Sunday, December 20, 2015

Olympian Scrooge: Delight in Being Bossy

Although regarded as a Christian nation, England in the 1840s was a predominantly Olympian one. Without even realizing it, its inhabitants adored the six false yet conventional gods of Olympianity even while thinking of themselves as Christians.
Charles Dickens, miraculously, understood this. Disliking it, he challenged the self-evident worship of Pluto, god of money, by revealing Pluto’s cruelty, and that of his minions, by writing A Christmas Carol in 1843. By creating the obnoxious character of Ebenezer Scrooge, he exposed the Olympian indifference that passed for wisdom in his Olympian society and culture and ours.
Dickens opens his book on Christmas Eve, of all times, at Scrooge’s place of business. After describing Scrooge’s Olympian character, he illustrates it by describing how Scrooge as boss chooses to relate to his clerk.

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters (A Christmas Carol, Stave 1, “Marley’s Ghost,” here and following).
Jesus taught us all about Christian leadership by word and example. As our model witness to Abba, his father by nature and ours by grace, Jesus demonstrated that Christian leadership constantly seeks the good of the group as a whole as well as that of each individual member. While guiding, coordinating, and inspiring subordinates, a well-ordered Christian superordinate (leader) uses only those means which strengthen the clarity of witness of members and group to that same Abba of truth, freedom, love, and vitality.
Pluto, one of those dreary gods of power, has, of course, quite the opposing understanding of leadership. So do his minions like Scrooge. According to Pluto and the other tiresome gods of Olympianity, leadership is by rights parasitic; that is, it is entitled to suck the vitality out of both the group as a whole as well as its individual members. There is hardly a more satisfying way of sucking vitality out of someone than by controlling them. Yes, there is hardly anything more emotionally rewarding, in the worldview of our Olympian personality, than being able to carefully watch a minion and then punish them for deficiencies we arbitrarily imagine them to have. Those in our own day who delight in seeing very Olympian state surveillance increase should bear this in mind.
Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came with his shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part.
Had Scrooge been a Christian leader rather than an Olympian boss, he’d have kept a coal-box in each room: his and his clerk’s. That way, when his clerk needed to add fuel to the fire, he could have done so without fuss.
As it was, Scrooge hoarded the coal, as he did all else, to force his clerk to grovel for any additional coal. What’s more, Scrooge forced his clerk to grovel with no guarantee that the needed coal would be granted. Worst of all, Scrooge delighted in tormenting his clerk with painful threats of unemployment when he only asked for what he needed to do his job well if at all.
In our Olympian society and culture, and to our Olympian personalities, this is life’s greatest reward: having superior power. Indeed, our society is one great hierarchy measured in terms of power, and our Olympian personalities constantly send out, and receive, little signals designating our place in the pecking order of power relative to all others. If we are above someone else, we get to prick them constantly and revel in their discomfort. Pluto and the other gods are always so pleased. Because Scrooge is higher than his clerk in the hierarchy of Pluto, he gets to derive endless pleasure out of a thousand little discomforts made possible by endlessly repeating one great threat.
Happily Jesus, Lord and Savior of all, was and remains so much different. He wants and gives us what we need from him rather than all he could take from us. He wants and gives us what we need from him rather than all we deserve for crucifying him!

Copyright © 2015 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.