Ghost of Jacob Marley

Sunday, December 26, 2004

We took this picture in Los Angeles, with the Ghost of Jacob Marley.

One of the most famous stories in English literature is "A Christmas Carol," by the British author Charles Dickens, written in 1843. The main character is Ebenezer Scrooge, a very stingy and unhappy man. Now, in English, the name Scrooge has become an adjective to describe someone who hoards all their money for themselves, and never shares with anyone else. The story begins on Christmas eve, when everyone else is happy and greeting friends and neighbors with shouts of “Merry Christmas,” but when anyone wishes Scrooge a "Merry Christmas," he mutters, "Bah, humbug!" He is rich, but he never spends his money, or shares it.

Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s business partner, but he has been dead for many years. But at midnight, the night before Christmas, the Ghost of Jacob Marley comes to warn Scrooge. The ghost tells Scrooge that because Marley was stingy, his ghost is being tortured to walk the earth and never rest. This will happen to Scrooge, too, if he does not change the way he is living. Three more ghosts will also visit him. The Ghost of Christmas Past will show Scrooge how many mistakes he has made in the past, because money was so important, when what should be more important are other people. The Ghost of Christmas Present will show him how many people need his help now. For example, Scrooge has an employee named Bob Cratchet who has a crippled son, named Tiny Tim, who will die if he does not get medical care, but the Cratchets are too poor to get the help for Tiny Tim. Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future will show him the bad things that will happen if Scrooge does not change. At the end, Scrooge does change, Tint Tim gets well, and everyone is happy. This story has been turned into a play many times, and our son Timothy played both the Ghost of Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Future, when the play was put on at Biola University, where Timothy is a student. Here we are, after the play.

I probably need to explain that, although this is a Christmas play, the idea that ghosts of the dead can communicate to living people is not a part of Christian beliefs. What is Christian is the idea of generosity, and that people are more important than money. Although Christmas began as a Christian holiday, it is sometimes hard to find what is still Christian in the way Christmas is celebrated. To me, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Santa Clause, and all the other extra stuff just gets in the way. It is almost like there are two different holidays on the same day. I got several very nice e-card Christmas greetings from my friends in China, with Santa Clauses, and reindeer. I enjoyed each one. It very much fits the AMERICAN Christmas holiday, and I am an American. But I am also a Christian, and the CHRISTIAN Christmas holiday is only about Jesus. If that is confusing to you, don’t worry about it. Looking around me, I think most Americans are confused about it as well. But for me, it is important to understand the difference.

Posted by Brian at 5:14 PM  


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