I’d like to invite you to choose one of the parables below and read it. The one you choose should depend on your political persuasion.
If you consider yourself to lean more to the left politically, or you are a ‘Remainer’ or consider yourself to be a liberal please read parable 1. If you are more conservative by instinct, lean more to the right politically, or you are a ‘Leaver’ them please have a look at parable 2.
1. The Good UKIPer
A man was travelling from London to Birmingham on a late night train and was alone in the carriage when he was attacked by thieves. They took his smart phone and wallet and left him bruised and shaken up. A charity worker who helped the homeless happened to pass through the carriage and, seeing the man hurt and wild eyed with shock decided she’d done enough good work that day and carried on walking. So too, a wealthy young socialist who had been in London on a demo demanding that the government ‘do something’ about refugees passed through and saw this distressed and dishevelled fellow - and kept on walking. But then a UKIP supporter, an old white bloke in a tweed jacket with a red face from drinking too many beers came by; and when he saw the man, he took pity on him.
2. The Good Drag Queen
A man was going from London to Birmingham on a late night train and was alone in the carriage
Thank you for getting this far! You might have read one or both of these parables, and you might (as I did) feel sensitive about the portrayal of at least one person in these stories. Of course, if you challenge me on either of these parables, I’ll point to the equally outrageous story told by Jesus in the gospel of Luke.
But my aim is not to offend, it’s to challenge and encourage, both myself and others. We are living in a time when reconciliation with and understanding of others seem to be at an all-time low. Worldly trends come in and out of fashion, at the moment intolerance and outrage (real or pretended) are very much in vogue. And as far as I’m concerned it stinks.
As a thinking person, a writer, and follower of Christ, I feel called to confront extremism and intolerance in all its forms, and condemn all of its manifestations, on the left and right, amongst people of all races, amongst Christians and others.
But to do that, I have to confront my own intolerance first. I want to work out, in myself and then with other followers of Jesus, how we can present His alternative way, the way of love, without fear or favour. For me, that quest starts at home, with a challenge to myself and my attitudes. Then I hope to find others who want to create practical applications of Christ’s injunction to overturn our own prejudices, and love our neighbours as ourselves.
God bless our UKIPer and our Drag Queen, even if we find it hard to do so ourselves!
Andrew Chamberlain is a writer and creative writing tutor. He is the presenter of The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt, a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. He is crowdfunding the development of a handbook to accompany the podcast, the book will be out in the Autumn of 2017. Andrew has published fiction and collaborated on a number of ghost-writing projects through Authentic Media, including the bestselling, 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories.