Lessons From A Christmas Carol: Ignorance and Want

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is every Christmas Eve at my wife’s parents we end our festivities by watching one of the renditions of A Christmas Carol. I must admit I was not impressed with this tradition when I was first introduced to it because I was not overly familiar with the movie or the book. I knew the general plot of the story, but I couldn’t relay the details or quote it like everyone else seemed to be able to. As the years have gone by my wife slowly but surely won me over on this tradition and the story itself. 

One of the parts of the story that has always stuck out to me is at the end of the visit from the second spirit to Scrooge. In this encounter Scrooge was confronted with what was presently happening around him, but at the end he is confronted by two children of men, Ignorance and Want. In several of the different movie versions these two children are presented as quite creepy, but it has always been the content that has stuck out to me. 

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?” 

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.” 

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

                        “Oh, Man! Look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

“Spirit! Are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more. 

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!”

I can think of no better way than to describe America right now than the two words, ignorance and want. We have consistently given birth to these two children and it is greatly costing us! These children are perhaps manifested greatest in the new fascination with Socialism. Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Its hallmarks are the elimination of private property and redistribution of wealth through government programs. No doubt Socialism has become popular because of want. 

This want that has swept across our land is not a godly want, but it is a desire rooted in attempting to make God’s law null and void. Two of the Ten Commandments are, you shall not steal, and you shall not covet. Socialism violates both of these. There is obvious coveting going on from those who desire Socialism as it is often neatly packaged as, “vote for me and I will give you free stuff!” The means to fulfill their Want is through a systemic theft (wealth redistribution). Charles Spurgeon noted this of Socialism, “when the principles of justice, law, and order shall have all been effectually sapped we may possibly witness in some form of socialism, similar to that which is so sadly spreading in Germany, a repetition of the evils which have in former ages befallen nations which have refused the living God, and set up gods of their own.” It is when biblical justice, law, and order are forgotten that Socialism is tried. 

Ignorance was the other child of man mentioned in Charles Dickens tale. Truly, in America we are ignorant of the dangers of Socialism. Socialism is generally given cover in America by placing one word before it, namely, Democratic. As if the populous voting for an economic system gives it any merit. It doesn’t matter if Socialism is forced upon people or if it is willingly voted for initially it is very dangerous because it is a system that does not recognize the God given right to private property. 

Many have and will continue to argue in their ignorance that Socialism doesn’t seek to take away the right to private property, but as shown in Toronto this past Thanksgiving Day it does! What happened? A restaurant owner was carried away from his business in handcuffs for trespassing. How is it possible for a person to be charged with trespassing on their own property? It is possible because Canada has adopted many principles of Socialism and a hallmark of Socialism is the elimination of private property. Government control is needed to redistribute the wealth and fulfill the want of the people, but this comes through Ignorance of the people as they allow their coveting to enslave them by giving up liberty for “free stuff”. 

In mankind’s ignorance he has adopted the principles of Socialism not understanding that Socialism demands you worship the state. If we want to make a distinction between Socialism and Democratic Socialism I suppose it would be this, in normal Socialism a tyrant picks up a hammer and forges the chains of his subjects; In democratic Socialism the people are so ignorant they pick up the hammer themselves and forge their own chains! 

Another point where ignorance rears its ugly head is when it comes to charity. In Dickens’ tale Scrooge was not at fault because he didn’t pay his taxes (something he rightly bemoaned doing), he was at fault for a lack of charity. It is in ignorance that people believe government can take responsibility of charity. Many are pushing for Socialism because they claim it is the loving or charitable thing, but a government is just an inanimate function of orders, restrictions, processes, and systems. A government cannot cry. It does not feel. It does not have flesh. A government is incapable of charity, and certainly incapable of Christian charity. No wonder Dickens described Want and Ignorance as, “wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable.” 

One lesson we can learn from A Christmas Carol is to beware and deny want and ignorance, at the story says, “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” As Christians we understand that the place where we deny ignorance is God’s word. Psalm 119:97-100 says, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.” And we know we can deny covetousness because Christ is with us. Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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