what is dignity? and does it make a good death?

This morning the Guardian greeted me with another piece on euthanasia: When it’s time to go, let me go with a nice glass of whisky and a pleasing pill. Drabble argues that, for the sake of of ‘compassion, dignity and common sense’ it’s time to change laws on assisted death and euthanasia. It would be compassionate because suffering is needless, common sense because aging and disability are expensive. But what about dignity?

I don’t want to get into a discussion on euthanasia itself. Honestly, I don’t feel I’m emotionally equipped to do it justice; I’ve never watched someone die.

Instead, I’m interested in dignity. Advocates of euthanasia broadcast their concern for dignity. Lobby groups, ‘Dying with Dignity’, ‘Dying in Dignity’, ‘Dignity in Dying’, promote the cause. Whether you’re for or against euthanasia, everyone believes in dignity. At the heart of the controversy over euthanasia, I would suggest, is a conflict over the meaning of human dignity. What is dignity, and why die with it?

With dignity funeral services

There’s a lot of confusion around the concept of dignity. Is it innate? Is it contingent on one’s behaviour or ability? Perhaps it is conferred by others. If so, could I do something to take away your dignity? Or would treating you in an ‘undignified’ way merely mean failing to treat you according to the dignity you have?

Dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. OED.

Pro-euthanasia arguments sometimes suggest that:

  • dignity is innate (dignity being the ground for human rights, including, it is claimed, the right to death)
  • dignity is contingent on one’s abilities (thus dependence on others for basic needs could be seen as undignified)
  • dignity is conferred by others (thus being treated without respect could mean loss of dignity)

Right to Die with Dignity

Looking at Dying with Dignity NSW’s website, I can find no definition of dignity. Dignity in Dying (which Drabble supports) doesn’t define dignity itself, but outlines its vision for a ‘dignified death’:

We believe that everyone has the right to a dignified death. This means:

  • Choice over where we die, who is present and our treatment options.
  • Access to expert information on our options, good quality end-of-life care, and support for loved ones and carers.
  • Control over how we die, our symptoms and pain relief, and planning our own death.

Choice, access and control. The basic value underpinning dignity for euthanasia organisations is autonomy. Autonomy means the ability to choose not to suffer, not to be dependent on others, not to grow weak.

Thus, the apparent confusion of wither dignity is innate, earned or conferred is no confusion at all. If autonomy is the source of dignity, all people have some degree of dignity, but this can be limited by their own lack of ability or the limitations others place on them.

(Interestingly pro-euthanasia groups limit their offer of the choice of euthanasia to ‘competent adults’, ‘those psychologically capable of doing so’ but not  ‘vulnerable people’ such as people with mental illness. In my more cynical moments I wonder if this is actually perfectly consistent since, in an autonomy model of dignity, vulnerable people lack dignity already.)

But I would suggest there is a better way to understand dignity, fuller and richer than autonomy. After all, the autonomy model only gets us so far; no one can choose not to die, we all lose our autonomy eventually.

Dignity is about being who God made you to be.

Now the Bible doesn’t actually say much about dignity specifically. It does teach that humankind has dignity because of our relationship to God and his creation. God ‘crowned’ us with ‘glory and honour.’ He is the source of our dignity.

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet…
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Since God has crowned us with dignity, it is fitting to behave according to this dignity. In line with Psalm 8, to live in dignity, I would say, is to live in the knowledge that though we are small, we are loved by God.The ‘Woman of Valour‘ of Proverbs 31 is ‘clothed with strength and dignity’ as she ‘fears the Lord.’ 1 Timothy 2 teaches us to ‘live a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity’. Titus is taught to ‘make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.’ There is something about dignity will be obvious to those around. There is a quiet contentment to it. Perhaps the Ephesians 2 teaching that we are God’s workmanship or better, craftmanship, helps. Dignity is being who God made you, but also becoming the artwork God is making you.

Though there is little specifically on dignity in scripture, its teaching on ‘good death’ is plain.

It all comes down to whether Jesus’ death was a victory or a tragedy.

1 Peter 2

But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

Philippians 2

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name…

Sutherland CrucifixionJesus death was not only a  good death, but the good death. More than that (or perhaps worse still?!), his death is a model for us.

What made it good? It wasn’t simply that Jesus suffered. This isn’t sadism. An assumption of some pro-euthanasia advocates is that suffering is not only not good, but it is meaningless. Yet Jesus’ suffering was full of meaning. It was for us and it was an expression of obedience and trust in the knowledge of who God is (of course it means many other things which I can’t go into just now).

While an autonomy model of dignity leads to a vision of the ‘good death’ as one based on ‘choice, access and control’, the ‘good death’ of Jesus was exactly the opposite: one of submission, sacrifice and obedience. Yet, if anyone has died with dignity, it was Jesus. Though it appeared undignified to those who tried to humiliate him, his death was pleasing to God and full of dignity. So for those who believe Jesus died the good death, dignity in death cannot be about autonomy.

So what do you think of my foundation for dignity – being who God made you to be, becoming who God made you to become? Can you think of a better way to understand dignity?

 

Some final links – This piece from the Vatican on Respect for the Dignity of the Dying is worth considering, as is anything by Stella Young, including Disability – a fate worse than death? Finally, Maria Popova’s piece on Brainpickings about Michael Hecht’s book Stay: A Social History of Suicide is worth a read for another secular perspective.

 

 

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Forgoing the blessing of children

Can Christian couples be ‘childfree’ to God’s glory? Can we choose not to have children for the sake of the Kingdom?

Time the Childfree lifeThe issue has been rebounding around the internet in the last few weeks after Time magazine published a piece on the ‘Childfree’ life. It generated a lot of discussion; the decision not to have children (especially when made by women), is still considered a little subversive. The ‘childfree’ feel judged but, increasingly, people are opting not to have children anyway.

I’ve been thinking about this issue for a long time. Five years, actually, ever since a popular American preacher came to Katoomba and told us that Christian couples who choose not to have children are selfish.

I disagree.

Moreover, the failure of evangelical leaders to speak out clearly correcting fundamentalist Christian fertility movements such as Quiverfull (Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement is worth a read), I find very concerning. And it’s not just an American thing.

But I haven’t blogged about the issue until now because a lot of people, much wiser and more experienced than me, think otherwise. They seem to believe  Christian marriage involves always having children if possible:

  • Kathleen Nielsen from the Gospel Coalition posted on The Problem with the Childfree Life last week, teaching that ‘children are God’s merciful means of growing his redeemed people, generation after generation.’
  • Andrew Cameron & Megan Best write, in The Briefing that ‘God generally calls married people to openly welcome children, and the welcome of children remains inherent to the purpose of a marriage, even if not to every sexual act within it. We suggest, then, that for most married couples, it is an abuse of contraception always to remain closed to having children.’ See also Cameron’s The Joined-up life for a more detailed argument.

When people older and wiser think otherwise, I’m a bit hesitant to put forward another view. But I just can’t agree with arguments that Christian couples are obligated to at least try to have children. If I am wrong, hopefully by putting myself out there like this, someone will tell me where I’ve gone wrong (if this post is mysteriously deleted, you’ll know that’s happened!).

These are the main points I’ll make over the next few days.

  1. Marriage is not about kids.
  2. The New Covenant people are different to the old. Jesus is the one who fills and subdues the earth through his Church and God’s people are those born of the Spirit. In the Church, ‘family’ has a radical new meaning.
  3. Christians are free to make wise and loving decisions in the Spirit. This may mean forgoing earthly blessings (even family) for the sake of the Kingdom.

MadonnaI do want to affirm, however, that children are a blessing from God and that the Christian choice to have children in a broken and suffering world is an act of faith: God is redeeming the world! But the decision not to have children for the sake of the gospel can also be an act of faith, so I’m simply going to argue that we are free in regards to this decision.

And finally, if my in-laws are reading this, don’t panic, this is not an announcement that grandkids are off the cards! Though parenthood terrifies me and I think it’s wisest my husband and I remain ‘childfree’ for now, I do hope to have children one day, God willing.

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Happy Friday again. Sorry, there’s not much material this week. I must have spent a lot more time with actual people (rather than the internet) this week. Enjoy your weekends!

On politics

To my shame, this had never occurred to me. Sandy Grant Thanking pollies

Less seriously, the Guardian lets you mix and match your own PM.

On toys

Lisa Wade Power, Mickey Mouse and the infantilisation of women

On mission

Damaris Zehner Missions 101: or how to be more like a soldier of an oppressive imperalist nation

My all-time favorite Bible character (yes, yes, excluding Jesus) is the centurion whose story is told in Luke 7.  I don’t know much about him, yet I’ve loved him to the point of tears since I was a child.  I suspect that one reason is that he, like me, was an expatriate.  Both of us spent years away from home, in a foreign culture, representing a richer, more powerful nation and surrounded by people who had every reason to resent us.

On the Trinity

Fred Sanders You, me and the heavenly three: what the Trinity can’t tell us about gender

On brains

Yuka Igarashi Why do we make mistakes? Blame your brain, the original autocorrector

on not fitting in at church

I don’t feel like I fit in at church. As I’ve said, I’m not a fan of women’s coffee and dessert nights. We don’t really sing my type of music. As far as I’m concerned, the best church songs are at least 150 years old (with the original melody – and SATB harmony – please!). Often I think I’d probably fit better at the traditional service. Pity about the 60 year age-gap and the 8am start (not even the mighty Book of Common Prayer can get me out of the house before 8am on a Sunday). I’m married, but don’t have kids. I’m a student, but I’m not 19. I don’t make half the income of others my age. I’m a feminist and a Christian and I think they’re perfectly compatible. I’ll probably vote Green at the next election. I mill around at supper after the service… more small talk… I try to look like I’m looking for someone in particular as I circle the room… I’ve got nothing in common with these people… I don’t think I quite fit.

I’ve got friends who no longer come to church because they don’t like ‘Christians’ and they don’t ‘fit in.’ I can’t blame them; ‘Christians’ can be irritating at times, to put it lightly. ‘Christian’ sometimes seems like a distinct personality type (see Jon Acuff’s blog for a full description of the Christian species – they all dress, vote and think alike). Probably an ESFJ. Optimistic. Bubbly. And if you can’t fit that, you won’t ‘fit in.’

It’s funny, but sometimes I get the impression that most people don’t feel like they fit in at church. How can that be?

I don’t think the solution is just about avoiding clichés, chucking out the veggie tales merchandise, conference T-shirts and the WWJD bands – trying to demolish the stereotypes so that everyone feels like they can ‘fit in’ without having to buy into all that. Nor do I even recommend trying to cater to all the personalities or interests at church – a men’s breakfast group, a women’s reading group, a bike-riding group, a knitting group, a gluten-free baking group… This is all well and good, but don’t think you’ll ever cater for everyone. Instead I think we need to re-examine the assumption that people should be ‘fitting in’ at all.

Generally I’ve assumed that ‘fitting in’ is good and necessary, especially for something as important as church. If you don’t fit in, that’s a problem we need to fix. But is it? Is that the purpose of church, to be a place where you ‘fit in?’

Puzzle

I’ve been reading John Milbank’s essay Stale Expressions: The management-shaped Church. He slams the idea of ‘churches’ for people who naturally fit together.

The church cannot be found amongst merely the like-minded, who associate in order to share a particular taste, hobby or perversion. It can only be found where many different peoples possessing many different gifts collaborate in order to produce a divine-human community in a specific location. St Paul wrote to Galatia and Corinth, not to regiments or to weaving-clubs for widow. He insisted on a unity that emerges from the harmonious blending of differences. Hence the idea that the church should ‘plant’ itself in various sordid and airless interstices of our contemporary world, instead of calling people to ‘come to church’, is wrongheaded, because the refusal to come out of oneself and go to  church is simply the refusal of church per se….

For him, a church by definition is an assembly of followers of Jesus in a particular place. That is, people who have nothing in common apart from being Jesus’ followers in that place. They share the one Spirit, and that’s it. In fact there can be no ‘fitting in’ because this would compromise the witness of the church to the gospel. More than not fitting, we’re a group of people naturally hostile to each other (Eph 2). We don’t fit, that is, apart from the miracle of the Gospel of Jesus bringing us together. God is making the new humanity out of people who otherwise have nothing in common.

More than not naturally ‘fitting’ together, we actually need the people who don’t seem like us. If we were all ears, how could the body smell? Since when did a nose ever look like it belonged on a face? Why is rhinoplasty so popular? Noses are funny-looking, but we need them to function.

Of course, this hardly helps pastorally for those who of us who don’t feel like they fit. Wanting to belong is a good and natural thing. The answer to someone’s sense of being out of place is not ‘so what?’,  But also, trying to manufacture a sense of belonging based on shared interests, demographics, hobbies or opinions is a false hope. Not everyone is going to fit. We’re too diverse for that.

Not only will it not work, but such an approach can risk masking a great truth of the gospel – WE DON’T NATURALLY FIT TOGETHER. There’s no explanation for how this random group of people can hang together apart from Jesus.

So if you don’t feel like you fit in at church, I know, it sucks, but I’d say have hope – this is actually evidence that there’s something miraculous going on. You do belong, but it’s through the Spirit, not your taste in music. More than that, if you don’t feel like you fit, we need you even more. You might just be the sense of smell or ears or eyes. You’re part of this body and we need you.

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I’ve spent too much of this week darting from TV to twitter to facebook, so it’s flown by. The novelty of politics getting more attention than League (even if it was for all the wrong reasons) still hasn’t worn off. It’s a good time to be a Queenslander, I suppose. How was your week?

On bodies

John Swinton What the body remembers: theological reflections on dementia

A good deal of theology, and indeed much of our worship, pivots on the assumption that the theologian is addressing an individuated, experiencing, cognitively able self, perceived as a reasoning, thinking, independent, decision-making being. This cognitively able self is assumed to have the potential to know and understand certain things about God – a God who is available at an intellectual level through such things as Scripture, revelation, prayer, or by means of some or other form of communicable spiritual experience…

 

At a basic level, the assertion that “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:10), requires a certain level of subjectivity, awareness and cognitive competence. But what happens if you cannot confess the Lord with your mouth? How do we understand the spiritual lives of those who have no idea and can have no cognitive idea about who “the Lord” is? How can you call upon the name of the Lord and be saved if you have forgotten who the Lord is? What does it mean to be a disciple when you don’t know who Jesus is or you have forgotten who he is?

 

That is the question I want to explore here: What does it mean to be a disciple when you have forgotten who Jesus is?

On gay marriage

Roger Olson Church, Marriage, Culture and the Law

On mission

Here’s Arthur Davis explaining why we need to get over our social justice vs evangelism dichotomy. An introduction to mission as transformation.

On personality types

Slackpropagation on “geek” vs “nerd”. This guy is probably the uber-nerd. He’s defined geek and nerd and then analysed twitter data to graph the relative nerdiness or geekiness of topics. I love it.

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He also recommends a website which finds out which Myers Briggs your blog or website is. www.typealyzer.com. This site came up as INTP (I’m normally ENTJ, but I’m trying to tone down the J).

On Labor politics

Scott Stephens The resurrection of Kevin Rudd

If you haven’t had enough yet, you could play Labor Partyopoly (thanks first dog on the moon).

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Welcome back readers. Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve got a few half-baked blog posts on the go but I figure it’s better to write too little than too much (especially when it’s only half-baked), but there will be more blogging to come.

On asylum seekers

Michael Jensen The Dead at Sea

Mark Brett Asylum seekers and universal human rights; Does the Bible Matter?

Sophie Timothy Church taskforce calls for humanity in asylum seeker debate

On historical criticism

I’m so excited about this book. I’m hoping to give you a rundown when my copy arrives. Here’s Brian Le Port’s review Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism.

On fellowship

Morgan Guyton Agenda-less fellowship

On comfort

Chaplain Mike Job and Jacob

On pastoring

Rachel Held Evans 11 things I wish more pastors would say (number 1 being ‘I don’t know’). She’s done a follow up post on what pastors want to hear from their congregations.

On sexism

What a week, just when you think it’s over there’s another story.

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when it’s Christian vs Christian

A few weeks ago there was some confusion in the Briefing as to how Christians should debate when we disagree. First was an article on playing the man and not the ball arguing against ad hominems. Then a couple of days later on second thoughts seemed to endorse personal attacks, stating that ‘it is impossible to tackle an argument without tackling the person putting it forward, with the all consequences that flow from that.’

I was quite surprised by the whole thing. In the gospels, the ad hominem attack seemed to be the Pharisee’s favourite way of avoiding something they didn’t want to hear (‘you were steeped in sin at birth!’ ‘are you from Galilee too?’ ‘you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed!’). It’s not presented as great way of listening or responding. I was thinking of writing a response to the Briefing but hardly knew where to start.

So instead I found an example of disagreement done well.

Against and For Calvinism

Roger Olson is an Arminian. Michael Horton is a Calvinist. They’ve gone head to head in their books For Calvinism and Against Calvinism. But interestingly, each wrote the foreword to each other’s book.

Here’s an excerpt of Olson’s forward to Horton’s For Calvinism

High, federal Calvinism, the theology expressed in this book, necessarily makes God the author of sin and evil… I worry that this theology undermines the goodness of God’s character.

So you think he’s banging the heresy gong. You’d think he and Horton could never be reconciled. ‘Farewell Michael Horton’ would be the tweet.They’re probably enemies. But no, he recommends the book.

Anyone interested in reading the best case possible for Calvinism must read this book… After reading the book I can recommend it whole-heartedly with the reservation that I strongly disagree with its central claims. In today’s climate of theological controversy many people with think that inconsistent. Well they’re simply wrong. It is possible to be committed and fair, critical and generous.

Far from insinuating that their disagreement arises from some terrible flaw in Horton’s character, causing him to distort the truth, Olson has only praise for Horton’s character, calling him ‘one of the kindest, gentlest true Calvinists around’, someone who writes ‘without arrogance or hostility’ towards those who disagree.

Horton doesn’t hold back either. In his view, Olson’s position denies the sufficiency of Jesus’ death for our salvation.

If Roger followed Arminiamism to its logical conclusion, he should go on to deny that salvation is entirely of God’s grace; that Arminianism leads inevitably to human-centred rather than God-centred convictions.

Ouch! You’d think he’d be about to declare an anathema!

Yet Horton takes care to mention that he and Olson agree on some very important things.

At the end of the day, Roger and I share the most important agreement: namely, that the crucial questions involved in this debate must be brought to the bar of Scripture. We both believe that Scripture is clear and sufficient, even if we are confused and weak. We are all pilgrims on the way, not yet those who have arrived at our glorious destination. Only by endeavoring more and more to talk to each others as coheirs with Christ instead of about each other and past each other as adversaries can we engage with serious disagreements – and with the hope that we may also be surprised by felicitous agreements along the way.

Horton and Olson debate in a way which aims to build up, not to tear down. They value humility, gentleness and generosity in the way they debate. They correct each other, but do so in love and without denying that Jesus has made them brothers.

The whole sports metaphor of ‘playing the man or the ball’ misses the point. Actually, it’s unhelpful to understand debate among Christians in terms of a potentially violent competition. Watch out if you don’t want to get hurt – only the toughest guys play this game! As Horton puts it, we’re all pilgrims. We’re not in competition. We’re on the same team. It’s possible to disagree in a way which values truth but which honours our underlying unity.

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Finally Friday again.

While we were all distracted by the turmoil in the labor party (I wasted a whole afternoon flicking between the ABC and twitter), there were other things going on in parliament yesterday – an apology for forced adoptions and the NDIS Bill passed!

NDIS

Here’s an update on its unfortunate new name – Discontent over DisabilityCare name

Also Vanuatu actually did lose a PM yesterday (and I like trying to read Bislama). Here it is in English.

On finding a church

Derek Rishmawy Checking out churches – don’t forget the ‘Jesus Drinking Game Test’

 As a baseline minimum, if you wouldn’t get drunk if you had to sip every time they mention Jesus or the Gospel in a church service, then it’s probably not a church you want to be going to.

On the Bible

Rachel Held Evans The Bible: it’s just not that into you

So some friends recently pointed me to thePersonal Promise Bible, in which you can personalize the biblical text to include you name in over 7,000 places.

Some examples provided on the Web site:

2 Peter 1:4 – “By which He has granted to Joe His precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these Joe may become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

On the pope

I feel like the new pope is old news now. Still, I found this piece interesting.

Kevin White The new pope: novelty following precedence

On ridiculous gendered products

The Hoopla Hah hah hah…no, it’s real

Yep, it’s real. And so far 7,000 lucky, lucky women have one.

It’s the pink ePad Femme for women that comes pre-loaded with ever app a chick could ever want – cooking, yoga, perfume, recipes and supermarket shopping.

On Barth

This one’s long, but as a beginner, I found it helpful and mostly easy to follow. Roger Olson Was Karl Barth a universalist? A new look at an old question.

On ‘the fundamentalist tendency’

Arthur Davis Evangelicals and the fundamentalist tendency

How can we claim to hold Scripture as our final authority in a way that’s not fundamentalist?

On its own, to claim that Scripture is your final authority doesn’t make you a fundamentalist; it’s a mainstream Christian perspective, as Jensen says. However, Scripture is always interpreted, and ‘Scripture as final authority’ must always mean, at some level, ‘Scripture as we read it’. The thing is, it’s a treacherously small step from saying, ‘We’re Bible-believing Christians’ to saying, ‘We’re the true/only Bible-believing Christians.’ This is where we evangelicals face a recurring temptation: when we encounter others who also hold to the authority of Scripture, yet who differ from us, we’re inclined to claim this is because they do not truly recognise the authority of Scripture, and are disobedient. That’s where the fundamentalist tendency begins to show.

On the biggest loser

I caught a few minutes of The Biggest Loser while channel surfing last Sunday. They’d taken people up the top of a cliff over water and told them they had to jump and swim if they wanted to stay on the show. One of the mothers was in tears of fear – she wasn’t a strong swimmer. What jumping off cliffs on national TV has to do with promoting mental and physical health,  I don’t know. It’s just bullying. I turned it off.

Kerri Sackville Fat shaming race

On reconciliation and acknowledgment

Sophie Timothy Churches acknowledge stolen land

On Gina

Yes, you’re sick of hearing about her, but this one from the New Yorker’s a good article. William Finnegan The Miner’s Daughter

On dolls

Jessica Samakow Dolls for downs: mom creates doll inspired by her daughter

When Hannah Feda was 9 years old, she was flipping through a toy catalog and noticed that there were dolls that resembled her younger sister, but none that looked like her. Hannah, who is now 13, has Down syndrome.

On computers

computer parade

East Germany showing off its computers in a state parade, 1987

 

which country expects a kid to wait more than 2 years for a wheelchair?

wheelchair

Which country expects a kid to wait more than two years for a wheelchair?

Which country expects someone to live with only two showers a week?

Which country abandons young people to life in a nursing home?

Which country ranks bottom (27th out of 27 OECD countries) for people with disabilities living in poverty?

Yep. That’s us. Aussie aussie aussie.

disabilitea_logo_2012

So I hosted a disabiliTEA (part of the Every Australian Counts campaign) last week with friends from church to talk about disability in Australia.

Every Australian Counts is pushing for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The problem is that at the moment disability support is a mess. It’s a lottery. If you acquired your disability at work you’re probably relatively well supported, but if you were born with a disability, good luck!

It also depends where you live. Regional or remote families struggle to get services, but also every state has different levels of support. Programs pop up and down with budget cycles, leaving people in the lurch.

At the moment we have a crisis. I think the worst are stories of parents who have to give their disabled child up to government care, not because they want to, but because they’re at breaking point and there’s no respite spaces available. Families break up over this sort of thing. More kids were given up this year than ever before.

The NDIS would be a national scheme, like Medicare, based on entitlement rather than welfare. It would give people with disabilities entitlement to support rather than the current system where people face the uncertainty of reapplying for support every few months, or worry about how they will manage once their ageing parents are no longer able to care for them.

Yes it’s obviously expensive.

But the research says that the cost of doing nothing would overtake the cost of an NDIS within 10 years.

  • This is because of the growing number of people who will need hospital care because they had no access to early treatment or because they can’t go home because they lack the support.
  • This is because of all the people with disabilities (they estimate 370,000 in 2050) who, with the right equipment, treatment and access to transport etc. will be able to work rather than depend on the disability pension. They’ll pay taxes too.
  • This is because of the thousands of carers (we have some 800,000 full time carers in Australia) who will be freed up to work.

It pays for itself.

But it’s also a matter of justice and inclusion.

make it real

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boy gospel girl gospel

Ladies, if you haven’t heard the news your waiting is over. Bic has, at last, released a pen just for us.

bic for her

Yes, you’ve been using man pens all these years. How embarrassing.

In case you missed it, here’s Ellen’s review of the new pens.

Fortunately you men, don’t have to put up with women candles anymore. There’s ‘man candles’ now.

man candles

And if you’ve noticed the recent Christmas huggies ads, little boys and little girls are now clear on who’s who. Elf nappies are apparently masculine whereas reindeer nappies are feminine.

christmas-nappy-nappies

It’s a pretty simple trick for marketers. To set your product apart, just add gender. Consumers love to feel like a ‘real’ man or ‘real’ woman, and this way you can probably sell twice as many.

I get a little irritated by the assumption that as a woman, I should like this and that (sleek pens, woman candles and reindeer), but I’m more amused by it than offended. There’s a whole pintrest page dedicated to Pointlessly Gendered Products – enjoy!

manual

But when it comes to gendering the Bible I get really worried. Walk into Koorong and you’ll see the pink floral ‘women of faith/grace and hope/his Princess/captivating kittens devotional Bible’ and the khaki ‘NIV MANual Bible for Men.’

Even this isn’t too bad either. Calling the Bible a ‘manual’ is probably more problematic than the need to package it as uber masculine. The gendered Bibles possibly suggest that men and women are so different that they relate to God differently and that they find different things important in the Bible so need their Bibles packaged differently.

More likely though is that it just indicates that Christian consumers are a little anxious about their masculinity or femininity and shop accordingly.

But these two really alarmed me.

bible boys

In ‘Bible Stories for Girls’ and ‘Bible Stories for Boys’, it’s not just the packaging of the Bible that differs according to gender, but it’s the content too. There are different stories for boys than for girls.

Not only does this suggest that God reveals himself differently to men and women, but that he actually has a different revelation for men and women, a different message. It suggests that parts of the Bible is for men other parts are for women. Ultimately it suggests A girl gospel and a boy gospel.

Finding meaning and identity gender is fine, if that’s what you’re into. It’s fine to buy and enjoy gendered products. What’s not ok is putting gender before our identity in Christ or suggesting that God relates differently to women and men. The whole Bible is for all of us, the whole gospel is for all of us. Through the Gospel of Jesus, we are all children of God, there is neither male or female, we are all one in Jesus.

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