Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Some faint reflections"

Every high school English curriculum used to include Dickens alongside Shakespeare - often a book and a play each year. The TAG class I once co-taught with an English and a Science teacher required students to read Oliver Twist. Dickens remains very much worth reading, and for Christians not least because the books are perfectly compatible with the faith. Brian Murray at First Things writes about "The Social Gospel of Charles Dickens," in particular his efforts to rescue London prostitutes and help them begin new lives as emigrants.
.... Critics and biographers tend to ignore the centrality of Dickens’ Christianity, perhaps because he was so famous for mocking religious hypocrites in his books. Dickens, it is true, was a latitudinarian through and through. But he had never abjured the Anglicanism in which he had been nominally reared. “One of my most constant and earnest endeavors,” he once wrote, “has been to exhibit in all my good people some faint reflections of the teachings of our Great Master. . . . All my illustrations are derived from the New Testament; all my social abuses are shown to be departures from its spirit.” In his will he wrote, “I commit my soul to the mercy of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”.... [more]
First Things - The Social Gospel of Charles Dickens

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