This past weekend, I wrote a piece for the religion column of our local paper. The following is an excerpt with a link to the full article
Two years ago, I introduced my daughter to Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. We read the book then watched some film versions. The 2009 animated version (with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge) is her favorite. It’s my new favorite too. Despite flourishes here and there, it follows the book pretty well. It also features Christianity instead of downplaying it.
There are many wonderful moments in the story but one gets my attention each year. The ghost of Jacob Marley bursts into Scrooge’s room, tossing spectral chains and lock boxes around. Shrieking, he laments that his spirit never walked compassionately among his fellow men while he lived. He forged his chains because he lived for himself. Jacob warns that Scrooge is facing the same fate. Terrified, Scrooge says, “Speak comfort to me, Jacob.” Jacob replies, “I have none to give.”
I Did It My Way
These days, we are too ready to comfort without reason. Here’s our story: Humans have charted their own course–without God. From ISIS to ponzi schemes to sexual dysfunction, a glance at the headlines is proof enough. We aren’t all Marley or ISIS. But we’re on a continuum and share their fallen, self-preferring nature. Our anthem is Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way.”
The upshot? We are so unlike God He can’t have anything to do with us. We are like the drug addict that has burned every bridge with his parents. If we continue as we are, there is no comfort. Our course ends in darkness, alienation, and torment. But this story is too negative. We would rather slide into damnation with our good feelings intact.
Many of today’s popular stories do say what we want to hear: Whatever our sin, dysfunction, or trail of wreckage happens to be, accept it. And–news flash–everyone else needs to accept it too. In fact, everyone needs to celebrate it. If they don’t, they are the guilty ones.