Disability and the Body of Christ
This morning I opened an e-mail with the subject line, “Brian Bantum on ‘The Reformation and the human body’.” I opened it because, unlike many other e-mails I get, this one intrigued me. I assumed that it would be about Disability Theology, because that’s where my mind always goes when I read “human body.” That kind of thing happens when you have a passion/obsession the way I do.
It is an interesting article, for sure, but it was not at all what I expected. Bantum made several good points, but reiterating them or responding to them is not the purpose of writing this. I was looking for one thing and found another.
So I am disappointed.
I wanted to learn the connections between Disability Theology and Reformation Theology, if I could. I am always up for learning more about the connections between Disability Theology and other kinds of theology. That didn’t happen. The bodies that Bantum has in mind are not bodies with disabilities. And I find this typical. People have their area of focus and disability is not on their screen.
This happens in theologically-oriented blogs. It happens in social justice movements working for the marginalized, where no one seems to notice that they themselves marginalize people with disabilities. It happens in denominational boards and agencies, where people talk about and embrace diversity and people with disabilities do not come up in the conversations or their lives. A company might be “An equal opportunity employer” but too many times that opportunity is not given to people with disabilities. Churches are many times no more inclusive. Even if every staff member is a different race/ethnicity/age/national origin/first language, they will be surprised if you point out that there are no disabilities represented.
Like I said, it isn’t even on their screen.
I am disappointed. Again.
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. And it makes me realize that maybe I am the one to help fill the gap. I am setting a personal goal of writing a regular blog. There are other blogs out there about disability. That is not the gap I am seeing. It is the connections between the Body of Christ (aka the Church) and our bodies that have been swept under the rug.
Time for spring cleaning under that rug.
Sharon McCart, M.Div.
March 21, 2017
Sharon McCart is chair of the Disability Ministries Committee.