The title above is also the title of a book by Amos Yong that I’m reading today. Yong is a Pentecostal theologian, and the brother of a man with Down Syndrome. I want to share with you today the end of his first chapter, as it’s clarity was particularly gripping to me.
Some say that sustained thinking about disability is unnecessary because disabled people constitute only a very small percentage of our congregations. I counter, however, that this is probably because the church communicates the message ” you are not welcome here” to people with disabilities. Further, there are more and more “hidden” disabilities that are not easily noticeable, so how do we know that there are in fact few people with disabilities in our churches? Last but not least, the challenges associated with living with disability will be experienced by everyone if they live long enough, whatever medical aids and technological advances may develop. Some people might resist associating the struggles of being older with those of disabilities. My focus, however, is less on the why of our challenges than on the fact of our ongoing exclusionary and discriminatory beliefs and practices. Hence, I am suggesting that disability needs to be a present concern for us all, even if only because all of us will in due course have to confront the issues that some of us now live with every day.
Amen, brother Yong. I’m thinking of putting together a reading group, either in person or online, to discuss The Bible, Disability, and the Church later this summer; if you’re interested, let me know in the comments.