An essay, not a novel, but a provocative expression of Dickens's Christian thinking in which he gives bold advice to pastors. The emphasis, however, is on the centrality of Jesus in the Christian message and the life of faith.
For Dickens, Christianity is not primarily about right doctrine, but right practice. A Christmas Carol is certainly a story of reclamation and transformation, but more than that it is an invitation to embrace the spirit of Christmas—of Incarnation—in giving ourselves away in service to others.
In what is probably Dickens's most profound contemplation of his own Christian worldview and message, he examines the Christlike service of the selfless Amy Dorrit, the distorted religion of the self-righteous Mrs. Clennam, and the diabolical evil of the villain Blandois.
This novel is at once a love story, social commentary, and detective novel. Uncompromising in his Christian worldview, Dickens deals directly—and in penetrating ways—with such themes as the church, the providence of God, and "real Christianity," as well as compassion, forgiveness, and generosity.
Our Mutual Friend
Here, Dickens purposes to expose the bankruptcy of worldly values, particularly as they are expressed in self-interest and the love of money. Over and against this, he sets in bold relief the value of intimate relationships and devoted love.
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Gary Colledge is author of forthcoming God and Charles Dickens.
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