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Monday, December 18th, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


I don’t know about you, but I’m a real movie buff.  I have always really liked going to the movies.  My love for the big screen started all the way back to the 1940s where every Saturday morning I was at the local theater watching Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, and I host of Disney cartoons.  My fascination with the biggest screen has not wavered.  I’ll pass on the various tv movie streaming services if there is a first-rate film showing on the big screen.

My father-in-law at one time before his death owned most of the small-town movie theaters throughout Louisiana. I guess I’ve watched films from Natchitoches down to Hammond, and all across south Louisiana. There is nothing as enjoyable as buying a bag box of popcorn with a super-size drink, and maybe a candy bar along the way.  This is particularly true when the holidays roll around.

I have two favorite Christmas movies. The first is “Love Actually,” a film that has been projected on movie screens every holiday season for the past 20 years.  Yes, it’s a lively Christmas story, but not the traditional “Hallmark happy holiday” kind.  It’s a holiday laugh and cry fest that deals with real life issues. It’s a film where each of us can find some plotline or character that we can relate to. There is love, but there’s also disappointment. The music is first rate with a variety of great upbeat songs, that of course includes “All I want for Christmas is You.” The film is worth the price of admission just to watch British actor Hugh Grant portray the British Prime Minister as he dances down the stairs at 10 Downing St. to pursue a new girlfriend.

The second on my list is the movie version of Charles Dickens “a Christmas Carol.” Not one of the more recent versions, but the 1938 film in black-and-white.

Most of us have seen this poignant Christmas story filled with an array of colorful characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  But the real lessons of the spirit that emanate from this special time of year come, not from miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, but from his dead partner, Jacob Marley.  While alive, Marley failed to help others, and in death he is damned to the agony of recognizing the pain and suffering of others, and being unable to help in anyway, and this is his special hell.

My attorney friend Eric Duplantis, who practices law and writes in the small town of Franklin, Louisiana, puts it this way: “In life, Marley’s worst sin was not his venality, but his indifference.  After death he realizes this.  But it’s too late.  Death gave him compassion, but his sentence for a lifetime of indifference is an inability to act on the compassion he feels.”

Marley is given a single opportunity to do a good act, after which he must return to his Hell.  The ghost gives Scrooge the greatest gift of all.  Marley gives Scrooge the chance of redemption.  The message here from Dickens is that even someone as lost as Ebenezer Scrooge can be saved if he seizes this one-time gift of a second chance.

Here’s hoping that the coming year brings you the opportunity of a second chance if you feel you need one. We all generally do. But whether you do or you don’t, may you and your family have a blessed and healthy holiday season and a very happy New Year.  As Tiny Tim said in “The Christmas Carol,” God bless us everyone.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also listen to his weekly podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.






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