From dependence to interdependence: Towards a practical theology of disability
The relationship between religion and globalization is complex, one with be defined as a process of an “ever more interdependent world”. The relationship between these two categories has, moreover, been Yet, as various scholars have observed, this definition of religion and politics as two .. Religious and political power as separate (but interdependent or rival) forces. The discussion of the relationship between economics and religion is plagued of secularization (the decline in the significance of religion in modern society). to be largely explained by its dependent status in relation to affluent countries .
A study by Gregory S. Paul argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction,  however, an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological and theoretical problems undermine any findings or conclusions taken from Paul's research.
Some works indicate that some societies with lower religiosity have lower crime rates—especially violent crime, compared to some societies with higher religiosity. For example, Simon Blackburn states that "apologists for Hinduism defend or explain away its involvement with the caste system, and apologists for Islam defend or explain away its harsh penal code or its attitude to women and infidels".
The Catholic condemnation of birth control, if it could prevail, would make the mitigation of poverty and the abolition of war impossible. The Hindu beliefs that the cow is a sacred animal and that it is wicked for widows to remarry cause quite needless suffering. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world.
They condemn acts which do no harm and they condone acts which do great harm. So long as clergymen continue to condone cruelty and condemn 'innocent' pleasure, they can only do harm as guardians of the morals of the young. Disability is a subject that has been, and still is, on the fringes of research in Africa in general and Southern Africa in particular, especially in the field of practical theology.
The dearth of literature on the subject does not match the seriousness and prevalence of the issue. Anderson and Blair The perception that has up to now been created in both church and society about people with disabilities is one in which they are seen as 'misfits', 'sinners', 'abnormal' and objects of pity who have no voice and cannot have a voice because of their alleged condition of inability, impurity and sinfulness.
In the process, some have reduced them to dependents who are only able to survive through reliance on others Oliver In an effort to improve their situation, others have shoved them to another extreme, that of interdependence Ntlatlapa In this study these two contrasting paradigms, that of dependence and that of interdependence are interrogated, whether or not they represent the experiences of people with disabilities.
With the latter's participation, a friendlier and more fitting paradigm that is reflective of the nature of the church as the body of Christ is proposed and argued for, which is the paradigm of interdependence.
POLITICS AND RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW
Within such a paradigm there cannot be any misfits and abnormal people as all belong together and are members of the same body. Contextual practical theology of disability The reflection done in this article is situated within the context of practical theology. If practical theology is to remain true to its qualification as theology, it has to fuse two horizons: I therefore position myself within a practical theology that takes context seriously.
The context, in this case, is disability, characterised by marginalisation and ostracisation by both church and society.
While I will be addressing disability in general, the concrete and specific experiences of people with disabilities in Lesotho, who are participants in this article, will be given special attention. My contention is that while disability may be a universal phenomenon, it finds its most tangible and concrete expression in the context within which people with disability live. Such a phenomenon is embedded within a specific social and cultural context which is neither global nor universal.
The matrix of values, beliefs, life assumptions and language which we call 'culture' shape people's experiences of disability as conceptualised and lived in that context. These experiences, values, beliefs, life assumptions and language taken together provide the lenses, through which the experiences of disability are mediated.
There is no denying, however, that some of the experiences articulated here may resonate with experiences from elsewhere. This article, therefore, goes beyond examination and analysis of ideologies and structures, to working together in the discovery of an alternative pastoral disability paradigm.
The oft-missing voice of people living with disabilities in social and theological discourses is recognised and given space to articulate the hurts, concerns and aspirations of people with disabilities from their social and faith perspectives.
This restoration of voice has enabled the appropriation of experiences of people with disability in theological discourse, to restore theology to where it belongs, as a reflexive endeavour founded on people's faith experiences that cannot be divorced from their context.
The paradigm developed in this research is not only contextually situated, but it also gives voice to the local knowledge systems of people that have hitherto been silenced. Within the context of disability, this means acknowledging the cultural specificity and individual uniqueness of every experience of disability. As Eiesland notes: The corporeal is for people with disabilities the most real.
Unwilling and unable to take our bodies for granted, we attend to the kinesis of knowledge. That is, we become keenly aware that our physical selves determine our perceptions of the social and physical. These perceptions, like our bodies, are often nonconforming and disclose new categories and models of thinking and being.
These new embodied categories arise from the concrete experiences of people with disabilities. For although the experience of disability comes to each according to stereotypes and prejudices created in society through interaction, its effect cannot merely be reduced to a simple group feeling. This experience has an impact that will differ from one individual to the other and that should not be taken for granted.
This view is articulated by Schutz quoted in Eiesland It is, so to speak, the centre in my system of coordinates. Contextual theology, therefore, with its critique of the universal and its propensity towards the insurrection of the marginalised knowledge systems, would be apt in facilitating healing on both sides of the disability divide, at both social and personal levels.
Each participant's voice was listened to from within its own experiential context. Although several common disability concerns were always detected, the unique situation of every individual with disability was acknowledged and taken seriously. Since the research was carried out in Lesotho, the experiences of participants were shaped within the context of that country. Their foregrounding is demanded, not only by our adoption of a participatory method but also by the theological stance adopted, that is, contextual theology.
Doing practical theology as participation Our choice of a participatory method of research actually facilitates the doing of theology from below, as it allows the genuine reflections of people with disabilities to come to the fore. Its penchant for taking seriously the experiences of such people, as well as drawing from their stories, symbols and reflections, situates it where it belongs.
That is, as Rocke and Van Dyke Theology from below logically leads to participation by those who reflect on their faith experience and who seek to act on its demands. It is, therefore, a theology that takes the voice of the 'other' seriously. Doing theology, no longer the sole preserve of the educated elite, entails engaging in theological reflection that is rooted in real-life experience. Taking a cue from what Bosch Within the postmodern context, where participation is a defining feature, there is very little room for dealing out theological prescriptions.
Instead, immersion in the process of knowledge creation becomes a conditio sine qua non. It is this way of doing theology that is preferred in this article. My engagement, therefore, with people with disabilities and the significant others is a doing theology with.
Their experiences of marginalisation, ostracisation, of being denied a voice and of being the last, the least and the lost is teased out and engaged - not without them but with them.
Relationship between religion and science
This engagement promotes positive and empowering research relationships Salmon It does not wield a creed with ready-made answers to questions that have not been asked or problems posed by none of those who are participating in this research journey.
But before we engage the concepts of dependence and independence, it would be in order to attempt a definition of disability and perhaps the social and environmental issues that render people with disabilities dependent.
Defining disability in context Although it is beyond the scope of this article to give a detailed exposition and evaluation of the various definitions of disability, views around some as well as their evolution are pertinent. Any attempt at standardisation of the definition of disability would be to prioritise fixity over the fluidity of meaning, and thus runs counter to the perspective adopted in this article.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health ICF encapsulates a supposedly inclusive definition of disability adopted by the member countries in defining disability in terms of impairment, activity limitations or restrictive participation World Health Organization [WHO] Although this definition was intended to be an improved version of an earlier one, it has been adversely criticised, especially by researchers within disability studies.
The incorporation of social and economic considerations did not see the definition lose its association with the medical models Scotch Scotch echoes the sentiments of Pfeiffer, claiming that disability cannot be defined except with reference to public policy, as 'whatever public laws and programs say it is' Scotch In a slightly nuanced position, French Nevertheless, it is useful here to identify four brief definitions of disability as they relate to different models: In this way there is room for more subjective definitions that pay attention to individual as well as contextual experiences that have been a missing link in disability studies.
Such individual experiences not only form an important component of this article, but also subvert meanings of disability that strive for fixity and universality.
Dependence and disability In both society and the church, dependency and disability have for a long time remained synonymous, perhaps more in practice than in principle. The book by StikerA history of disability, provides a compendium of the harsh conditions under which people with disabilities lived throughout history, from biblical times to the birth of rehabilitation.
Barnes refers to this condition as a 'legacy of oppression' by Western culture. Throughout this time the constant feature that characterised the life of a person with disability was to be at the beck and call of others, particularly those who allegedly had a claim to normalcy. The latter's call was to determine, declare and dismiss people with disabilities to the doldrums of society. This era has further been associated with what Stiker The ancient world of Greece and Rome left us a legacy and culture devoid of dignity and respect for people with disability.
Their economy was founded on the principle of competitiveness, both intellectually and physically.
There was therefore very little room, if any, in such societies for people who were considered, by standards of the time, disabled Barnes Because of their perceived dependence they were seen as a burden and a reminder of an imperfection which was highly abhorred and dreaded at the time Dutton This attitude was inherited by the subsequent industrialised, rationalised and medicalised society and church of the 18th century.
The 19th century marked the upsurge of the exclusion of people with disability from mainstream Western society or what was to be known as the 'Eugenics Movement'. During this time and its aftermath, the common attitude was to view people with physical and intellectual disabilities as posing a threat to Western society Barnes In the religious realm Christian charity works, though well meant, perpetuated the dependence of people with disabilities.
The church, too, was caught up in the labels and categories constructed and espoused by the larger society on people with disabilities. The centrality of the written and spoken word as well as physical perfection, in many churches, left people with disabilities feeling unwanted and unwelcome Webb-Mitchell Although a major shift from the language of dependence is currently taking place in the policies and action plans of countries, the actual practice points to a serious nostalgia for the dependence paradigm.
Educational, medical and justice sectors in different countries have displayed propensity for the dependence paradigm, at least in practice. Almost all these sectors place people with disabilities at the mercy of professionals who continue to construct them as institutional subjects whose lives depend on the policies, laws and protocols made by the powerful Leshota Lesotho is no exception to these attitudes and practices regarding people with disabilities.
Despite their presence in every sphere of human life Anderson Jack, one of the participants in this study had this to say: This was the paradigm of medical power sustained by the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Characterised by sharper scientific focus and improved medical treatment of diseases, it marked the emergence of new power which continues to dominate to the present day Stiker It was during this time that people with disabilities became dependent on the authority of the medical practitioner who only could decide on their needs and desires Dejong Persons with disabilities could not continue to rely on others as this degraded their value as human beings and was unsustainable in the long term.
The heroic act of Ed Roberts in the early s set in motion what was to become a landmark project, that of Independent Living White et al. Developed, run and controlled by persons with disabilities themselves, 'Centres for Independent Living' represented both a desire for self-determination and resistance to long-term abuse at the hands of non-disabled people.
Central to the Independent Living Movement is maximization of 'leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities' White et al. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities.
Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways.
Attempts to put science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.
Religion and Globalization: New Possibilities, Furthering Challenges
He views science as descriptive and religion as prescriptive. He stated that if science and mathematics concentrate on what the world ought to be, in the way that religion does, it may lead to improperly ascribing properties to the natural world as happened among the followers of Pythagoras in the sixth century B. Habgood also stated that he believed that the reverse situation, where religion attempts to be descriptive, can also lead to inappropriately assigning properties to the natural world.
A notable example is the now defunct belief in the Ptolemaic geocentric planetary model that held sway until changes in scientific and religious thinking were brought about by Galileo and proponents of his views. Kuhn asserted that science is made up of paradigms that arise from cultural traditions, which is similar to the secular perspective on religion.
Polanyi further asserted that all knowledge is personal and therefore the scientist must be performing a very personal if not necessarily subjective role when doing science.
Coulson and Harold K. Schillingboth claimed that "the methods of science and religion have much in common.
Dialogue[ edit ] Clerks studying astronomy and geometry France, early 15th century. The religion and science community consists of those scholars who involve themselves with what has been called the "religion-and-science dialogue" or the "religion-and-science field. Journals addressing the relationship between science and religion include Theology and Science and Zygon.
Eugenie Scott has written that the "science and religion" movement is, overall, composed mainly of theists who have a healthy respect for science and may be beneficial to the public understanding of science. She contends that the "Christian scholarship" movement is not a problem for science, but that the "Theistic science" movement, which proposes abandoning methodological materialism, does cause problems in understanding of the nature of science.
This annual series continues and has included William JamesJohn DeweyCarl Sagan, and many other professors from various fields. Science, Religion, and Naturalism, heavily contests the linkage of naturalism with science, as conceived by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and like-minded thinkers; while Daniel Dennett thinks that Plantinga stretches science to an unacceptable extent.
Barrettby contrast, reviews the same book and writes that "those most needing to hear Plantinga's message may fail to give it a fair hearing for rhetorical rather than analytical reasons.
Morality and religion - Wikipedia
Scientific and theological perspectives often coexist peacefully. Christians and some non-Christian religions have historically integrated well with scientific ideas, as in the ancient Egyptian technological mastery applied to monotheistic ends, the flourishing of logic and mathematics under Hinduism and Buddhismand the scientific advances made by Muslim scholars during the Ottoman empire.
Even many 19th-century Christian communities welcomed scientists who claimed that science was not at all concerned with discovering the ultimate nature of reality. Principethe Johns Hopkins University Drew Professor of the Humanities, from a historical perspective this points out that much of the current-day clashes occur between limited extremists—both religious and scientistic fundamentalists—over a very few topics, and that the movement of ideas back and forth between scientific and theological thought has been more usual.
He also admonished that true religion must conform to the conclusions of science. Buddhism and science Buddhism and science have been regarded as compatible by numerous authors.
For example, Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of nature an activity referred to as Dhamma-Vicaya in the Pali Canon —the principal object of study being oneself. Buddhism and science both show a strong emphasis on causality. However, Buddhism doesn't focus on materialism. In his book The Universe in a Single Atom he wrote, "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science, so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation.
Christianity and science Science and Religion are portrayed to be in harmony in the Tiffany window Education Francis Collins, a scientist who happens to be a Christian, is the current director of the National Institutes of Health. Among early Christian teachers, Tertullian c. These ideas were significantly countered by later findings of universal patterns of biological cooperation.
According to John Habgoodall man really knows here is that the universe seems to be a mix of good and evilbeauty and painand that suffering may somehow be part of the process of creation. Habgood holds that Christians should not be surprised that suffering may be used creatively by Godgiven their faith in the symbol of the Cross.