Marginal – Marked off and marked down | “I see a Church with no disabled people” – 4

We’re continuing to process our time at the #BeyondSuffering conference by reflecting on the intersection between disability and the Christian life. Those who live with disability are “marked” by their difference from us who are temporarily non-disabled. Marked off and marked down.

Mill Pond Porch

We are convinced that “disability” is not a matter of something being “wrong” with the body and mind of a person we would label as “disabled.” But, all the same, it’s misleading to think that “everybody is disabled” in one way or another. Differences are real – but “disability” comes from “barriers” that are constructed and remain intact. These barriers are established and then (mis)used to “label” those who cannot overcome them as being “different” or deficient – as “handicapped” (or worse).

2015-07 IMG_0585 slovenia portoroz shore sunset disability cross July, 2015. Portoroz, Slovenia

Those who are so “marked” almost inevitably experience “marginality.” Our world becomes one in which there are the “normal” people… and then there are “those others.” Those “special cases,” to which normal rules of order don’t apply. We actually use the persistent existence and presence of barriers to allow this “normalizing” of ourselves to remain unchecked and unchallenged.

You see, when we…

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