Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 19

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE Women #3: Well, in our church—and it’s a small church, but it’s a pretty diverse church—one of the high priority issues is reaching out to our children, and we have a great mix of children. In caring for them, we try to build in the fact that you’re not disposable, that you count, that there is so much that you have inside of you, and we try to figure out how to pull that out, and when you do that, you also have to look at adults that have been from one ministry to another ministry, and how broken some of them are. And so you’re trying to communicate that it’s the Word of God that gives life, and that it’s he who can fix the situation; but just being able to allow yourself to love enough to think and come up with strategies that help people to begin to see their value, that’s the goal. And then, when they see their value, they can begin to recognize what the love of God is doing in them, so that they can continue to reach out. So, it’s just awesome. Smith: Thank you. Thanks for sharing. Do other folks have other things that they’re doing in their contexts they’d like to share? Man #1: This week in our cohort, we’re supposed to be talking about advocacy. And that’s tough for me: the idea of advocating in the moment for the individual but also working against the structures that have set up this oppressive system that you’re advocating for services within. Our son is in first grade and now is in a residential treatment facility. He got there in part because of his reactivity in school. And I was really torn, because I knew the services that he needed. But the trigger to get those services in the bureaucracy that we have in education is to get a label of emotionally disabled, to get him on social security disability. All the systems that you’re talking about that dehumanize the individual were the things th at I advocated for in order for him to get the services that he needed. So, I’d just like to hear you speak a little bit to that. I almost feel like in advocating for the individual, sometimes we’re perpetuating the system that’s created the crappy situation we’re dealing with in the first place. Smith: Yes. I agree, and that’s why I think you have to do both simultaneously, knowing that you’re not always going to have the ideal in a certain moment. So, in that particular case—and again I see this, of course, doing disability law—all you can do is go through that particular system. But, couldn’t we at the same time be saying, hey what would an educational model look like that was inclusive of students with disabilities? Can we build that? Does that make sense? Because if you look at a lot of the IEP (Individualized Education Program) battles, you’re basically advocating to go from one bad system to another slightly less bad system. Those are the alternatives. Where’s our imagination? Certainly we could be thinking about this. Let’s get together and think about this. I think that’s where it starts. 18