When was the last time you read something on disability? When was the last time you were challenged to really think about this in relation to mission, ministry and how you live in the world? Well, here is your opportunity!
We are excited about our most recent edition of ANVIL, “Mission and Disability”. It was kindly guest edited by Rev Kt Tupling, diocesan disability advisor and lead chaplain among deaf people for the Diocese of Oxford. There is a lot in here to reflect on. Katie wanted to move away from the perspective that the church has something to offer disabled people and rather to frame it around the idea that disabled people have a mission to others, including the church. It is great to read this perspective and is not one that I have come across very often. I remember once being profoundly challenged by a friend who discovered that her unborn child had a disability. She had been offered prayer for healing which she refused because, in her opinion a prayer for healing meant that this was not the baby they had been given by God. I found that challenging and brave at the time – now I think it makes a lot of sense. Not that God can’t heal, but what does that mean and why do we assume that is what is needed and wanted?
This issue deals with such issues and questions. The resistant reading of Mark 1 of Jesus’ encounter with the man with leprosy will make many of us aware of our own “ableist cultural attitudes”. The writer reminds us that many of us look on disabled people as objects of pastoral care rather than agents of change in their own right. Psychosis, sanity, issues of identity are all considered in the following article which asks us to consider which stories we hear and are told, who makes meaning and how do we process this?
Then there is a range of shorter pieces that help us to frame disability in a very different way. What does disability mean for young people? How might the Japanese art of kintsugi be restorative and celebrated? As this writer explains, it is in those broken places that we all experience, “those parts of who we are, where God finds the cracks through which the light – the light of God’s love and life – gets in.”
Another writer challenges the tragedy narrative. “Disability seems to be an upsetting and uncomfortable word for many people who have no experience of it. People try to cancel the word out and replace it with something more palatable because the word is just so… ‘tragic’.” The response is often “this must be so hard.” But why? Why do we react like this? The writer suggests, “it wouldn’t be so hard if the world were more accessible and disability weren’t seen as the worst thing in the world.” How do we frame the world? Comments like this help us to question our own assumptions on how we view the world, how we live in it and what our posture towards others is.
I commend this issue to you.