Open up this little gem, A Christmas Carol Special Edition, and you’ll find the complete text of Charles Dickens’ classic story, and “Christian Insights & Discussion Questions for Groups & Families” by Stephen Skelton.
In this slim, 124 page paperback, Dickens’ story is presented in its original five staves, one each for Marley’s ghost and the three spirits, and the final chapter, “The End of It”. In the margins of each page are copious notes by Mr. Skelton. Many of these explain obscure cultural references and vocabulary, and literary allusions the modern American reader might not recognize. For instance ‘dip’ is slang for ‘candle’, and ‘the organ of benevolence’ is a term from phrenology, a pseudoscience popular in Dickens’ day.
Mr. Skelton also uses the notes to give us insights into Charles Dickens’ childhood—places he saw, miseries he encountered—that are alluded to in A Christmas Carol. It brings the story alive, and shows you the tender heart of its author and the pain he still carried from a difficult youth.
In the margin notes he also expounds on the Christian themes that run richly through Dickens’ story. There is much symbolism, and Mr. Skelton calls the reader’s attention to it, and explains the murkier bits.
At the end of each stave, Skelton has inserted a Bible Study Discussion. These are quite suitable for a variety of different groups to use. Since some questions are aimed at younger children, and some for adults, a family could use the studies profitably over the course of several evenings’ reading. A small group Bible Study or Sunday School class would also find it a charming change of pace for a Christmas season curriculum.
The five Bible Study Discussions are entitled: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation, and Rebirth, to correlate to Scrooge’s state at that point in the story. Each discussion is divided into four short sections: telling the story, telling your story, telling the story of Christmas, and living the story. There’s lots of ‘how to apply this to your life’ wisdom. Several key Bible verses are highlighted in each discussion, and a list of additional verses suggested for further study.
Really, you could spend the entire month of December, or several weeks around Christmas, immersed in the beautiful language, vivid, heartrending story, and Biblical wisdom of this inspiring combination of classic literature and practical Bible study. I heartily recommend it for your consideration.
Note:This book was given me by a representative of FSB Associates.