Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality [NOOK Book]


"What we call disability is part of our fragile life and also of life's mystery in God. To understand disabled people and our own vulnerability and to understand the vulnerable and compassionate God condition each other. This astonishing book serves both sides and is an insightful contribution to an all-embracing theology of life."--Jürgen Moltmann, University of Tübingen

"Disability is a gift that forces us to rethink what we thought was ...
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Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality

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"What we call disability is part of our fragile life and also of life's mystery in God. To understand disabled people and our own vulnerability and to understand the vulnerable and compassionate God condition each other. This astonishing book serves both sides and is an insightful contribution to an all-embracing theology of life."--Jürgen Moltmann, University of Tübingen

"Disability is a gift that forces us to rethink what we thought was settled. The worship of a crucified savior in a similar manner forces us to rethink what we thought was settled. It is to Reynolds's great credit, therefore, that he helps us see how disability and the gospel are inseparably linked to the extent that they both force us to recognize our vulnerability. It will be a shame if this book is read only by those concerned about disability, because Reynolds's reflections are crucial for any work in constructive theology."--Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

"A remarkable book that reveals in a compelling way that being truly human and Christian is not just accepting people with disabilities but accepting our own vulnerability by entering with them into a relationship of mutuality where each one gives and each one receives. Their place is not at the margins of society and of the church but at the center, urging and calling us all to open up to the fundamental truth of our being; they can then become our healers. This book is essential reading for all Christians who desire to enter more fully into the vision of our loving God for our world and to become men and women of peace."--Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche

"This is an important work for theologians, ethicists, clergy, and seminary students as they reconsider assumptions about human and divine power and privilege. In placing persons with disabilities at the center of the theological conversation about God's power, Reynolds negates the 'cult of normalcy,' offers a theology of vulnerability, and encourages the church to reclaim its role in providing hospitality to those on the margins of society."--Kathy Black, Claremont School of Theology and author of A Healing Homiletic: Preaching and Persons with Disabilities
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Chris Reynolds, the author's 17-year-old son, has been diagnosed with a host of problems including Tourette's syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The author, who teaches systematic theology at the University of Toronto, writes movingly of his deep love for his son: living with a child with disabilities has opened him "to a surplus of grace that can only be called divine." This book, however, is neither memoir nor practical advice; it is a heavily footnoted scholarly treatise written in a largely academic style, arguing that disability is the norm; the image of God means not rationality but relationality; redemption is a result of God's own vulnerability; and the proper Christian response to otherness is hospitality. Reasoning from experience and from the Bible, Reynolds develops a theology of creation, sin, redemption and the church designed to produce a "metaphorical reversal" that challenges our culture's "cult of normalcy" by "privileging disability." Despite an occasional tangle of postmodern jargon, Reynolds's insights are often compelling: "The basic question of human existence is whether there is welcome at the heart of things, whether we can find a home with others who recognize us, value us, and empower us to become ourselves." (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441202635
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,175,058
  • File size: 925 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas E. Reynolds (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is associate professor of theology at Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. He lives in North York, Ontario.
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Table of Contents

1. Theology and Disability--Perils and Promises
I. A Disabling Theology or a Theology of Disability?
- Defining Disability beyond the Medical Model
- Understanding Disability Christianly: Is Disability a Tragedy to be Undone?
II. Beyond Theodicy?
III. Toward a Hermeneutic of Disability
IV. Dismantling Alienating Notions of Disability: Developing a Typology
- Avoiding the Theological Denigration of Disability
- Avoiding the Theological Trivialization of Disability
Conclusion: Toward a Wider Horizon for Theological Thinking about Disability
2. Communal Boundaries: Dwelling Together and the Cult of Normalcy
I. The Human Need for Welcome
- Fundamental Trust--A Desire for "Home"
- Home as Dwelling Together
II. Social Boundaries: Ability and Dis-ability
- Community and Identity--Frameworks of the Good
III. Recognition, Value, and the Good: Into the Sway of the Cult of Normalcy
- Economies of Exchange
- Body Capital--Measuring Exchange Value
- The Cult of Normalcy
IV. Outside the Good
- Stigma--the Spoiled Body
- Taboo--Prohibiting the Abnormal
Conclusion: Against "Normalization"?
3. Able Bodies? The Illusion of Control and Denial of Vulnerability
I. Theoretical Roots of the Modern Notion of Personhood
II. Problems with Equality, Freedom, Independence, and Reason
- Ironic Equality--Like "Us"
- Ironic Self-sufficiency and Freedom--Dis-abling Ability?
- Ironic Rationality--Routing the Irrational (Reason-unable?)
III. Managing the Body: The Productive Imperative
- Wealth Accumulation
- Efficiency--a Competitive Edge on Time
- Novelty--the Tyranny of the New
- The Person as Consumer--Empowered to Purchase
- Beautiful, Youthful, and Able Bodies
Conclusion: Spiritual Self-Interest?
4. Recovering Disability: Love and the Strange Power of "Weakness"
I. Vulnerability: Reassessing Wholeness and Disability
- Dependence: Rethinking "Normal"
- The Difficult Strength of Vulnerability--Neediness and the Reality of Suffering
II. Encountering Disability, Suffering the Other
- Creative Openings: An Autobiographical Excursus on Love
- Against Pity and Charity?
- Getting Closer--Loving Chris
III. Relational Wholeness: Love's Interdependence
- The Strange Power of Weakness: Enabling Love
- Love--To Welcome the Presence of the Other
IV. The Moral Fabric of Love: Availability
- Respect: Giving Way for the Other
- Fidelity--Faithfulness to the Other
- Compassion--Sympathy with the Other, for its Wellbeing
Conclusion: Empowering Community
5. Love Divine: God, Creation, and Vulnerability
I. Love and Conversion to God
- Gratitude: Existence as Gift
- Hope: Relation beyond Tragedy
- The Sense of God--An Extraordinary Possibility in Vulnerable Ordinariness
II. Creation's God--A Theological Matrix
- God's Transcendence and the Redemptive Encounter
- Naming God's Redemptive Presence
III. God's Creative Power: Toward a Theology of Creation
- In the Beginning, God
- Creation "Called" into Being
- Creation from "Nothing"
- Continuing Creation and Providence
- Creation a Free Act of God
- Creation as Gift, Loved into Being
IV. Relation and Vulnerability in God and Creation
- Creation's Difference, God's Giving
- Creation and the Tragic
- Divine Vulnerability and Tragedy
Conclusion: Theology of Creation in a Key of Gratitude and Hope
6. Worthy of Love? Humanity, Disability, and Redemption in Christ
I. Reconsidering the Imago Dei
- Imago Dei as Imitatio Dei
- Imago Dei as Creativity--Human Being as a Co-Creative Agent of God
- Imago Dei as Relationality--Human Being as Embodied along with Others
- Imago Dei as Availability--Human Being as Freedom for Love
- The Imago Dei and Disability
II. Sin's Tragedy and the Possibility of Redemption
- Sin--Creative Freedom for Love gone Awry
- Sin, Idolatry, and the Possibility of Redemption
III. Reconsidering Redemption in Jesus Christ
- Jesus as the Icon of a Vulnerable God: Redemptive Revelation
- Jesus: The Fully Human Person
- Jesus as God's Solidarity with Humanity: Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection
Conclusion: Reversing Disability
7. Being Together: Love, Church, and Hospitality
I. To Love as Christ Loves: Loving Chris as Christ Loves and Loving Christ as Chris Loves
II. The Strange Kingdom of God: Restoring the Imago Dei in Right Relationships
a. The Creative Power of Inclusion--Welcoming (in) the Kingdom
b. Healing Power--Welcome, Transformation, and Wholeness
c. Cross as Inclusive Solidarity--The Power of Inability
d. Disability and the Imitation of Christ
III. The Strange Household of God: Church as the Ongoing Presence of Christ
a. Church as the Household of God--A New Covenant
b. Church as the Body of Christ
c. Church as Anticipation: The not-yet Kingdom of God
IV. Hospitality: Welcoming (in) the Spirit
a. Hospitality: Inspirited Openness to the Other
b. Hospitality and Disability
Conclusion: Kindling Hope for the Church as a Communion of Strangers
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