Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Telescopic philanthropy

It is Charles Dickens 200th birthday and I have enjoyed reading some of the tributes. It makes me want to read some of his books!
Besides his literary genius Dickens is particularly appreciated because of the awareness he created of poverty and social injustice in Victorian England.

One thing I learnt was that Dickens coined the phrase Telescopic philanthropy: how we can be blind to needs close to home because we are so concerned with being "do gooders" in foreign lands. Dickens used the phrase as a chapter title in the novel Bleak House to describe the character Mrs. Jellaby.
I thought this 1992 article from the Independent somewhat interesting. It considered Mrs. Jellaby in light of Catholic teaching about the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Dives).

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