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

Monday, September 18, 2006

The rectitude of doctrine vs. the rectitide of love

I had the pleasure of attending a conference last week at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The conference was hosted by Dr. John Swinton, and featured Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, a theologian/philosopher and Dr. Jean Vanier, writer and founder of the L'Arche communities.

I asked Dr. Vanier why he thought it was that the church has not been as responsive to persons with disabilities as L'Arche as endeavored to model. His response was that we as a church are focussed on "the rectitude of doctrine" when we should be focussed on "the rectitude of love." The rectitude of doctrine vs. the rectitude of love is something worth thinking about. No one is implying that doctrine is unimportant. Rather, doctrine can be dry and harsh. Love by comparison can be soft and accepting. In the case of persons with disabilities, we need love and doctrine to be as correct as possible.

May God open our eyes to the rectitude of love.


Anonymous said...

Today at church we discussed the three different types of love. Although I don't remember the first two, my apologies, I do remember the third, and that was Agape love. Agape love is loving whole heartedly with no questions. This is done by sacrificing self to help others. Most of the love expressed in the bible is that of Agape love.
At times, we forget that people with disabilities have emotions. Sometimes we think that they don't notice if we don't do something for them or if we ignore them. What do they know? Afterall, they don't know what we are thinking. However, each of us reacts differently when we know that someone is thinking of us funny or thinks of us as stupid or dumb. In fact, most of us react with anger and hatred. One thing that I have noticed, is that people with disabilities react with kindness in an effort to win your heart. They do whatever they can to help us when we need something. I believe that Agape love is a love that we need to extend to all people. Maybe we should reconsider who we are calling stupid, afterall, people with disabilities are able to show true agape love to all people, without discriminating.

Anonymous said...

I was touched by the email from your friend Toby. It was nice to read what a day at the beach with the church meant to him. We take for granted the simplest things like being able to go down to the beach. How often do people with disabilities get to do this? When I went to church, I remember that there was such a strong emphasis on the youth and children's departments. During the summer there would be beach trips, summer camp, picnics, etc. What about people with disabilities? How is the church accomodating them? It's nice to see that the church Toby attends plans special trips for its members so that they too can enjoy a day at the beach. I can just imagine all the other things that can be taken for granted that I am able to do. Things like going bowling, to the movies, Scandia, minature golf, mountains, etc. I hope that other churches will do things that can include people with disabilities or specifically for people with disabilities. They enjoy the same things that we do but just do not have the ablility to do them most of the time.