Human understanding often accepts received assumptions as something contained in a box. Inside the box is truth that is beyond examination, and thus cannot be tamed or controlled. “God” is a case in point. Moses tried this at a bush and lost. But he was not alone: years later John Wesley continued to ask if people would limit God. C. S. Lewis explores such limits in his less-well-known Space Trilogy, as a character states that "the laws of the universe are never broken. Your mistake is to think that the little regularities we have observed on one planet for a few hundred years are the real unbreakable laws, whereas they are only the remote results which the true laws bring about more often than not, as a kind of accident" (C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, in The Space Trilogy, New York: QPBC, 1997, 710), again reaching outside the box. Thoughtful study with the brains God gave us should lead to thinking about something too big to be one thing, and to conversation and exploration rather than categories of control.
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Recently, disabled people and advocates have been speaking about another “ism” that diminishes people—ableism. As I have joined with others in explaining, ableism makes false assumptions about disability and leads to discrimination and exclusion. So I am pleased to join the Psalmist and be glad to enter this house of the Lord and share some thoughts about reading a new book:the cry of a wounded heartGustav Mahler described the final movement of his first symphony as . This book is a similar cry—more than once, Kenny states that she is screaming. The stormy dissonance of the opening of the movement is reflected in Kenny’s first page as she tells of an encounter: “God told me to pray for you . . . . God wants to heal you.” Like Kenny, many of us have been there as the ultimate ableism loads presumption upon presumption and tops it with a divine imperative.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
At the start of a graduate school class titled “The History of Christian Doctrine,” the professor apologized for the title, saying that “doctrine” probably sounded dull. The class wasn’t, thanks to his guidance, but it’s a reminder that whether we like it, whether we find it exciting or dull, history is there, whether we like it or not, especially when it’s full of surprises that we’d prefer to forget. And as this book’s historical survey of a theological topic progresses, we find out that there is much that’s been forgotten, thereby tilting the view that many have of this history.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Pursuing a more complete story, Bell’s work began with his father, who sought to devise a universal alphabet for missionaries. Using this, they could read the Bible aloud in any language, even they didn’t understand it. (We’ll save the theological discussion of this notion for another post). Believing that speech was what made one human, it followed that any sentient being needed to learn to speak—with a voice, not with signs. Despite abundant examples, which included his own mother, Bell stuck with that notion, which led to the idea that being Deaf was a burden, a marker of an unacceptable difference, and something to be eliminated through training and marriage restrictions.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Bonnie Sherr Klein, Beep Beep Bubbie (illustrated by Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal),
Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2020 (ISBN 978192689023)
Am I reverting to childhood? After enjoying Doorkins the Cathedral Cat, now I’m reading another children's book and enjoying it, too. But then, in Matthew 18, we are told that Jesus of Nazareth said we should be like children. Full beep ahead!
It’s a charming story. Bubbie is the grandmother of two siblings, Kate and Nate. She arrives for a visit on a new scooter that beeps a lot. The group rides away on the bus to a market. Here they have a great time (told in story and art).
Along the way, there’s a lot to think about. The children face their fears and deal with them. At first, Kate is afraid that Bubbie has changed by using the scooter. But as the story proceeds, Kate learns that the scooter, like all mobility devices, is a helpful tool. The person using it is still the same beloved character.
children also learn some history. Bubbie tells them that “long
ago, people who had trouble walking were stuck indoors” (6).
Although the pandemic has
people with disabilities are no longer expected to stay at home and
hide. Even the “ugly laws” and many other ableist restrictions
have been repealed or removed—although anyone who tries to scoot or
wheel around most areas will find that a
lot of infrastructure problems remain.
one infrastructure concern, there’s riding the bus, with all of its
steps. No problem, the
children learn, as the bus
has a ramp. Some of us who’ve
had a lot of public transit experience will
be happy to learn that the ramp works and the operator knows how to
use it. When the group
on the bus, some some people
complain that they have to move to clear the access space.
Remarkable, isn’t it, that
we also have to clear able-bodied parkers and whatnot out of accessible parking
the park, other children are shown using wheelchairs, and the text
states that they make friends. After playing and enjoying the market,
they return, where there’s another history lesson. At
home, Kate starts reading and
about Frances Willard, who
named her bicycle Gladys. In a sign of acceptance, she asks
if they can name the scooter
Gladys and decorate it.
In the end, this is a wonderful story about learning, one that points out many dimensions of disability and the effects of accessibility. Go Gladys!--and the next time someone asks if I want a bicycle horn for my wheelchair, I may say yes.
Disclaimer: I was provided with an electronic copy of the book in response to a call for reviews on the Disability Studies in Humanities group.