Story’s message transcends religion

Clyde Davis

Okay, so I have spent a lot of time with this particular work by Charles Dickens — a lot ot time lately. I looked at plenty of versions and radio scripts of it- apparently it was often dramatized during the golden days of radio- and sorted through for the best of each.

It is, in brief, one of those stories which eighth-graders ought to know, which is why I was getting re-acquainted.

Partly because it occurs and recurs in various times and settings, via adaptation.

Scrooge becomes a woman … Scrooge becomes the greedy young CEO in Bill Murray’s “Scrooged”… Scrooge becomes everyman or woman because part of the message inherent in this story is that each one is capable of receiving transformation.

Partly because there is a genuine message in this story, which is really distinct from the particular religious, though not from the spiritual, message of Christ’s birth. It is hard for me to separate one from the other, but it’s clear to see that one need not be a Christian to comprehend the impact of compassion and the damaging effects of greed.

Partly because at this time of year, I for one develop the heightened sensitivity which I should wish to have at all times- the awareness of times and places where injustices occur. It does not mean that I can necessarily do anything about these injustices, nor does it mean that there is always an easy solution; I have seen a couple of occurances lately where the injustice was simply making the best choice out of a no-win situation.

Partly because the story itself takes us back to a simpler time and place — an England in the throes of the industrial revolution, to be sure, yet overall simpler than the high tech world in which we live.For me, as for many readers, having less choices seems to make it easier to choose the right thing.

That part, in particular, may make it a point of impact for eighth graders. Even in the relatively few years since I was 13, (few,compared to pre-Victorian England) life and its choices have become overwhelming in number and complexity.Junior highs are asked to make choices without any real knowledge of the possible consequences, or way to fully understand them.

There’s a guarantee that, whatever context or setting I may be teaching in the future, this drama (and I use the word deliberately) will become part of my seasonal game plan. I use the word drama because overall, I have had the most fun, and think the kids have had the most benefit, from this because we were using radio scripts, not reading the novella form.

God bless us, every one!