Bigger on the Inside
Imaginative Discipleship Podcast
4 - Imagination and Empathy, with Dr Mary McCampbell [Audio issues fixed]

4 - Imagination and Empathy, with Dr Mary McCampbell [Audio issues fixed]

How can arts and the imagination help us love our neighbours better? How can we 'imagine our neighbours as ourselves'?

Audio errors now fixed! Please redownload if you’ve not already listened, due to an accidentally repeated snippet of conversation that had been inadvertently dropped in several times.

Apologies for the long hiatus between episodes, following the birth of my third child back in November! I hope it won’t be another 6 months until the next one (podcast episode, that is, not child!) – I’ve got some great interviews recorded that I’m excited to share soon!

Mary McCampbell, author of Imagining Our Neighbours as Ourselves: How Art Shapes Empathy, discusses the place of imagination in shaping our attitudes and actions to those around us.

How does empathy echo the incarnation? Is there a ‘sin of empathy’ where we take compassion too far so that other people’s agendas control us? How we can empathise while disagreeing well with or challenging other people?

Dr. Mary McCampbell is an associate professor of humanities at Lee University where she regularly teaches courses on contemporary fiction, film, popular culture, and modernism.

Find out more about Mary at her website, and sign up for her Substack, The Empathetic Imagination.


00:00 Intro

00:32 Welcome

00:55 Introducing Mary and her book

04:35 Why is empathy important to discipleship?

10:00 How do you define 'empathy'?

12:24 Imagination and the imago dei

16:55 How can we choose stories to engage with that most cultive empathy?

22:10 Why have some Christians get talked about the 'sin of empathy'?

30:27 How do you have empathy for someone who shows no empathy?

34:07 L'Abri, community and empathy

38:41 Further recommendations



This is an auto-generated transcript that has been lightly corrected and edited. Please excuse any remaining errors and infelicities!

Caleb Woodbridge: Welcome to Imaginative Discipleship. I'm Caleb Woodbridge, and I'm really pleased to have with me this week Mary McCampbell. Welcome Mary!

Mary McCampbell: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you very much.

Introducing Mary and her book

Caleb: The topic we've got is one that you've written on. We're going to be exploring the connection between imagination and empathy and the Christian life. What's your background? How did you come to write about this?

Mary: Just to say a little bit about me, I'm a professor at Lee University in Tennessee, and my area is literature, particularly contemporary literature and popular culture and how that relates with theology. I [00:01:00] think what really led me to writing about this book is basically my teaching and seeing what happens in the classroom. I think I've long been aware of how reading and watching movies and listening to music and looking at visual art helped me to see from somebody else's perspective, but the significance of it didn't really register on a deeper level until I saw what was happening with my students. And how you could, I could see transformations happening. And in particular, I have an article I wrote not too long ago, in particular about teaching Othello, Shakespeare's Othello, in a regular class I teach every year. Also teaching the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. And I teach in the deep south United States and certainly there's still so much racial tension, and there will also be students, [00:02:00] white students that might have come from communities where they really didn't interact with people of color very much.

So reading both of those books, because Othello deals so much with racial profiling, and then also reading of course Douglas's Narrative. I've had so many students that really had never thought, in particular white students, who had never thought about the experience of a person with darker skin being judged and having these kind of microaggressions leveled at you and overt aggressions, in the case of both of those books. They just had never thought about it and it really struck something in them.

And it also, of course, with these cases I would see with black students, it was empowering for them to be able to speak openly about these things if they wanted, you know, so anyway, I see it with all kinds of works of literature and film, but those two really stand [00:03:00] out to me.

So, and I thought this is, this is about a kind of spiritual formation. I mean, every semester that I start with my general education classes, I talked for years, I've done this, I talk about the importance of empathy, and I give examples of how you must use your imagination in order to put yourself in the life experience, shoes of another, in order to love them more deeply. So [chuckles] that's just a little intro!

Caleb: Yeah. Great. And your book is "Imagining Our Neighbors As Ourselves: How Art Shapes Empathy." So that's very much the overall theme and thesis of it. I think that's really interesting and vital. I wrote an article about how Christians should think about what they watch and engage with. And often, that question's approached from the question of, "Is it suitable? Is the content suitable?"

Mary: Yeah.

Caleb: And I was saying, well, actually, I [00:04:00] think there's an important sense in which it's a form of listening attentively to our neighbors. And yes, it's really helpful to have that perspective. On this podcast, I'm keen to be exploring that intersection of imagination and spiritual formation, the role it plays in our discipleship.

Why is empathy important to discipleship?

Caleb: So, why is cultivating empathy an important part of Christian discipleship? How does it fit within that frame and picture?

Mary: Yeah, I mean, I'm gonna go to maybe the most extreme example, I mean, since I've been really reading and thinking a lot more about this, I've realized how much the idea of loving enemies is really at the heart of the gospel.

Caleb: Mm-hmm.

Mary: And it really is what sets Christianity apart. I mean, of course, there are many things that set Christianity apart, but even those who would say they're open-minded and liberal in their understanding of love one [00:05:00] another, there still tends to be a kind of tribalism.

Caleb: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Mary: Whereas Christianity is, we, in our rebellion, had made ourselves enemies to God, and the idea that Christ is the most... You can't get any deeper empathy than the incarnation, you know, and it's not possible for us to, of course, do what Christ did and really understand what it was like to live like us. But our imagination, in order to try to get over that hurdle and our natural inclination, which is to label others, dismiss others, gravitate towards people that we're initially comfortable with.

But, it really does take intentional work of cultivating the imagination. And you use the word attentiveness. Attentiveness is really just to kind of [00:06:00] linger. I mean, that's an act of love to linger on someone's story, to spend more time, to slow down.

Caleb: Mm-hmm.

Mary: And I think that allows us to expand the imagination, to think how they are, what life is like for them. And I talk a lot about the Good Samaritan story, and there's a great MLK quote where he talks about the priest and Levite who didn't go over and help the man who had been beaten up.

And he said that in their minds, it was, "What's gonna happen to me if I go over?" It's a fear-based, "What's gonna happen to me?" Whereas the Samaritan did what we should all be doing, "What's going to happen to him if I don't?"

And so there's a sense of humility, but I think maybe we think less of ourselves if we allow space to hear the other story and then imagine life [00:07:00] that they're experiencing.

Caleb: Yeah. I'm reminded of the line in the film Lady Bird where you have the exchange someone says to her, "Oh, you really seem to love the community she's in," and she says something like, "Oh, no, I just pay attention." And the person replies to her, "Don't you think attention and love are the same thing?" And I think that's a really interesting thing we. Would you go so far to say that in the act of imaginatively putting ourselves in other people's shoes, there is in that some kind of echo of the incarnation, how Christ as God became a human became one of us to sort of bridge that gap between us?

Mary: Yeah, that's a really good question. I think it echoes Christ's most perfect and complete act of empathy. When we create, we're echoing the most perfect and whole act of creation. You know, when God began, started the world and created the world. I feel like we're called to love our enemies, and the only way we can really do that is through imagining what it's like to be them, rather than objectifying them. So, yes, that is echoing Christ. I mean, I'm just thinking about Christ on the cross when he says, "They know not what they do," and it's like he knows the whole story. He knows why they're doing this. He knows. There's a sense that he is... Yeah, I'm thinking about Christ with the woman at the well. He knows her story, and rather than dismissing her, banishing her, he loves her.

How do you define ‘empathy’?

Caleb: Just on that in terms of defining terms a bit. How would you define empathy then? What's the relationship between love and empathy, just to distinguish those?

Mary: I think empathy, well, sympathy. Sympathy, and these terms have flipped in their meaning over the years. So it's interesting. But the way we think of it now generally is that sympathy is when you feel sad for someone, and it seems to still keep a power differential.

Caleb: Mm-hmm.

Mary: There could be a kind of condescension there, whereas empathy is allowing yourself to feel as the other person feels. So you're on the same plane?

Caleb: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Mary: So, I'm thinking about an example. In the... I don't know if you've watched The Chosen?

Caleb: No, I've been hearing good things about it. I've actually just downloaded the app onto my Apple TV so I can watch it on my TV at some point. But yeah, do you recommend it?

Mary: Oh, I do. I really love it. But, well, you could look for this in the last episode of the first season. You have the woman, the woman at the well scene and the actor Jonathan Rumi. As he's talking to the woman, when she finally experiences this sense of joy because she recognizes who he is and that he has loved her, seen her, he has seen fully who she is and still loved her. The actor who plays Jesus, his eyes tear up, and I heard an interview with him and he says every time they filmed it, it wasn't part of the script that it would happen. Even when he was talking about it in an interview, it happened. And he said, "But I like to think that Christ himself, his eyes would've teared up because of feeling her joy." And that switch from where she felt so worthless and she felt like she would be judged and she felt such a self-hatred and shame, and then that joy, that deep love and joy.

And so I think of that. Yeah. So, and that's really, you know, mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice on a very deep level.

Imagination and the imago dei

Caleb: Yeah. Another theme that you explore is empathy as a way of recognizing the imago dei in people, the image of God.

And how does imagination and good stories help us see people with that dignity and value that comes from being made in God's image?

Mary: Well, there are so many ways you could go with that. I start the book with a very famous quote from Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory." It's about the whiskey priest, who is not named in the novel but called the Whiskey Priest because he has problems with alcohol. Anyway, without going into all the historical context, there's a priest in prison with a pious woman, and it reminds me of a Flannery O'Connor story. In that story, the pious person is the worst type of person because they think they are so good and better than everyone else, and they're hateful.

In the book, there's a point where the woman realizes that the whiskey priest is a bad priest. He's an alcoholic, he had a child out of wedlock. Of course, you couldn't be Mary's priest. She says it would be better off if he were dead. Normally, in a situation like that, your natural impulse would be anger and maybe even hate. But it's at that moment that the whiskey priest slows down and says, "You know, it's really important that when you look closely at someone's face, you can begin to pity them." The word "pity" sounds condescending, but I think he means that if you stop and intentionally look, you will see God's image. Then he says, "Hate is a failure of imagination." It's just the greatest line.

I also think of the Gerard Manley Hopkins line about Christ playing in 2000 places. I can't remember the exact line, but it's about seeing Christ's face in other people's faces.

And biblically, we were told that we're all made in God's image and that when we serve another person, we're serving Christ. We're seeing Christ in them. So again, it's that attentiveness. I think it's slowing down and intentionally looking because, of course, the human condition is so tangled up. We're made in God's image, but we're fallen. I believe in depravity. It's so easy to just focus on the depravity. The idea of slowing down and intentionally looking for that likeness, that there's a glory, dignity, and value regardless of what they do because of God's image in us.

Caleb: Yes. Yes. I'm reminded, my taste runs to the geeky, so I studied Tolkien and his medieval sources. But I'm reminded of the pity for Gollum that's so vital to the story. Frodo recognizes something of himself in Gollum, seeing in this pitiful creature not just a monster, but someone who is, in his way, a victim of the ring who has been distorted by it. Frodo wants to treat him well and be merciful to him. And that's central to the eucatastrophic happy ending. Mercy is shown, and it's repeated with Sam as well. There are lots of stories that have this effect. Of course, there are forms of storytelling that can do the opposite, that can go in the direction of propaganda.

How can we choose stories to engage with that most cultive empathy?

Caleb: So how do we make sure that we're getting a healthy diet of stories? How do we choose what we feed our imaginations with and how we engage with the stories we consume? How can we do that in the best possible way?

Mary: Yeah, I think it's really important to seek out art that presents a very complex picture of what it means to be human. And that doesn't necessarily mean Christian art either. Because I've seen some so-called Christian art that is very reductionist in the way it portrays things. Like, you know, I recently watched "God's Not Dead" or something I was writing, and just the straw man, the caricatures of the liberal reporter and the atheist professor, they were so combative, mean, and completely lacking empathy. The Christians were portrayed as the only good and empathetic ones, and everyone else was the enemy. There's no sense of humility in approaching that.

To me, if you only watch things like that and that's the message you receive, I feel like it's actually kind of dangerous. But I also feel that way about really simplistic romantic comedies or action movies. Every once in a while, they're just fun, but if our idea of what a human being is formed by a very reductionist story like that, it's really problematic.

Even some really good filmmaking, like Lars von Trier, his picture of human beings is so dark. You don't see the glory, goodness, or beauty. He goes to the other extreme. And I feel the same about someone like Ernest Hemingway. If I just read Hemingway all the time and his very low view of life and humans, it would be bleak. So we should seek something that challenges us to think about both the goodness and the badness in human beings.

Caleb: Yeah, it's being true to the glory and misery of human beings, as Pascal talked about, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's famous quote about the line between good and evil running through the middle of every human heart.

Mary: Yes, absolutely. When you mentioned Gollum, it made me think of one of my favorite novels to teach, which is Frankenstein. Funny enough, I never read it in college or high school or even graduate school. I read it when I started teaching, and it worked so well because of the creature - I don't want to say monster, the creature. You have such empathy for the creature. You see the battle between good and evil within him, and you see how the lack of empathy around him has led to negative consequences. It's a powerful and beautiful story, and college students really get into it. It's not because it's dark and scary like the Hollywood version, but because it's more psychological and theological. It's quite instructive.

And it doesn't have to be realistic. This is where we can talk about Tolkien or Lewis. It can be fantasy or science fiction as long as it asks those serious deep questions and presents a picture of human beings. The key is to engage with works of art that make you question what it means to be human. Lyotard talks about this in his postmodernism explanations. A work of art that simply presents and says, "This is reality. This is how it is," in an airbrushed version created to make money, can be dangerous. So, yeah.

Caleb: I guess the other dangerous thing is that Christians feel the need to conform things to pre-packaged, preconceived right answers. Yes. [00:24:00] So we're unhappy to be uncomfortable sitting with the messiness of life. And it even gets to the point where some Christians have become suspicious of empathy, even going so far as to talk about the sin of empathy, which seems quite bonkers, in a way. But what do you think is going on there? What's perhaps the seed of a legitimate concern? Yeah. How, what, why, why do people get nervous?

Mary: Yeah. I mean, it's hard for me to answer that without being a bit cynical. So, and I want to be empathetic to understand where they're coming from. But I'm not talking about these people as individuals. I'm talking about the way the argument is framed. [00:25:00] And I haven't even read it that much because what I've seen hasn't really made sense to me.

Okay. I'm gonna talk. There is an academic discussion that's not the evangelical discussion. There's an academic discussion about a book called The Dark Side of Empathy, but that is about how we tend to have empathy for, we tend to, empathy could sometimes encourage a kind of tribalism if you're in your own, you're empathetic with those like you selectively, and to me, that's where Christianity is different. Because it's saying no, that's going against the grain of the gospel. So, but that's why I don't understand.

I mean, yeah. How do I even approach it? Because I'm seeing that argument coming from networks of people that are also very aggressively what they call anti-woke. And [00:26:00] I feel that, to be honest, all of this at times feels like excuses for why we shouldn't listen to people that have less power than us.

And I mean, again, I'm, I guess I'm being cynical and I need to read more deeply what they've said, but what I have read, I think there's a sense that there's a fear in there that empathizing means agreement. And so that is where discernment, I mean, this is about spiritual formation. This is why I get really frustrated with the vagueness of using the word love, especially in like progressivism, some forms of progressivism and liberalism, and just “love is love”. And I'm like, well, what is love?

And [00:27:00] I don't, you know, I think yes, we are called to love everyone, but loving doesn't always mean full agreement. And in fact, if you fully agree with everyone, even if you think what they are doing is sinful or hurtful to them, then is that actually loving? You know?

So, I do think there's a legitimate concern, but to me, that's not really... Because empathy comes from a strongly formed core where you know who you are. Um, and this is not just collapsing yourself onto someone else's point of view. Yeah, I don't know, but I do find the people talking about empathy as sinful are kind of like they think if you care too much about the oppression of black Americans, [00:28:00] because this is mostly coming from America, that I know, um, then you're being liberal and you're a danger of liberalism.

Or if you talk about any kind of feminism, like, there's just such a fear. It feels very fear-based to me. Yeah. And fear is the opposite of love. So anyway, yeah. What do you think? What do you think about what you've probably read more about it than I have, so...

Caleb: Possibly the legitimate thing it's trying to push back against is the elevation of people's feelings to a point where they're unquestionable. And I think in our culture, there can be a sense that if someone's offended by something, then you must necessarily have done something wrong.

And as Christians, there are aspects of Christian teaching such as the exclusivity of Christ and Christian sexual ethics that will offend and put people's backs up. So I think what they're trying to do, perhaps legitimately, is to ensure that it's not just about listening to everyone's feelings and never disagreeing with someone.

But like you said, it can easily become a way of shutting out disempowered voices and a sort of excuse not to listen. It's that age-old tension of holding true convictions with love, of being able to hold to particular beliefs while expressing loving disagreement rather than simply blocking people out. It's not always easy to hold those things together, but I think framing empathy as a sin is likely to close people's ears when they should be listening. So I don't think it's a very helpful way of approaching the issue.

Mary: [00:31:00] I also see it often connected with a kind of, it's almost like Christian Twitter shock jocks, you know, like, I've just now thought about that. I'm really proud of myself. But it's kind of like we're gonna tweet something that is really, it kind of feels mean-spirited, but it's gonna have a Bible verse in it. And it might be something that is true biblically, but it's the way, it's like we're standing up for the gospel regardless, and it has this very combative approach. Yeah. It's very combative in the way it approaches. So that idea of trying to understand where the other person is coming from in order to really love them and speak to them in a loving way, even if you're disagreeing, seems kind of lost on that view. Yeah. But again, I'm glad we're talking about it because I need to go read some of that. [00:32:00] I've read some, but I need to read more. Yeah, I know that when my article was posted by Christianity Today, there was a press that posted their lecture about the sin of empathy several times under it, and I should go back and actually watch it. Yeah. But I was like, do I really have an hour and a half to listen to these white guys talk about it? I don't know, that sounds terrible, but I really should. I really should just to have a informed response that is...

Caleb: Yeah. Well, I think it goes back to the challenge of empathizing with even the people who are perhaps our close theological neighbors who perhaps irritate us the most. We need to be empathetic to them and try to understand charitably where they are coming from. And again, that doesn't mean endorsement or excusing what might be wrong in what they're saying, but we do need to listen, even to the... It's easy for us to form outgroups and ingroups, even when talking about the subject of empathy.

Mary: Well, and it's really difficult. I mean, that's the question I feel like I get the most. How do you have empathy for someone who shows no empathy? You know, and what I've read from people like Bonhoeffer and MLK is that it's those people who need the most sympathy because if someone is showing such anger themselves, you know, like the pious woman in the novel, in The Power and the Glory. But it's really tricky. It's also tricky if you see a figurehead like a pastor or politician or minister who is leading people astray by the things they're saying and pushing people away from empathy. I mean, it's very hard. It's a real challenge to see the image of God in this person, to pray for them, but it does help if you realize there's something inside that's hurting, you know, and to try to maybe think that way. But it's hard.

Caleb: Yeah, because I think it is that not having selective empathy, and one of the blind spots that we can have is, perhaps more traditionally, in certain circles or tendencies in church culture, to selectively empathize for oppressors over the oppressed. It's like we see this with scandals, and it's like, "Oh, what about the poor church leader whose career is in tatters?" And I think the challenging thing is that actually there is, to some degree, inappropriate empathy, and it is entirely wrong if that is coming above or at the expense of empathy for those actually hurt and oppressed in the situation. So, I think holding that tension of, yeah, our hearts need to go out to, first of all, victims, to people genuinely hurt and oppressed in different situations, but also not losing sight of the humanity of people who have done wrong. And that's a really hard thing in our culture, not to draw simplistic villains and heroes and fall into reductionism, like you were saying earlier.

Mary: Yeah, it has helped me too, to look at scripture and to see Christ, gravitated mostly towards the poor, and most of his disciples were not high up in society.

But then you look at [00:33:00] Matthew and you think he was a traitor to his own people. He was serving the Man. He was really a problematic figure and would've been very much disliked, and sometimes probably for good reason, what he was doing. But then Christ chose him. And you think of Zaccheus and you think of the Roman centurion and you think of those who had positions of power and had gotten that power even maybe through bad ways. Paul, by gosh, Saul / Paul. Yeah. And it just shows that we have to be humble enough to recognize that God can transform anyone.

Caleb: Yeah, it's the scandal of Grace. The scandal of Grace.

Mary: Yeah. Scandal of grace. Yes, exactly.

L'Abri, community and empathy

Caleb Woodbridge: One of the things I know that you have in your background is that you write in residence L'Abri Fellowship over here in, in England, which is a place that's very dear to my heart as well.

Yes. I [00:34:00] wonder whether you've got any thoughts on the place that community plays because L'Abri is a rich place of Christian community. And is there anything from your experience there, maybe or more broadly just in terms of the role that community plays in developing empathy?

Mary McCampbell: Yes. So much. I feel like a large part of the way I think about art and the world, and God has been because of L'Abri. The first time I went to L'Abri was like 1995. So I have been, I've spent, I've never been to any other L'Abri, but I've spent so much time at English L'Abri. And yes, there was one summer I was there as like writer in residence and I also went there when I was finishing my dissertation.

And, I've spent so much time and so I'll just say one of the – I'll get to the community thing in a minute. I'm just thinking this relates to community, but one thing that has truly [00:35:00] transformed my understanding of art and engaging with art and that I bring into the classroom, which relates to empathy, is I think it comes from Ellis Potter. When he talks about art, art is a conversation. It's not an act of consumption.

And so from that, I, every beginning of semester I tell students in my general education classes, I want us to remember that these authors are made in God's image and that they're, we're having a conversation with them.

I was about to say, I don't like it when people just say, I do or don't like something, but I just did that. But I'll say, I often say don't say or not dislike. Tell me what are they saying and what is your. Reaction. So that's very helpful and I think that really has helped me be, think empathetically and graciously and hospitably about the act of reading and engaging the arts.

So that's a huge thing from L'Abri but also just L'Abri is formed around community. At the very heart of it is the lunch table [00:36:00] discussions. Yeah. Where anyone can have… I don't know if people are familiar with L'Abri it you sit at, it's usually about an hour and a half and you're at a table with, I don't know, 10, 15 people and anyone at the table can come up with a question and nothing is off limits.

And then we all discuss that question. So I'm even thinking about that very act of attentiveness that you're taking someone's question and talking about it for an hour and a. And we, that's such a loving thing to do just to that one student, that one person who has the question. And so just that specific focus, that trying to listen to one another and what each other is saying as opposed to just focusing on your response.

It really taught me a lot. I'm not sure I always model that. I get very excited and talk, but that I learned a lot from that. I also just, the [00:37:00] feeling of community and just the way of looking at you. You go in and you meet these people and you form quick judgments of the people you meet.

And then if you're there for a month living with people and you discover like the, just the, there's such a beauty and glory to who they are. There's also dark sides, right? And it's just living in that community. And I remember once, after being at L'Abri like for a month, and I hadn't really gone anywhere.

And I went to London and I was on the Tube . And I was like looking around, I just felt like I had new eyes and I was looking around and thinking every person in this train has a universe inside of them. Yeah. And it, how amazing is that? Like I was just in awe of people, cause L'Abri, I felt fostered that in me to really look at other, yeah, the whole Francis Schaeffer glorious ruins thing.

Yeah. I [00:38:00] mean it really, living in a community like that helps you to see that, I think.

Caleb: And it's the amazing thing about how people are bigger on the inside, like Doctor Who's Tardis or the Wardrobe to Narnia. Yeah, people contain whole worlds inside them. And yeah, I think that's an amazing thing.

Mary: Absolutely.

Further recommendations

Caleb: Yeah. So I think just in terms of our listeners in terms of cultivating empathy drawing on good good stories and good art to, to do that. Are there any particular practices or particular books or other works of art that you would recommend? Here's what you can do in the next week to do something with this.

Mary: Oh, I don't know if I... let me think ... if I. Books?

Caleb: Or be film or music or whatever.

Mary: Okay.

Caleb: Is there something perhaps that's has had a real impact on you recently?

Mary: Yes. Yeah I was just, that's a, there's so many, and when [00:39:00] you said books, I didn't know. It was like, is there a particular book on empathy that I've read?

I've been reading a lot of more Theology on Loving Enemies. That's been very helpful to me. Like Bonhoeffer, like MLK's Strengths, strength to Love Kierkergaard's works of love. I've been thinking about those, but as far as the, something that has impact, oh there's so many, but one that has really impacted me and.

Cause I don't know if you know this, but my friend Joe Kickasola and I are also starting a podcast. I do, yes. Now I feel terrible. I'm like, Hey, let me promote my podcast on your podcast.

Caleb: My next question was going to be where can people stay connected and hear more from you?

Mary: Oh yeah. But we we interviewed the director of the film Sound of Metal. Ah, and. and I had watched it once and then I had watched it again before we talked to Darius Martyr, and this was an Oscar-winning film a couple years ago. And it was about, it's about a [00:40:00] man who is the drummer of a heavy metal band and he loses his hearing. and it's, it really places you on the inside of, first of all the loss of hearing the trauma of that. He's also an addict. And there's a real connection between the whole thing is about the human desire to wanna try to control. It's very powerful. But it also places you on the inside of the deaf community when he goes to a, it's like a AA group, a support group that lives in a house.

But they're all deaf and how much he doesn't want to be a part of that. He wants to go get a cochlear implant and go back to his life. But wow. It was mind blowing. It's it was almost hard to watch initially just to see, to think about what would it be like if that happened to me.

What if just one day I woke up and I couldn't. Or I couldn't see. And so that was very powerful. But it really just, even it, it wasn't it was of course, it was the [00:41:00] acting and it was the script, but also the use of sound. It was on so many different levels. It plunged you into his experience.

Yeah. And it's very powerfully done. And it turns out the the director is not deaf, but his grandmother went deaf like overnight cause of an antibiotic that she took, and so he is even relating to this experience of what is that like? So it very, so that's something I'd recommend and you can watch it well in the US you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

I don't know in the UK. Yeah. But but I'm sure it's easy to watch because it won an Oscar, an Academy Award winning film. So that's one I would recommend that I've engaged with recently.

Caleb: Great. So yeah, and just as we wrap things up how can people be connected with you? What's the podcast going to be called?

Yes. The book, the podcast, which should hopefully come out soon. We're [00:42:00] still working on, we've interviewed a lot of people, but it's called The Empathetic Imagination. Ah, it's so we can put yours in mind, side by side, we can refer each other the empathetic imagination, and we're asking all these different people how they define empathy.

And it's in different ways. It's related to arts, but we have psychologists, pastors, different individuals. And I have a newsletter called The Empathetic Imagination that goes along with that like a Substack. And of course the book, which you can find anywhere that you find books Imagining Our Neighbours as Ourselves, and I, if you just look at my name you'll find my website, which has other articles and things.

Yeah. So yeah, I'm around!

Caleb Woodbridge: Thank, thanks very much. And yeah, I think that's a real reminder and inspiration. I'm reading the book at the moment. I hadn't quite made it to the end before, before this, but there are really wonderful insights and [00:43:00] clarity of thinking. So I'd recommend that to all our listeners.

Mary: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Thank you for taking time with it, and for recommending it.

Caleb: Yeah, so thanks. Thanks. It's been the real pleasure to have you on and yeah. All the best. With your podcast, it sounds like there's good overlap, so perhaps there will be chance to collaborate again in some way.

Mary: Yes. Thank you so much.

Caleb: Great. And thank you also to our listeners. We hope you've enjoyed this discussion and that it will help you in the pursuit of empathy as part of your discipleship in terms of loving our neighbors more deeply.

Thanks for listening and do you let us know what you think leave a comment or review and yeah, it'd be great to get some conversation going more broadly. Thanks. Thanks Mary. And thanks. Thanks to you, our listeners. Thank you.

Mary: Bye-Bye.

Bigger on the Inside
Imaginative Discipleship Podcast
Be transformed by the renewing of your imagination. Join us for conversations exploring the importance of imagination and creativity in the Christian life for all believers, as we pursue Beauty, Goodness and Truth in the person of Jesus Christ.