Scrooged: Misanthropes Among Us
Unlike most other adaptations of Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge, Bill Murray’s portrayal of Frank Cross in “Scrooged” leaves us with little doubt as to his basic character. This Scrooge is not just a misanthrope, he’s a jerk. There may well be all sorts of mitigating circumstances in his past, but the fact remains that this guy actively enjoys bullying, humiliating and generally riding roughshod over everyone in his path. In fact, his redemption, when it comes, is not achieved by his learning something about human decency. Nor is his heart softened by the realization of his connections to the lives of others. Frank Cross has to be terrorized into rejoining the human race.
Thing is, it works. Which makes me wonder…
Spiritually speaking, what would it take to put the fear of God into most of us? Not in the sense of punishment, eternal damnation and all that stuff. In the long run, those things never work; they just temporarily change our behavior.
Fear, in the biblical sense, refers to awe and reverence. In that context, to fear God means learning (among other things) to recognize our place in the creator/creature relationship and to respond appropriately. It takes us down a few notches in our estimation of our own centrality in the universe. It also has the effect of reminding us of the necessity of others in our journey through life. It’s hard to become fully human all by yourself.
But becoming fully human is exactly what we have to do. It won’t be easy and because few of us are naturally altruistic, we might have to start from the perspective of enlightened self interest instead. After all, unless we learn to get along, we’re likely to destroy ourselves and our world. But maybe, together, we can learn to offer each other the respect we deserve, and to reverence the image of the divine which we all bear. What a great Christmas Gift that would be.