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Scrooge Did It 

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

This time of year I get caught in the eddies of celebrations. Now this includes, Rohatsu, American football, religious anniversaries, and pageantry, family traditions, the need to travel to be together, gifting, expressing gratitude, sadness of things lost this year or during what others call these holidays; and blueness sang so poignantly by Elvis, regarding his Christmas.

But for me, all of the above are only orbits around this season’s center: Mr. Scrooge.

Each year I revisit Dickens' London of the 1840, through his novella: A Christmas Carol, and the Alastair Sim film version adaptation in 1951. Some years ago I took a sabbatical and studied acting for a year. I did an adaptation of the work as a play that was performed at The Northeast Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. Guess who was Scrooge? I also had a chance to visit a couple of Charles Dickens' homes in London and learned of his two visits to Boston in 1842 and again in 1867. The former visit was a bit of a humbug while the latter he enjoyed.

But it is Ebenezer Scrooge I chase-after each year at this time! He comes back into my life and haunts me as it were- sir, in past, and present, and I dare say future years as well!  

“In darkness there is light but we don’t see it as light,” might be an opening line to the story. As this line speaks of in and out, not as two but as one…IT just has two names, as our villain transformed into: hero Ebenezer Scrooge. Note his surname: S C R O O G E  means miserly or curmudgeon, someone full of dread assigned a lot where the world is a hard place and gain is the only measure to off-set his constant and deep discontent (Dukkha perhaps).

Ah, but his Christian name:  E B E N E Z E R is a word of a different vow:


I can still hear it being sung, albeit not that well: “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, calls for songs of loudest praise!”  

I wasn’t really sure what an “Ebenezer” was; regardless I sang it loud! “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home!” 

The word Ebenezer means “stone of help.” The reference comes from I Samuel 7. After defeating the Philistines, Samuel raises his Ebenezer, declaring that on this spot God defeated the enemy. Thus, the words, “hither by thy help I come.”  

So, the next time you sing, “Come thou fount of every blessing” and invite God to “tune my heart to sing thy grace,” you will know, if you didn’t already, what it means to raise your Ebenezer. 

His full name is bittersweet! How do we judge this book’s cover (Scrooge was the title in the U.K.) ? This, like so much of the season’s meaning, is complicated and nuanced. We bring our ghosts with us as we enter (in the Northern Hemisphere) a darker and colder time of year. This in turn allows us to conjure a ghost of the future (hence new year’s resolutions). Will it be Dukkha or Sukka? Will it be Scrooge or Ebenezer?

This Tuesday night in person and online 7:00 ET: and the password: FSZS. We will look at Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas and Samuel and Scrooge-Ebenezer and once again visit the Great Meaning of birth and death… 

Join us in the spirit of Zen as we explore this classic tale…

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