The Official Winds eNewsletter
© January 2002
The Wonderful Symbolism of Christmas:
"Unto Us A Child is Born!"
~written from the perspective of The Winds of the Soul~
by Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.)
|And with their ever more politically correct form of "Christmas movies" each new twist for Holiday entertainment seems to take us further and further from the essential meaning and understanding of Christmas itself, the real meaning of this time having been silently gutted years ago. Sacrificing consistency, plot, and a sound understanding of what is "good" for a twisted sense of cuteness based on lethal marketing surveys, Hollywood grows ever more blind to the truth of things.||
Last week, after first rejecting a half dozen or so of trite, often obsequious, Seasonal Christmas Movies, I was amazed to find a "legitimate" Christmas movie actually being broadcast by one of the major networks (Fox actually) and once again enjoyed the old movie Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, staring Alastair Sim as Scrooge.
Parenthetically, I don't know about you, but I grow ever more weary with the new fangled "Christmas" and "Santa" movies that have little to do with Spirit of Christmas, mindlessly turned out by Hollywood with each succeeding year. As I've already mentioned in Chapter One of the Winds of the Soul, I'm deeply saddened by the increasing lack of intellect and Spirit of Goodness in Hollywood. And with their ever more politically correct form of "Christmas movies" each new twist for Holiday entertainment seems to take us further and further from the essential meaning and understanding of Christmas itself, the real meaning of this time having been silently gutted years ago. Sacrificing consistency, plot, and a sound understanding of what is "good" for a twisted sense of cuteness based on lethal marketing surveys, Hollywood grows ever more blind to the truth of things.
Deceptively, Hollywood now touts a number of movies and remakes as being based on the classic Dickens' story, but in my mind none comes close to being as faithful to Dickens' true intentions than the 1951 version. So, you can imagine how happy I was to be able to watch this particular movie again, a movie which sought not to insult the Spirit but uplift and teach the eternal truths it does. Indeed, no matter how many times I have watched this particular movie or reread the Dickens' story itself (The Works of Charles Dickens, Christmas Books (Vol. 1), A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1868), I gain an increasing regard for what Dickens' knew and bravely wrote about in this wonderful story, namely, Christmas and the hope for all humanity. Interestingly, I think he knew more about Christmas than do many so-called priests, pastors, and preachers we have with us today—who ironically, seem to be becoming more "Hollywood" in their local and national productions of Christmas programs, having only succeeded in diluting the fullness of the message conveyed within the Scriptures themselves. That saddens me even more than LA's continual inaccurate, tired, and twisted un-telling of the tale of Christmas itself.
© Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.). All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, including but not limited to all forms of media print, audio, electronic and video reproduction, without the prior express and specific written consent of the author, except in cases of t brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
|As Dickens tells it, no matter that the real miracle of the blessed event happened so long ago, it should still happen within our hearts today, a new opportunity for vision and purpose to be born within us. Few of us have learned to adequately discuss or realize this level of integration within our own lives. But this is a miracle that doesn't just happen.||
So what did Dickens' understand and see about Christmas that many still don't? What did he knowingly preserve of Goodness and Truth in his story that few after him have been able to duplicate? The simple recounting of the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem is of course important, but the message and imagery of such a miraculous birth, of the glorious star in the Heavens and the arrival of the three kings from ancient Persia, is only the beginning of the story no matter how glorious the recounting of it really is. Indeed, to those that have learned to see with their heart, it so much more...
As Dickens tells it, no matter that the real miracle of the blessed event happened so long ago, it should still happen within our hearts today, a new opportunity for vision and purpose to be born within us. Few of us have learned to adequately discuss or realize this level of integration within our own lives. But this is a miracle that doesn't just happen. It's not born of magic or whimsy. It comes from the willingness to receive His portending and the advent of his teaching within us. There are things that we have to do in order to initiate this activity and prepare for the reception within us. Otherwise the event of over 2000 years ago remains an historical occasion alone, something that happened outside of us and in another time zone.
So let's get right to it.... You may remember that the character of Ebenezer Scrooge had become a cold, lonely miser, in whom the Christmas Spirit no longer resided any one day of the year. In such spiritual straits, Scrooge was to be visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, now imprisoned with the eternal chains and fetters of his own earthly labors, to specifically warn his old partner what was to come of him if he too refused to change the way of his life and the comfort of business as usual. Lamenting that his (and Scrooge's) wasted life of greed, miserliness, and business success shunned the true purpose of life and missed the mark entirely, the ghost of Marley testified, "Business!... Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business... Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me! " (ibid.) Marley lamented that his sorrow was of lost opportunity, lost opportunity to be a gentling and gracious Christian influence on others, generous in all that he had, wise and helpful in all his deeds. He showed Ebenezer that the true sorrowing of spirits like himself was to behold the suffering of men yet be unable to intervene for their welfare, having forever wasted what potential for Goodness they had previously been given. Desperately cried the ghost of Marley, "Not to know that no space of regret can amends for one life's opportunities misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!" (ibid.)
|Being an astute student of human nature, he knew that it is the hardening of men's hearts, which in turn leads to the forgetting of who we used to be, that leads to the woes of lost opportunities. And he knew that there was nothing more powerful to soften men's hardened hearts but to be led by the Grace of Heaven to rediscover the roots of Goodness within us by being made to remember the little people we used to be, accessing the history of real concrete learning experiences we lived, and thereby witness that we once had the stuff of the true children of Heaven.||
But I feel that Dickens taught us more than these truths alone, however excellent they may be. He specifically used the story line of A Christmas Carol to widen our understanding of the Christmas miracle, and to prompt us to look more deeply into its rich historical reality and the imagery it teaches us, if we would but have faith. I believe Dickens wanted to help us all avoid the pits of despair the ghost of Marley experienced, teaching us how to turn lost opportunities into those that we could win for the betterment of all mankind. Being an astute student of human nature, he knew that it is the hardening of men's hearts, which in turn leads to the forgetting of who we used to be, that leads to the woes of lost opportunities. And he knew that there was nothing more powerful to soften men's hardened hearts but to be led by the Grace of Heaven to rediscover the roots of Goodness within us by being made to remember the little people we used to be, directly accessing the history of real concrete learning experiences we lived, and thereby witness that we once had the "stuff" of the true children of Heaven. He knew that the proof of the "better way" was already within us, waiting to be reborn again into our awareness, if we could but receive it.
Accordingly, Dickens prose boldly suggested that a coarsened life such as Scrooge's was not forged in a single act, nor was it necessarily built upon by the blatant sins of commission, but took its real form from the methodical and incremental denial of something once held precious by all men and women when they were young—even the Light that is given to all men and lavishly endowed upon the hearts of children, specifically exemplified by the event that took place in a lowly manger so many years ago today. And he taught these truths most splendidly in A Christmas Carol.
Amplifying this notion of incremental denial of that guiding Light, the fettered ghost of Jacob Marley confessed, "I wear the chain I forged in life,...I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?" Or would you know [Scrooge]," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have labored on it since. It is a ponderous chain!" (ibid.) The neglect of the things of the Spirit and the denial of its imprinting left in our hearts causes us to enslave ourselves instead with the "ponderous chain" of blindness, deafness and all other insensitivities that plague mankind....
Such was to be Scrooge's fate except for the possibility of intervention of a kind most feared by men who deny the truth, namely, to look without prejudice once again upon the innocence of their own childhoods, and see the conscionable difference between what lived in their heart then..., and now. Only by accepting the truth of these very specific "revelations," if you will, could Scrooge hope to be delivered from Marley's fate. For, only in the revealing of the
|Indeed, the hoped for reprieval could only be won by following the admonitions of the three spirits sent to reveal these critically essential forgotten truths of his life. As the ghost of Marley warned, "Without their visits," said the Ghost, " you cannot hope to shun the path I tread." Indeed, Dickens' prose reveals impeccably sound Christian reasoning reflecting sound Gospel principles—specifically, without sincere and heartfelt repentance their can be no salvation.||
particular matters of Scrooge's past could there be reason and proof powerful enough to persuade him to repent. Indeed, he was informed that the hoped for reprieval could only be won by following the admonitions of the three spirits sent to reveal these critically essential forgotten truths of his life. As the ghost of Marley warned, "Without their visits," said the Ghost, " you cannot hope to shun the path I tread." Indeed, Dickens' prose reveals impeccably sound Christian reasoning reflecting sound Gospel principles—specifically, without sincere and heartfelt repentance there can be no salvation.
You'll remember that Scrooge is then introduced to three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past sent to reveal Ebenezer's personal past, the Ghost of Christmas Present sent to reveal Ebenezer's personal present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come sent to reveal a possible portending of Ebenezer's personal future if repentance is not effected. Accordingly, each spirit was to show him portions of his life and the respective portions of himself that existed at the time. Quite wonderfully, each revealed and remembered event was calculated to be a reminder of who Ebenezer was, not just an historical rendering of the events of his life, but who Ebenezer was at these times of his life—what kind of person he was, the sadness and joys of his life, how he felt about things and the impact the times had upon him... the loneliness and despair, the comfort and love of friends and family, and the decisions he made during this process of growth and maturation. These revelations worked to show Ebenezer the status of who he had become according to the measures of Heaven, what it was that Ebenezer had grown to lose, and the consequences that those losses must surely bear. So moved with these continuing revelations, he began to sorrow for the mistakes of his life, feeling the fullness of the weight of incontrovertible wrong and heartfelt regret, realizing the needs for repentance beginning to sway in his heart and mind....brooding and ruminating around what he should have done, what he could have done, but didn't. Such must happen in everyone's life if goodly change is to be sincere, meaningful, and well established. So it was that each spirit was to teach Ebenezer to remember what manner of man he was, who he had become, and who he would quickly harden to be forever, unless a particular course adjustment was not immediately made. According to Dickens understanding of Christianity, these were lessons that were so very important to Scrooge's eternal welfare—so important were they that if Ebenezer would have denied them, his fate would have been sealed to be worse than Marley's, now having constructed the "longer and heavier chain."
I believe that Dickens knew then what a lot of people later have since forgotten. Namely, that to truly repent from a life of hardness and misdirection, our hearts must first be turned to re-experience what they were made of when we were a gentler and kinder people. We must come to remember and know of the contrast between what we were by His Grace and innocence then as children, and what we have now become through our vain and knowledgeable acts as adults. Without that difference being painfully experienced by us, we will not know enough to turn away from all of the wrong in our life or even know how to recognize it, but only fool ourselves through practiced self-deceit that we are better than we are.
|We must mark this lesson well, because so it is with us all. This meaning is made most clear. At least that's what Dickens would have us remember. Although we may not be directly visited by our own personal Ghost of Christmas Past and the like, we may have the occasion, if we accept it, to be reminded of who we used to be in various other ways—all meant to direct us to an understanding of who we were by the Grace of His Spirit, remembering wherewith we were embolden and made whole when His children, by the truth and goodness from his Eternal Hand.||
In the case of Ebenezer Scrooge, he was invited to remember the kind of person he once was when younger and the Goodly Spirit that once made itself a part of his life. Such an act of remembering would help to soften him and remind him of the heart that he once held true. Such would help him to rekindle an attraction for the better things in life, for that of generosity and kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Such intervention would bring him to remember the times of his youth and the fullness of his feelings, his attraction and loyalty to things that were Good, and the happiness that he gleaned from such direction. Such would help him to remember what was important to him then, and if well received during this period of reflection, would offer the possibility of becoming important to him once again, namely, to seek for the Spirit of Goodness, of Christmas itself, in his everyday life, day in and day out.
The opportunity for returning to his youth was at once joyous and painful to Scrooge, each event uncovered proved remarkable and telling as to what kind of person he once was. Indeed, the whole story revolves around the remembering of who Scrooge used to be and what he had become in the subsequent incremental denial of his Goodly feelings. He could not hope to be saved from Marley's fate unless he allowed this stinging yet merciful impact to occur and, by the Light of the Master's Design, work its magnificent wonder within him, preparing him to see his duty anew—to uplift the hands that were made heavy and hung down, to bring hope to those in poverty in things temporally and spiritually, and to offer comfort to those remaining homeless and dismayed.
We must mark this lesson well, because so it is with us all. This meaning is made most clear. At least that's what Dickens would have us remember. Although we may not be directly visited by our own personal Ghost of Christmas Past and the like, we may have the occasion, if we accept it, to be reminded of who we used to be in various other ways—all meant to direct us to an understanding of who we were by the Grace of His Spirit, remembering wherewith we were embolden and made whole when His children, by the truth and goodness from his Eternal Hand.
Although many of us today think of Christmas as being a religious event of some significance, we rarely go beyond the token attendance at church, familial and holiday partying, and gift giving. But we must take pause and remember that the turning away from the Light within us is the real reason why the story of Christmas is so very important to us even now. To be sure, that's why Christmas was first given to us all—to enable the reconciliation between God and mankind. Thus, the story of Christmas cannot be correctly served or witnessed, as it was with Scrooge, without us first revisiting the times when we were a gentler and more spiritual people, repenting from having since unwittingly hardened our hearts and demeanors. Most emphatically, and precisely because we have turned away so often, we need the Light to be born into our personal worlds so much more—a Christmas revisited within the humble stables of our hearts, making room for Him to come, providing a place where He may find rest and safety within us, a reminder of what the Light is to us, even the needed propitiation for our sins.
By taking a leaf from Dickens' A Christmas Carol, we may then find greater symbolism in the event of Christmas and truly make Christmas a personal dynamic event within us, witnessing the birth of the Spirit of the Son of God within us and all of the ramifications that then may proceed. But in order to do so, we must first travel like Scrooge into the events and reasons for our pasts to learn more about the children we were, and what we've lost on the way.
By taking a leaf from Dickens' A Christmas Carol, we may then find greater symbolism in the event of Christmas and truly make Christmas a personal dynamic event within us, witnessing the birth of the Spirit of the Son of God within us and all of the ramifications that then may proceed. But in order to do so, we must first travel like Scrooge into the events and reasons for our pasts to learn more about the children we were, and what we've lost on the way. This journey of discovery/repentance is not easy. It is fraught with the ups and downs of our lives, with the pains and sorrows of who we used to be, with shames and embarrassments of the things we committed our hands to do, as well as those things from which we wrongly turned away. Like Scrooge, we will find that it can be messy, uncomfortable, and unflattering to us personally. But let us not fool ourselves. We cannot succeed nor participate in the true purpose and significance of Christmas if we delay our journey or turn aside the revelations offered us in this process. As The Winds of the Soul directly admonishes, the gathering and restoration of our children within us must take place, otherwise He will find no place to be within us, and have nothing to do with us thereafter. Even He, Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, has decreed this stating that:
"Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whosever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." [Matthew 18:3-6 KJV]
For it is through them, through the lost innocent ones and exiled children we bear within us, that He first spoke to us, and He will speak again... Therefore, it is through their eyes that we must remember who we were, repenting of our foibles and misdirection that have carried us far from the innocence of our youth and the subsequent connection with His Spirit. Through their restored witness (like Scrooge experienced) we must recall the importance of Goodness in our lives and how impoverished we have become without it. Through their forgotten experience, we must humbly approach His Throne, and offer to Him our heart and all that we are, as our only gift to Him, becoming born again to His Countenance and Heavenly Intelligence. Only then will we have the wherewithal to recognize the King of Kings, His Name upon us, and His Kingdom within us. And only then will the Day Star of Bethlehem, even the Holy Ghost, guide us to His Rest. And only then will the three Wise Men of Faith, Hope, and Charity gladly search for and surrender their powers and authorities to serve Him forever.
This process of restoration should be critically essential to all Christians, no matter the particular persuasion, or for that matter, anyone who keeps Christmas as a sacred time in their life. Indeed, we cannot truly experience the Spirit of Christmas without the missing children within us once again reawakened to our conscious stream, and without their Heaven-given authorities reinstated within us. As is more fully explained within my book, The Winds of the Soul, they intimately hold within themselves the necessary keys of understanding, the sacred acknowledgements of our Father in Heaven, and how it is that "unto us a child is born." It is through them that we truly learn about the significance of the Christmas miracle. It is by them that we gain the vision of what Jesus Christ can mean to each of us, our Salvation and Mercy. It is because of them that we may be born again into and by His Spirit, for unless we are converted and become a child again, we will not be welcomed into His Kingdom.
So it is that we must find within ourselves, a place like that of the manger, a lowly and humble place, far from the prying and envying eyes of men, far from our pride and arrogance—to a place of humility within us, a place where humbleness is sweet to the taste and not an embarrassment to our social-selves. Here, within this humble place, we may bring the only gift we can, our heart's desiring to be "good" as He is "good," to love as He loves, to be a blessing and not a hindrance to others in this life of trials.
So it is that we must find within ourselves, a place like that of the Bethlehem manger, a lowly and humble place, far from the prying and envying eyes of men, far from our pride and arrogance—to a place of humility within us, a place where humbleness is sweet to the taste and not an embarrassment to our social-selves. Here, within this humble abode, we may bring the only gift we can, our heart's desiring to be "good" as He is "good," to love as He loves, to be a blessing and not a hindrance to others in this life of trials. This said, we thus would hope that the Son of God's presence would be welcomed by each and everyone, that we may be delivered from the evil and consequences from our vain ways, and that we may be forgiven of our transgression as we forgive others. Indeed, we would wish that all may be prepared for His understanding, reason and brightness of intelligence. Especially during this time, our prayers of comfort and support also continue to go out to those who still suffer from the loses sustained on 9-11, as well as all other losses that may grieve the tender hearts of our friends and neighbors. May we all find comfort in His message that He is the Resurrection, the Way, and the Light.
The first Christmas eve was 2001 years ago. Although it was probably more correctly calendared in the cool spring nights of lambing season, sometime around early April after the threat of frost had passed than late December, the fact that it occurred at all should still astound the world. Indeed, it did occur! "Unto us a child is born!" In the quietness of my heart, the Spirit whispers to me so, and of this I have never been more certain or sure. Nor is there anything of which I could ever be more certain. And although it has been known of a certainty by many since that eventful night, it still remains so unexpected, so uncalculated, and so unappreciated by the world. Nonetheless, the reality of this one single event still peals its powerful message of hope to all generations of mankind and throughout all time. It remains my hope as well.
And of Scrooge..., Charles Dickens concludes, "...and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us Every One!" (ibid.). Thank you, Mr. Dickens, for listening to your heart....and praise to the One who gave you utterance, born in a manger so many, many years ago today.
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About the Author: Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.) is a licensed Psychologist and Neuroscientist having been educated abroad where he completed his postgraduate studies at King’s College, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and then graduated and received his Doctorate from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He has been in private clinical practice and medical research for over 25 years, being active as an author, popular radio and TV personality, public speaker, and biomedical researcher. An expert in a number of fields including Forensic/Criminal Psychology, Child/Family/Relationship Psychology, and Neuropsychology, he has also served as an expert scientific advisor, product innovator and formulator, and professional consultant to the Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries. He is the author of The Winds of the Soul~Heaven’s First Voice To Us, as well as numerous other scholarly papers and works.