Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Man of the worldly mind! Do you believe in me or not?"

My parents' church has a big ol' Christmas concert/play each year, and this year they did Dickens' Christmas Carol. Now if you've read it you know that Dickens somehow managed to write a whole book about Christmas and Scrooge's conversion and yet didn't say a thing about God. (I know, "God bless us, every one!" but Tiny Tim was using a figure of speech.) But this was not a problem for my parents' church. They just tweaked it, writing the Gospel in as it suited them. :)

I think you can't really take a play that's vague on religion, and graft in some explicit lines, and have it sound right. There needs to be a sense of God throughout the whole play so that the explicit lines when they come fit like the last piece of a puzzle that reveals the whole picture. Instead they seemed out of place. Or maybe the problem was that the new lines used modern American Evangelical language and that's not how Victorians of any denomination would have put things. Can't help that; who can write like Dickens any more?

I'm only being nitpicky; it was a great concert and play and I loved seeing everyone (many of whom I knew) in Victorian costume. Particularly this person, accessorizing with chains:

It's my dad! He played Marley's ghost, and as soon as I heard he'd been cast I thought, "Oh, this is going to be good!" He's perfect with the dramatic wails and the deep spooky voice and the scary look. You should have heard him reading to us when we were kids. But I assure you that when he's not in character he's a very nice dad. :)


Athanasius contra mundum said...

I didn't realize that your family isn't Catholic. I guess that's what I get for assuming.

Rachel Gray said...

Yup, all my family are Protestant and I became Catholic two years ago. :)

JimAroo said...

".....who can write like Dickens any more?"

Jim says: "The answer is no one can and that is great news"

Mary says: "The answer is no one can and that is a terrible shame"

This is truly an irreconcilable difference.

John said...

And Mr. G.K. Chesterton, do you also have an opinion?

Rachel Gray said...

Aha! I suspect you of having read the November 2008 issue of First Things! There I learned from Fr. Neuhaus that GKC himself wrote the entry on Charles Dickens for the venerable 14th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, and he praised him highly.

JimAroo said...

Thanks for sharing that about GKC. It is somehow reassuring to know that even he could make a serious error in judgment once in his life.

Rachel Gray said...

JimAroo, it's even more reassuring to know that you never will. :)

I do find Dickens much too wordy and flowery sometimes. But he can also write a cracking good story.

You and John might be interested in this quiz: