Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality  -     By: Thomas E. Reynolds
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Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality

Brazos Press / 2008 / Paperback

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Product Description

As parents of a son with disabilities, Thomas Reynolds and his wife know what it's like to be misunderstood by a church community. In Vulnerable Communion, Reynolds draws upon that personal experience and a diverse body of literature to empower churches and individuals to foster deeper hospitality toward persons with disabilities.

Reynolds shows that the Christian story is one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of power in vulnerability. Wholeness, he argues, comes not from self-sufficiency, but from the "genuinely inclusive communion" that results from sharing our humanity--including our lack of ability--with one another. Then, and only then, will we truly live in hospitality with one another and with people with disabilities.

Reynolds offers valuable biblical, theological, and pastoral tools to understand and welcome those with disabilities. The book will be useful to academics, students, and pastors, as well as anyone touched by disability in some way. Readers will find penetrating examinations of the difficult questions of why God allows disability and what the church can learn from people with disabilities.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1587431777
ISBN-13: 9781587431777
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

As parents of a son with disabilities, Thomas E. Reynolds and his wife know what it's like to be misunderstood by a church community. In Vulnerable Communion, Reynolds draws upon that personal experience and a diverse body of literature to empower churches and individuals to foster deeper hospitality toward persons with disabilities.

Reynolds argues that the Christian story is one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of power in vulnerability. He offers valuable biblical, theological, and pastoral tools to understand and welcome those with disabilities. Vulnerable Communion will be a useful resource for any student, theologian, church leader, or lay person seeking to discover the power of God revealed through weakness.

Author Bio

Thomas E. Reynolds (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is associate professor of theology at Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. He lives in North York, Ontario.

Author Bio

Thomas E. Reynolds (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is associate professor of theology at Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. He lives in North York, Ontario.

Endorsements

"Disability is a gift that forces us to rethink what we thought was settled. The worship of a crucified savior in a similar manner forces us to rethink what we thought was settled. It is to Reynolds's great credit, therefore, that he helps us see how disability and the gospel are inseparably linked just to the extent that they both force us to recognize our vulnerability. It will be a shame if this book is read only by those concerned about disability, because Reynolds's reflections are crucial for any work in constructive theology." -Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

"Vulnerable Communion is subversive theology in the tradition of the prophets speaking from the margins of society. It calls the church to confront and dismantle the (world's) 'cult of normalcy,' within which the church has uncritically worshipped. It also calls for a theology of disability that not merely insists on caring for people with disabilities but that allows the experience of disability to interrogate its theology of power. The result is a long-awaited and much-needed theological revisioning of the traditional doctrines of God, Christ, creation, redemption, and church so that the true power of the gospel is released from the underside of history once again." -Amos Yong, book review editor, Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health; associate research professor of theology, Regent University School of Divinity

"A remarkable book that reveals in a compelling way that being truly human and Christian is not just accepting people with disabilities but accepting our own vulnerability by entering with them into a relationship of mutuality where each one gives and each one receives. Their place is not at the margins of society and of the church, but at the center, urging and calling us all to open up to the fundamental truth of our being; they can then become our healers. This book is essential reading for all Christians who desire to enter more fully into the vision of our loving God for our world and to become men and women of peace." -Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche

"Tom Reynolds has written a theologically profound and deeply moving exploration of what happens to core Christian understandings of God, of Christ, of community, and of embodiment when these are understood in light of disability. His work makes an important and bracing contribution to disability studies. It makes an equally important contribution to theology, making available an awareness of how our vulnerability opens us to each other and to the great compassion of the divine. It would be hard to come away from this beautiful book unchanged." -Wendy Farley, Emory University

"What we call disability is part of our fragile life and also of life's mystery in God. To understand disabled people and our own vulnerability and to understand the vulnerable and compassionate God condition each other. This astonishing book serves both sides and is an insightful contribution to an all-embracing theology of life." -Jurgen Moltmann, University of Tubingen

"This is an important work for theologians, ethicists, clergy, and seminary students as they reconsider assumptions about human and divine power and privilege. In placing persons with disabilities at the center of the theological conversation about God's power, Reynolds negates the 'cult of normalcy,' offers a theology of vulnerability, and encourages the church to reclaim its role in providing hospitality to those on the margins of society." -Kathy Black, Claremont School of Theology, and author of A Healing Homiletic: Preaching and Persons with Disabilities

"For years, I have thought that the key theological and pastoral issue in ministries with people with disabilities is not disability per se, but vulnerability. Tom Reynolds has taken that premise from his own experience as a father and his own training as a theologian and crafted a theology based on a foundation of vulnerability that does two things simultaneously: it deconstructs and reframes a social understanding of disability from a theological perspective; and builds new understandings of classic theological doctrines based on the foundation that vulnerability, diversity, and hospitality are at the core of God's creation. I have rarely read a manuscript where I made so many 'amen' marks. This book is an amazing integration of Reynolds's experience in the worlds of disability and theology. This is a wonderful contribution to theological studies--a resource that any clergy interested in understanding vulnerability for ministry will go to again and again--and a theological contribution to the exploding field of disability studies." -Bill Gaventa, editor, Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health

"Powerful in its questioning of 'the disabling framework of the 'normal',' Reynolds's unflinching account emits an irresistible lucidity. A theology of life as sheer gift unfurls in the space opened by his profound meditation on human vulnerability." -Catherine Keller, Drew University

"Thomas Reynolds provides another vital resource and is a new and important voice in issues concerning the place and presence of people whom the world calls 'disabled' in the life of the church. Reynolds carefully unpacks the baggage of labels and stigmas that have been placed upon the lives of many people with disabilities. With strong, articulate theological arguments, he lifts up the power of being what the world would call 'weak' and 'vulnerable,' in which the presence of the Christ is revealed in all of human life. Yet Reynolds is quick to remind us that this discovery is not a solo journey, but discovered in the very practice of hospitality within the body of Christ, in which we are reminded that this resurrected body is inclusive of all God's people." -Brett Webb-Mitchell, School of the Pilgrim

Publisher's Weekly

Chris Reynolds, the author's 17-year-old son, has been diagnosed with a host of problems including Tourette's syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The author, who teaches systematic theology at the University of Toronto, writes movingly of his deep love for his son: living with a child with disabilities has opened him “to a surplus of grace that can only be called divine.” This book, however, is neither memoir nor practical advice; it is a heavily footnoted scholarly treatise written in a largely academic style, arguing that disability is the norm; the image of God means not rationality but relationality; redemption is a result of God's own vulnerability; and the proper Christian response to otherness is hospitality. Reasoning from experience and from the Bible, Reynolds develops a theology of creation, sin, redemption and the church designed to produce a “metaphorical reversal” that challenges our culture's “cult of normalcy” by “privileging disability.” Despite an occasional tangle of postmodern jargon, Reynolds's insights are often compelling: “The basic question of human existence is whether there is welcome at the heart of things, whether we can find a home with others who recognize us, value us, and empower us to become ourselves.” (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Patricia Chadwick
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    May 25, 2008
    Patricia Chadwick
    Having a child with a disability myself, this book really hit home. While the authors son had more severe handicaps than what my son had to deal with, I could relate to the deep love that Reynolds has for his son and the discrimination that is experienced, even in the church.Living with a child with a disability changes you. It makes you more compassionate towards others and less quick to judge. The author does a great job in arguing why the church should be the hands and feet of Jesus and have compassion on the "unlovely" and reach out the hand of fellowship to them.I will be honest, this book is not a quick read. It is heavily footnote and the reader knows after the first few pages that it is written by a scholarly man. With that said, I still feel it is worth the read. You won't be disappointed and will be surprised at how much you learn.
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