Monday, November 17, 2008

amos yong’s theology and down syndrome chapter one

One of the upsides of blogging is I get sent lots of books to review. One of the downsides of blogging is that, since this is a hobby, I rarely get a chance to put together a complete book review. Which leaves me gazing guilty at an ever-growing pile of unread books.

So I’m taking inspiration from Scot McKnight, who rather than provide complete reviews, blogs books chapter by chapter. It feels more manageable, like one mouthful at a time, rather than a completely digested banquet. Let’s try and see. I’m starting with Amos Yong’s Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity. Not a book I was sent, but a book I picked up earlier this year, to help my ongoing processing and resourcing at a pastoral level, as I seem to find myself increasingly processing some mission questions raised by areas of disability. How to work alongside a medical system committed to abortion as their response to the diagnosis of Downs? How to help people who hear voices explore sensing God through through their ears? How does the church partner with those depressed by grief?

Chapter One – Introduction. Narrating and Imagining Down Syndrome and Disability.
Amos narrates his life experience, a rising academic star from a Pentecostal family, growing up with a brother with Down Syndrome. He explores the methodological issues and what it means to conduct God-talk in this diverse field. He is encouraged to proceed by the current growth of inter-disciplinary research, which might give his theological insights a voice. He explores the issue of who can speak for the disabled. How might the disabled have voice and can he, a trained theologian, speak on Mark (his brother’s) behalf? Yong hopes that this book contributes to advocacy, because “theologians are advocates of a peculiar sort: representing God to the world on the one hand, and the world to God on the other.” (10)

He draws on the Acts 2 narrative. If the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:7) means people hear in their own langauge, then what does this mean for the differently abled? His starting point is that “the pneumatalogical imagination empowers Christian witness to establish a more peaceful and just society for all people, especially those with disabilities.” (14).

What are your experiences of God among the differently abled? Do you agree that Acts 2 does encourage the church to work with God’s Spirit so that all people can encounter God within their own timeframes?

1 Comment

  1. One of the most amazing experiences for me last year was attending two services on a Tuesday night at Spreydon at their special community church. Majority of those attending are differently-abled to myself. The amazing singing, love and abandonment struck me. There was no question that they were enjoying being in God’s prescence. They were very uninhibited and not caught up in traditional white man’s obsession with worrying about what other people are thinking of you. They knew what it was to hug when someone needed a hug and cry when someone else was crying. They were so encouraging to the speaker they called out responses often so he knew if he was losing his audience or not. I was amazed by how free I felt just being with them – free to explore God and all he is.

    Comment by Karen — November 20, 2008 @ 10:47 am

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