Empathizing with the other

I consistently tell my students to listen purposefully and carefully to those unlike themselves. If you usually read the New York Times, be sure also to read The American Conservative. If you usually read World magazine, be sure to also read Sojourners. In that spirit, evangelical progressive Jesse Curtis, one of the most thoughtful and prolific bloggers out there, is planning to listen and read only conservative sources for the next week. Subscribe to his blog to find out how his experiment in empathy goes!

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6 Comments on “Empathizing with the other”

  1. Marvin Plank says:

    Do you encourage your students, at some point, to identify with a particular worldview? Chesterton said that an open mind and an open mouth have the same purpose-they were meant to close on something. I have read both Schaeffer and Wallis, and my mind has identified with Schaeffer . Would you agree that trying to reconcile two or more conflicting schools of thought is like trying to stand with your feet in two different canoes at the same time? We subscribe to World(surprise) and I regularly check the Sojourners website. But I am not open minded- I simply want to understand how the left thinks.

  2. Two points:

    I don’t think empathizing with “the other” necessarily means reconciling systems of thought. My point was that it’s important to walk in someone else’s shoes, to be empathetic and understanding of their perspective.

    St. Paul talks about “seeing through a glass darkly.” We’re all bound by our history, culture, and context, and it seems as if, given those constraints, that we should be humble and charitable toward those we disagree with–and even open to changing our minds. Who of us knows the mind of God?

  3. Marvin Plank says:

    Is God unknowable? In Isaiah, God says that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so His thoughts are higher than ours. But He then tells the unrighteous man to abandon his thoughts and return to the Lord. So He invites us to learn of Him- get to know His thoughts. Would you agree?
    So the question becomes theological- what is God really like? The left looks at the life of Jesus as described in the Gospels and bases its theology on that (“God is a pacifist”- Al Keim). So our practice is determined by our theology.

  4. Yes, we do the best we can, always humble and aware of the limits of our apprehension.

  5. Marvin Plank says:

    I would really like to get your thoughts on some stuff. Should I write you here or at your email? I promise to be civil. 🙂

  6. Let’s talk by email. 🙂


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