“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The good Samaritan

Tonight I was speaking to my class about the family life cycle as it relates to people with disabilities and their families. The research literature at times mentions "chronic sorrow" in regard to the life cycle in that at every stage of life, people with disabilities and their families are often confronted with the impact of disability on their lives. Some of those impacts are directly due to the impairment the person has, however, often the negative experiences are due to the social consequences of having a disability. That is the way the individual or family experiences life with disability being a part of that life.

Before getting into this discussion, I asked students to report on an assignment they needed to complete. The assignment was to interview the pastor of their church, or at least someone in leadership about the priority the church places on people with disabilities. A common reply was that there was a handful of people who were attending the church, but that was all. Of course they would be willing to serve others if they came but that was all they had.

As I thought of the woundedness related to the social consequences of disability particularly related to Wolfensberger's 18 wounds, I was reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan. I won't retell the story, but the approach of the churches interviewed and reported on made me think of how churches today might retell that story. I suspect that first of all, the Samaritan wouldn't have seen the wounded man in the first place, or at least claim to not have seen him or known about him. But using the rationale of the church leaders interviewed, once he saw the wounded man, their response would have been, "You know, there is a hotel up the road. And if you get yourself there, I would be willing to help you out, to patch you wounds and all. Just get yourself to the hotel. Ok then, see you later."
Actually, more likely they would ignore the wounded man and blame him for not coming to the church where they would help him if he were to come there.

So we figuratively have wounded, bleeding people lying in desperate pain, in desperate need, and we glibly say that if they came to the hotel (church) we would patch their wounds. These are truly, desperately wounded people who have probably showed up at a church in the past and have been turned away. Yet our response is to tell them to suck it up and ask for help. They won't do it!! They haven't the ability to do it!!

It is not just people with intellectual disabilities who haven't the ability to get to church often simply because they haven't a driver's license (do you really think that churches don't know that people with intellectual disabilities haven't the abiltiy to drive?) so couldn't get there if they wanted to. It is truly that these people are hurting and are either fearful of further hurting/attacks, are feeling that they are unwanted because no one is coming after them, or simply haven't the strength to come. Do people always have to ask/beg me to do something for me to do it or at least volunteer to do something for them? Or might I recognize that my resources (time, money, home, etc.) are not just for me and might be shared with someone else and volunteer, or even insist that the hurting person take them or use them.

So the dying wounded man lies by the side of the road and the Christian Samaritans sit in the church saying we would serve him if he came. I mean c'mon we have handicapped parking spaces and accessible restrooms.

Monday, March 22, 2010

3/21/10 World Down Syndrome Day

"Your search yielded no results"

Rarely does this statement cause me happiness when it appears on my computer screen. Typically it means that I haven't been able to find what I was looking for. But today, I smiled happily at my computer screen. They get it. You see, I searched the Down Syndrome International website for the word "prevention" and received that message. I say again, they get it.

You see, people who know people with down's syndrome, are typically much less likely to want to be rid of it. That is probably because the only way to be rid of it is to be rid of the people who have it. I believe that only those who have never had an interaction with a person with down's syndrome would want to be rid of them, at all costs, including prenatally diagnosing their presence and killing them. But in the warped minds of the pro-choice world, this is totally acceptable...perhaps.

Bill Armer (2007) writes the following in, Eugenetics: a polemical view of social policy in the genetic age.
It is sometimes suggested by scholars that eugenics was some form of pseudoscientific aberration of the first half of the twentieth century which is nowadays of historical interest perhaps, but has no place in contemporary scientific society...Nonetheless, eugenic ideology, and particularly ideas that the human race may and should be 'improved', is certainly extant today...The fundamental issue to be borne in mind is that the overt eugenics movement in the west had two key values: the 'improvement of the human stock' and the avoidance of financial drain on society." (p. 1).

Armer discusses the term "provisional pregnancy" which is clearly related to women carrying a baby with down's syndrome among other 'obvious' reasons for abortion (obvious to the medical profession it would seem). Pregnancy is now provisional untill the experts can council us as to whether or not our children are 'viable' or in some way 'worthy' of birth. Funny how your ideas will sometimes "come home to roost" as the saying goes.

Armer also quotes Alison Davis (1987, Women with disaiblities: abortion and liberation in Disability, Handicap & Society, p. 283)
...the mainstream women's movement has made the mistake of transferring our oppression to the unborn...it becaue natural to eliminate or ignore those (with) conflicting interests who were too vulnerable to fight back...the mainstream women's movement claims to support women with disaiblities and help them fight against their double oppression [as women and as disabled people], but I do not now believe that it is possible to do so while...defending so aggresively the 'right to choose' to kill unborn children because they suffere from exactly the same disabilities.

The human genome project will only convolute these issues as there will be more to 'assess' in order to 'prevent'. To cut the doublespeak, more children will be diagnosed prenatally as having an undesirable characteristics and then killed through abortion. How people can support and fight for rights of individuals at one point in their lives and work voraciously to kill them at another point in their lives is simply hypocritical.

So God bless Down Syndrome International. May they always be found on the side of life for people with down's syndrome and all people. In terms of down's syndrome, prevention=death.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Amos Yong at Cal Baptist

Dr. Amos Yong will provide a
Special Lecture on issues in Theology and Disability
Thursday March 25, 2010 at 430-6 pm
Copenbarger Room, Yeager Center
California Baptist University

Dr. Yong is J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology and
Director of the Doctor of Philosophy program,
Regent University School of Divinity. He is author of 11 books
and numerous articles on Biblical and theological issues. One
of his books is the 2007 volume, “Theology and Down Syndrome:
Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity.” All faculty, staff and students
are invited to this free lecture.

Sponsored by the Disability Studies Institute at CBU and the
College of Education.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Church and Disability / The Orchard

I have just published two new books. The first is entitled The Church and Disability and is basically selections from the first five years of my weblog, disabledChristianity. As I went through the entries, I was interested once again with what, I believe, God has revealed to me about issues of theology and disability, disability ministry, people with disablities and societal and church attitudes towards people experiencing disability. It is perhaps the best compilation of much of my thought on these issues. It is a convenient, easily accessible means to view these ideas.

I would encourage readers (parents, individuals with disabilities,professionals or church leaders) to consider picking up a copy for themselves or to share with others who need to open their minds to the potential of the church. Because it is entries from a weblog, it is perfect for daily readings.
Please click on this link for more information. https://www.createspace.com/3398398

The second book is entitled The Orchard and is a political fantasy about societal and political engagement. It builds and expands on Niebuhr's ideas encapsulated in his book Christ and Culture. More information about this book is available at this link. https://www.createspace.com/3396835


I had an amazing day today. I had the opportunity to meet with two men who have been involved in the development of a new course on the theology of disability and suffering at Dallas Theological Seminary which is one of the premier seminaries in America. Daniel Thomson spearheaded the development of the course at DTS and with Dr. Larry Watters coming alongside has put together what looks to be an amazing offering. The course is online and is a series of asynchronous lectures which I should add are close captioned. In addition material delivered in the lectures is being assembled into a textbook which will no doubt be a must have for people interested in the subject. The good news too is that it is largely a theological work.

Dallas Baptist University is also thinking through how they might build disability issues into their curriculum. There was a sweet openness at the meeting that began with their president. It will be exciting to see what develops there in the next few years.

At Cal Baptist we just keep plugging along. Our MA program in disabity studies is off the ground with a wonderful group of students and we are looking forward to launching our second cohort in the fall (2010).

In the midst of discussions we heard about other Christian colleges who refuse to house courses on disability within their Bible departments or to allow courses to have titles reflecting that the courses are about theology. It is both angering and frustrating at times. At the same time however we must focus on the many good things that are happening. We truly are on the crest of a wave, I believe, that is about to wash over the church. It could not come too soon for my liking.