Book #30: Neighborology

I picked up Neighborology: Practicing Compassion as a Way of Life by Dr. David Apple because the topic was compelling. Ben and I often talk about our difficulty of being “good neighbors” to those around us we don’t know – we often don’t even know where to start. How do adults make new friends? How do you expand your social circle? How do you meet people from other cross sections of society? I was excited that Apple would provide a foundational mindset to how we can intentionally move towards others; but I felt a bit cheated by this book in the end. Apple begins with a biblical foundation of what serving others looks like: it is a life of self-denial in which we look to serve Christ above ourselves, and seek to imitate His example of a servant to others. But from there it gets less cohesive and more heavy-handed. Instead of providing principles and teaching the reader how to apply them in their own context, Apple displays how his church created various mercy ministries to serve their community, with an implication that this is the only way. Instead of speaking to how individuals can “practice compassion as a way of life,” his focus was on programs and, to me, felt agenda-driven. He also didn’t address how mercy ministry at his 1,500+ member church in a large Northern metropolis will look different from mercy ministry at my 30 member church in a small Southern town. Perhaps he had good intentions, but, since I had hoped for more, my disappointment left me with a negative opinion of this book in the end.

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