Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some Questions I Have Been Pondering

One of the most influential books I have read this year (or started, rather, I haven't finished it yet) is Mark Labberton's "The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus". I've been working my way through it since shortly before Lent as a way of grounding and strengthening my commitment to address child abuse and related injustice, particularly the more brutal aspects of it, since I was finding that it was very easy to want to close my eyes again, and I didn't want to do that.

The book is set up as a series of short essays and reflective questions around the themes of paying attention, seeing, naming, and acting. It's slow going on my part, but it's definitely been illuminating. Here are some of the questions that I've found particularly meaningful.

How does your life's momentum affect your capacity for empathy: entering into the lives and needs of others, especially those who have no tie or evident benefit to you? Notice today or this week the time and energy you devote to engage with the needs of others. What does empathy cost you? (p. 46)

What moments or circumstances expose your distance, fear, rejection, anger, prejudice, or dislike of "they"? Why do these responses seem natural and justified? What experiences or voices in your life have contributed to that? (p. 51)

Do you invest energy daily in avoiding problems or pain? What does this lead you to see in your heart? Who is someone you know who does a good job of stepping towards the needs of others? (p. 53)

Sight is how you see. Vision is how you see and your interpretation of what you see. What factors most significantly affect your vision of people around you? Of people in need? Of global suffering? Of individuals who are victims or violence and oppression? (p. 78)

I expect it will take me the rest of the year to work my way through this book but I am grateful to have found it.

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