“This is for you....Go in; there is no more pain here, no more death, nor sorrow, nor tears; for your old enemies are all conquered. But all the good that you have done for others, all the help that you have given, all the comfort that you have brought, all the strength and love that you have bestowed upon the suffering, are here; for we have built them all into this mansion for you."
In this classic Christmas themed morality tale, we meet John Weightman, a man of means, a dispenser of political power, a successful citizen, a wealthy and selectively generous man, His philosophy toward giving can be gained from his own statement: "Of course you have to be careful how you give, in order to secure the best results-no indiscriminate giving-no pennies in beggars' hats! Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around." Yet he believes himself to be a Christian well-worthy of a mansion of heaven, but he gives because he expects financial return or a social “Thank You” that recognizes him as such. In his Christmas Eve dream, John Weightman gets to see the nature of his deserved heavenly mansion as he walks with some of the people he knew throughout his life.
"The Mansion," a classic short novel by Henry van Dyke, presents an important message that reminds us of the true spirit of giving. In "The Mansion," author Henry van Dyke presents a wealth of good advice about how we can grow through giving--all wrapped in an easy-to-read, entertaining story. If people of today would believe in and practice the ideals set forth in "The Mansion," much of the sorrow, violence, and civil disorder would disappear from our world. War would be nearly impossible, and a new era would begin. While it sets forth nothing new, "The Mansion" emphasizes the timeless ideals of sympathy, self-sacrifice, and good old-fashioned kindness. It emphasizes that the only great gifts are those in which the giver forgets him or herself, "The Mansion" is a must-read every Christmas, right along with Dicken's Christmas Carol.
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Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933) attended Princeton University, then served as pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Seventeen years later, he returned to Princeton as a professor of English literature. Afterward, he held a number of eminent posts: American ambassador to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Commander of the Legion of Honor, and President of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He is also author of the well-known hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee as well as several others. The Mansion (c. 1901) is a morality tale little respected in today's secular atmosphere, but in the time it was written it served as a cautionary fable about the balance between living in the secular world and being spiritual. Though the plot is obviously modeled on Dicken's A Christmas Carol, The Mansion is more like a sermon illustration. However, it also serves as a window to the world of New York and the Victorian mores of 1901.
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