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Manger's blog

The "R"-word or the "A"-word?

Would you rather be called an “a##hole” or a “retard?”  Just a question.  Now I realize that some of you are offended by the use of the word “a##hole,”[the fact that I have to obfuscate the word a##hole in order to allow this post should tell you something] however, I wish more of you were offended by the use of the word “retard.”  Why?  …Thanks for asking.

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Living on the edge of campus

Last week the town of Buda, Texas exposed on of the sad truths of the disability community.  During the chill of a February winter the local high school was informed that a bomb threat had been made against the high school.  History has now informed school personnel to take these threats very seriously.  So, as expected, the school administration evacuated all of the students outside in order to search and properly secure the building.  All students, that is, except for the eight students in the special day class setting on the edge of campus.  These students were not evacuated.  Rather, they were kept in the class as if nothing was going on.  Parents were outraged and the school made for talking points during a slow news day on CNN.

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Between 80% and 90%

 The other morning in our Sunday morning worship service a guest speaker provided the following statistic.  He stated that only 14% of Evangelical Christians view outreach to HIV/AIDS victims (including AIDS Orphans) in Africa as something the local (e.g. American neighborhood church) should be actively involved in.  This means that child sponsorships, short-term mission efforts, long-term missionary investment, medical relief and more are considered outside the purview of the Church’s responsibility for the other 86%. 

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Standing in the Gap for Foster Children

(The following was originally published in Fall/Winter 2008 "The Children's Corner." A publication of the National Ministries of teh American Baptist Churches USA)

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November is National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. You might wonder what that tidbit of information might have to do with a blog on disabilities and the church. There are a number of convergences when one closely examines the intersection of adoption and disabilities. So, let’s look at a few of these convergences and then look at a few ways local Christians and the local church can intercede on behalf of orphans.

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Getting Started

 As a follow-up to some of my previous posts I have attempted to provide a few concrete steps for starting/developing a disability ministry. Below are guides from The Evangelical Covenant Church of Chicago and the North American Mission Board. Many of the steps will repeat and others might contradict. The point is that you walk away with a sense of direction from these resources. Following the two above-mentioned guides is a list of web resources for you to explore in your ministry efforts (check the recommended books on this page).



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Do Handicapped People Go To Hell?

(The author understands that South Park does not, on a whole, promote values consistent with a Christian worldview. However, the author also understands that the Church doesn’t always promote values consistent with a Christian worldview. The point of this piece is to bring to light issues the Church should be addressing, yet allows a show such as South Park to address. This seems incongruous with the role of the Church in our society)

This is the question posed by the creators of South Park eight years ago during the show’s 4th season. Before I get into South Park’s answer, let’s look at what the Church says. The question of how one receives Salvation and subsequently ends up in Heaven or Hell is fraught with debate and speculation. While many strict Protestants will chant faith alone and grace alone few denominations actually maintain that as truth. How would either Catholic or Protestant dogma damn a person with a disability. Let’s look at a few denominational approaches to salvation.

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Timmy 2000 and The Church (An article by Michael Hoggatt)

Michael Hoggat is also the author of Moving to the Manger: A Journey from Exclusion to Inclusion.

I’ve been looking around for good “Christian” examples of people with disabilities in several different mediums for use in this column. However, I found very little from within Christian circles that dealt with issues of any relevance. Therefore, I looked to the secular entertainment industry and found a show that fearlessly addresses issues of utmost importance, and realized that it had a lot to teach me. Unfortunately, due to the reputation for profanity, inappropriate humor and the mocking of certain Christian values, most Christians remain unaware that South Park has been discussing disability, stem-cell research and right-to-die issues with a candor one should expect from within the Church. Many of the episodes that deal with these issues revolve around a fourth-grade boy named Timmy.

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Becoming Human

When I was growing up in my Nazarene Church we had a particular tradition. Whenever a month would have a fifth Sunday, that evening (back when people still went to Church twice on Sundays) would be heralded as a Singspiration. This meant that anyone, and everyone, was welcomed to take a stab at singing a solo, duet or some makeshift ensemble in the service. I can’t remember the names or songs sung by most of the members of our congregation, but I do remember three gentlemen who took their opportunity every Singspiration to praise God with a joyful sound. The only name I remember from the group is Jay. Read more

Boycotting the R-Word

I have heard a lot of people talking lately about boycotting the movie, “Tropic Thunder” due to its derogatory approach to people with intellectual disabilities. However, I am not in favor of a boycott for a couple of reasons: first, because I think they all too often miss the point and are rarely (if ever) successful.  (Does anyone really think Carter ended the cold war by boycotting the 1980 summer games?)  That being said, I do think there is a level of disrespect rampant in our society directed toward a great many individuals.  Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are often the target of this disrespect (though not the only target).Read more

Reaching Out

Too often people are afraid to touch people out in the margins. Physical touch by people in the margins is considered dirty or unhealthy. I often wonder what Jesus’ disciples thought about His habit of touching the “unclean.” My friend Frank has cerebral palsy and, as a result, drools uncontrollably. Frank doesn’t feel the drool coming out of his mouth so his aid or I will prompt him to wipe his mouth. Frank carries a small towel for just this purpose. Even with a little assistance Frank still ends up with a large drool spot on his shirt and with his hands covered in drool. Everyday that Frank enters my class he does his best to smile (which is difficult as a result of the CP and missing his front teeth) and then offers his twisted drool covered hand for me to shake.

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You Must Be This. . . To Attend This Church

One misconception or misunderstanding of the nature of disability within the church is that persons with disabilities, especially cognitive and/or emotional disabilities, are not able to experience worship or God. As a result of this belief, many good-intentioned people indicate that they would prefer “those people” to have their own classroom outside of the corporate worship service. While it is true that many people with disabilities appreciate the shared experience of other persons who are facing life with disabilities, respect of human dignity and shared humanity demands we recognize that all be able to worship God together. This belief is tied to the belief that as a member of the human race people are entitled to a 100 point IQ, the ability to walk and run, see and hear, smell and taste, and speak and touch. From this point of view, anyone who does not posses these characteristics is someone deserving of pity or who has failed to pass some human litmus test, and therefore, unable to worship God. Unfortunately, this belief does not account for people with IQ’s of 150, super Athletes, or anyone who distinguishes themselves above the average. If this myth were accurate then Michael Jordan and Stephen Hawking (although his use of a wheelchair would prevent him from accessing most Church pulpits) should be the next worship leaders at your local congregation.


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