Thursday, December 16, 2010

P4E.193 Ignorance and Want

In Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present introduces Ebenezer Scrooge to "two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable," and explains to Scrooge, "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..."

I've always been fascinated with these creatures. Dickens has portrayed them as pitiful, yet powerful offspring of Men. In their visible form they represent the result of Ignorance and Want, and are to be pitied. But, Dickens warns us to beware them both for the Doom that they represent.

A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, yet Dickens's warning about Ignorance and Want remains fresh. Every year, we Men beget new children named Ignorance and Want and in this case we want to exercise some population control.

To begin, let us ask, "Ignorance of what?" For, we do not know what we do not know. If we say that Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, then how do we begin to attain the knowledge that we need to dispel the wretchedness of Ignorance? We Believers have a place to turn to for answers to such questions. Proverbs 1:7 says "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." Later Proverbs 15:33 says, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility."

I know that the current trend in writing is toward open-endedness and away from blatancy. Teachers are now "facilitators" and the tendency is away from receiving instruction from authorities. However, Scripture is the Supreme Authority and I will not despise its instruction.

If I am to dispel Ignorance and gain knowledge and wisdom, I must respect God by regarding others, in all humility, as more important than I. This is, in fact, the message to Scrooge from the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Secondly, let us ask, "Who's Want?" and "What do they Want?" This reminds me of the question that the lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" and also the question the Cain asks God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I think the answer may sound cynical, but the truthful answer to "Who's Want?" is "Anybody but me." This would be in keeping with the humility demanded by dispelling Ignorance. And the answer to "What do they Want?" may come down to "Anything that I have." This answer would echo Jesus' "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also."

It may be helpful if we expand the answer to "What do they Want?" to these three simple things: Health, Security, and Dignity. By these I mean that, for their health's sake, no one should be denied food, clean water and shelter. No one should live in fear of another man or men. We should do everything in our power to shield the innocent from the harm of malicious men. As children made in the image of God, all of mankind has, for the asking, the dignity that the blood of Christ imbues. We Believers should be instrumental, as God's ambassadors, in providing these.

These are hard sayings. But, they do define the Believer's Way.

Happy Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. You do indeed sort through and give voice to truths--and how interesting to use an excerpt from A Christmas Carol to launch your thoughts!