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A Response to Transforming Scrooge

by Arthur Paul Patterson 

There is a distinction between the actual story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and the interpretation of the story, the Carol "canon" (from the word measurement). The story is there for us unchanged, to be read year after year, but the fit, the measurement of the Carol's meaning, is constantly changing. Joe Cusumano provides a creative and inspiring measurement for Dickens' famous tale, as well as placing the original story in the appendix.

Scrooge SketchWhile acknowledging the traditional meanings of the story and providing an excellent historical background, Cusumano filters A Christmas Carol through the novel lens of spiritual experiences that include: alien abduction, Near Death experiences, Kundalini yoga, and clinical psychology. Disconcerting as his suggestions are to the standard literary approach, Transforming Scrooge opens the story up to fresh and vital interpretation. It is difficult to envision the 19th Century "Father of Christmas", Charles Dickens, as having nightly visitations by the greys and blacks of sci-fi fame, but the parallels between his ghosts and modern accounts of close encounters are startlingly similar. The bright light and chaotic effect of the Ghost of Christmas Past mirrors the kind of psychological experience as recorded in movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Fire in the Sky.

Ebenezer undoubtedly needed a psycho-spiritual jolt to rock him from his calloused materialism. The use of fantasy literary technique allowed Charles Dickens to condense a long, complex process into a single evening. Alien abduction and Near Death experiences have the same intensive effect. Leaving aside the literal proof or validation of such experiences, Cusumano focuses on the transformative effects of them, showing how human hearts can be softened when open to the healing imagery of life review, in-depth perception of reality and prophetic warning.

Scrooge is revolutionized both from within and without in A Christmas Carol. Transforming Scrooge compares Scrooge's experience to that of one undergoing counselling. Releasing repression, built up pockets of energetic resistance located in the chakra points, according to Kundalini yoga, allowed Scrooge to change from being "as solitary as an oyster" into being the "Father of Tiny Tim". Cusumano, using a variety of therapeutic metaphors, shows how the release might take place in us modern Scrooges.

pullout quoteReleased from the bondage of blockage, Scrooge discovered the roots of his own miserliness in the abuse that he suffered as a child at the hands of his perfectionistic father. Uncovering his own pain, he was prepared for the prophetic statement of the Ghost of the Future who predicted the social effects of child hatred on society.

"Beware of Want and Ignorance!" is a mantra for the new millennium as much as the Industrial Revolution. The way we treat the child is the litmus test of our society; the havoc we inherit through street gangs, thugs and dictators is the price we pay for our treatment of the innocent.

The good news of the Carol is that doom is not inevitable but that an openness to the spiritual and psychological experiences of healing can sponge away the death knell of our insensitivity. As Cusumano says, "Dickens was letting us know that this is not really just a Christmas Story. More importantly, it is an Easter Story, one of resurrection." The measure of A Christmas Carol for our lives is the extent to which we participate in this heart opening resurrection. Transforming Scrooge by Joe Cusumano speaks to the heart from the heart of that message.

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