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March 06 , 2008

Voices in Disability and Spirituality from the Land Down Under

Outback to Outfront


An excellent source of information and ideas on the relationship between disability and spirituality-and how to improve it

This one-of-a-kind collection explores the relationship between spirituality and disability from a variety of Australian religious and spiritual viewpoints. Authors from a wide range of backgrounds-some with disabilities, some without-draw remarkable insights from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist (and even non-religious) spirituality. These uniquely Australian perspectives provide practical and spiritual lessons that can be applied in any part of the world.

Voices in Disability and Spirituality from the Land Down Under presents an unflinching look at the shortcomings of many established church ministries when it comes to serving people with disabilities. There’s also an extraordinary interview with a severely disabled nonreligious woman in the final stage of her life and her caretaker, which presents a very revealing look at the essence of human spirituality as it exists even in the absence of religious dogma. In addition, you’ll find a revealing case study focusing on the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA), which looks at the gap between its official theology and its actual policy and practice, and outlines a project designed to move the Church forward to more inclusive practices.

Additionally, Voices in Disability and Spirituality from the Land Down Under: Outback to Outfront examines:
  • why platitudes that are intended to give comfort, like “God has chosen this for you,” “It’s a test of your faith,” or “We all have our crosses to carry” are at best problematic, and at worst damaging-with suggestions for pastoral responses that offer alternatives to “God-is-on-your-side” clichés
  • the spiritual meaning and importance of community for people with disabilities, and the impact of community on their vitality and resiliency
  • the Buddhist teaching called sunyata, or emptiness, and its potential to positively impact the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and those who know them
  • wisdom contained in the ancient Jewish system of laws called Halacha-and its potential for empowering people with disabilities today
  • how a pastoral care program that is flexible, accommodating, and relevant for disabled people was created at a small metropolitan school in New South Wales-and the effect of the program on the community
  • the work of the Personal Advocacy Service, which recruits volunteers to be companions to people with intellectual disabilities
  • the role of religion and philanthropy in the creation of educational programs for blind or vision-impaired students
  • and more
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