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

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"The obsolete man"

After driving with my daughter, Amy, to take her car back to college, I flew home from Portland on New Year's Eve.  One of the benefits of flying Jet Blue is that they have satellite TV, so I watched the Twilight Zone marathon.  One of the shows I watched was called The Obsolete Man. It was fun in the way that Twilight Zone takes on interesting ideas that make you think.  Anyway as is typical, the program ends with Rod Serling commenting on the story.  For this particular episode, the closing narration went like this...
The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct. He was obsolete, but so is the State, the entity he worshipped. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under "M" for mankind—in the Twilight Zone.
You can view the program or read about it on Wikipedia if you like, but I found the closing profound.  "Any...entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man...is obsolete."  I wonder about how the lack of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the church has affected the manner in which it is perceived.  

Once again in one of the classes I teach, Exceptional Child (basically an introduction to special education) I had several students come up to me at the end and relate, "I never thought about people with disabilities, it never occurred to me that they were not involved in church, not included in the life of the church."  I get excited with those kinds of comments from students as it indicates that a light has come on in their minds.  If they go no further than awareness, they have still come a long way.  But does this level of awareness imply to them that the church is obsolete?  Perhaps not obsolete, however, to many it implies an irrelevance to their life issues.

The good news about this form of being obsolete is that it can be changed.  It can be "upgraded" so to speak.  Involvement with the church needn't be terminated (as the character in the Twilight Zone episode was killed).  Rather we can help the obsolete, the irrelevant become relevant, become useful.  In particular because we have access to their owner's manual and know what it says.  By following the Christian church's owner's manual, the Bible, the church will never become obsolete or irrelevant.

But one could also ask whether some disabled people are obsolete.  We have states in the US who believe so.  You can go to your doctor and asked to be killed, and the response basically is "Sure."  You can have severe disabilities at birth and be left on a table to die.  You can have down's syndrome as a result of a botched abortion and be left on a table to die because the protection of abortion rights are more important than the life of an infant with a disability.  You can have severe disabilities at the end of your life and be starved to death and it is called the humanitarian thing to do.  Any society that facilitates, that promotes such responses to persons with disabilities is obsolete, is in need of replacement with something better.  We need a new model for society.  I wonder if the Christian church is up to the task of providing that new model for loving people with disabilities that the society is desperately in need of.  I will tell you that we have not provided that model over the past centuries.  Would the state even consider looking to the church for answers based upon our track record in this area?


1 comment:

Pilgrim said...

Don't you mean you can have DS AND be left on a table . . . ?

It's a sad situation we find ourselves in.