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

Monday, June 09, 2008

Chicken soup

I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability national conference in Washington D.C. I went with two great friends, Michael Hoggatt and Marvin Miller and although we had a great time, there were some aspects of the conference that were somewhat disappointing. But I will share that in a separate entry.

One highlight of the conference was a brief presentation by Diane Richler who is the president of a group called Inclusion International. I can't speak for the organization, don't know much about it, however, Diane provided a wonderful illustration about the notion of including everyone who would choose to be a part of a group. She said that when she was younger, her family was preparing a special dinner. Her mother cooked one of her famous roasted chickens. However, just as dinner was about to begin, a group of aunts, uncles and cousins arrived at the house. Because she had prepared a roasted chicken, there wasn't enough food for everyone. In her family's case, the family was told to "hold back" such that not everyone was able to eat, just the guests. Her point, however, was that with planning, there could have been food for everyone. If, for example, her mother had made chicken soup, everyone could have had dinner. However, because she made a roast chicken, everyone could not be served.

Although her point was not about the church, I immediately made the connection. If churches serve "roasted chicken" then there will not be enough for everyone to be a part. "Roasted chicken" in the way we do religious education, or provide opportunities for service, or structural church programs and logistics. However, if we are really interested in a setting that plans for participation for more people, we could make "chicken soup." A "chicken soup" form of religious education, or opportunities for service, or structural church programs and logistics.

As Diane stated, the "chicken soup" approach implies "everybody's in." We choose to have chicken soup over roasted chicken because we know that not everyone will be able to partake if we have roasted chicken. We as a group, therefore, choose to forgo the roasted for the soup.



Anonymous said...

I think you made a good point. Most people are not willing to give up their roasted chicken so that others can also enjoy in a feast. A lot of people do not like to be inconvenienced for the sake of others. I joined my son's school PTA. I volunteered for the community outreach position. Ignorant to the whole school politics issue, I was met with opposition to the majority of my ideas. The "wiser" PTA members refused to go out of their comfort zones to help others. For instance, after taking in my Grandmother who is suffering from the advanced stages of dementia, I realized how very limited the seniors become in what they can do. I recommended getting nominations for seniors who lived with no assistance from others, and getting a group of the kids, parents, and staff to volunteer to come to the senior/senior citizens home and help clean, fix, organize and conversate for the day. I was going to name the program "Pimp my house". I thought it would be a great way to show the kids how they could be involved with others and see the fruits of their labor. The members were willing to approve no more than putting a basket together for them. They also nixed the idea of having the children raise money and purchasing toys for the children's physically and sexually abused unit in the local hospital. They felt uncomfortable telling their children what it meant to be sexually or physically abused. However, it may be that some of these children are in the same classroom with their children. How are their children going to learn how to reach out to their classmates, if their parents aren't even willing to reach out? This school is considered to be the best school in it's district. It has science and engineering grants. The school boasts of the different features it offers it's students, however it is also one of the only schools in it's district that fails to offer a community outreach program. I had to let my position go, because noone wanted to give up their roasted chicken, so that others could have a little bit of some chicken soup. I hope that my position as a teacher will give me a little bit louder voice, so that I can make a difference. So, that I can teach these children that it is important to reach out to those that are different, disabled, and in need of our love and care. It's important to go out of our comfort levels so that others could find comfort in us.

Anonymous said...

I think "Chicken Soup" is a great analogy for the way Churches cater to individuals with disabilities. This story is so true. Churches always want to invite more and more people into their church and they want them to feel welcome and come Sunday after Sunday and participate in their church events. However, Churches do not cater to all people like a chicken soup would. I never really thought about Churches not being able to accomodate to all individuals. But I had a rude awakening when we had to do part two of our Church and Disabilities assignment. A lot of Churches claim that they do not have the money to make immediate changes, while others say they will make the changes once they have individuals with disabilities join their church. What they do not realize, or maybe they do it on purpose, but if they do not have the proper accomodations now a person with a disability is not going to sit around and wait for the money to be raised and changes to take place. They will simply move on to another church that has already made the changes and accomodations. I like the story of the "chicken soup". You can use this analogy for practically anything and I think I will use this example in my classroom when I began to teach.

Anonymous said...

I personally agree with this analogy because it does make so much sense as for as the church is concerned. However, I also feel that some churches or religious groups make roasted chicken on purpose, but would never come out and say it. They would lie to your face about that fact it would be to much trouble to go out of their way to help bring those who are disabled into the church. And then what I have witnessed is that some churches will just show you that they are not interested in bringing in the disabled. Their church service is just not designed for the disabled in any capacity at, almost to say that all we serve here is roasted chicken, and to that I find it very unfortunate and sad. It should not be this way. If you say that you want to invite God to come and be among you in any given church service, everyone is invited. God says that. This includes those who are disabled. Case closed. Looks like it's time to open up that chicken soup stand as well.