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Disability and Spirituality
Recovering Wholeness

By William C. Gaventa

Disability and Spirituality
Paperback, 280 pages $39.95
Published: 15th March 2018
ISBN: 9781481302791
Format: 9in x 6in

Hardback, 280 pages $59.95
Published: 15th March 2018
ISBN: 9781481309400
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Theology, Spiritual Formation

Disability and spirituality have traditionally been understood as two distinct spheres: disability is physical and thus belongs to health care professionals, while spirituality is religious and belongs to the church, synagogue, or mosque and their theologians, clergy, rabbis, and imams. This division leads to stunted theoretical understanding, limited collaboration, and segregated practices, all of which contribute to a lack of capacity to see people with disabilities as whole human beings and full members of a diverse human family.  

Contesting the assumptions that separate disability and spirituality, William Gaventa argues for the integration of these two worlds. As Gaventa shows, the quest to understand disability inevitably leads from historical and scientific models into the world of spirituality—to the ways that values, attitudes, and beliefs shape our understanding of the meaning of disability. The reverse is also true. The path to understanding spirituality is a journey that leads to disability—to experiences of limitation and vulnerability, where the core questions of what it means to be human are often starkly and profoundly clear.  

In Disability and Spirituality Gaventa constructs this whole and human path before turning to examine spirituality in the lives of those individuals with disabilities, their families and those providing care, their friends and extended relationships, and finally the communities to which we all belong. At each point Gaventa shows that disability and spirituality are part of one another from the very beginning of creation. Recovering wholeness encompasses their reunion—a cohesion that changes our vision and enables us to everyone as fully human.

Part I. Disability and Spirituality: Each Leads to the Other
1. Naming and Defining Disability: A Brief History
2. Disability: From Definition, Diagnosis, and Assessment to Meaning
3. Spirituality: From Meaning to Disability
Part II. Spirituality in the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities
4. Spirituality in the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities
5. Spiritual Development and Formation: From Child to Adult
6. Spirituality and the Transition to Adulthood
7. Spirituality, Aging, and End of Life: A Paradox of Loss and Celebration
Part III. Spirituality and Families
8. Spirituality and Families: Beginnings and Journeys
9. Respite Care: A Sabbath for (and from) Caregivers: Part IV. Spirituality and Professionals
10. Integrating Spirituality in Professional Services and Roles
11. Spirituality, Care, and Commitment
Part V. All of Us: Friendships, Relationships, and Community
12. Gift and Call: Recovering the Spiritual Dimensions of Friendship
13. Relationships Are Not Easy: Challenging Behaviors, Positive Behavior Supports, and Spirituality
14. Spirituality, Diversity, and Community: Moving toward Belonging
Conclusion: Restoring Wholeness—It Is about All of Us

"Through the prism of disability Bill Gaventa, in his inimitable style and informed by his wealth of lived experiences, has illuminated the essential meaning of spirituality. His thesis, eloquently explored in this volume, is that spirituality and disability can be a two-way process. Spirituality can lead us to a deeper understanding of disability, but the reverse is also true. I know of no other book which has so effectively combined the wealth of experiences of the writer with his deep insights into the essential humanity of all people, but especially those with lifelong disabilities. Disability and Spirituality will be an invaluable reference for people with disabilities, families, support staff, and anyone who has the privilege of walking beside people who are so often marginalized in our society."

—Trevor R. Parmenter, Professor Emeritus, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

"With this book Bill Gaventa has added an intellectual masterpiece to his already astonishing practical work in the field of disability and religion. The main idea of his book—that disability and spirituality are mutually connected both in reflection and experience—is both a conclusion from a lifelong commitment to people with disabilities and their families and an opening of new avenues for enriching professional supports to improve their lives."

—Hans S. Reinders, Professor of Ethics and Bernard Lievegoed Professor of Ethics in Long-term Care, VU University Amsterdam

"In this warm, practical, and challenging book Gaventa opens up the area of spirituality and disability in a way that not only increases our knowledge, but also challenges us in deep ways to change our practices. Disability and Spirituality presents a wonderfully clear overview of the historical and contemporary developments within the area of spirituality and disability and lays down a firm foundation for future conversations. Gaventa fills a space that has been empty for far too long."

—John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen

Rev. Bill Gaventa is Chair of the National Collaborative on Faith and Disability and Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. He is past Editor of the Journal of Disability and Religion and served as President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 280 pages
 9in x 6in

 Hardback , 280 pages
 9in x 6in

  REL067000, REL109000, SOC029000
 Baylor University Press

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