If Jesus was born today, what sort of world would he find?
There was a very relaxed and sociable atmosphere as 22 people gathered for the second talk in the Advent series – an exploration of Who would be capable of showing empathy. We listened to a TED talk by the American sociologist, Sam Richards entitled, A Radical Experiment in Empathy – see below. After our meal we read the passage from Luke 16 – The rich man and Lazarus. People were very engaged in the discussion at their tables and the feedback at the end was vigorous and varied about both the talk and the Bible passage.
We all grasped that empathy was the process by which we put ourselves in the shoes of someone else, and saw the world through their eyes. If we were to enter into this process, we would have to ‘suspend judgment’, consciously putting our own views and opinions to one side. Seeing things through the eyes of someone else would enable us to understand in much more depth, why they react and behave in the way they do. It would not necessarily lead us to agree with them, but our new, more profound understanding would make it highly like that our attitude to them would change as would our behaviour. This in turn would lead to greater tolerance and respect for those who appeared to differ from us in many aspects of life.
Next week we will be exploring how changes in the way we communicate challenge how we relate to each other and the opportunities that those challenges bring. There is still time to sign up – don’t miss out! – you can book your place by clicking here.
ADVENT SUPPER – WEEK 2
2 December 2015
TED Talk – A Radical Experiment in Empathy
Some questions for discussion during our meal:-
- What struck you about the presentation by Sam Richards?
- What is the difference between sympathy and empathy?
- What does having empathy mean for you?
- Can you think of a time when someone was empathetic towards you? How did it make you feel? Share this with others if you wish.
- What stops us from ‘stepping into’ someones shoes?
- What questions does this TED Talk raise for Parliament today as it discusses the use of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria?
Luke 16. 19-31 – The Rich Man and Lazarus
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.”
He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’
Questions to consider
- What do you think that the message of this parable is?
- Who is isolated? Lazarus or the rich man? Why?
- What are the consequences of not having empathy?
- Whom do we ourselves lack empathy for?. The poor? The rich? People of a certain race or faith or lifestyle? Some family members? Whom do we want to avoid?
- Is it possible to have empathy for people who hurt us or mistreat us?What practical things can we do to increase empathy in our lives? In the Church?