Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas and Scrooge

I have been watching Christmas movies. The is a spot on the very end of my kitchen counter where I can look at the TV in the family room. I stand at the end of the counter and bake and watch Christmas movies. I started out with Charlie Brown Christmas, moved on to Grinch (not the horrid live action one), went on to Santa Clause, and The Nutcracker. I couldn't find either the version with the Maurice Sendak sets or Baryshnikov, and stumbled onto this bizarro version with McCauly Culkin as the prince!!!!! It was too weird for words. From there I have moved away from kid flicks to A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott), It's a Wonderful Life, and Ben-Hur. Yes, I watch Ben-Hur alot. It's one of my favorite movies.

I love Christmas movies, but I especially like A Christmas Carol. Dickens certainly was someone who had a handle on the more depressing aspects of life, but the story is so up lifting I read it every year. Scrooge is such a wonderful portrait of repentance and redemption. I mean repentance in the best Biblical sense. There are a three Greek words in the New Testament which translate "repentance". The snese I am talking about combines the meaning of the words metanoeo (verb) with metanoia (noun).

The meaning of metanoeo is to "change one's mind and purpose after gaining knowledge". Metanoia means "a change of one's mind and life and purpose - to which remission of sin is granted." Sounds like Scrooge? Easton's Bible Dictionary has a wonderful definition appended to these Greek words:
Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one's own guilt and
sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God's mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred
of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God; and
(4) a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way
of his commandments. The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of
pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21, 22). Thus he
apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares
him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an
apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1;

What an exact description of Scrooge! The comprehension not only of his sense of wrong, but the apprehension of mercy afforded him with the intervention of Marley and the Christmas Ghosts. The story goes on to detail not only his change of heart but the change in his attitudes and practices. For if you do not follow your repentance with a change in practices, how is that true repentance?

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

Scrooge also asked forgiveness of those he wronged.

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his counting-house the day before, and said, ``Scrooge and Marley's, I believe?'' It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.

``My dear sir,'' said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. ``How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!''

``Mr Scrooge?''

``Yes,'' said Scrooge. ``That is my name, and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the goodness --'' here Scrooge whispered in his ear.

There is a fabulous scene inserted in the Scott version where he asks forgiveness of he nephew for all the wrong he had done to him. It is illustrative of Scrooge's change of character. Oh how eager his family is to forgive him! So dear readers let us ponder on not only repentance and forgivness but the joy it brings, the lightness.

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows: and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk -- that anything -- could give him so much happiness.

While Linus speaks straight to the source of mercy and joy; let us end by examining our role as described by Marley:
``Business!'' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ``Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!''

Richmond is also talking movies, but more lighthearted.

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