A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability: Human Being as Mutuality and Response

A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability: Human Being as Mutuality and Response

Molly C. Haslam
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    A Constructive Theology of Intellectual Disability: Human Being as Mutuality and Response
    Book Description:

    Responding to how little theological research has been done on intellectual (as opposed to physical) disability, this book asks, on behalf of individuals with profound intellectual disabilities, what it means to be human. That question has traditionally been answered with an emphasis on an intellectual capacity the ability to employ concepts or to make moral choicesand has ignored the value of individuals who lack such intellectual capacities. The author suggests, rather, that human being be understood in terms of participation in relationships of mutual responsiveness, which includes but is not limited to intellectual forms of communicating. She supports her argument by developing a phenomenology of how an individual with a profound intellectual disability relates, drawn from her clinical experience as a physical therapist. She thereby demonstrates that these individuals participate in relationships of mutual responsiveness, though in nonsymbolic, bodily ways. To be human, to image God, she argues, is to respond to the world around us in any number of ways, bodily or symbolically. Such an understanding does not exclude people with intellectual disabilities but rather includes them among those who participate in the image of God.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4929-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES in the United States have been mobilizing for more than a century in the struggle to overcome injustice and oppression. In 1850, deaf people established local organizations to advocate for their interests. During the Depression, the League of the Physically Handicapped organized sit-ins and picket lines at federal offices to protest discrimination against people with disabilities in employment and in New Deal social welfare programs. In the 1940s, the National Federation of the Blind was established, and, following World War II, the Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded.¹ During the 1950s, people with disabilities and their families...

  4. 1. Gordon Kaufman: Human Being as Intentional Agent
    (pp. 19-35)

    FOR GORDON KAUFMAN, theology is work of the human imagination. It is not a description of how things “really” are. We have no direct access to the referent of our concept of God, and thus we have no way of determining the accuracy of our representations of God. Similarly, with the concepts of world and human being, we cannot get outside of our place within the world or our place within humanity in order to encounter the world or the human being as objects for examination.¹ Thus, our aim in theological work, as Kaufman sees it, is not the determination...

  5. 2. George Lindbeck: Human Being as Language User
    (pp. 36-52)

    UNLIKE GORDON KAUFMAN, whose theological anthropology is developed thoroughly and explicitly, George Lindbeck does not develop a full-fledged theological anthropology in the course of his writings. His major work,The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, addresses primarily epistemological and methodological issues, not anthropological ones. In particular, it is a response to the question of how to conceive of religious doctrines in a way that resolves doctrinal conflict without resort to the capitulation of one doctrine to another.¹ He seeks to understand how theologians of diverse traditions can claim to have reconciled their once-conflicting theological positions...

  6. 3. Human Being in Relational Terms: A Phenomenology
    (pp. 53-66)

    AS AN ALTERNATIVE to defining human beings as creatures who possess the capacity for conceptualization, in the next two chapters I claim that human being is better understood in relational terms, as participation in relationships of mutual responsiveness. This anthropology locates human being not in some capacity possessed by an individual, whether that is the ability for conceptualization, the freedom to choose, or upright stature. Human being is not defined by some capacity located in the individual in isolation from the world around her. Rather, human being is considered here as participation in the meeting between responsive partners. Granted that...

  7. 4. Martin Buber’s Anthropology
    (pp. 67-91)

    FOR MARTIN BUBER, there is no “nature of human being” in the sense of some isolatable capacity or metaphysical substance, such as the soul, located within an individual human being. Any attempt to understand human being in this way, in fact, runs contrary to the meaning of the concept. Rather, for Buber, human being can be understood only in terms of participation in relations, which he often described using the linguistic metaphor of “dialogue.” He was not the first to conceive of human being in this way. The nineteenth-century philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach also understood human being not in terms of...

  8. 5. Imago Dei as Rationality or Relationality: History and Construction
    (pp. 92-116)

    WHEN THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES Christians have had questions about the meaning of human life, they have turned to a concept, traditionally rendered in Latin: theimago Dei. The term comes from the Hebrew scriptures and indicates that humanity in the intention of God is humanity “in the image of God.”¹ The origins of theimago Deisymbol are found in the book of Genesis in only three direct references. The first reference is found in Genesis 1:26–27, in which the priestly writer, “P,” offers an account of the creation of the world:

    Then God said: “Let us make humankind...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 117-130)
    (pp. 131-134)