Joel's Reviews > Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity

Theology and Down Syndrome by Amos Yong
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Mar 14, 12


Too often people with disabilities and in particular people with intellectual disabilities are overlooked in disciplines like theology. These disciplines tend to deal with man, or more recently, men and women and ignore any special issues that arise for people who do not have the full set of capabilities typically ascribed to these abstract categories. Yong's book is an attempt to rectify this omission. No small task.

The work devotes large sections to disability in the bible, medical conceptions of disability, disability studies and disability theory applied to systematic theology. Each topic could sustain a large volume on its own and it is to Yong's credit that none of the topics feel as if they have been given short shrift. Each chapter begins with a story about Yong's brother who has down syndrome. This grounds what could otherwise be an airy exercise in academese in the daily dilemmas of life.

As someone new to working with people with disabilities and who sees much of their world through the lens of theology, I found much that was helpful in this work. The last section, on the resurrection, rung particularly true as I have spent much time worrying about how someone simply being 'cured' of a disability at that time devalues the unique and fascinating person they've become in virtue of that disability. I was also struck by his suggestion that we need to use the same care in talking about God's will concerning disability as we would in talking of the nature of the Trinity. There's many other such insights in this work and much will be gained from it by any and all concerned with these issues. Lest the 450 pages be intimidating, be encouraged, over a hundred of those are notes. This is a well crafted introduction to this topic and an excellent framework for future investigations into this field.
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