Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader

Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader

Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader

Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader

Synopsis

For two millennia Christians have thought about what human impairment is and how faith communities and society should respond to people with perceived impairments. But never has one volume collected the most significant Christian writings on disability. This book fills that gap.
Brian Brock and John Swinton's Disability in the Christian Tradition brings together for the first time key writings by thinkers from all periods of Christian history - including Augustine, Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Luther, Calvin, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, Barth, Hauerwas, and more. Fourteen contemporary experts in theology and disability studies guide readers through each era or group of thinkers, offering clear commentary and highlighting important themes.

Excerpt

Brian Brock

What does it mean to be human? Any approach to the topic of disability leads inexorably toward the “problem of the human.” Westerners face this problem, however, in an intellectual universe that has kept its distance from sustained attention to what we now call disabling conditions. in discussions about what it means to be human, disability has most often appeared in the modern period under the heading of “special cases,” outlying exceptions useful mainly for demarcating the outer boundaries of anthropological definitions. the images of the human constructed in this manner are aptly called “best-case anthropologies.” But understanding all humanity through the lens of a best-case anthropology has the awkward effect of rendering disability largely invisible. Like gender, race, and culture, disability is a topic that one takes to be either a reality that impacts us all in some way, or an issue that is really only a pressing issue for a specific subgroup of our peers. the latter view is widespread today and almost always accompanied by the self-assured geniality with which people assume that upon meeting someone in one of these subgroups, his or her needs would of course be accommodated. What is true of Western society in general is also largely true of the church. “The times that I have asked ministers and pastors about members of their congregations who are disabled,” writes the Dutch theologian Hans Reinders, “the most frequent response is ‘We don’t have them’” (Reinders 2008, 335).

Coming to terms with the simultaneous visibility and invisibility of disability is central for any modern anthropology because it raises the question of what it is that we are expecting to see. Often the language of gender, race . . .

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