“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”C.S. Lewis
And Scrooge? Is he an immortal horror or an everlasting splendor? Lewis, in the context of this quote, was talking about how we, by our actions toward our neighbor, have the opportunity to help one another toward the destination of everlasting splendor—or immortal horror.
I know it’s only fiction, but have we thought how Scrooge has been helped along toward his current state? As we look around at the real people in our lives, do we wonder how they ended up the way they are, or are we quick to judge them for who they are currently? We probably don’t care for Scrooge too much right now. And why would we: he’s selfish, greedy, hateful, miserly, cold, dead even. Why would the nephew even want him at his house for Christmas?
Or maybe the nephew knows something we don’t.
In Stave 2 Scrooge meets the first of the three spirits that Marley promised. He is the Ghost of Christmas Past—specifically, Scrooge’s past. And through him we learn a little about Scrooge; we get a glimpse of why he is what he is. Dickens uncovers a real person right before our eyes. A person with a past, some of it hard, some of it good.
If you read carefully, you might recognize “neighbors” in Scrooge’s life who moved him alternately toward everlasting splendor or immortal horror. You might begin to understand how someone might end up as the man we met in Stave 1. And depending upon which part of Stave 2 is most attractive to you, you might either begin to root for him or think he deserves his aloneness. Either way, if you miss the fact that Dickens portrays Scrooge as a real person with a real past, you miss the point of the Ghost of Christmas Past. So read to learn about Scrooge. Ask yourself how his past made him the way he is.
And then remember that the incarnation is God’s answer to our past. He became the neighbor who came alongside us to make us into everlasting splendors—despite the horrors we were.