“The Secret” and Marley’s Ghost ©
By Lauralyn Bellamy, MDiv, MA
It’s hard to remember what Ebenezer Scrooge’s late business partner actually said to him, when he made his fateful Christmas Eve appearance in the early part of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Most of us have never given ourselves the pure pleasure of reading the short story Dicken’s penned for a London magazine in 1842, in which Jacob Marley’s message commands our attention. Instead, we have met him on theater stages, silver screens and shrunk into TV sets.
So, while Marley is urgently attempting to warn Ebenezer about the opportunity of his lifetime and the consequences of squandering it, like Scrooge, our attention is caught in the ghastly, ghostly sight of the late Jacob Marley and his anguished howls of grief and frustration. Marley’s emotional behavior literally speak to us louder than his words.
But his words are worth hearing, pondering and practicing! Especially when we realize that through Marley’s ghost, Dicken’s was the first English-speaking, best-selling author of the metaphysical lessons now popularized in Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret.
For those unfamiliar with Ms. Byrne’s project (what else can you call a book that is a mega-hit in countless translations around the world, an audio book on CD and a movie on DVD – all circling the globe with mind-blowing frequency?), as excerpted from her synopsis on page 25:
“The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction…when you think a thought you are also attracting like thoughts to you…Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life. Your thoughts become things.” [Italics in original text.]
In “A Christmas Carol,” the first teacher of “the secret” to visit Scrooge is his married nephew, Fred. He exudes happiness and good cheer as he enters the freezing cold, dimly lit office of his uncle. As is his custom, he comes to personally extend the blessings of Christmas and invite him to Christmas dinner. Scrooge responds with his famous, “Bah! Humbug!”
Angrily, Scrooge challenges Fred:
“Merry Christmas? What right have you to be merry? You’re poor enough!”
“’Come, then,’ returned the nephew gaily. “‘What right have you to be dismal!…You’re rich enough.’ ”
Scrooge continues to vent his condemnation upon Fred who shows nothing but compassion and patience for this miserable old man, serenely declaring:
“’Christmas time…the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good, and I say, God bless it!”
Fred “bestows greetings of the season” upon Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, “who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge,” Dicken’s tells us, “for he returned them cordially.”
“The feeling of love is the highest frequency you can emit. The greater the love you feel and emit, the greater the power you are harnessing.” (The Secret, p.43)
“We are all connected and we are all One.” (The Secret, p. 175)
Notice that it is not sufficient for one to secretly, privately, psychologically feel love in Byrne’s teaching, one must “emit” love – which means to broadcast it indiscriminately!
This is exactly what nephew Fred and Bob Cratchit model for us that Christmas Eve. Thoroughly encased in his shell of bitterness, greed, anxiety and fear, however, Scrooge is unable to hear or see the life-giving lessons being shown him. Hence, the need for Marley’s ghost to grab his undivided attention later that same night!
Jacob Marley appears to his business partner with a kerchief wrapped over his head and under his jaw to keep his mouth from falling open, as was the burial custom of the time. He is weighted down, Dickens tells us:
“The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail, and it was made…of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.”
Ebenezer asks why he has come:
“It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide, and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through this world – O woe is me! – and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”
We are meant to "emit" the feeling of love indiscriminately! Marley describes the purpose of our incarnation – "to travel far and wide…among [humanity]" in order to share the human experience in such a way as to recover and return to a state of happiness on earth.
Marley is talking about a happiness independent of circumstances, an emotion that we could also call gratitude.
In, "A Christmas Carol," the characters who model this ideal orientation do not deny or ignore the very real challenges, even tragedies, in their lives; but, they choose to find their way back to a state of joy and gratitude.
Why is Dickens’ message relevant to those attracted to the promises offered in Byrnes’ "The Secret"?
It offers the key to avoiding the corruption and potential for abuse in the pursuit of materialism. Knowing our absolute interrelatedness and interdependence as a species and the stewards of earthly creation is the purest antidote to misunderstanding and distorting the law of attraction.
Don’t take my word for it; pick up a copy of "A Christmas Carol" and see if this short story doesn’t illuminate Truth for you, too!
Then, with renewed hearts we can, with the physically lame but spiritually heroic Tiny Tim, pass on the timeless benediction,
"God bless us, everyone!"