Jewish World Review Jan 2, 2012/ 7 Teves, 5772
New year, new man
By Paul Greenberg
The road to the
Maybe that's what is meant by being born again. It's a universal impulse at the turn of the year: to look back on what one has been and resolve to somehow become what one can miraculously be. Even old Scrooge felt it after his trio of night visitors left him a changed man -- generous where he had been miserly, joyful instead of cynical, full of good will for all the world rather than bitter and isolated, determined to shuck off his old self and exult in the new.
The self-sufficient, ever cautious man of business, hiding behind his doors and locks, looked on the specter of his old friend Marley and saw himself. The scales fell from his eyes, and he no longer saw as through a glass darkly but, with the rising of the sun, rejoiced in the Light.
His was the same felt imperative that may grasp some on seeing some perfect work of art. They are awakened. Almost involuntarily, they are moved to resolve, as did the German poet Rilke on seeing the archaic torso of Apollo in the
It's the universal evangelical impulse -- the insight that no man is ever wholly lost, and can be saved in an instant. Call it the realization that it's a wonderful life,
Talk about an effective sermon: The most commonly used description of
If Hell is anything like their description of
Only if it is possible to imagine a new start does it become possible to make one.
No one ever made a new start without imagining it first.
The world may be short of those who would reform themselves, but it has never been short of those who would reform others. Some folks may not be much on making
"It wouldn't be
This is the time of year when
Dickens put that feeling so well in his "A Christmas Carol," it remains the best loved, and perhaps most underestimated, of books. For it is more than a seasonal greeting card, a television special, a feelgood gesture. It is a comment on the human condition, always swaying between self and others, the greedy and generous, the fearful and hopeful, caution and courage, laughter and sighs, the good impulse and the other kind.
Dickens himself became so identified with the Victorian ideal of Christmas that it is said when he died in 1870, a street peddler's little girl exclaimed: "Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die, too?"
How answer that innocent question? And how much would even the most hopeful, thoughtful, and eloquent answer be worth if it were not borne out by how we spend the coming year?
What use are
A final word on this day courtesy of E. Scrooge, that changed, born-again soul of Mr. Dickens' imagining: "A happy New Year to all the world!"
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