Even choosing to write the words ‘disability theology’ is a statement. Why not theology of disability? I’m really not sure what to even call it.
However, I do believe a serious discussion and some resolution regarding a theological view of disability and people with disabilities would go far in determining the future course of the Church and her interaction with those otherwise deemed unacceptable.
There are several books I’d like to recommend. Amos Yong and Candida Moss have contributed to this discussion. (Don’t forget this review of Moss’s lecture on the topic by Brian LePort.) David F. Watson has written about it as well.
I have had the pleasure of taking a class on the subject as taught by Watson, but my interest exists beyond the class. It was a class I had to take to graduate and not one I was initially happy about; however, after taking this class I was grateful. I learned a great deal about theology — perhaps more in this class than in actual theology classes.
I want to encourage you, dear readers, to take a gander at some of these books listed here and dig deep.
Usually, disability is something we can identify. We know what Down’s Syndrome looks like. We know what MS and other physical disabilities look like. Some of us can identify mental illness as well. These things set others a part from us and has for much of human history. Read Mary Douglas on this.
But what about those things we use to separate others from us, especially in the Church? Color. Gender. Orientation.
I firmly believe if we can correctly grapple with a correct theology in relation to people with disabilities — one affirming their humanity — this will lead us to examine those we regularly dehumanize.
But, there is more. In an age where we are on the brink of cures for what we call disabilities, we must understand the ethical considerations laying wait for us. I’d had this discussion with a few people, actually. There is a possible cure for Down’s Syndrome. If it is a cure, the the person with DS is sick, right? If they are fully human with Down’s Syndrome, then do they need a cure?
Several scientific studies have suggested homosexuality is connected to birth order and hormones in the womb. What if a cure for this was found? What if by taking a tiny pill, one could become straight?
What are the ethics of these medical advancements?
I have a lot of questions, but few if any answers. It is, perhaps, due to the fact I am not faced with disability nor do I have a person with a disability in my family.
But, these questions do weight on my heart and soul at times…
What are your thoughts?
- Robert Jenson on theology and ecumenism (externalword.wordpress.com)
- Roadblocks to rural theology (onpreaching.com)
- Inclusion Handbook (Resource) (disabilityandfaith.org)
- Why Curing Disability Should Not Outweigh Equality (emilyladau.wordpress.com)
- A Truly Perfect Heaven (debdebbarak.wordpress.com)