In 1971, two Princeton psychologists staged an experiment. They took forty seminarians and told them they were going to record their sermons. Half were given the text on the good Samaritan; the other half could preach on whatever they wanted. They were given a specific route to take to get to the recording hall. This route took them past a “victim” who was lying in the street, groaning and coughing. Of the forty seminarians, only sixteen stopped to help. One actually stepped over the victim, thinking he was blocking the doorway. It’s easy to read the parable and judge the priest and the Levite, but the practice of demonstrating love requires open eyes and patience and, as the researchers found, setting aside the urgent pace at which we live life (Israel Shenker, “Test of the Samaritan Parable: Who Helps the Helpless?,” New York Times, April 10, 1971, https://www.nytimes.com/1971/04/10/archives/test-of-samaritan-parable-who-helps-the-helpless.html).
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