Christmas Contradictions : Seasonal Best Wishes

I’ve got quite a queue of posts for the site – news of conferences, publications and comments on recent governmental initiatives and so on. However there’s a danger they’ll be overlooked in the next week or so. Hence I’ll hang on until you return refreshed in the New Year.

However in the interim and in the best pluralist tradition of the Campaign I offer you three reflections on the meaning of Christmas.

Written fifty years ago Tom Lehrer’s Christmas Carol is scarcely out of date.

 

Whilst Simon Callow argues that Dickens’ genius in the ‘Christmas Carol’ is expressed thus:

”“I have always thought of Christmas time,” says Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, “as the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

If we can manage it at Christmas, asks Dickens, why can’t we manage it all the year round? “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” But first Scrooge has to learn to understand what Christmas is. The first time he says “Merry Christmas” to a fellow human being is an emotional high point in the story. And that, perhaps, in the end, is what Dickens achieved in A Christmas Carol: he made Merry Christmas mean something. If we let it.

Meanwhile Johann Sebastian Bach in his magnificent Christmas Oratorio almost makes an irreconcilable atheist such as myself turn to God. Just listen to the opening: Exult, Rejoice….set aside fear, banish lamentation….swell full with joy and merriment. And as ever with Johann , put on your dancing shoes!

 

Seasonal Greetings and Best Wishes

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