Help For Those On The Front Lines Of Ministry.

Past Updates

Dec 18, 2006
Twain or Dickens?

Someone told me recently that at Christmas I should read “Twain” as in Mark, and not “Dickens”…My gut immediately reacted.

Yep, that is the church.

Read some sarcastic lying thief, who while clever, could make you:
appreciate the perspective of a thief;
wish you were a run away; long for adventure;
lie to your family;
fool others into doing your work;
and think that killing was mysterious and wonder-filled.

That would be much preferred to reading someone who, with clarity and passion, described spiritual and social ills with such clarity that you could not turn your head away.

When Marley’s Ghost scream at Scrooge, “the welfare of mankind is my business”, it turns your head and your heart. You can’t look at the poor at this season of the year and not feel the “Scrooge” in you. You can’t return to your hi speed, wireless laptop or your Ipod, (let alone your game box, TV, satellite radio) without wondering what kind of chains are you forging. You can’t see the infirmed, the homeless and mentally ill, standing idle at the old hotel and not hear Scrooge “deplete the surplus population” and know that you too, would rather these people just go away, rather than spare your change (let alone sacrificially give) that something might be done to help them.

So yes, read Twain. Twain is much easier to swallow after a season of personal indulgence. Yes, read Life on the Mississippi, A War Prayer, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to name a few.. They are fun reads. Great reads if you ask me. Debachours, carnivours, funny and mean, but great reads.

But please stay away Dickens. Stay away from a Oliver Twist. Stay even further away from David Copperfield or a Tale of Two Cities. And for goodness sake, stay away from The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, and The Battle of Life. And please, PLEASE stay away from A Christmas Carol. It might make your see yourself bound with chains, fettered by your greed and frozen by your fear. And if once your eyes are open, and your realize you haven’t missed Christmas, you might take that change of heart and actually do something for humankind this season.

How novel would that be for a Christian, let alone a church.

You might prefer the escape. So read Twain.

I’ll take the risk of encountering the Ghost of Christmas, past, present and future. That encounter, like everything Dickens wrote might transform me. Those encounters might might make me “as good as my word" or better.