What Ebenezer Scrooge Can Teach Us About Great Writing

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One of my all-time favorite movies for the holidays is The Muppets Christmas Carol. I believe I’ve seen this movie a few hundred times. I’ve worn out three VHS tapes and at least three DVDs. I play the movie over and over, mainly because, well, duh,  MUPPETS! But, Muppets aside, also I can’t get enough of the music. Also, I love the story of A Christmas Carol no matter how many times I see it, no matter how many renditions, and I am certainly not alone. Charles Dicken’s story of a redeemed miser is a staple for holiday celebrations around the world and across the generations.

This story is virtually synonymous with “Christmas,” but why is it such a powerful story? Why has it spoken so deeply to so many? Why is it a story that never grows old? Today, I want to talk about a couple of the elements that speak to me, because they are at the heart of great writing.

A Little Background

A Christmas Carol is a beautiful story, but I find it’s true beauty when it’s explained in the Christian context that inspired it. My son was watching Bubble Guppies last night and they tried (dismally) to tell the same story inserting “holiday” so as not to offend anyone, I presume.

Yet, the story fell flat.

The PC had ruined the beauty of this tale and made it more of a lesson about embracing shallow commercialism once a year, than a story of love’s power to redeem the irredeemable. Thus, this post will use scriptural and religious references to explain why I believe this story is so powerful.

The Power of Names

Naming characters can be vital. Great writers use the power of parsimony. Each element should serve as many purposes as possible. A name is more than a name. It has the power to be a story within a story.

I recall the moment I was first introduced to what would become my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings. One verse stood out:

Here I raise my Ebenezer

Here by Thy great help I’ve come

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home.

Ebenezer? Raise an Ebenezer? I needed to know more. Ebenezer is actually ??? ????, Even Ha’Ezer, literally stone of help or monument to God’s glory and is referenced in the book of Samuel.

Thus, when Dickens chose a name for his protagonist, he chose the perfect name for the redeemed sinner. What is a better testament to a God of grace, than the hardened heart melted by the power of love? The current climate of political correctness aside, A Christmas Carol is most definitively a Christian story and the theme is reminiscent of Proverbs 25:22:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat

and if he is thirsty give him water to drink

for you will heap burning coals on his head

and the Lord will reward you.

Very often this verse is misunderstood. “Yeah! BURN ‘EM! THAT’LL TEACH THEM TO MESS WITH ME! COALS! BURN BABY BUUUURN!” Yet, if one looks to the ancient Hebrew, the heaping burning coals is literally the holy fire of LOVE that melts the hard heart so it can be remade (think of melting a weapon of war to remake it into a tool for healing).

The path to redemption is love, for only love holds the power to redeem those who have committed grave wrongdoings. Only love can repair what’s been broken and “remake” it into something entirely new.

The Christian story is a story of love, of redemption, of second chances and not because one has earned it or deserved it. Scrooge is a dreadful man, yet as the story unfolds, not only does Scrooge’s heart begin to melt as he is faced with the truth of who he is, but our hearts melt toward Scrooge as we travel through the past, present and future and see what has created such a hardened and cruel person. We empathize and start to have compassion and love the unlovely.

Scrooge has done nothing to earn redemption, but his redemption is precisely why we cheer at the end.

The spectral visits serve to show Scrooge the truth, which again is reminiscent of scripture; and then you will know the truth and it is the truth that will set you free (John 8:32). Scrooge cannot change what he cannot see and it is the three ghosts who come to show him what he has failed to see on his own.

Repentance is not the mumbled and counterfeit “Sorry.” Rather, it is finally seeing the truth of who we are and what wrong we’ve done. It’s a decision to make things right and turn away from wrong. By the end of the story, Ebenezer is truly repentant. He is a changed person determined to share the love and grace that was freely given to him when he didn’t deserve it.

Again, what a wonderful testament to God’s love. What a lovely “Ebenezer.”

Jacob Marley is another symbolic name. Jacob Marley is the name of Scrooge’s old business partner, and it is he who intervenes to try and redeem his old friend before Ebenezer is sentenced to share Marley’s fate. The name “Jacob” actually means “thief and liar.” In the Bible, Jacob stole his brother’s blessing, then manipulated, lied, stole and connived until it came back to bite him (Jacob was later pardoned and given a new name, Israel.). What better name to give someone sentenced to roam as a specter for eternity carrying the weight of his ill deeds than a name that literally means thief and liar?

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The Power of Symbol

When the ghost of Jacob Marley visits Scrooge:

The chain he drew about his waist was clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel…

Why cash-boxes? Why deeds? Why purses? In life Jacob was a money-lender. He was ruthless in his dealings and never forgave a debt. Yet, Matthew 6:12 (part of The Lord’s prayer) reads: Forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.

Jacob forged his chains in life. He refused to show mercy, compassion, or kindness. He was ruthless and legalistic, thus he has sealed his fate. God has promised to forgive us the same way we forgive others, which is why the scripture pleads for grace, compassion and mercy. Also, forgiveness of debts is the heart of what Christmas is about, for unto us a child is born.

Christians believe God sent His only begotten son (God in the form of Man) to pay a debt we cannot hope to pay. God loves us as His children, and our actions have left us hopelessly out off our depth, incapable of paying our debts. Yet Love cancels the debt. Christ’s last words on the cross, “It is finished” literally mean “Paid in FULL.” Jacob turned away from the grace freely offered, so now he wanders, burden by the debts he cannot pay.

Jacob now finds opportunity to warn Scrooge of the chains he is now forging with his actions (and inaction), chains that are longer and heavier than even his. The only way for Scrooge to free himself is to learn to value himself and his fellow human beings.

Smaller Truths Reveal Larger Truths

Dickens makes it a point to show us that Scrooge is a miser. Scrooge shows no mercy, has no warmth, shares none of his wealth…with anyone, including himself. Scrooge is a very wealthy man, yet he wears old clothes, lights no coals for warmth because coal costs money. His home is threadbare and his food measly and meager.

The full story of redemption is that Scrooge not only sees his fellow man differently—worthy of compassion, love and generosity—but in changing how he views his fellow man, his view of himself changes (and heals) as well. The three spirits not only heal Scrooge’s relationship with his Maker, but with himself and his fellow man. Scrooge, for the first time, becomes part of the human experience, no longer content to be “solitary as an oyster.”

Happy Ending

Scrooge deserves the death he’s shown by the Spirit of Christmas Future. He deserves to die alone with those closest casting lots for his garments. This is what he has sown with his lifetime of greed, hate and spite.

Yet, he is pardoned.

Scrooge is the resurrected heart, the dead brought to life. When God promises “everlasting life” it isn’t a promise that we get to float around on a cloud in Heaven after we die. That life begins at the moment we decide to accept mercy and love. Scrooge has been “alive” but not “living.” He was existing. When he is redeemed, given a new chance, he changes. Out of gratitude for the mercy he is given, he reaches out to give what he’s been given. LOVE, MERCY, GENEROSITY.

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It is no great feat to love the lovely. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much (Matthew 5:46). This story is so powerful namely because it shows that every human has value and is worth an opportunity for redemption. God is in the business of changing hearts.

What is your favorite version of A Christmas Carol? What do you love about this story? What is your favorite part? I love The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (already told y’all that), but THIS is my FAVORITE part!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsiKOJOXMJU&w=560&h=315]

Also, here is my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. I cry every time I hear this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG5ZhFN1DXk&w=420&h=315]

I love hearing from you!

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I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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  1. I’m sorry Kristen but Charles Dickens wrote “The Christmas Carol” not Lewis Carrol. Carroll did do “Alice in Wonderland” though.

    1. I corrected it. I was multitasking. Have a baby with a 101 fever and trying to write. It was just an oops and I changed it.

        • Lanette Kauten on December 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm
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        Poor spawn. 🙁 I hope he feels better in time for Christmas.

      1. I hope I wasn’t too pedantic, I tried to point out the mistake politely. I hope your baby gets better!

        1. You were fine. I have just been mortified by the error. Oh well. Not been the best of weeks. Thanks, though. It was actually a commenter who alerted me to the error so I could fix it.

  2. Call me crazy, but didn’t DIckens write A Christmas Carol?

    1. No, I goofed up. The “Carol” got in my head, LOL. We had a thief empty our bank account yesterday and The Spawn has 101 fever. So I was trying to file a police report, cancel our card, tend a sick baby, and write about a profound story. Dumb multi-tasking. Please forgive such a grievous error *hangs head*.

      1. OMIGOSH. Am definitely praying here (and I really do pray, not just saying that to sound nice). Take it as a compliment then, that I trust your insights on this blog SO much that I made sure to go look up who wrote the story because I assumed YOU were right and not me. 🙂 Have a blessed Christmas somehow! May the Spawn’s temperature return to normal and may the thief either have a horrible Scrooge-esque pang of conscience or somehow need the money more than you do!

        1. Thanks, Linda. I feel so stupid, LOL. But, hey, I at least get a laugh at myself and I really need a laugh today…and a nap :P. Spawn is feeling better. Ibuprophen kicked in. Going to check on my grandfather as soon as my phone charges.

  3. What a beautiful insight to this story. I have had a hard time connecting to it prior to this. And now that you’ve brought forth the large amount of Christian symbolism, it has allowed me to absorb the movie in a new light.

    That is my favorite Christian worship song. I may be wrong, I thought it was a modern hymn. But it is neither here nor there.

    Have a merry Christmas!

    1. I don’t know if it is a modern hymn or not. It’s just my favorite hymn :D.

      1. I love it too! My congregation frequently sings it!

        • Mark J Richardson on June 7, 2018 at 2:55 am
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        I was about to post a beautiful, orchestrated version of “Come Thous Fount” on my Facebook page, when I thought of the Dickens character “Ebenezer” Scrooge, and I wondered about what may have been the inspiration behind his choice of that character’s name. Since “Come Thous Fount” was written in 1758, and “A Christmas Carol” was written in 1843, I think you are correct: It is entirely possible that Dickens may have chosen this character’s name from his familiarity with that classic hymn. Otherwise, why where and why would he have come up with such an unpopular and unusual name. Thanks for your verification of same. God bless, as “Come Thou Fount” is one of my favorite hymns also.

        1. I literally tear up/cry every time I hear that hymn. My all time favorite. The hymn may have inspired him but 1 Samuel 7:12 may have as well. “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” Ergo, the hymn and “Here I raise my Ebenezer….” It’s the monument to God’s miraculous intervention/help. I think few stories reveal the beauty of grace, love for the unlovely and unlovable, better than “A Christmas Carol.” How we can never earn His love and God doesn’t have favorites, that he’d even love Scrooge enough to send the three ghosts to show him love and teach him about love.

    2. It was written in the 18th century. 🙂 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Thou_Fount_of_Every_Blessing

      Great blog post, Kristen! So sorry for your troubles! 🙁

      1. Thank you, Pauline!

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful insight to a favorite story.

    • Lanette Kauten on December 24, 2012 at 11:45 am
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    LOL! I noticed you made an adjustment from the original post (which is in my in box) and this one. Good catch.

    1. I…am…a…moron. So SORRY :C.

  5. Kristen, this is beautiful, but I’m concerned as to the reference to Lewis Carroll. Wasn’t this the work of Charles Dickens? That doesn’t detract from the way the Christian symbolism is so accurately portrayed. Dead on, and thank you for posting this. I’m replying via email as I’m not intending this as a public comment, but in case it is, I’ll add, “Thanks for all you do all year, and Merry Christmas”.

    Susan Jenkins

    1. Already changed it. Was terrible error on my part. Sorry.

      1. Sorry to hear what you’re dealing with here at Christmas; I’m praying for you and your family. Thanks again for squeezing in a powerful message in the midst of it all.

  6. I agree 100%. This story resonantes for all of those reasons. There’s definitely a reason that it’s a classic 🙂

    Hope the baby gets better soon and Merry Christmas <3

  7. So, we can stop whacking Kristen with our nerf bats and pillows. Read the corrected post 🙂

    1. Yes, it was actually a…a…TEST. YES. To see if y’all would FORGIVE such a stupid mistake or condemn me to Writer Purgatory for such a boo-boo.

  8. Oh the frenzy of the season makes even the most meticulous of us error prone. 🙂 Great post, though, Kristen. Am going to slip my Alastair Sim versions of CC into the DVD tonight. A tradition around here.
    Wishing you joyful holidays!

  9. “A Muppet Christmas Carol” is an Owen family staple at Christmas time. And two years ago we took the kids to see a production of “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, which they loved.

    I always understood the Christian relevance of “A Christmas Carol,” but I had no appreciation for the significance of the names Ebenezer and Jacob. Thanks for adding a new dimension of understanding to Dickens’ writing. And have a merry, blessed Christmas!

  10. I remember people misjudged me too when I told them I enjoyed reading Dickens’ Vanity Fair :))
    Great post, Kristen! Have a Merry Christmas and don’t work too hard!! It’s holidays!

    • Tom S on December 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm
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    Didn’t Dickens write the Christmas Carol, not Lewis?

  11. Reblogged this on a spoonful of snarky and commented:
    This is so right!

  12. Kristen, this is one of your best posts. The Muppets version of “The Christmas Carol” is the favorite of my younger daughter and me, but hubby likes the Geo. C. Scott version. Hope Spawn is recovering nicely by now, and that your grandfather is too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  13. PS. Please don’t judge… But I really love Scrooged. *hides*

  14. This is so beautifully put. I love how you used “A Christmas Carol” to draw out the Gospel message and to teach a little writing at the same time. All trials work toward making us more Christ-like and so are a benefit to us in that way, but I also pray that our Lord uses the trials you’re going through right now to bring greater blessings than you could imagine into your life. You’re a wonderful example to us all of grace, mercy, and love. Merry Christmas!

    1. P.S. A Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favorites too. I still watch it every Christmas Eve. Like you said, MUPPETS 😀

    • Janet B on December 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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    I love how you shared the symbolism in the story “A Christmas Carol.
    “My favorite movie is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” favorite story is “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and favorite hymn is “Silent Night.” (I learned violin at 40 and love playing it .) How lovely to have a family tradition to carry on and make Christmas very meaningful..

  15. Kristen, I always read your posts, but I seldom comment. I am so moved by today’s post and I wanted you to know that. I love this story about redemption, too. It is a family favorite in our home every year. Your description was beautifully said. I, too, love the way Dickens used names with such powerful meaning. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart today, too.

    I also love Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing. My favorite verse is:

    Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love,
    Take my Heart Lord, take and seal it,
    Seal it for thy courts above.

    When I sing that part, I’m reminded of who I am and my need for a savior. It’s a admittance of my weakness and my desperate need for Him. I truly worship when I sing that hymn.

    Thanks again for your wonderful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas!

    1. That is MY FAVORITE VERSE and exactly the point I start crying EVERY time! Great minds think alike :D.

  16. Sorry, Dicken’s not Carroll. Carol got in my head, too because of the title. But, I have no thief to blame it on. Just impulsiveness. 🙂

    1. I already got yer back and used Quick Edit. That’s what happened to me! At least it was a mistake that made sense. I didn’t claim Kafka wrote it, LOL.

      1. Omigosh, could you imagine if Kafka wrote it? “One morning, as Ebenezer Scrooge was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug — figuratively speaking, of course.”

          • Lanette Kauten on December 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm
          • Reply


  17. It’s time to go watch my own beloved copy of “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol.”

    “Now there’s only one more sleep ’til Christmaaaaas!”

  18. I adore “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol.” You already know it was Charles Dickens, not Lewis Carroll, who wrote “A Christmas Carol.” “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” is one of my favorites even though I’m not Christian. “O Come All Ye Faithful” is my favorite Christmas hymn.

  19. It is good to see that I am not the only one who makes mistakes! Yes, Charles Dickens did write A Christmas Carol

  20. My all time favorite version is Scrooge staring Albert Finney and Alec Guinness. I had recorded it, commercials and all, many years ago. I must watch it every year. Sometimes it is not until after the holiday, but it became a must. A few years ago one of the kids gave me a “real” VHS version. I grab me a hot chocolate and escape for a couple of hours.
    I also love The original Grinch cartoon. It’s something about mean people becoming nice at Christmas. It always reminds me of me. 🙂

  21. I know that you know who wrote A Christmas Carol. Your brain obviously has more important things to focus on at the moment. I hope all goes well and that the little one is feeling better soon.

    [Funny thing: I bet even more people show up at your blog to see whether you were pulling a prank. 😉 ]

    Merry Christmas.

    • Paige on December 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm
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    Lovely words Kristen. Thanks for the inspiring post.
    Ps– I love that hymn too.

  22. Thanks for the insightful reflections, Kristen. I’m embarrassed to say that I am actually reading “A Christmas Carol” for the first time. It lives on in so many adaptations in film, on stage, in animations and just about any other medium, that the actual novella is seldom read, I’m afraid. Dickens knows the power of words in the telling of the story, and it is surprising how much of his original language appears in many of these adaptations. There is less of Dickens’ well-known detailed descriptive passages, and a great deal more humor than is found in many of his larger works.

    This “Ghost Story of Christmas” actually had a profound effect on British society when it was first published in 1843, and probably many of our Christmas traditions were influenced by this story. Undoubtedly the themes and characters were rooted in Dickens’ own childhood and his relation to his father. Some themes were prompted by contemporary conditions of his culture. The central character of Ebenezer Scrooge had a precursor in a chapter of his earlier “Pickwick Papers.” Scrooge is part of our vocabulary now. It may have been based on an old English word that carried the meaning of squeezing. But there are other names that seem aptly chosen for their characters, especially old Mr. Fezziwig and Tiny Tim. You raise an interesting point about Ebenezer since it certainly wasn’t a common English name at all. I’m not sure there was an intended theological meaning or if Dickens just liked the sound of it. Interestingly, it is used only three times in the story–twice by Marley and once by Fezziwig.

    How Christian is this story? There is no mention of Christ at all–of his birth, life or death. But, it is a story about grace, repentance, forgiveness and redemption. I watched it again last week. No one has portrayed Scrooge as powerfully as Patrick Stewart. I’ll admit to tears, again, as Scrooge peeks through the door of his nephew’s dinner party and asks for forgiveness. To me, this is the pivotal moment in the story. If we can save the story from shallow sentimentality, and find the hope of a transformed life, then we can grasp the meaning of redemption. Scrooge did not achieve this by his own efforts to keep Christmas, but it flowed from a heart that had truly been transformed by the intervention of Marley and the ghosts of Christmas.

    Dickens himself was influenced by the writing of this story. Although not an ardent Christian, Dickens gives voice to the themes of the Gospel which come through so clearly here. If one wants to know how to write stories with religious themes without being preachy or moralistic, here is one of the best examples we’ll ever get.

    You might enjoy the commentary by Rev. Mark D. Roberts in his blog here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/christmas-according-to-dickens/

    The hymn that Roberts summons to accompany this story is the Isaac Watts hymn, “When I Survey the Cross.” But, the reference to raising an Ebenezer in “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” is also evocative in connection with the story, as you illustrate. There is part of me that wishes the story were more overtly and explicit about the redemption through Christ, yet I think its power is that the gospel is incarnated, if you will, within the story.

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristen. And, don’t feel bad about falling down that rabbit hole! It is easy to get disoriented, especially considering what you are dealing with. If we had true confession time, we’d all be laughing our heads off at our own gaffes. May the grace of our Lord fill your household with joy and your heart with peace.

    1. Patrick Stewart as Scrooge – oh, I have to find that version!

      Kristen, I hope your child is better soon, and the bank issue resolved quickly.

      Merry Christmas.

  23. Personally, I think Lewis Carroll’s version of “A Christmas Carol) would have been a lot more fun to read than Dickens’. But that’s beside the point. Have a blessed Christmas, Kristen, and I hope things start going your way again really soon.

    • Peggy Fleming on December 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm
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    Lovely post. My favorite Christmas Carol was the 1951 British version starring Alistair Sim. It was broadcast every Christmas morning, and it was a dark, gothic b&w treatment. I remember being terrified every year by the ghost of Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

  24. I have to admit, I was never a fan of “A Christmas Carol,” but after reading this, I wonder if it isn’t because I was always exposed to the PC versions and not the true one. This was an incredible article! Love it. Having studied some Dickens in university, I know he liked to stack meaning into everything, but I hadn’t known all this. I think I need to track down the original and read it now.

  25. Great post, Kristen, I never knew what was on Marley’s chains. And, when I was a little kid, I sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” wondering what an ebenezer was.

    • Leslie Blanton Colaco on December 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm
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    My all time favorite version is the one with Geroge C. Scott as Scrooge. Very English-Victorian, a somewhat somber version, but very powerful. I’ll have to watch the Muppet version for a lighter alternative!

  26. Aloha & Mele Kalikimaka, Kristen. OK, I got the corrected version — I also know sometimes I correct my blog & it still publishes incorrectly, and, anyway, that’s not the point of the post. I learned more about who you really are from this post than all your craziness — funny as I always find it. And you are pretty amazing. Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas with much Aloha.

    • Becca puglisi on December 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm
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    Beautiful post, Kristen. I think that stories of redemption intrinsically speak to most of us because of the way we’re wired–needing community and restoration. As for my favorite version, I’m sad to say that it’s Bill Murray’s Scrooged, lol. It’s as cheesy 80s cinema as you can get, but someone could film Bill Murray falling asleep and I’d gut laugh. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Me on December 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    • Reply

    Kinda sad you don’t know who the author is… 🙂

  27. Love the insight! A couple of years ago, I was in a stage version at my church, and the subtle Christian themes became overt. I still tear up to remember Tiny Tim singing the hymn “Going Home” and when the angel flew in (literally; we had a flying rig) to pick up his little body and bear it back to Heaven. The fellow who played Scrooge cried every time he came to the finale reveal because he himself knew the greatness of forgiveness and redemption. Powerful stuff.

    For what it’s worth, this has given me the idea for my Christmas update; I always take a detour on my serial for Christmas and Easter and put my characters in some position to explain the meaning behind those two days. Thanks and thanks!

    • LeeAnn Rhoden on December 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm
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    I love the history and the name aspect of the story. But, didn’t Charles Dickens write A Christmas Carol and not Lewis Carroll?

    1. Yes, I corrected it. Was writing while trying to tend very ill and feverish baby that we are about to take to ER. I made a mistake. I know Dickens wrote it. Was a victim of my own multitasking.

  28. I had no idea there was a Lewis Carroll version; I’m only acquainted with the Dickens one. But, I love the way you brought out the true Christian meaning behind the story, Kristen. Beautifully written.
    Merry Christmas.

    1. Thanks Tima and I actually just made an error. Was tending a sick baby while writing and I oopsed. Though a Lewis Carroll version might have been really interesting!

  29. I love this story too. I have to watch it every Christmas Eve. While I’m not sure about the religious context, what I do like is the fact that no matter how nasty Scrooge is to his workers, Cratchet still sees the good in him, As does Tiny Tim. Sure, he could hate him and call him all kinds of names (same with his nephew) and they all accept him when he does understand. I think if a lot more people did this, maybe there wouldn’t be so much ugly in the world.

    Oh, and my favourite carol(?) Carol of the Bells done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

  30. Oh, and I hope Spawn feels better. Sucks to be a kid and sick on Christmas Eve. 🙁

  31. What a beautiful post, Kristen! I teared up reading this as I was reminded of the power of my Christian faith.

    I am pleased that my kids study this tale in 7th grade in our school district. I’ve seen the Muppets, George C. Scott, and Patrick Stewart versions. I would still like to see Finney’s portrayal. But perhaps my favorite was seeing Dickens’s story in a live play at a local church.

    (Now if I can figure out how to reblog this with a link to your fabulous post…) Merry Christmas!

  32. One of my cherished childhood Christmas memories is sitting with my father into the wee hours every Christmas Eve to watch the 1938 version of “The Christmas Carol.” It was the only version he would watch – until the Muppet version came out. Neither of us were Muppet fans, but we enjoyed it so much I now have the DVD although it’s not nearly as much fun watching without him. Another of my favorites, because its message is so simple and silly, is the animated version of “The Grinch.”

    • Rachel Thompson on December 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm
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    I’m an atheist and comparative religions geek and I love this story and it’s transcending message. Less the connection to god, it’s a universal tale. This essay is well written, too..

  33. Don’t apologize, but I did a double-take when I read Lewis Carroll. I was getting ready to check for memory loss. 😉

    I love “A Christmas Carol” in its many versions, each seem to highlight something different. A lot of folks love George C Scott as Scrooge, but I think Patrick Stewart is much better because he looks miserly and gaunt. Michael Caine in the Muppets has a similar look and is a favorite of mine too. If anyone is looking for something a bit different, track down “An American Christmas” with Henry Wrinkler (made for tv movie set in the American depression).

    Hope all the family is feeling better and ready for Christmas. And look at it this way, you know people are reading your blog/emails now. 🙂

    • jodenton445 on December 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm
    • Reply

    Hi, Kristen. What a lovely and moving post. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the story, and even though there are so many versions that are perhaps better made, I like Scrooged with Bill Murray. So sorry to hear about the theft and the Spawn being sick. Hope it all works out. Merry Christmas.

  34. Hope your son is getting better. It’s not fun being sick on Christmas.

    I love Scrooged with Bill Murray. I watch it every year. I saw Kelsey Grammar’s version a year ago and the new animated version with Jim Carrey as Scrooge as well as the ghosts. I believe the animated version sticks with a lot of the language from the original story.

    One of the best parts of the story is when Ebenezer sees the good in himself the way Tiny Tim and his nephew sees him. His nephew kept inviting him for Christmas. He never gave up on him, as God never gives up on us. It’s a reminder to see people through God’s eyes, not our own.

    Thank you for this post and a reminder of the grace offered freely for all. Our Christmas message last night was a reminder than God knew us before our birth, He loves us and has a plan for our life. Many people know John 3:16, but not 3:17 : 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

    Blessings to you, Kristen, and your family, during this Christmas season and through the coming year.

  35. I’ve never seen the Muppets movie of this but I think I’ll put it on my to-watch list. Merry Christmas.

  36. Love both the hymn and The Muppets Christmas Carol. Dickens was a genius. I’ve seen so many versions of that story and love them all. Hope your baby gets better and you get all that bank chaos cleared up. Have a great Christmas.

  37. Beautifully written analysis and witness to God’s grace and mercy. Thank you for keeping a focus on the reason for the season and sharing it with us. I always learn so much from your posts!

  38. Very nice. I’ve been trying to keep the fun in my fundamentalism for any number of years And, by golly what you wrote? That’ll preach! Anyways – Merry Christmas.

    • ThorRhs@aol.com on December 25, 2012 at 11:58 am
    • Reply

    You must have had 100 emails by this time letting you know that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol not Lewis Carroll. Yipe. Sorry.

    1. Yeah, I was tending a sick baby while writing and brain apparently locked up. I corrected it almost immediately, but unfortunately NOT before hitting “publish.” Sigh.

  39. What a beautiful post Kristen. I had never read the story and don’t even recall seeing any version either but this year, for the first time I saw the story. My daughter is in theatre and they performed it just a week ago. She played the part of the Ghost of Christmas past. Watching the transformation of Scrooge resonated with me more than I ever expected.

    I, too, love Come Thou Font. It’s a beautiful piece and brings me joy and peace when I sing it.

    I hope this Christmas season, even with everything that’s happened, a font of blessings are showered on you.

    • DJ on December 26, 2012 at 1:42 am
    • Reply

    I like “A Christmas Story”!!

  40. I just finished a Christmas Carol. I love it. My wife likes the Muppets, I didn’t watch them much growing up, but I will have to give this one a try. Thanks for being true to what you believe and not giving into the Happy Holidayness of commercial America. It is refreshing to hear someone talk about Christ and his enduring love. Wonderful connections to the Scriptures and this story.
    Hope your child gets well Kristen.

    • Patti Smith on December 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen – “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens. Lewis Carroll may have written a Christmas story, but not “A Christmas Carol.” I really enjoy reading your blog and hope you had a great Christmas and will have a Happy New Year Patti Smith Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2012 16:30:17 +0000 To: pjsss@hotmail.com

    1. I know. Was a blunder. Was tending a sick baby while writing and subconscious took the wheel. It’s learner’s permit has since been revoked :D.

  41. amen sister!

  42. Always behind the eightball here. Hope you were able to enjoy your Christmas, Kristen. So sorry about Spawn being sick and about your bank account. Hope that’s been rectified. (What is wrong with people?) Anyway, your post on this classic story moved me to tears. I am familiar with it but never considered its Christian roots and references, which adds a ton of depth to the story. Of course the PC version would fall flat. The foundation behind the recounting is pulled out. Thnx for sharing this, in the detail it deserves. Taks care and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  43. In all my years of reading and listening to people give a dissertation of this classic story, your’s is by far the best and most professional rendition of it’s meaning.

    Excellent research. Beautiful clarity in your references to the characters job of analogy to the Christian heart of the matter of forgiveness and renewal.

    A simple but faithful understanding of the story’s meaning. Excellent job, superb writing. Thank you!

  44. Kristen, as usual, your blogs are incredible. This one had a special meaning for me as I myself have been contemplating my own perspectives on life. My son was in a car accident that took the life of one of his friends and left 3 others in serious condition. (My son was the only one wearing a seatbelt and was the only one who walked away.) It’s funny how God seems to lead me to read/hear things just when I need to hear it. Reading your perspective of a Christmas Carol really put a new emphasis on my own purpose for writing and has inspired me to continue. Up until today, I was thinking about giving up. So thank you and I hope you had a Merry Christmas (despite your recent troubles) and have a joyous and happy New Year.

  45. Excellent post and great reminders. Thanks Kristen.

  46. I’m late to this blog, but I sure did like it a whole lot.

    well done Kristen

    • Yvette Carol on December 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm
    • Reply

    A lot of bloggers love to talk about A Christmas Carol, precisely because it is such a good example of a powerful story that has everything. Recently the wonderful PJ Reece blogged about it too. I like your breakdown of it very much, Kristen. Nice job. 🙂

  47. Let’s see, Alistair Sim is my favorite with Muppets and Susan Lucci’s Ebbie a close second. Reginald Owens’ version is neck in neck with Scott and Stewart’s but I didn’t see anyone mention Mickey’s Christmas Carol with Scrooge McDuck!

    I’m a sucker for Dickens’ story and have almost all of the versions because I watch them all the time. You gave the best dissection of the story I’ve ever read though. Wonderful.

    And for what it’s worth;

    Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love,
    Take my Heart Lord, take and seal it,
    Seal it for thy courts above.

    Is where I stop singing and just start sobbing. So meaningful for me.

    thank you

    • Jess Molly on December 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed your enthusiasm for this story very much. Thanks for sharing your experience with everyone. A very Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one!

  48. I love the George C. Scott version of A Christmas carol, but this year I got my kids the Muppets version because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Muppets. I grew up with them and love that my kids love them too. Excellent post! Wishing you a (belated) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between

  49. I’m not sure which is my favorite. But what a great post! I reblogged at: http://www.elizabeth-collins.com/1/post/2013/12/what-ebenezer-scrooge-can-teach-us-about-greatwriting.html

    • Jeff McDonad on November 17, 2016 at 12:54 pm
    • Reply

    I tried to link to your other books from this blog and was warned not

  50. From start to finish, this blog post had us hooked. The content was insightful, entertaining, and had us feeling grateful for all the amazing resources out there. Keep up the great work!

  1. […] HERE to read more. It really is a fabulous […]

  2. […] The “big picture” items can make or break your narrative. Tim Kane searches for the perfect story structure. Meanwhile, Larry Brooks posts questions you should ask yourself before writing any scene. And Kristen Lamb uses A Christmas Carol to explore the power of names, symbols, and truth in writing. […]

  3. […] Kristen Lamb also utilizes the Scrooge character to teach valuable lessons. refer to an article entitled:What Ebenezer Scrooge Can Teach Us About Great Writing. […]

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