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

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Return on Investment

The following is a quote from the book Instruction of Students with Severe Disabilities by Martha Snell and Fredda Brown (Pearson, 2006).
Another misguided value system, called return on investment, places a high value on serving students who have a favorable, history and prognosis for being "fixed" - those likely to contribute the most, economically, to society. The return-on-investment approach fails to recognize the many noneconomic contributions made by people, including those with the most severe disabilities.

The return-on-investment value orientation is based on a curative mentality that sends negative messages to children with disabilities and their families. Imagine what it might be like to continually get the message, "You are not OK the way your are. In order to be OK, your disability has to be fixed and you need to be more like us (people without disabilities)." Increasingly, self-advocates are asking that their disabilities be viewed as a form of natural human diversity and that others' efforts be less about "fixing" a person's disabilities and more about accepting individuals for who they are and providing necessary and self-determined supports.

In addition, the return-on-investment approach tends to discriminate against individuals with the most severe disabilities. It seeks to justify the differential valuing of people and the services they recieve on the basis of the severity of their disability characteristics. Anytime schools sanction practices that imply that some students are more worthy of staff time and resources than other students, there is a serious problem. All children are worthy, although they have differing needs.

Note the final comment "Anytime school sanction practices that imply that some students are more worthy of staff time and resources than other students, there is a serious problem. All children are worthy, although they have differing needs." How does the church fare using this criteria? Are we a place that emphasizes a return-on-investment philosophy? I hope we aren't but I am afraid we are.

McNair (fcbu)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Useless Eaters

Useless Eaters is a powerful website developed by Dr. Mark Mostert of Regent University. The website provides detailed information about the systematic taking of lives of persons with disabilities in Nazi Germany. The presentation is powerful, professional and very moving. I learned a great deal that I was unaware of before visiting the website. I highly recommend the site to you. You can find it at the following link.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Pre-Summit Executive Summary

The Pre-Summit was the idea of Rev. Bill Gaventa and was truly a memorable event. Bill compiled an executive summary for attendees which I provide for you at the following link.

I will continue to keep you informed about activities/programs/research resulting from the Pre-Summit. It has the potential of being an historic event in ministry to and with persons with disability.


Leadership in prayer

Last night we had a meeting of the leadership of our "Light and Power Co." program which seeks to integrate persons with disabilities into our local church. In the midst of the discussion of future activities, we got the idea of having L&P sponsor an all church evening of prayer. At the time it sounded like a good idea: give back to the church by praying for the needs of the church, opportunities for integration between persons with and without disability, good stuff. But the more I think through this idea, the better it seems to me.

One thing that persons with disability, particularly cognitive disability can do is pray. Their prayers are often short and to the point (John is going into the hospital for cancer surgery . . . "Oh Lord, please guide the hands of the surgeons and help them to be a blessing-blah-blah-blah" versus "God, please help John get better, Amen.") which can be a good example. Their prayers are heartfelt. We have one member of our group who cannot keep himself from crying nearly every time he prays. They oftentimes have bigtime faith. But the bottom line, is that their prayers are EQUAL to my or anyone elses prayers. SWEET! You don't need to be highly intelligent or have any special skills to be able to say a prayer. So their service is equal in every way to that of those in the church who do not experience disability.

Man do I love the level playing field we have before the Lord. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog,
BUT- God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise . . . He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29)

We can set the standard for a life of prayer through the example of persons with cognitive disabilities. We for sure can raise the standard for the church through the prayer life of persons with disability. This is truly exciting.

So start this at your own church. The disabiled community has all the skill required to be the leaders of the church in prayer. Lets raise the bar and set the standard.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pre-Summit to the Alliance for Full Participation

I write this entry from my hotel room in Washington D.C. the morning of the Pre-Summit to the Alliance for Full Participation. The Pre-Summit was conceived of by the Rev. Bill Gaventa, a long time advocate of the religious/spiritual needs of persons with disabilities. He writes the following in the program guiding the day long activities entitled, "Where there is no vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18):"
As participatns in the Pre-Summit and the Alliance for Full Participation, we hope that you will see and use this document as a means for further dialogue and collaboration with congregations, clergy, and faith-based organizations in your states and communities... Thank you for taking the time to read and digest this short report from a groundbreaking event. We hope it helps build a vision that is both "deep" and "wide," and one that will build bridges of partnership and collaboration between faith networks and public/private services and supports with people with developmental disabilities and their families.

When I return from Washington, I will put a link to the complete contents of the Pre-Summit program in this blog.
Please pray for our deliberations today.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lausanne Conference White Paper

Dennis Kingsland of Joni and Friends, turned me on to this interesting white paper on ministry to persons with disability which came out of the 2005 Lausanne International Christian conference which was held in Thailand. The interest group on disability ministry was facilitated by Joni Eareckson Tada. Good discussion of theological issues/scripture as they relate to persons with disability and ministry to persons with disability. You can get a pdf version at the following address.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Interfaith Disability PreSummit

Next week there will be an Interfaith Disability PreSummit, held in Washington D.C. This is a "presummit" as it comes before the National Disability Summit which will occur towards the end of the week. I (along with Bill Gaventa and Nella Uitvlugt were privileged to be able to assist in the development and analysis of a survey to in some ways guide discussions with those at the Summit over ways in which the religious community can contribute to the development of supports for persons with disabilities. I would invite you to visit a website where the results of the survey are posted.

You can visit
http://jeffmcnair.com/Presummitsurvey.htm to see the raw open ended question data as well as some basic frequency analysis of the numerical data. We hope to digest this information further in the coming months.