It is my Christmas ritual to share this piece every year. Maybe you can read it to a child… maybe you will just read it to yourself. I hope you read it, enjoy it and find value in it …
Most people — certainly those younger than 60 — may only know “Ben-Hur” as a chariot race that appeared in the 1959 Academy Award winning film starring the late Charlton Heston. That film used to be telecast quite frequently during the holiday seasons, but it seems in recent years we’re more apt to look for ‘Ralphie’ in A Christmas Story, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Elf.
I was 10-years-old when my Mom and Dad took me to the Capital Theater in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to see Ben-Hur. It was quite an event, and the film did have a significant impact on this young boy, but it wasn’t until some 30 years later when I made a conscientious decision to ‘return to the classics’ that I actually read the book.
Lew Wallace, a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, wrote the book in 1880. Following the Civil War, General Lew Wallace served as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. It was during his service in New Mexico — where he actually met Billy the Kid — that he wrote Ben-Hur, which was the most popular American novel until Margaret Mitchell penned Gone with the Wind in 1936.
The complete title of the book is Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It is interesting that even though Christ appears in the story just a handful of times through the more than 500 pages, his presence looms in the background of the entire manuscript and effects the outcome in no small way.
With all due respect to anyone and everyone who has ever put “The Christmas Story” to paper, I find Lew Wallace’s rendition, which appears in the first chapters of Ben-Hur to be my favorite telling of this beautiful story. I enthusiastically share it with all our friends and readers regardless of their spiritual beliefs or even non-beliefs that cross a broad spectrum that includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Bahá’í Faith and Buddhism. I invite you to click the link and enjoy the Christmas Story from Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ….