Over the next weeks, we will be highlighting some of the presentations at the 2013 Summer Institute on Theology and Disability.

This week, we are featuring “Agent or Object: A Call to be God’s Partner” by Judith Snow.

judithJudith Snow, MA (www.judithsnow.org) is a social innovator and an advocate for Inclusion. She is also a visual artist and Founding Director of Laser Eagles Art Guild, an organization making creative activity available through personal assistance to artists with diverse abilities. Ms. Snow has a background of 25 years of research design and implementation, most notably working with the Institute on Disability, UNH to provide design of a post-intervention instrument, train interviewers, and participate in analysis and report writing with the National Home of Your Own Alliance, a 23 state technical assistance program funded through the Administration for Developmental Disabilities.

To watch videos of other presentations from the 2013 Summer institute, click here.

L’Arche Canada recently posted Jean Vanier’s message to the North American Interfaith Network from August 10th, 2013. In this video, Jean reflects on personhood and the importance of interfaith dialogue. Similar to the emphasis of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, he stresses that the purpose of coming together is not to dilute one’s own religious beliefs but rather to love/deepen our own religious beliefs while growing in love and respect for one another.

Written by Dr Rod ThompsonPrincipal of Laidlaw College, NZ 

Originally posted at the Laidlaw College site here. Thank you to the college for permission to re-post.

You can find more information about the Theology, Disability, and the People of God conference that was held at Carey Baptist College here.

Swinton-DementiaOne of the best conferences I have been to in my life took place at Carey Baptist College from 1-3 July. It was the Theology, Disability and the People of God Conference, co-hosted by Laidlaw and Carey Baptist Colleges, with special guests Professor John Swinton (from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland) and Professor Amos Yong (from Regent University in the USA) as key-note speakers. About 120 people attended each day.

Most conferences are stimulating intellectually, however this gathering was also moving emotionally and deeply challenging as we asked questions about the practices of churches and other communities – including Colleges – that cause people to sense that they belong within that community. What does it mean to belong in a community? John Swinton argued that we know we belong in a community if, when we are absent, we are missed. To be missed. To have a place in the minds and hearts of others in the community. This is more than inclusion. This is belonging.

A number of us from the Laidlaw College community participated in the conference. Papers were presented by myself and other members of Laidlaw’s community. And we were privileged to mingle and speak with many working within the disability sector throughout the conference.

John Swinton has recently written a book entitled Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, in which he explores what it means to be human, particularly in light of debilitating loss of memory and identity, such as seems to occur for those who have dementia. Swinton’s book is wonderful and I highly recommend it to you.

To see what John has to say about dementia, ageing, identity and friendship click on the video below.

This is the space, the home, the dwelling that we share and fortunately it is a place of belonging vast enough for us all. When we encounter weakness or difference in others, it cuts ‘too close to home’ because we recognize our own weakness and self-stigmatization that we try to submerge. Ultimately, refusing the Other is not about the ‘strangeness’ of the Other but about the strangeness of ourselves to ourselves that rejects the Other. Read More →

Who Am I?

One cannot think about theology of disability without soon wrestling with the notion that each human being is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27-28). Found in all “religions of the book” (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) what exactly constitutes this image is the subject of much assumption and debate. In contrast with certain philosophies Read More →