Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and the 12 Steps

Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.

Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have Elohim remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Most High as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Ebenezer Scrooge is front and center and in dire need of applying those principles.

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3: 14-16

It can be argued Charles Dickens paraphrases the scripture this way...

"'There are some upon this earth of yours,' returned the Spirit, 'who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.'"

"A Christmas Carol," indeed, via its cautionary tale and no-nonsense Spirits, paints a bleak portrait of our miser. I don't know about you, but I can easily see myself in his selfish, unenlightened ways...

"Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it."

As we revel in our addictions and passions, we like it. We are like a pig in muck.

We are not big fans of truth, transparency, confrontation and change. Just like our Scrooge here.

Hence, an intervention is required within the story. And it's a DOOZY!

Scrooge's longtime business associate, longtime DEAD business associate, Jacob Marley pays a supernatural intervention-y visit to old Ebenezer...

"'It is required of every man,' the ghost returned, 'that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.'"

Now, Marley is directly speaking of the miser's lack of charity.

But I see how it also encompasses the amends issue, largely highlighted with any recovery program.

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." Matthew 18:15

We need to be held accountable for our actions... and our inactions. Both are inflamed by our destructive addictions. Scrooge is obsessed with greed and gain.
Likewise, are we not also individually obsessed with our damage-inflicting vices, vices which cause pain to others?

Scrooge experiences both unawareness and lack of concern about what his deeds have done to others. And this evidence of his life is shown as "unmanageable." What's more, this evidence involves how his selfish choices have also caused others to suffer an "unmanageable" effect in their lives.

Again...

"'There are some upon this earth of yours,' returned the Spirit, 'who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.'"

There was no overreaction whatsoever. The severe supernatural encounter was much-needed.

After all, if Scrooge responded, "Humbug" AFTER the ghost of Marley appeared to him, it was abundantly clear he still didn't get the lesson.

"But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." Matthew 18:16-17

Cue the Spirits then. Let's get the show on the road.

So, ghosts representing his past, present and future all give Scrooge some unpleasant reality checks: missed opportunities, unrequited love, the tragic heartbreak of a special needs' child (Tiny Tim) and of course, death. Ebenezer operates in stubborn denial, bargaining, shock and fear along the way.

How many of us in our addictions can find ourselves experiencing similar responses and similar ramifications?

There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

Are we disturbed by how others have some version of death because of our disorders?

Are we disturbed by how we kill the good things in our own lives?

By the time the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come pays its visit, our curmudgeon is disturbed enough by his "moment of clarity," so much so, he is begging for mercy...

"'Ghost of the Future... I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company... Lead on!... The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!

Now, if our carnal dictates of justice, let alone, the spiritual perspective on action and consequence were fully enforced, it'd be a very bleak situation indeed.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7

But, fortunately for Ebenezer (and for us), there's a loophole to cruel, enforced law: mercy.

"...I will make all my goodness pass before thee... and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Exodus 33:19

Still, with that being said, there's also another necessary ingredient: repentance. Even our miser cannot escape its necessity.

"'Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,' said Scrooge. 'But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!'"

But, before we condemn ourselves, asserting how the kind of repentance that's required is too hopeless for our situations, let's remember one reality even the
Most High is constantly aware of...

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

Mercy and repentance are both heart issues. Our Creator is not wanting our perfection in our repentance so much as He is wanting our heart, even in its deceived, hopelessly wicked, state. He just wants us to TURN to Him in the Truth of the real heart moment.

We all have a bit of Ebenezer Scrooge in us: our apathy, our addictive tendencies, our greed, our bitterness and our unresolved issues. We are all dusty, dependent on Divine mercy. Sometimes, that shows up as "tough love."

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:19

So, if it takes the paranormal to get the job done, then it takes the paranormal. If we are to be ready for the amazing Divine life, plan and future (Jeremiah 29:11) the Almighty has for us, sometimes we have to confront the bleak possibility of a way that ends in death (Proverbs 14:12).

We can only experience the changed life if we face how ours is careening toward destruction.

The happy ending of our crusty miser is that, he, indeed, finally gets the revelation to a changed life.

"'I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach...'"

10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Most High as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

"...the lessons that they teach..."

He has a change of heart; he has a profound change of life. He gets the lesson.

This time of year, with its emphasis on self-reflection and resolution, we need to embrace the lessons that our Divine Savior teaches. Dickens writes about the true Christmas spirit...

"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

Indeed, this is a new beginning, no matter what time of year it is.

Let's learn and live the lessons.


Copyright by Sheryle Cruse.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sheryle is the author of
Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.
Visit her web site: http://www.freewebs.com/daughterarise

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