Why do we keep forgetting who our neighbour is?

Posted: November 25, 2017 by Ty in My Neighbour, Spirituality

I finally made the choice to return the book to the library. Yes, I know I have not been reading as quickly as I normally would, so I am becoming highly selective on which books I read. I had thought it would be intriguing to look at Rob Bell’s new book on the bible. But after a week came to a realization—why?

This is not to disparage Bell’s writing, for I can take it or leave it. I find he has moved to the limits the confines of his religious cultural existence will allow him to exist within. Unfortunately, those confines do not come close to where my own spiritual journey even started. I would enjoy, and create comparisons in my own mind or discourse with the wife, but truly it would a simple academic exercise for the conclusions he is arriving at, were arrived at centuries ago by others, and I have been reading since I re-entered the cultural Christian journey while at SAIT, and before that as a youth and child in my exploration of world views and world spiritualities much through my writer’s lens.

It is one of those things that we do need to understand the other person’s perspective for critical thinking. We do need to engage in discourse of the literature available, but we also need to know where we exist within the continuum, or maybe spectrum is a better choice of words for spectrum allows for conversations between the different prismatic colours while continuum creates this idea of ladder or ruler and movement needed.

This is the spectrum I exist within, and the wife has always noted it is difficult to find spiritual home. For I have been shaped by writings and lives of many different folks- Dorothy Day, J.S. Woodsworth, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Sue Rodriguez, Dr. Morgentaler, Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson, Joe Clark, Paul Martin, Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Marcus Borg, Phyllis Tickle, Brian Maclaren, Agnes MacPhail, Dalai Lama XIV, Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, St. Francis and Clare of Assisi, Nelson Mandela, Kevin Taft, Karl Marx, Peter Maurin, Bart D. Ehrman, Erich Von Danikan, Meister Eckhart, Zachariah Sitchen, Jules Schwartz, Levi, Hildegaard of Benign, Mother Teresa, Ignatius of Loyola, Ernest Holmes, The Fillmores, Mary Baker Eddy, Desmond Tutu, Gandhi, the Famous Five, Louis Riel, My Mum, My Dad, my grandparents, my Great-Granddad Lewis, to name but a few.

But what is missed within name dropping and following certain writers is the fact that for each leader that arises there is a movement behind them? This is true, it can be lost in translation, and we can forget that anything that has shaped our world was not the work of one person, but rather a group of folks coming together to try and make change for the better. Whether that is shaking the foundations of Empire, to voting out corruption, to ending segregation/apartheid, women’s equality, truth and reconciliation, human rights, health care, pension plans, labour rights, end of child labour, women’s right to choose, LGBTTQ2+ equality, marriage equality, right to death with dignity, and the list goes on and on.

But none of these changed due to the leaders of the movements, the leaders got the messages out to the further masses. What got these changes was the masses as they began to share their personal stories. These stories neighbour to neighbour shook up the status quo as we began seeing one another not as the other, or less than, but as…neighbour. And once you can share a cuppa with your neighbour you can hear them and learn from one another and come to a decision that shapes a better country for all. An actual just society.

What does it take? Moving beyond ideological entrenchment, and simply having the conviction of character to say what is happening is not right for this person is my neighbour, my friend and as such deserves to be heard. It may cost you, but in the end, it is worth the cost.

Therefore, I returned the book, truly with where my understanding of living the life and teachings of Brother Jesus does not begin where someone places a goal line that may or may not move, but rather answers the eternal question of who is my neighbour?

I leave you dear reader with this thought regardless of your faith background (from atheist to Zoroaster to anything that falls in between or outside), if this is the first time you have looked upon the Nativity story in 2017 and see this, then perhaps it is time to remove the ideological blinders and embrace your neighbour?

Christmas is about believing what a woman said about her sex life.

Christmas is about a family finding safety as refugees.

Christmas is about a child in need receiving support from the wealthy.

Christmas is about God identifying himself with the marginalized not the powerful.

—Carlos Rodriguez



  1. Peter Adewumi says:

    The best way to live this one life is to affect others (our neighbors) positively. Thanks for sharing.

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