So I was in Henley-on-Thames last week and there was this almost hidden bookshop next to a place called "The Ferret". (I kid you not.) High on a shelf there was an old leather-bound copy of Charles Dickens' lesser known Christmas stories. Not the long ones like "A Christmas Carol" or "The Chimes" or "The Haunted Man"; but short ones like "The Child's Story", "The Seven Poor Travellers", and "What Christmas Is As We Grow Older".
What these stories all reveal -- for I started reading them on the airplane home -- is an explicit (tho' never didactic nor even artificial) dynamic of Christian Grace and One-Way Love. The author makes it clear in every tale that the core transaction of life in this world is the possibility of new beginning, new birth, resurrected hope, and empathic out-reaching love.
Dickens always traces such dynamic beneficence specifically to Christ and His (Christmas) Goodness towards the lonely, the desperate, the poor, and even the rogues. In short, each story in this collection sets out the Whole Loaf.
For many years -- many decades, it feels like sometimes -- I was perpetually mining my movies, my novels and my TV shows for implicit Christianity -- implicit Gospel, implicit Grace. And it can be found!
But then one day I actually read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and found the Whole Loaf in that celebrated novel. And then one day I read Leo Tolstoy's Resurrection and again: the Whole Loaf. And now I read Charles Dickens' short Christmas stories and again, Behold: the Whole Loaf.
Part of the Loaf can be very good. Say, General Public (1980s), Nik Kershaw (ditto), Frankie Goes to Hollywood (ditto). But the Whole Loaf is better. And how the world needs it now. LUV U.