Saturday, June 17, 2017
Book Review: The Disabled God: Towards A Liberating Theology of Disability By Nancy L Eiesland
The Disabled God: Towards A Liberating Theology of Disability
Nancy L Eiesland
The bodies we inhabit and the lives those bodies carry on need not be perfect to have value. Bad things do happen, we know-to bad and good people alike-but so do good things. Life curses like life blessings are always mixed
This is one of the academically exploded and theoretically well written books on disability studies. Nancy L Eiesland tries to read the Christian believing system in a more inclusive way. Accessibility is the core theme of her book. She considers Jesus Christ as a disabled God whose body was badly broken. This disabled God inspires the entire Persons with Disability and his broken body to make the Christianity a more inclusive and accommodative system hence she proposes a liberation theology which accommodates the persons with disability and creates spaces for them through refashioning and re-theorising the social-symbolic order of the society to include liberation for all.
The body is vehicle for self perfection and the target through ritual of degradation of social exclusion. There is a deliberate attention to the body in order to prevent it from becoming socially erased or subsumed into notion of normal embodiment so the normal body is projected as the perfect body. This perfect body survives in a network of structures and systems which continually normalise the purity of the body. Alms to the disabled body strengthen the purity of able-body-ness as persons with disability are help through strategies of paternalistic care to try to adjust like a normal person. It was not an able bodied god, but the disabled god promising grace through a broken body is at the centre of piety prior practise and mission. Here an attempt is made to re symbolise of some of our fundamental symbols. Disabled god represents full personhood as fully compatible with the experience of disability. Persons with disability must game access to the social symbolic life of the church and the church must game access to the socio symbolic life of the persons with disability are prone to social stigmatisation, marginalization and exclusion that render them silent and invisible and they are consider as object of pity and patternalisation.
The dissonants raised by the non acceptance of persons with disability and acceptance of grace through Jesus Christ broken body necessitates that the church find new ways of interpreting disability. The disabled have been named by medical and scientific professional or by people who denied full person hood and the persons with disability are imagined as less realistic less intelligent less capable of decision making less logical less self directional than non disabled person. Capable bodies define the experience of the disable. She further brings to experiences of two persons Diane Bebries and Nancy Maries who recount their experience of painstakingly inhabiting their bodies and of disputing with society about their proper social place in the process they de-mythologize disability and the refuse to acquiesce to the societies stigmatisation. The alternative knowledge they relate about the bodies and the social relations reveal full bodied resistance to the dominant stereotypes of persons with disabilities and move towards a liberative theology of disability hence they teach the world the aesthetic experience of living in a non conventional body.