In Formed Together, Keith Dow explores the questions of why we should, and why we do, care for one another. He considers what it means for human beings to be interdependent, created in the image of a loving God. Dow recounts personal experiences of supporting people with intellectual disabilities while drawing upon theological and philosophical sources to discover the ethical underpinnings of Christian care. Formed Together reveals that human beings care for one another not merely by choice, but because every person relies upon others. People are called together in mutually formative practices of care, and human flourishing means learning to care well. Dow suggests five virtues that mark ethical caregiving, such as humble courage and quiet attentiveness. These practices can help guide caregivers in responding to the divine call to care.
Dow demonstrates that ethical practices of care do not depend upon intelligence or rational ability. Many are called to the vocation of tending to and being present in the needs of others. To be formed together in the divine image means that caregivers never entirely comprehend themselves, others, or God. Rather, caring well means that humans are to accompany one another in and through experiences of profound mystery and revelation.
About the Author
Table of ContentsIntroduction: Giving a Careful Account
Part 1. The Call to Care
1 Vocation and Transcendence
Called to One Another
2 Vocation and Immanence
Called by Each Other
3 A Theological Story
The Limits of Professional Ethics
Part 2. Encountering My Neighbor
4 Traces of the Divine
The imago Dei and Human Ability
5 Seeing You Through Me
The Myth of the Transparent Other
6 The Stories I Tell
The Myth of the Transparent Self
7 A Mysterious Revelation
The Myth of a Transparent God
Part 3. Responding to the Call
8 Formed Together in Love
Towards an Ethic of Christian Care
9 The Virtues of Care
Discovering Who We Are
Conclusion: Responding to God’s Call
What People are Saying About This
Formed Together is a dynamic evolutionary journey of Judeo-Christian theology and the implications of how people with disabilities are perceived and treated in modern society. Based on Dow’s moving experiences, first as a personal care professional and then as a leader in a Christian disability service agency, Formed Together describes an important shift in recognizing the humanity of individuals living with a disability. Dow provides a path for support systems and agencies to acknowledge and support an individual’s spiritual needs as well as religious affiliation. This book affirms human spirituality and its expression by people living with disabilities and offers a pathway to creating communities where all people feel they belong and are valued.
With great skill Keith Dow unpacks the apparently unproblematic notion of giving an account of caring for dependent people, like caring for persons with intellectual disabilities. Against the background of current demands on service organizations to account for the quality of their services, Dow shows the implausibility of giving an account that separates ways of providing care from the beliefs and motivations that inspire professionals who actually do care. In view of the agility with which the author switches between philosophical and theological arguments, this book is highly recommended for Christian readers working in environments that demand compliance with formal rules and requirements without any interests in what is actually motivating them in persisting in their often-difficult jobs.
If relationships are central to human identity, then the care we give and receive in countless ways throughout life has a moral character shaping the way we give account of ourselves and others. This book helps us to understand why. Drawing from his encounters with people with intellectual disabilities as a direct support professional, Keith Dow investigates an array of philosophical, theological, and biblical resources to offer an insightful account of Christian care and its moral formation. The result is a rich understanding of care as a calling that invites readers to honor mystery at the heart of relation with God and others, and in so doing, move beyond problematic notions of care with regard to disability. The book adds substantively to conversations around theology and disability and should be read by all Christians invested in care.