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Book Review of “The Redemption of Scrooge”

The Redemption of Scrooge book coverThe Redemption of Scrooge
by Matt Rowle
Abingdon Press, 2016
Available from Cokesbury

The Redemption of Scrooge, a four-week Advent study, includes the book by Matt Rawle, a DVD, a Leader’s Guide by Josh Tinley, a Youth Study by Mike Poteet, and a Worship Resource flash drive.

Self-absorbed and grouchy—that’s how we may picture Scrooge. Pushing past homeless people who beg for money, he doesn’t pause to look them in the eye. He can’t be bothered by other people’s troubles. How could he be so uncaring? Do we recognize something of ourselves in him? This Advent series invites us to enter into the pathos of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to discover anew the healing power of God’s grace. Even the most selfish, sinful person is not beyond the reach of God’s love in Jesus Christ. As we spiritually consider our past, present, and future, may we, like Ebenezer Scrooge, recommit ourselves to kindness, living with a generous spirit in today’s world of haves and have-nots.

Matt Rawle’s The Redemption of Scrooge will help readers plumb the depths of meaning in Dickens’s dramatic classic, originally titled A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being A Ghost Story of Christmas. It lifts up the enthusiastic gratitude of the Cratchit family, the sincere repentance of Scrooge, and the joyful restoration of relationships with family and neighbors, especially Tiny Tim. Rawle is the lead pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. He clearly enjoys bringing Christian faith and biblical passages into dialogue with crucial themes in popular media. This book is the latest in Abindgon’s Pop in Culture series. Earlier titles by Rawle include The Faith of a Mockingbird, The Salvation of Doctor Who, and Hollywood Jesus.

How will you “keep Christmas well” this year and through the other seasons? Rawle offers guidelines that he and his wife, Christie, developed for their four children to prepare Christmas wish lists. Kids should focus on “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” (page 83). The kids often receive a fifth gift, something to share, a wonderful way to spread good will to others. In the companion Youth Study, Mike Poteet suggests a variety of ideas for youth and adults to join together, such as Christmas caroling in the church’s neighborhood and delivering cards inviting people to worship services, baking a feast of cookies with plenty to share, raising money for an alternative gift-giving project for a local or international ministry, or serving others during the Twelve Days of Christmas as a “season of grateful response to God’s gift in Jesus Christ” (pages 60-62).

The DVD depicts an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas, filmed at the historic Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee. Mark Price vigorously performs pivotal scenes as Ebenezer Scrooge. The DVD includes Rawle playing the guitar and singing the selected Christmas carols for each week. It also features an interview between Rawle and Price that highlights the contrasts of the character of Ebenezer Scrooge before and after his life has been redeemed.

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