Dickens is the enemy not so much of an unjust view of human beings, as of a boring view of human beings. He loves the poor and the destitute, not from a sense of duty but from a sense of outrage that their lives are being made flat and dead. He wants them to live. He wants them to expand into the space that should be available for human beings to be what God meant them to be. In Hard Times, he left us, of course, one of the most unforgettable pictures of what education looks like if it forgets that exuberance and excess, and treats human beings as small containers for information and skill.
And that sense of the grotesque is, strange as it may sound to say it, one of the things that makes Dickens a great religious writer. As we’ve heard [in the earlier reading from The Life of Our Lord] he could write simply and movingly about Christ.