Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Place for All;: Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities (Trailer)

via YouTube

The documentary A Place for All: Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities explores the courageous stories of persons with disabilities as they succeed in making their faith communities truly inclusive. It features people such as Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh, a spiritual leader at Congregation Bnai Keshet in New Jersey and one of the handful of deaf rabbis in the world; members of ELCAs DAYLE program where Definitely Abled Youth unite at the 40,000 strong triennial Evangelical Lutheran youth gathering; Rev. Beth Lockard, the pastor of Christ the King Deaf Church; and Brandon Kaplan, a severely disabled boy with limited sight and speech who recently had the privilege of becoming a Bar Mitzvah.


william Peace said...

I would like to see this documentary. With all due respect to you beliefs my experience with organized religion has been overwhelmingly and consistently negative. Not once in the last 30 years has anything good come out of a visit to church or encounter with a devoutly religious person or church leader. Yet reading your blog you clearly believe and religion plays a key role in your life. Why I wonder have our experiences been so radically different. Perhaps I am an unforgiving person but I cannot accept or tolerate the Catholic Church that talks about the sanctity of the family but protects priests that molest children. I do not want to upset you or insult your beliefs. I just do not understand how a person with a disability can embrace religion. Perhaps you can write an entry about this someday. With respect, Bill

Matthew Smith said...

For something like this to work, the people of different faiths that meet there have to respect each other and avoid scoring points or trying to settle scores. A woman whose blog I read quite a bit, who is a Jewish convert to Islam who incidentally has progressive MS (how obvious that is to others, I'm not sure) recently wrote that, after an interfaith event which she found very beautiful, someone came up to her and said,

"If I were you, when September 11th happened, I would have ripped that rag off my head and said I didn't want anything more to do what that religion."

She didn't say what religion that person was of, if any. But a lot of Muslims avoid interfaith dialogue, because it often ends up with them being required to answer loaded questions often inspired by bigoted website or radio commentary. I have recently heard of Muslim ladies being increasingly weary of being asked to answer for one thing or another that a Muslim, or group of Muslims, has done (9/11, the recent Fort Hood massacre).

As regards religion and people with disabilities, I thought I might share this video which is by a quadriplegic woman who has some advice for women with any disability who is stuck in an abusive relationship or marriage ("get out" is what it boils down to). I have a blind friend who had a similar experience (she was beaten up by her sighted husband in 2003 or 2004) and was told by a local imam to go back to him, and after she did, he beat her again. Some people just have to learn that these kind of men can't be trusted even if they appear all pious. Actually, a lot of us were sick to our stomachs at the idea of a man beating up a blind woman, but we were online and a long way from where she lived.

It was not just in religious schools that people have been abused. At my "special school" for boys with behavioural difficulties (Kesgrave Hall near Ipswich, England), there was horrendous bullying and staff abuse and one of the victims was a boy of obvious limited intelligence and severe Asperger's type characteristics. Although we went to church on Sunday and had religious education, as the law required, the school was not religious. The Catholic church itself seems to have cleaned up its act somewhat and even during the 70s and 80s was active in defending human rights, even in dangerous places (e.g. Chile). We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Safiyyah said...

Greetings of Peace:

I, as a Muslim, do love to go to interfaith events. I am the Jewish convert to Islam who the above commentor is referring to.

I facilitated two interfaith events that particular weekend. Both events had people who asked questions about Ft. Hood.

I kind of anticipate the questions people will ask at these events. I think it is a perfect opportunity to inform people of the TRUE religion of Islam, and an opportunity to clear up misconceptions.

Oddly, the person who called my hijab a rag was actually the reporter from the newspaper. It was clear to me that she was hostile to Islam and Muslims. She kept asking me loaded questions and was not satisfied with my answers. It also became clear to the Jews and Christians in the room what she was trying to do. They surrounded me and were also taking her on! It was great. Everyone said that if she wrote a bad article, that they would have their rebuttals and letters to the editor ready.

I reminded the reporter that she was sent to cover an interfaith celebration of peace, and not to write about her perceptions of Islam and Muslims.

Alhamdulillah, she wrote a beautiful article (link at my site under the Seeking Shalom post). It appears that she just wanted to get her "stuff" off, but I don't think she even realized how unprofessional she was being.

I actually gave her a hug before she left, lol.

Yes, I have MS. When it flares up, it is apparent to others because I have to use a cane. I will definitely return to this site.

Keep the faith!