Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dickens, Christmas, and Christianity

We have a tradition of reading A Christmas Carol each Christmas. I love it so much. It is such a fabulous book. I love all the plays and movies and books I've read based on this story, but the original is awesome. Like Rizzo says at the end of A Muppet Christmas Carol, "If you like this, you should read the book." He's right. If you've never actually read the original Christmas Carol, you should. I loved Shannon Hale's recent blog post on this very subject. What I never thought much about before, though, was the fact that A Christmas Carol shows Dickens thoughts on Christianity and how we are all redeemable through Christ.

I've never really thought of Dickens as a religious man. If you've read some of his other novels, you know that he loves to make fun of pompous religous people. Well, this year, I decided to read a book a friend of mine reads every year (thanks Dianna!) at Christmas. It's called The Life of Our Lord and it's Dickens' retelling of Christ's life. He wrote it just for his children and refused to have it published during his lifetime. His children refused to publish it too, but once they were all gone, a grandchild finally had this published. It was such a surprise to read this! It is not in his usual tone, because he addressed it only to his children. What we get is a father's sweet feelings to his children. I thought it was beautiful and powerful.

This is the foreword he wrote to the book:

"My dear children,
I am very anxious that you should know something about the history of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven is, without knowing who he was and what he did."

Don't you love that? The whole book is full of statements like this. I never realized Dickens felt this way about Christ, but it really puts all his novels in a different light. All those characters who helped others were following Christ's example. All those people who seemed beyond help who were redeemed were a testament of Dicken's belief in redemption through the Savior.

There are a couple small doctrinal issues with the book, but certainly nothing to keep me from wanting to share it with my family. I think we may need to make this book part of our Christmas traditions as well. I guess Dickens and Christmas just go together.

I found this article written by President Hinckly on The Life of Our Lord. It's from the 1994 Ensign. Definitely worth a read.

No comments: