Recently, I had a slightly interesting experience. As has happened often in my life, my testimony of the truth about people with disabilities and the Gospel was, dare I say, rejected to a large extent--by some whom live with disabilities every day (either their own, or their family members).
I've had this happen before. I've worked with people, where as I've spoken truth I've literally been told "Shut up. You're making too much sense!" Of course, when that happened, it was meant with kindness, not cruelity as others often respond with.
Remember the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes"? Or "Horace Hears a Who". Ya--I know exactly how the little boy in "The Emperor" and "Horace" feel. My whole life is basically like theirs. I know it may sound strange, especially to those whose testimony of spiritual gifts is, well, dare I say, lacking to some small degree. But, you see I've been blessed (and sometimes I dare to call it a curse) with the ability to see what it is so many others cannot (or dare I say, refuse) to choose to see (I say choose, because for many it is truly a choice). I often sound critical (just as the little boy did in "Emperor") of others--when what I'm really attempting to do is to point out what is missing, where specific current behavior will likely lead, what current practices truly are or represent, and so forth. What is hard, is that in the Church, many members have been strictly taught (or mistakenly believe) that speaking a "criticism" within the Church is being judgmental, or even "sac-religious". Especially if that supposed "criticism" is of a current practice, or pointing out a reality of something that has happened or that a leader said. I find it remarkably ironic, actually--because usually I'm the one saying "see that big huge elephant in the room"--and what I get back is criticism and unkindness--with others blaming me for "criticising" and judging--when truly that's what they are doing.
But--anyway--I am wandering here. So--I made some changes because of this "reality" I face. Although it is obnoxious, it is a reality in my life that I've had to face many times. But, this does not mean that I have to put up with being mistreated, misjudged, labeled, or plain treated unkindly.
Anywho--what I have found, though, along this short journey--is that there actually are those in the Gospel and Church who do not disagree with me. Perhaps they are "hearing Who's" as well in their ears? Who knows. I also started praying--yes, about helping me to forgive such mistreatment--but also to help me know what to do. I know that the Lord has sent me here with gifts, and a mission. But, how do I go about that "mission" if no one will listen? I don't want to be Jonah, ya know!
So--during the last General Conference, I received an answer. I've had thoughts for years of writing a book about Disabilities and the Gospel. Unfortunately, finding time in my crazy busy life is very hard. Plus, well--although I'd like to say that I'm disciplined enough to do something like drag myself up at 5:00 a.m. to write a book like this, I'm not.
But--oddly enough, I do seem to find time in my crazy life to write on blogs. Ya--I don't get it??? You would think it would be the other way around--but somehow writing in a blog is reinforcing--while writing a book like this some other way isn't? I don't get how my own motivation works here--but such is life.
So--warts and all--my answer this General Conference was to blog my thoughts--even, to write my "book" on-line. So--here is my attempt.
There is a blog about Disabilities and the Gospel which I LOVE: http://mormonmd.wordpress.com/
I love this man's blog!!! First, he is an AMAZING writer (which, I don't know that I can claim that same truth)--second--he just points out such amazing truths in his writing--and was not afraid to discuss some really controversial topics, while putting a Gospel spin on it all.
So--although at least initially, I'm going to be adding my writing to my LDS Disability Ideas blog (I've felt prompted to add them here, rather than my LDS Opinion blog--cause--I have no idea!), just on this page, I wanted to let everyone know what is going on. This page may look more like an outline--I may start writing and stop abruptly depending on my schedule. I may write ideas, and put parentheses in my writing saying (citation) or (scripture). I do this with my professional writing because I've found that it works better for me. So, please don't HARP if it's not complete--and I would greatly appreciate comments (that is, as long as you're not going to rip at my "elephant" pointing. If you do that--I'll probably edit you away....).
So--here's the current outline of the topics I'm considering writing more about:
1. Disability History and the Church: Related? Not related? The Good (is there any?), the bad, and the ugly. We NEED to face it, so WE don't repeat it!
2. Christ's REAL interactions with people with disabilities throughout the New Testament, how we usually interpret them, and how they actually should be interpreted.
3. Current practices in the Church. It's 2011 (soon to be 2012!). Where SHOULD we be? Where are "we" really? Let's look at "community" vs non-Christ like "benevolence". What really is inclusion? What is NOT inclusion? (In other words--the ways we convince ourselves in the Church we're being inclusive, when we're really NOT being inclusive.) AND why when we're told "it's the better choice" or "no practice/program fits all" what we should really be asking is "is it really the "better" choice--or the ONLY choice being offered (typically this is the less inclusive choice)?"
4. Revelations about people with disabilities: The truth, the lies, the legends, and my own views (just views--not "truth").
5. Where (I think) we should be going---and why.
6. What embracing full inclusion in the Church could lead to (using the scriptures to discuss this, and support it)
7. What would happened if we all used Person-First Language? Dealing with stigma in the Church--what would it be like if there were no more "super-crip" stories in the Church???
8. The whys. Why are people born with disabilities? Why can we become disabled later? Why do such things happen (good questions--most of this will be info. from General Authority talks--not me)
9. How can we increase the rigor within the Church--of what is taught as truth and good practice about people with disabilities? Unfortunately, the few attempts I've seen at this, most people refer back to talks given my General Authorities 10 plus years ago. Since practices in this area (in the world beyond the Church) are continually "updated" (well--at least attempts are made to do this), should we in the Church not "attempt" to keep updated as well?
10. Being a World-Wide Church. How do we do this with members and others with disabilities, especially considering the U.S. COULD be considered "advanced" (I say that loosely) compared to some other practices (theories, ideas, etc.) in other countries?
11. Supporting life. How do we go about doing this in the Church, with our beliefs about life and so forth--in this day and age of constant medical advancement (for both good, and evil).
12. Scriptures: How reading them (or being involved in reading them--even if "reading" occurs in an adapted way) literally opens windows in the mind.
Okay--so there you go! Hope to add soon.