This ground-breaking book provides a fascinating insight into the relationship between sports (and leisure), religion and disability. In the shadow of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, at which athletes that were both able-bodied and disabled, provided an extravaganza of sporting excellence and drama, this text is a timely and important synthesis of ideas that have emerged in two previously distinct areas of research: (i) ‘disability sport’ and (ii) the ‘theology of disability’. Many of the elite athletes at this global sporting mega-event often explicitly displayed their religious beliefs, and in turn their importance in the context of sport, by observing different religious rituals, and or, utilising the multi-faith sports chaplaincy service. This raises a whole range of unanswered questions with regard to the intersections between sports, religion and disability, which to-date has been under- researched. Examples of subjects addressed in this text include: elite physical disability sport--Paralympics; intellectual disability sport--Special Olympics; reflections on the illness narrative of the cyclist Lance Armstrong through the lens of the theology of ‘radical orthodoxy’; the application of biblical athletic metaphors in understanding modern conceptions of disability sport; the role of sport and spirituality in the rehabilitation of injured British Military personnel, and; the importance of sports and leisure in L’Arche communities. This book begins a critical conversation on these topics, and many others, for both researchers and practitioners.
This book was based on two special issues of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health.
"The relationship between religion, sport, and disability is a field of enquiry that has been gaining a good deal of traction recently. The subtle but fascinating tensions between the desire to win and the humility and alternative goals that many religious systems require open up a fascinating and multifaceted interdisciplinary conversation that has the potential to enhance and challenge both religion and sport … It is this tension between strength and weakness, competition and humility that runs like a golden thread through the text … The book comprises 14 essays written by people coming from a variety of different perspectives. The interdisciplinary nature of the text means that it is both theoretically rich and practically helpful. Taken together, the essays function to create a rich bricolage of perspectives that gives the reader deep insights into the important connections between religion, sport, and disability … This is a fascinating and original book that has important theoretical and practical implications. In particular, the papers that use qualitative research to gain first-hand experience of disability and sport offer vital insights for practitioners into the ways that people with disabilities perceive and use sport and the therapeutic significance of such engagement … As a resource this book functions well at both the scholarly and the practical level. For those already working in the field, the book offers some fresh original thinking. For those who are just beginning their interest in disability and sport, this book is an ideal introduction to many of the key issues."
— Professor John Swinton, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
"This volume brings together two issues of the Journal of Religion and Disability, adding a new introduction and preface by the well-known disability ministry figure Joni Erickson Tada as well as a previously unpublished final chapter by the editors. The volume was conceived as a response to the London 2012 Paralympics, but the goals of the volume are much more ambitious: to remedy the lack of both empirical and theoretical investigation of the role of spirituality in the sporting activities of persons with disabilities, to offer some practical guidance and insight for those working with disabled people in sport and leisure contexts, and, by looking at sport in this domain, to raise a significant challenge to the ‘cult of normalcy’ and hyper-competitiveness that is so dominant in contemporary sporting cultures … There are excellent articles fleshing this argument out in relation to the apostle Paul’s understanding of competition and the body as well as detailed empirical and conceptual investigations of how special Olympians (like Oscar Pistorius) can, no less than sports idols such as Lance Armstrong (the language here is intentional), succumb to the vices that beset professional athletes in all fields. This is a ground-breaking work that opens up important questions not only about disability but also about the ways in which we think about and engage with sports today."
— Dr Brian Brock, Theology
Preface 1. Special Olympians as a ‘Prophetic Sign’ to the Modern Sporting Babel 2. Disability as a Path to Spiritual Enlightenment: An Ethnographic Account of the Significance of Religion in Paralympic Sport 3. Running the (Special) Race: New (Pauline) Perspectives on Disability and Theology of Sport 4. Towards a Theology of Disability Sport: A Misconstrued Game Plan 5. The Experience of Spirituality and Disability Sport for British Military Personnel Traumatically Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis 6. Nature-Based Recreation, Spirituality, and Persons with Disabilities 7. Researching Religion, Disability, and Sport: Reflections and Possibilities 8. “Celebration” as the Spiritual Expression of Leisure and Sport: Reflections on the L’Arche Tradition and the Special Olympics 9. A Modern Conception of Flesh: Towards a Theology of Disability Sport 10. A Postcolonial Approach to Understanding Sport-Based Empowerment of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Zambia: The Case of the Cultural Philosophy of Ubuntu 11. Radical Orthodoxy and the Emergence of Spiritual Hero-Athletes: Examining Lance Armstrong’s “Illness” Narrative 12. Meet My Exes: Theological Reflections on Disability and Paralympic Sport—A Continuum of Ephemeral Deaths and Eternal Resurrection 13. Triumph From Anguish: The Inspiration of the Special Olympics 14. Christianity, Sport and Disability: A Case Study of the Role of Long-Distance Running in the Life of a Father and his Son who is Congenitally Blind and has Profound Intellectual Disabilities