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What ARE universal social-design principles?  Are you talking about a change in attitudes, or does this include actual differences in what or how we do things in regard to events and programs?

What "social ramps" are helpful?

Right on!

There is still some work to do.

posted in: I Have a Dream Too


posted in: I Have a Dream Too

Compassion, Caring and Determination are exhibited in the Matthew, Mark and Luke quoted Scriptures (to me).

A person in need of these three traits (C,C,D) is better aided when they 'see' all three in me.

posted in: Hidden Truths

Bill, the point I'm trying to make is that we are all abnormal, so then it becomes meaningless to single out any particular group of people and call them "abnormal." And when it comes to what to call people, I don't think it's about being politically correct. Instead, it's about respect. Why not ask people what they prefer to be called? Most people who live with disabilities prefer people first language, so "people with disabilities" is preferred language. 

I think we are obsessed with stamps, labels, boxes and categories. Mainly because of living in a systematic society and an overindulgence to become more intelligent. I believe everyone would benefit by "being human" first to every human being God has created and then worried about the categories. Maybe then we could realize how little classifications help us.

What's a more PC word? Challanged? Some people are mentally/physically/socially challanged? 

     One reason I appreciate each of you sharing your experiences with hearing loss and the impact it has on your life is because of our youth. I see teenagers either walking with headphones, ear buds or the radio blasting as they are driving in their cars. Each device playing music at excessive volumes. They are constantly bombarded with marketing that ignores how this will affect their hearing except for maybe some fine print in the instructions. But who reads instructions on how to wear headphones?

     Maybe our youth will think about how they listen to music if we educate them about hearing loss by sharing real life experiences.

Thanks for sharing this, Affina.

I also have profound hearing loss, which is somewhat mitigated by digital hearing aids.  Unfortunately for me, most of our church activities (after church coffee, dinners, receptions) are held in a social hall that has "live" acoustics, which makes the ambient sound level so overwhelming that it is difficult to interact with others.  So, like you, I remove myself from these type of settings so as not to embarass myself (and frustrate others) by mis-hearing or asking others to repeat their comments.  

This has resulted in a loss of many close friendships, since I am now considered "unfriendly".  And the less friends I have, the less "connection" I have to our church.   My wife and I are now considering looking for a new church home.




I love your story. I deal with hearing problems and tinnitus and am trying to learn how to accept the difficulties that come with hearing loss....thanks for your encouraging words.

Thanks, Mark, for bringing this up. I agree, this kind of service can be a way of welcoming people living with a lot of pain. I attended one in our community several years. It ministered to deep needs I had at the time. 

If there is a special area for infants it could be utilized by people who are annoyed by candle odors.

Thanks Mark, for posting this!  Timely for our congregation as we are looking to designate our church scent free.  In many ways this is a pastoral care issue in that we need to be compassionate towards those who are allergic to scents as much as we need to help others be less judgemental and more accepting of those who live with allerigies towards scents, etc. 


Bill, the main idea is to recognize that people are different, so to be loving we need to practice the teaching of Jesus: "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Our church has chosen to be entirely fragrance free for a few years now. It has been a mixed bag in terms of "success". On the one hand, people who suffer significant scent allergies and/or scent related migraines are very thankful and feel heard and loved in a way that they never had before. On the other hand, we've had the following issues:

1) Some people ignore the "fragrance free" request, in spite of our best efforts.

2) Guests don't know the policy before they show up, and either feel bad about having a scent, or will leave as soon as they see the sign, even!

3) We've tried having only a section of the church fragrance free, but that's like having a section of the church "air free"-- scents travel on the air; you can't limit them by having a fragrance free section, any more than you could limit smoke by having a non-smoking restaurant section, without walled off sections and completely separate air circulation systems.

In the end we maintain the policy out of love and compassion for those who really suffer, but we still wrestle with how to do it in a way that doesn't turn others away or make them feel bad.

As for Bill's comments: I'm really bummed out about them, Bill. You're comments display a fairly high level of ignorance and lack of compassion for anyone. It's unfortunate, in my opinion, that you saw fit to publish them here.

Thanks Aaron. The CRC Office of Social Justice and the Centre for Public Dialogue as well as other ministries have been doing some very fine justice work already. I hope and pray that work will continue to blossom and grow. There are lots of ways to participate to continue a movement for justice in the CRC. Feel free to be in touch if you'd like to participate!

Wonderful piece that needs further distribution.  Thanks for writing so clearly Mark.   How can we work together to build a movement for Justice in the CRC?

Maybe we should conduct all public worship on line. Each worshipper could select his own genra of music while accessing PayPal during the offering. Even better, select one's preferred music when becoming a member and the appropriate music style will automatically start when logging in.

You may have tinnitus. see  google,  wiki.  My ears have been buzzing for 20 years. Probably cause by loudnoises and asparin overdoses. 


Mark, acceptability perhaps ought not to be the primary criteria.... just sayin...   Unless it is acceptable first of all to Christ.  Jesus used the terms in a metaphorical way, even though, like you said, he clearly indicated that people were not maimed or blind or deaf because of their particular sin, nor even the sin of their parents.   That's clear.   When people say that some are physically blind because of lack of faith, they are not using a metaphor; they are simply  speaking untruth.  (Lying, or inaccurate)   Only the blind can perhaps truly understand the metaphor, since how can one who sees really understand what it is to be blind?   Thus the blind leading the blind.... but those blind think they can see, as Jesus said.   "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say , We see...  But you remain guilty because you claim you can see"  (John 9:41). 

John, when talking about physical conditions, the words "blind" and "deaf" are perfectly acceptable to nearly everyone including people who are blind and people who are deaf. The concern I'm expressing is with the metaphorical use of these terms. Over the centuries, disability has often been associated with sinfulness. Though Jesus tried to end that ridiculous reasoning in his teaching recorded in John 9, his followers have persisted in this heresy. Many people with disabilities are accused of lacking faith, or experiencing disability due to unconfessed sin. Understandably, that kind of talk leaves people feeling wounded. So it's no wonder that some folks feel sensitive about metaphorical uses of the ideas of blindness and deafness because this metaphorical use is always negative - as in "deaf to the Word" or "blind to prejudice". Yes, our Lord himself uses the concepts of blindness and deafness metaphorically. So I'm not going to say we should never do so ourselves, but I'm saying that doing so can hurt others. And since that's true, why not find other ways of expressing the same ideas? 

While sensitivity ought to be a characteristic of the christian, we ought also to remember that Christ himself used the term "the blind leading the blind" to describe the leaders of Israel.  (Matthew 15).   Or remember the phrase, "...hearing they do not hear"?    I am old enough to wonder if sometimes I am losing my hearing slowly, due to a constant buzzing in the ear.   I could refer to it as a "difficulty" or some other euphenism, but the truth is that if I am becoming deaf, that is what it is.   Being almost blind without my glasses.... is what it is.  

My value and worth to Christ is not based on the little hammer in my ear, nor in the cornea or retina of my eyes, nor on whether I am missing a fingernail or an arm, or have a hip replacement, or suffer arthritis, or need a cane or walker or wheelchair.   As Christians we take each other the way we are, and not as someone we would like to be or imagine to be.   Without minimizing it, whatever physical handicap we might have, is as nothing compared to the handicap of pride, or self pity, or lack of relationship with Christ.   Sugar-coating our condtion will probably not help either in the physical or spiritual realm.   Christ makes all things new.   We are not different just  because we use different words to describe our frailties, but we are new because we can see beyond our condition, because Christ loves us.  

Well said Mark. Thank you.

I would add that applying the word "mere" to thoughtlessness gives excuse to our thoughtless attitudes.


The opening illustration of this blog gives an example of "thoughtlessness" that demonstrates prejudice against people who are single by someone who is married. Put it under the category of "When married people don't know they're being married."

Bill, language keeps changing. If we listen to the voices of people who are blind, you'll find many of them saying that it pains them to hear their blindness associated with "lacking perception, awareness, or discernment." Similarly, people who have intellectual disability with the word "retard." My understanding of 1984 is that Orwell was concerned with the increasing use of language to deceive people. One can easily talk about lack of perception and stupidity without resorting to words like "blind" or "regarded." 

Joy, I used the term "sexual orientation" to refer to someone's attraction either to persons of the opposite or same gender or both, which is the usual use of the term. Regarding my beliefs, I agree with the CRC's statement on homosexuality. That statement makes the same point I'm trying to make in this blog, "Persons of same-sex attraction should not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement." Heterosexual people sometimes show blatant prejudice and more often we engage in "thoughtless" (to use your term) actions and language that can really hurt people with homosexual orientation. So I disagree with you that thoughtlessness can be contrasted with prejudicial behavior. Prejudicial behavior frequently takes the form of thoughtlessness. When we only act within the realm of our own experience and (often unintentionally) shut out others from participation in worship, congregational meetings, and so on, that's prejudice in action. 

I agree with you that not every church can afford big changes to their buildings, but the most important changes must come in our own attitudes - which is a costly change, but does not involve any dollars. To push back a little more, if we consider that about 20 percent of people in North American live with disabilities, shouldn't we devote a part of our church budget every year (at least 10 percent) to including people who have disabilities in the life and ministry of the chuch?


  • they associate blindness with immorality (as in the phrase "blind to injustice")

No one has read "1984?" As I recall, George Winston's work duty was to edit words and phrases out of the English language in order to dumb down the general public. The above sentence is a prime example of trying to trash the English language. from google, note the second definition and synonyms under adjective: blindblīnd/adjective 

  1. 1.unable to see; sightless."she suffered from glaucoma, which has left her completely blind"synonyms:sightlessunsighted, visually impaired, visionless, unseeing; More     
  2. 2.lacking perception, awareness, or discernment."he's absolutely blind where you're concerned, isn't he?"synonyms:imperceptive, unperceptive, insensitiveslowobtuse,uncomprehending; More         


  1. 1.cause (someone) to be unable to see, permanently or temporarily."the injury temporarily blinded him"synonyms:make blind, deprive of sight, render sightless; More  
  2. 2.deprive (someone) of understanding, judgment, or perception."a clever tactician blinded by passion"synonyms:deprive of judgment, deprive of perception, deprive of reason, deprive of sense More 


  1. 1.people who are unable to see."guide dogs for the blind"
  2. obstruction to sight or light, in particular.


  1. 1.without being able to see clearly."he was the first pilot in history to fly blind"


Thank you for articulating so very clearly how we need to work on being more aware of how we act and what we say. I have often heard from others and said something myself similar to, "It was not my/our intention to exclude fill in the blank." Statements such as this should tell us that if we indeed do not want anyone to be or feel excluded, then we need to be "intentional" to do our best to include ALL God's children in everything we say, do, and experience as the body of Christ.

Grace & Peace,


No Mark, it seems that you are confusing prejudicial behaviors with mere thoughtlessness.  For example not having the bulletin printed in large print might be thoughtless but it's not prejudicial.  Also maybe there just isn't the funds to retrofit a ramp or something for wheelchairs.  Of course new church buildings should be wheelchair accessible as one can simply ensure the main entrance is right at ground level not needing one to climb up some stairs.  However it can be expensive to retrofit an older church building.  Perhaps all one needs to do is think outside the box and when 'Mrs Jones' arrives in her wheelchair a couple of able-bodied men can lift 'Mrs Jones' up the couple of steps. Similary for a deaf person, instead of installing the expensive system for the hard of hearing perhaps one can simply offer the person a copy of the sermon (notes).

It amazes me when those that profess to be Christian make reference to 'sexual orientation' not realizing that in reality it can mean any sexual orientation including pedophiles; those who commit bestiality etc.

While a deaf person might need a copy of the sermon; a person with vision problems a larger font bulletin; a person in a wheelchair needing a lift up the stairs.   Are we expected to be accepting of homosexual marriage / adoption etc.?  Surely this is a more Christian approach to homosexuals.

Joy, I find that whenever someone challenges prejudicial behaviors, they like to label it "politically correct." But if our behaviors and words hurt other people, it is not political correctness, it is a failure of love. Sure the dictionary gives a definition of "lame" that includes "imperfect, not satisfactory" just as it includes in the definition of "retard," "a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard." But the dictionary is merely descriptive of the way we use language, not prescriptive. For me, Christ is my guide for prescribing behavior, and the golden rule he laid out for us is this, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)



How about a title of: "When politically-correct people don't know they're being politically-correct"

The Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act lists “sexual orientation” as a protected class; however it does not define the term.

Republicans attempted to add an amendment specifying that “pedophilia is not covered as an orientation.” However, the amendment was defeated by Democrats in Congress shortly after President Obama took office.


You are welcome to print the bulletin in large print.

Apart from those who tend to play the race card beating the drum of white guilt, there isn't actually anything wrong with having a white skin.

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with being straight:  

Luke 13:13  And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.  Hebrews 12:12-13


The Webster dictionary's definition of LAME, a.

1. Crippled or disabled in a limb, or otherwise injured so as to be unsound and impaired in strength; as a lame arm or leg, or a person lame in one leg.

2. Imperfect; not satisfactory; as a lame excuse.

3. Hobbling; not smooth; as numbers in verse.




"If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . ."

Both of you are correct, of course!

But it is nice to be able to root for you, we're tied pretty closely in our disabilty advocacy work.

John, you are right that the vote will be taken by the U.S. Senate, and the action I urge must be taken by Americans. I did make a couple changes accordingly. However, this is an international treaty, and as such affects Canada too. The MPs in Ottawa were way ahead of the U.S. They ratified this treaty years ago. It will be a good day when Americans can join Canadians as fellow ratifiers of the CRPD.

Thanks Ron. I hope and pray that the respect you express continues to grow among all of us. Not every one agrees on whether our countries should enter into various conflicts around the world, but the men and women who actually fight those conflicts need our appreciation, encouragement, respect, and (sometimes) assistance.

I made a mistake in my post.

It should read "1972 and have never heard of this before."


I retired as an E7 in 1972 and heard of this before. I spent my last tour on the USS ENTERPRISE. The worst part of this post is the behavior of a Church Elder. As a member of HCRC here I have a deacon for over a year and have had nothing but respect for my fellow Deacons and my Elders. At 78 I feel my past has helped me to be respectful, considerate and understanding. I have a 63 year old army vet for a brother in law who has a bad case of PTSD. Put that elder in his shoe's.

I have had nothing but respect from my friends and all the people around me both in church and out.

John, thanks for your comments. To me there is a vast difference between ceasing to prolong life by removing life support and actively snuffing out a life using poison or some other means. My understanding is that palliative care is so much better nowadays that nearly all people can face death without fear of painful suffering. A couple years ago, I wrote a reflection on the death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. In response, Rev. George Vander Weit articulated some of the same arguments you make, and he made some additional points as well.

posted in: In Mortal Danger?

Elly, yes! Same with my mom whose journey with dementia lasted about 12 years. Though difficult in some ways, we still had a lot of good times together during those years, and mom shared her love with others in her own way nearly to the end of her life! What a loss if some doctor had decided that she did not have sufficient quality of life and euthanized her.

posted in: In Mortal Danger?

Amen and Amen!  If assisted suicide and euthanasia had been legalized 30 years ago, there would probably be no need for nursing homes, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity or privilege to spend 231/2 years of my nursing career doing the best job I ever had - helping seniors with various disabilities to have the best quality of life possible within the circumstances that they found themselves in and until their life on earth ended.  Even from their wheelchair or bed in a nursing home, these folks have much to teach us and share with us.  This is aside from the fact that assisted suicide and euthanasia go against the commandment to not kill.  We all need to speak out against this evil!

posted in: In Mortal Danger?

Horray Oma! I am so glad your wonderful story made it to the world wide web. I hope others can identify with this message and use the tips you gave. Much love from me in Toronto!

Thanks so much for sharing this Affina. Like so many difficulties and challenges, it is easy for those of us who are hearing impaired to feel different, frustrated, resentful, and alone with our particular challenge. Educating and informing others about our challenge so that they can better understand and help is very important. However, even with those closest to us, this seems like something that has to occur on a frequent basis. I have to remember that I live in a world, community, and family where most people are not significantly hearing impaired. It also helps me when I am able to laugh at myself . . . like when I misunderstand something and make a comment that has no relationship to what was said.

I do hope that the Christian community in particular would have a better understanding of the little things that they can do to communicate more effectively with the hard of hearing and hearing impaired individuals around them. 

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

Grace & Peace,



I have several family members with hearing loss. These tips are very helpful. Thanks!

Randy, thanks so much for your thought-full answer. I appreciate your the qualifications you make to give Kung the benefit of the doubt. In case someone doesn't click "more" I want to quote one of your sentences in full, "I hope for his sake, and perhaps for the sake of those who admired his culturally respectable, but scripturally inadequate and, it seems, spiritually comfortless theological work, that he comes to a deeper, more authentically biblical, more genuinely spiritual view of the matter, and also that he comes to see how harmful and dismissive his statements are for those who don’t have perfect minds and bodies." Yes, especially so because no human has a perfect mind or body!

Thank you for that fascinating reflection, Mark. As a (part-time) academic theologian and full-time pastor, I can personally imagine some of what Küng fears, how he laments his decline, and how he will grieve his loss. On the other hand, I would expect one of the most famous (sometimes infamous) theologians of the twentieth century to understand that lament and grief are part of living in a world groaning for its redemption, and that suffering can at least potentially be or become redemptive; not least of all in the Suffering Servant himself, but also how our suffering can in some mysterious way participate in Christ’s sufferings. I think of the very difficult-to-interpret saying of Paul, Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Not that there is something lacking in the value of Christ’s suffering, but that we also take up our cross, die with Christ, and also experience fleeting moments of resurrection and new life. The NLT might be on the right track when it renders this verse “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.” Suffering is a profound mystery, one that apparently eludes this theologian (presuming his views are rightly represented, and presuming that his utterances are deliberate reflections and not just cries of desperation.) Being united with Christ also means that our suffering, perhaps even what we think of as “natural” suffering, can at least potentially take on a meaning and significance that cannot be found in a naturalistic worldview, one with which Küng found himself far too comfortable. The utterly secular, vacuously utilitarian view of suffering that Küng appears to buy into is astounding and disappointing. It is not, however, terribly surprising to those familiar with his rationalistic theological method, which exegetes culture more than listening to Scripture, and seeks to defensively justify Christian faith to a secular world, when the Christian faith rather stands as a prophetic critique of secular, materialistic, utilitarian—in a word, hopeless naturalism. When I was in seminary I read his 800 page book Does God Exist? and at the end I still had no idea what Küng’s answer was. I hope for his sake, and perhaps for the sake of those who admired his culturally respectable, but scripturally inadequate and, it seems, spiritually comfortless theological work, that he comes to a deeper, more authentically biblical, more genuinely spiritual view of the matter, and also that he comes to see how harmful and dismissive his statements are for those who don’t have perfect minds and bodies. And perhaps this is not Hans Küng at his best, but in his weakness, and perhaps were he in a better state of mind and spirit he would not say such things.

Author Wendy Wassink told me that you can support the Blades by voting for them to win the Aviva Community Fund Contest.  To do so, log onto the website and vote for The Blades.  You can vote 15 times/once per day. The BLADES idea number is ACF17144.

Steve, you hit the nail on the head. Too often in society and the church people with disabilities are treated as problems to be fixed rather than the works of art whom God has created every single one of us to be.

Mark, thank you for this post. As I mentioned in my email to you, your post comes at a very good time because we are currently in the middle of a series in our small groups on bioethics. Since I proposed this series, I was asked to lead it and since I am not an expert in this very difficult subject I have been doing a lot of studying over the past couple of months to prepare. One of the first things I discovered is that bioethics does not presume to follow our Christian beliefs. There is a wide range of beliefs on what is ethically acceptable in the field of medicine. So, in response to your last paragraph, while having the ability to change our own chromosomes may have positive implications, where do we draw the line? When I think of the passage in Psalm 139:13 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb

I can't help but picture in my mind God as an artist, intimately involved in creating each one of us in His image. If we see a painting or sculpture and we can't understand why the artist created it the way he did, do we have the right to go up to the piece of art and "fix" it so it makes more sense. We don't understand why God allows people to be born with disabilities, but does that mean we have the right to "fix" them? We need to help them have a better quality of life, but how far do we go? I should be honest here and mention that both my girls were born healthy, without disabilities, so I have not experienced the pain and questioning that parents of children with disabilites go through. The theme of our study last Sunday was Value. How does the Bible describe our value compared to our society's description? Often society tends to say that if a person is not able to contribute to society in a productive way, then that person is worthless. But we are told in 1 Corinthians 12:18-26 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

During our small group discussions I was reminded that everything is not always as black and white as I might think. We need to be open to discussion and to be ready to listen and respond in Christian love. 

If anyone is interested in studying bioethics from a Christian perspective I would like to recommend the following:

1. How To Be A Christian In A Brave New World by Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel M. De S. Cameron

2.   Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity  -  offers papers and commentaries on various issues written by Christians in the field of bioethics. Many have been transcribed into audio podcasts



Still, genetic manipulation has the potential for so much good too as this NY Times article illustrates. Lord, give us wisdom!

Willie, I fear that your "chilling" examples from the Hitler and Stalin eras remain alive today, though in more subtle forms. From abortions performed for various reasons (such as genetic anomalies and gender selection) to continued experiments on human cloning, we are entering a new frontier in humankind's attempt to create a master race. The voice of Christians (and people of other faiths) who can speak articulately about the sanctity of each human life will be critical.