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The Elephant Man Brings Light and Darkness

Near the end of the play, just after being beaten and abandoned by his handlers, he calls after them in a husky voice, “I’m a man. I’m not an animal. I’m not an elephant. I’m a man.” The Elephant Man helps audiences reckon with the painful dehumanization that many people with disabilities experience: gawked at or ignored, left at the margins 

Disability Concerns
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Living Out Our Values

The National Association of Evangelicals produced a document in 2004 called “For the Health of the Nation.” It is not so much about health care reform as about the health of the United States as a nation. The scope of the document reaches far beyond the “traditional” evangelical issues of abortion and marriage. These are 

Disability Concerns
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Chelwood Church Gives and Receives Blessing

When I dream about the church as a welcoming community of God, I picture a church that fully engages people with disabilities in its life and ministry. Some churches have made this a reality, but most are still on the road. Chelwood Christian Reformed Church in Albuquerque has done exceptionally well at including people with intellectual disabilities, so well that this is a significant part of their outreach ministry.

Disability Concerns
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Grandin, Zuckerberg, and Autism

A number of years ago, Wired Magazine published, “The Geek Syndrome,” an article about the high incidence of people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome who live in Silicon Valley, California. Since that time, the connection between technical innovation and autism has been repeated in articles and talks shows...

Disability Concerns
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Bring It On, Satan

Tim Bosch and several of his family members headed to Montreal for a routine checkup for Tim, that is, as routine as a checkup can get for a 15-year-old with brittle bone disease.

Disability Concerns
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God Cares that We Care

A few years ago a friend and former co-worker became a caretaker for her elderly neighbor who lived in what we would call debilitating circumstances. No one asked my friend. She just thought it was her responsibility.

Disability Concerns
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Mental Illness, Isolation, and Ministry

The discussion last week after my post about the Tucson shooting brought home to me all the more clearly that mental illnesses do not affect “those people” over there, but they are us. Pejorative labels like “crazy” and “whacko” only reinforce this separation or stigma which hovers over people with mental illnesses. But the people who live with mental illness are not just those with the disease itself, but also their family members, friends, fellow church members, and society as a whole.

Disability Concerns
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A Second Arizona Tragedy

The first tragedy, of course, is the senseless death of six people and wounding of several others including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a week and a half ago. A second tragedy arises from the first. This second tragedy follows on the heels of every random act of mass violence.

Disability Concerns
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Dick Clark's Very Public Disability

People reacted in various ways to Dick Clark's continued work after his stroke six years ago. Some laugh at him. Some appreciate him. Some think he should quit. Some are creeped out by him. Some love him. Some are inspired by him. Some swear at him. These are common responses that people with disabilities have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Disability Concerns
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Behold, It is Blessed to Give and Receive

Healthy churches think about and work at hospitality. Like our Lord himself, they give and receive hospitality graciously. In the body of Christ, all of us are hosts and all of us are guests. All of us reflect the Lord himself, who received and gave. All of us have something to give and something to receive from each other.

Disability Concerns
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The Boy in the Moon

Journalist Ian Brown applied his skills to plumb the depths of raising a son, Walker, who has severe disabilities resulting from a genetic disorder, CFC. In his quest for meaning, among others he seeks out wisdom from Buddhism, from a shaman at a native healing center, and from Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities. As a Christian, I can’t endorse all of his conclusions, but reading about his journey helped to enlighten my own path. It’s something that some of us Calvinists call “common grace.”

Disability Concerns
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Fly, Johnnie, Fly

I don’t think that the flight crew of that US Airways flight set out to bully Johnnie. I pray, though, that this incident will be another step toward people with disabilities outrunning the prejudices that they face daily.

Disability Concerns
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Mom's Dementia

Of all the things I imagine doing with mom, feeding her is not on the list. Taking her out for lunch, having coffee with her, giving her a birthday gift, sharing a laugh together, it’s easy to imagine these activities, but not feeding her.

Disability Concerns
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Good Answers to Questions about Disability

Why is a church without people with disabilities incomplete? What do we mean by the word “disability”? What is ableism? In what ways are people with disabilities marginalized by societies around the world? What is “healing”? A friend of mine, Carolyn Thompson, directed me to a pithy statement called “The Accessible Church: Toward Becoming The Whole Family Of God” which she helped draft for the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Here are some excerpts.

Disability Concerns
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The Language of Mental Illnesses, Brain Disorders, and Disabilities

This guest blog by Alan Johnson, organizer of Widening the Welcome, asks how we talk about mental illnesses. He writes, "Language can be tricky. It can elucidate things or muddy things. So what can we do? Keep on keeping on working on language seeking to describe how things are. Perhaps the best thing is to talk with the person who is affected by a “mental illness” or a “brain disorder” or a “disability” to see how they see it themselves. This is all about relationships anyway."

Disability Concerns

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