cover image The Science of the Good Samaritan: Thinking Bigger About Loving Our Neighbors

The Science of the Good Samaritan: Thinking Bigger About Loving Our Neighbors

Emily Smith. Zondervan, $19.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-310-36669-0

Epidemiologist Smith debuts with a paradigm-expanding analysis of the Bible’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” According to Smith, “truly being a neighbor goes way beyond simply donating food or money... it’s also [about] changing our hearts and posture to match those deeds,” from wisely choosing “who we surround ourselves with and give our attention to” (a bigoted remark from a friend can subconsciously “seep in to become a part of us”) to bridging divides with those from different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. More broadly, readers can pursue environmental justice initiatives to protect “global” neighbors from the ills of climate change, or advocate for universal healthcare for the sake of the medically vulnerable. Noting that being neighborly isn’t without cost, Smith recounts how she created a Facebook page during the Covid-19 pandemic to answer safety questions and advocate for “protecting [our neighbors] through social distancing, using masks, and getting vaccines,” and was deluged by harassing messages. She informs readers that “being the kind of neighbor Jesus talked about” sometimes entails sacrificing “financial security, prestige, lifelong community, [or] time,” though the cost is “redeemed... many times over.” Smith nimbly brings faith to bear on social justice and global health issues to make a compassionate case for the value of human interconnectedness as an integral part of Christianity. Open-minded believers will be challenged and inspired. (Oct.)