For You Were Once A Stranger

OnBeing continues to be a go to podcast for me. Krista Tippett is among the best interviewers in the podcasting world.  She recently posted her interview with Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks. The interview is three years old, yet so relevant today.

A thought-provoking interview for this Sunday morning. A highlight for me is the conversation on diversity and dealing with strangers. I will post a link to the transcript below, but I recommend listening to the interview as Lord Sacks has a voice similar to Jeremy Irons. It is a treat for the ears and the mind.

“It seems to me that one of the things we most fear is the stranger. And at most times in human history, most people have lived among people who are mostly pretty much the same as themselves. Today, certainly in Europe and perhaps even in America, walk down the average Main Street and you will encounter in 10 minutes more anthropological diversity than an 18th-century traveler would have encountered in a lifetime.”

This conversation resonates with me. The interview is three years old, yet is more topical today with refugees fleeing persecution across the world and American Political leaders unwilling to develop immigration reform. Many political leaders, professing a strong faith, search the Bible for guidance. As Lord Sacks reminds us, the Bible does provide guidance on our responsibility to the refugee and the immigrant.

“So you really have this huge problem of diversity. And you then go back and read the Bible and something hits you, which is we’re very familiar with the two great commands of love: Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might; love your neighbor as yourself.

But the one command reiterated more than any other in the mosaic box — 36 times said the rabbis — is love the stranger for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Or to put it in a contemporary way, love the stranger because, to him, you’re a stranger.

And this sense that we are enlarged by the people who are different from us — we are not threatened by them — that needs cultivating, can be cultivated, and would lead us to see the 21st century as full of blessing, not full of fear.”

Deep thoughts and content for our prayers on this day of rest.


OnBeing Website and Podcast

Transcript of interview with Lord Sacks

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