From a perfectly straight face came an incredibly bent sentiment.
I was chating with someone at a conference a few weeks ago and they launched into a discussion about Christianity and "Finding God" ... as a believer in a kindly God ... I responded in a kindly manner. I mentioned that it has been hard for me to find a church in my new community because none that are near are also accessible.
Cold eyes met mine.
I knew something big was coming.
"You know why that is, don't you?"
Now I assumed it was because the churches were built long before the concept of accessibility had entered public conciousness. But no, I was told, "It's because, if you truly believed, you wouldn't be in that wheelchair."
"Pardon me," I responded with my typical wit.
Then it was explained to me that disability was the ... exact quote ... "Physical embodiment of sin".
With emphasis on concern for my soul (and with noticable lack of concern for their own) I was informed that I needed to get on my knees (as if I could) and beg forgiveness, ask for healing, and be made whole in God's Kingdom. That God was waiting for me, wanting my call ... Give my heart afresh ... I just blinked and slowly pulled my wheelchair back and away from the conversation.
It's hard to be a Christian, even a moderate one, sometimes because Christians can be so annoying. And in this case, stupid. My religious leaning is towards an inclusive kind of ideal. A place where all is welcome.
I've read, here on the Ouch blog about the medical model of disability and the social model of disability, but there is also the moral model of disability. That disability is because we're bad, slovenly, lazy and unclean people. That our parents were bad, slovenly, lazy and unclean people. That we got what we deserved in the first case. That our parents got what they deserved in the second place. Disabilty exists to punish me or punish my ma. Either case, it's disturbing to think that the equation ...
DISABILITY = SIN
... still exists and still is given credence. At the same time I remember having a long chat with a guy named The Reverend Jeffery Wilder who is a Southern Bapist Minister with cerebral palsy. He was telling me that in the biblical story about the angels ascending and descending to and from heaven via Jacob's ladder. "Ladder," he said, "is a mistranslation. People have been arguing about this story for years, but if they looked at the souce they'd find that the word isn't 'ladder' it's 'ramp'. In fact they were traversing Jacob's ramp."
Jeff's point is that heaven is already accessible.
Get with it.
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