Imagining Our Neighbours as Ourselves: How Art Shapes Empathy

Mary W. McCampbell

Fortress Press, 2022. 193 pp

“Hate is a failure of imagination”

So begins the Introduction of this engaging work drawing on the writing of Graham Greene. The author offers an insightful discussion of links between art and the empathetic spirit. Her primary resources are literature and film that take us on a fascinating journey through narratives familiar and unfamiliar. McCampbell is clear about her conviction that ”narrative” is a key feature of a path toward empathy. Story stretches the imagination and invites us to look beyond our own restricted worlds to discern alternatives that have the capacity to enrich our lives redirect our practices and offer healing and hope in our relationships with others. In addition to the rich store of literature past and present, biblical stories show up in the text with the goal of nudging us toward the two great commandments and affirming the theological claim that we all bear the “image of God.” Though art is no magic-bullet to the creation of empathy, a life well exposed to meaningful narratives is likely to possess a empathic spirit.