This is my wish & prayer as well for all of you. (& is used in the movie as well) that, "it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"



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