Graham Adams is a theological educator, specializing in missiology. He teaches for Northern College (United Reformed and Congregational) which is a constituent college of Luther King Centre for Theology and Ministry (Manchester, UK), an ecumenical partnership of theological education, and with the Congregational Institute of Practical Theology. Previously, he was in local ministry in Manchester, while also working nationally in lay training. His publications include Christ and the Other (2010) and Theology of Religions: Through the lens of ‘Truth-as-Openness’ (2019), and contributions to The Spirit of Dissent (2015), Bible and Theology from the underside of Empire (2016) and Scripture and Resistance (2019).
His research interests are theologies of solidarity – namely, Andrew Shanks’ theology of ‘shakenness’, mission in the context of empire, theologies of religious diversity, childlikeness, and has an interest in ‘chaos’. He also writes hymns, contributing to Hymns of Hope and Healing (2017). He is a member of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’s ‘Inter-Faith Theological Advisory Group’, and has participated in several CWM theological consultations, concerning globalisation, oikos, economics, empire and anti-racism.
Glimpses of God’s Dis/Abled Domain: Rising Up against Empire in small steps / huge leaps
Even where the Shitstem offers support to people, specifically children, with disabilities, it does so on the basis that they ‘cannot’ do certain things, that they ‘do not’ meet particular developmental benchmarks, and that they ‘will not’ function as independent (economic) actors. In other words, it ‘sees’ their identity, dignity and agency in terms of deficit – that which ‘cannot’ be seen. My nephew, Simeon, has a genetic condition causing ‘global developmental delay’ and this is the systemic culture in which he is growing. While the Shitstem views his achievements as small steps, the truth is that they are huge leaps. How, then, might we alternatively view such identity, talking back to the deficit model, to glimpse more fully what Simeon is revealing to us? Part-way through the man’s healing in Mark 8: 22-26, he glimpses others as ‘trees, walking’, so perception is inverted: the dis/abled person exercises agency to (mis)perceive able-bodied people in objectified terms. What can we learn? A) Dis/abled people lead the way to God’s realm, leaping in small steps – and a theology of ‘chaos theory’ reaffirms the power of small events, destabilising how the Empire sees, thinks and acts; B) ‘Able’-bodied people should ‘receive God’s realm’ as dis/abled people, alert to the objectification of others, queering mis-perceptions; and C) As Jesus tells the man not to return to the village, so we should not revert to sites of objectification, but identify how God’s alternative horizon both exposes the Shitstem’s limited vision and enables and inspires us, alternatively, to see and celebrate each other’s dynamic humanity.