Disability and Spirituality
Studies in Religion, Theology, and Disability
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2018-02-09
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.
PrefaceIntroductionPart I. Disability and Spirituality: Each Leads to the Other1. Naming and Defining Disability: A Brief History2. Disability: From Definition, Diagnosis, and Assessment to Meaning3. Spirituality: From Meaning to DisabilityPart II. Spirituality in the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities4. Spirituality in the Lives of Individuals with Disabilities5. Spiritual Development and Formation: From Child to Adult6. Spirituality and the Transition to Adulthood7. Spirituality, Aging, and End of Life: A Paradox of Loss and CelebrationPart III. Spirituality and Families8. Spirituality and Families: Beginnings and Journeys9. Respite Care: A Sabbath for (and from) Caregivers: Part IV. Spirituality and Professionals10. Integrating Spirituality in Professional Services and Roles11. Spirituality, Care, and CommitmentPart V. All of Us: Friendships, Relationships, and Community12. Gift and Call: Recovering the Spiritual Dimensions of Friendship13. Relationships Are Not Easy: Challenging Behaviors, Positive Behavior Supports, and Spirituality14. Spirituality, Diversity, and Community: Moving toward BelongingConclusion: Restoring Wholeness—It Is about All of Us
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
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
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
Disability and Spirituality is not a textbook, a thesis-driven argument, or even a manifesto of disability theory. It is a holistic practical theology, written through the lens of pastoral care, for those with physical and intellectual disabilities that should be required reading for pastors, chaplains, spiritual care-givers, and pastoral theologians.~Brandon L. Morgan, Reading Religion
In Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness William C. Gaventa distills a lifetime of work in care institutions and churches to foster better ways of meeting people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Gaventa’s passion is to support people with disabilities and their families while pressing service organizations to address spirituality and to take more seriously the supporting roles faith communities might play.~Brian Brock, Scottish Journal of Theology
William Gaventa’s Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness is a compelling blend of interdisciplinary engagement, robust scholarship and insightful pastoral commentary. Having spent his life in chaplaincy and advocacy roles with disabled people, their families and support workers, Gaventa’s book reflects his commitment to building understanding across the health and human services and navigating fresh ways of reflecting on the lived experience of disabled persons~Coralie Bridle, Pacific Journal of Theological Research
This is an impactful book, distilling a wide range of insights into a cogent, book-length presentation. It is the mature work of a leader in his field. The accessible prose, intersectional focus, and rich use of stories should make it a valuable resource for the clergy, academics, and care professionals alike.~David N. Scott, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
Gaventa’s book harvests his perspective gained from decades of chaplaincy work with individuals who have disabilities. He uses that experience as a platform for insightful, grounded reflections on spirituality and disability, which when combined with his practical reflections, can help both secular and religious organizations foster spiritual wholeness for individuals with a disability. This refreshing book focuses on practical strategies for inclusion and flourishing.~Aaron Klink, Religious Studies Review