I'm a big fan of Charles Dickens. His novels are engaging and thought-provoking.
Two hundred years ago this month, Dickens was born. With regularity, Dickens inserted important characters into his writings who were Christians, and all too often, such characters were not compelling.
Peggy Fletcher Stack writes,
Dickens, a member of the Church of England, believed deeply in Jesus as savior and in his moral teachings, but many of the novelist's most avowedly Christian characters represent the worst in religion: greed, hypocrisy, indifference to human suffering, arrogance, self-righteousness and theological bullying.
"He was more interested in the general spirit than the specific letter of the faith," said Brian McCuskey, who teaches English at Utah State University. "Holding broad, loose beliefs, he had little patience for either institutional or evangelical Christianity."
Dickens' wildly popular Victorian novels, McCuskey said, "criticize evangelicals as being meddlesome at best and hypocritical at worst."
No doubt Dicken's views, while informed from his own unfortunate experiences with the church, were decidely one-sided and therefore unfair at times. Nevertheless, he does employ in his storylines a critique of the church in his time that is still relevant for the church at the beginning of the 21st century.
If nothing else Stack's article offers interesting insight for those of us who appreciate Mr. Dicken's literary abilities.
The entire post, "Dickens and religion: A tale of two views," can be read here.