Re-imagining Disability: God as Disabled

Image

Nancy Eiesland, theologian and sociologist, was 13 years old when she had 11 operations for a congenital bone defect in her hips. She realized that pain from this condition and from spinal scoliosis was her lot in life. 

So why did she say she hoped that when she went to heaven she would still be disabled?

The reason, which seems clear enough to many disabled people, was that her identity and character were formed by the mental, physical, and societal challenges of her disability. She felt that without her disability, she would “be absolutely unknown to myself and perhaps to God.”

By the time of her death at 44 in 2009, Ms. Eiesland had come to believe that God was in fact disabled, a view she articulated in her influential 1994 book, “The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability.” She pointed to the scene described in Luke 24:36-39 in which the risen Jesus invites his disciples to touch his wounds.

“In presenting his impaired body to his startled friends, the resurrected Jesus is revealed as the disabled God,” she wrote. God remains a God the disabled can identify with, she argued: He is not cured and made whole; his injury is part of him, neither a divine punishment nor an opportunity for healing.

  

For her full obituary, go to:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2009/03/27/nancy_eiesland_at_44_wrote_of_a_god_who_is_disabled/

Photo Source:

http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0LEV1gPr4dTjB8AL11XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0MWoxNW52BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTM5OV8x?_adv_prop=image&fr=mcafee&sz=all&va=nancy+eiesland

Advertisements

Sacred Stairs – Pilgrims Climb on Their Knees

Image

Christians believe that Jesus climbed steps on his way to the judgement hall in Pontius Pilate’s palace. These same steps were preserved and later restored.  As a gift to the Holy See in 326 A.D. from Constantine the Great (orchestrated by his mother, St. Helena), the steps were relocated from Jerusalem to their current site at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. This artifact is among the holiest relics of the Roman Catholic Church.

The set of 28 white marble steps is encased in a protective wood covering. Worshippers believe the stairway is holy because of Jesus’ footsteps on it.  Indeed, pilgrims are only allowed to ascend on their knees. This kneeling position allows them to gaze through holes in the wood which allegedly reveal spots of Christ’s blood on the marble beneath.

Several popes have undergone the ritual of ascending these sacred steps on their knees.

 

Adapted from Malcolm Moore’s article.  For article and photo:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1554541/Steps-Jesus-walked-to-trial-restored-to-glory.html

See also:  http://www.medjugorjeusa.org/holystairs.htm

The Barefoot Journey of Mary Jones

Image

In the year 1800, 15-year-old Mary Jones walked 26 miles in her bare feet to buy a Bible.  Owning a Bible in Wales at that time was rare; they were expensive and scarce. Mary saved her pennies for six years.  Her journey began in the village of Llanfihangel-y-Pennant taking her over streams, through valleys and around mountains to Bala.

Upon arriving at the home of the Bible-seller, Thomas Charles, Mary’s hopes were dashed. His supply of Bibles were all sold or spoken for. Her despair moved Mr. Charles to sell her one, even though he had promised it to someone else. 

Mary’s journey began with her longing for a Bible. She ‘put feet’ to her resolve by saving and by walking. Being poor and barefoot were not hindrances.  Indeed, her effort and her disappointment affected Thomas Charles beyond making sure she went home with a Bible.  He wanted there to be Bibles for all Welsh people. This led to the 1804 founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society in London.

The barefoot journey of Mary Jones had resounding impact.

 

Adapted from:  http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/about-bible-society/our-work/mary-jones/

Photo Source:  https://www.google.ca/search?q=mary+jones+barefoot&espv=2&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=3BBDU6CtA8SEygG-n4DgDg&ved=0CCoQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=600