Abstract: What role does judgment play in certain kinds of critical anthropology and theology, and in attempts to bring the two disciplines together? I turn to L’Arche, a network of Christian communities in which people with ‘intellectual disabilities’ share life with the cognitively able that scholars commend as a critical alternative to our obsession with judging ability as the marker of moral worth. I describe how this evaluative stance on L’Arche failed me in trying to make sense of my own fieldwork on a L’Arche community where care-givers emphasised the abilities of those they supported all the time. By relating the surprising role that a work of theology played in helping me understand the relationship between agency and judgment in this context, I argue that critique offers an unhelpful point of intersection between anthropology and theology. I propose, instead, that we explore the role of surprise in analysis and dialogue.
Abstract: This article considers the potential contribution to theology and disability studies of the life work of Sister Thea Bowman, an African American Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, a Faulkner scholar, an educator par excellence, and a woman of spirit, song, and dance. I propose that Bowman offers a liturgical key to accepting difference and overcoming divisions. I explore two works in particular, her introduction to the first African American Catholic Hymnal and her address to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to see the change that liturgy can make in Catholic faith communities.
Abstract: This article summarizes and overviews Brian Brock and John Swinton’s Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader (2012), and reflects on its contribution from a historiographic perspective. In particular, this discussion explores how the lens of disability invites new approaches to the history of the Christian tradition that opens up fresh perspectives on narrating Christian history, recounting the history of Christian thought, and reconsidering the theological legacies of major thinkers.