On the Meaning of Christmas (2015)

The clip below captures the spirit of Christmas beautifully. You may need to think about it. And, if you are a Christian who believes that the Incarnation is at the centre of everything, the implications for our life in the twenty-first century are surely far-reaching and disturbing.

The key word is empathy.

Empathy is:

“the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions.”

Roman Krznaric Empathy: a Handbook for Revolution London: Rider Books, 2014, p. x

Or, from the first serious academic study of empathy:

“By the imagination we place ourselves in [the other person’s] situation, we conceive ourselves enduring all the same torments, we enter as it were into his body, and become in some measure the same person with him …”

“The spectator must first of all endeavour as much as he can to put himself in the situation of the other, and to bring home to himself every little circumstances of distress which can possibly occur to the sufferer … When I condole with you for the loss of your only son, in order to enter your grief, I do not consider what I, a person of such a character and professions, should suffer, if I had a son, and if that son was unfortunately to die; but I consider what I should suffer if I was really you; and I not only change circumstances with you, but I change persons and characters.”

Adam Smith (1723–1790) (yes, that one) The Theory of Moral Sentiments 1.1.1 & 1.1.4 (italics added)

For more on Patricia Moore you can read the story of her incarnational strategy for industrial design in Disguised: A True Story.

Categories: The 153


  • Esther Hardman says:

    Thanks Crispin. These quotes are really helpful in distilling the definition of ’empathy’, (something that has been on my mind over the last two years in a different context). The video is inspiring, both regarding her incarnational approach, but also the discussion regarding the different aspects of creativity and how it can be used. Thank you.

  • RogerRoger says:

    Inspiring stuff – have shared with my Designer son. Certainly demands a level of engaging with other’s lives that goes well beyond glib soundbites!

Leave a Reply to RogerRoger Cancel reply