Recognizing the Humanity Around Us On More than Holidays

The teachings of our faith traditions demand that we think spiritually 24 hours a day, not just in the moments when we sit in the pews of our houses of worship. To this end, we want to create an ongoing conversation that honors our respective religious traditions more deeply, in every facet of our lives. While we feel passionately about our chosen topics, we hope more passionately that the readers will carry on the conversation through their personal and business relationships. We honestly care less that you agree; we want you to care enough to listen to each other on matters of the spirit in business.

Authors of this ongoing series of commentaries will rotate among: Rev. Mark Davis – First Presbyterian Church; Rabbi Marc Kline, JD – Temple Adath Israel; Rev. Dr. Mark Johnson – Central Baptist Church; and Rev. Kenneth Golphin – A.M.E. Itinerant Elder – Asbury Chapel AME Church, who offers the second installment.

In his novella A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens relates the tale of a man whose self-perceived success in business has become so rote and important that other events and people around him lose significance. Scrooge becomes seemingly oblivious to the season of the year, the plight of those who have helped him become successful, and the sufferings of those affiliated to the third or fourth degree.

The illness of Tiny Tim, the drudgery of Scrooge’s clerk who labors in dark tediousness for meager wages, even the celebratory desire of his own nephew to acknowledge the Christmas season, seems to bypass the man whose sole intent seems to be to amass a fortune he has no real desire to spend. And so the story goes, with a visit from his deceased business partner, Marley, who instigates a series of ghostly visits to make Scrooge aware of what has really passed (for Scrooge has, like a lot of us, a clouded vision of reality), what is present, and what could be if he continues on his current path.

Without belaboring the retelling of the story, Scrooge eventually sees the errors of his ways, recants his former demeanor and gains a cheerier perspective, even to the point of greater generosity — not just to family and employees, but to the young man who fetches the turkey for him and, implied, to others.

Sometimes I think it is too bad that this tale only really comes out at Christmastime. Or that it is so closely related to that season of the year that many of us only perceive it as a clarion call to celebrate the Yule. To be sure, it does seem that, in the period in which the book was written and set, Christmas had become for many a rather ho-hum event. Trees and greeting cards had just come into use, and after a series of wars and economic calamities, great celebrations just weren’t the thing. This tale is often credited with changing American and British perspectives on the season and bringing a newfound purpose to merriment festivities.

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