Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reading Dickens by the Fire

Ah!  Here we are in what many people find the most magical time of the year!  It is a time to reflect and spend our efforts on what is really most important.  Faith, family, and of course, 'tis the season to read Charles Dickens! (Fa la la la, la la la la!)  Anyone who knows me decently knows I am a devout Dickens fan.  I have read every novel his genius penned and have studied his life with the wild passion of one who has found a sparkling gem in the coal dust of ordinary life.   So who was this man I so much admire, the famed author of A Christmas Carol?

We all know about Tiny Tim, but what of tiny Charles?  He lived a rough young life, working long hours under despicable circumstances for his meagre bread while his entire family save himself rotted in the Marshalsea debtor's prison.  This is probably where he got the idea for Tiny Tim's character, because to some extent he saw in it a shadow of himself.  In every book he writes, there is always an orphan or injured child.  He protected them with a pity that inflamed the British people into action.  He fought for the rights of the poor, working man, pitied and aided the fallen woman, and sneered at the selfish, worldly rich.  He believed in the possibility that we could all be one great human family and in the deepest sense of love he had, he showed society its flaws and taught beautiful lessons like the one in Scrooge's adventures in every book he wrote. 

He never discussed his own testimony of Jesus Christ or his own religious views.  He held them very closely, and with good reason.  England was in constant turmoil of religious factions and he didn't want any part in the fight.  His work was influential in society, parliment, and the course of England, and he wanted the flexibility to get things done without being pegged as part of this or that sect.  One of his greatest works, Barnaby Rudge, addresses the fact that it really doesn't matter whether we are Protestant or Catholic; the thing that matters more is that we live the religion of decency and kindness.  He knew and loved the teachings in the New Testament so much that it coursed through his veins and poured into everything he wrote, taught and did.  He wrote other short Christmas works including Cricket on the Hearth and The Chimes, both of which are well worth the reading. 

I hope you enjoy this season and that that it is "the best of times" for you and yours.  "God bless us, every one!"

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