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Deaf Liberation Theology and Deaf Teología Indígena

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1 Deaf Liberation Theology and Deaf Teología Indígena
Marcel Broesterhuizen ICF Chair for Pastoral Ministry with the Deaf Faculty of Theology KU Leuven (Belgium)

2 A hearing God? God imagined as a hearing person
Charlie Hollywood Signing to God as to a hearing person Broniak & Luberti English seen as the proper way of praying Hannah Lewis Sign Language as unfit to address God Deaf pastoral ministry as preparation for integration Liturgies: Mostly in sign supported speech Consequences JESUS CHRIST NOT DEAF metaphysics and religion alien to Deaf culture

3 A seemingly forgotten past
19th Century: religion and Deaf communities Deaf pastors from 19th century on Deaf congregations under Eugenics and Oralism Breeding grounds of Deaf leadership Conservation of Sign Language George Veditz (1913): The noblest gift God has given to Deaf people A forgotten past Beth Lockard Pastoral Ministry by hearing pastors as a one-way street Hearing pastors do not defend Deaf interests Consequence: Deaf people flee the Church

4 Spiritual colonialism
NCOD study on 94 Catholic Deaf people No connection between daily life experiences and Christian tradition Christian tradition full of hearing world view Hannah Lewis Construction of Deaf people in Christian theology: immoral, impulsive Phonocentrism Jonathan Rée The core of Western religious tradition? Christianity vs. Deaf culture Deafness to be healed vs. Deafness okay

5 Conquista and colonialism
Conquista: the Spanish conquest of Latin America Destruction of indigenous cultures, gap between rich and poor Hannah Lewis Spiritual colonialization Gustavo Gutiérrez: Liberation Theology Poor = agents of own destiny People’s daily experiences as source of theology Campesinos: indigenous theology (teología indígena) Applied to minorities in rich countries Women – black - Hispanic people - people with disabilities “Epistemological privilege” Deaf know best what Deafness is Liberation from audism

6 Deaf liberating pastoral ministry
Irreversible paradigm shift in pastoral ministry: Active involvement of deaf people Deaf Liberation Theology in action Christians for the Liberation of the Deaf Community Claggett Statement No imposition of hearing norms Deafness as a gift of God Access to the Gospel in Sign Language Solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world Empowerment of Deaf people Actions Bible translation into Sign Language Deaf leadership trainings Formation of Deaf people for pastoral ministry

7 Characteristics of Deaf Pastoral Ministry
Deaf-led Deaf indigenous Churches With own Deaf forms Focus on drama and action Deaf communication No longer SimCom or MCE Focus on Deaf identity, Deaf rights, Deaf culture Deafness as wanted by God Examples Conference 2003 in Mexico City June 2008, Rome Integration of Deaf and Catholic culture Oralism and discontinuity in Deaf community Deaf pastors more effective

8 Deaf Liberation Theology in the Future
Hannah Lewis: a liberating-shaped Church should have A Deaf space A space where Deafhood is the norm A story telling space Not only biblical stories, but also (Deaf) people’s stories A creative space The creation of an own religious culture Enculturation, in Catholic theology Christianity is about concrete persons and communities Looking for the elements of truth inherent in each culture that might enrich the larger community Enculturation into Deaf culture = grasping the values of Deaf culture Adds to Christian tradition

9 Deaf Diaspora? Changes in the Deaf community
Cochlear implantation, mainstreaming Closure of residential schools for the Deaf Decline of Deaf clubs Scattering of the Deaf community Diaspora = forced dispersion Two aspects of Deaf experience remain: Restricted communication with hearing, smooth with the Deaf Being with the Deaf = being with one’s own people People want to be at home A global virtual Deaf community arises Accent on personal relationships and belonging Fun, Friendship, Fellowship, Faith Enculturation = Deaf people continue to create a harbour

10 Enculturation into visual humanity
The desire and the drive to create signs is deeply rooted in our fundamental human need for communication. The truth is “we cannot be truly human apart from communication … to impede communication is to reduce people to the status of things.” Deaf people, being of a human variety, have refused to be reduced to the status of things and have found ways to communicate visually and developed visual languages. That is the essence of their being. Ben Bahan, "Upon the Formation of a Visual Variety of the Human Race," in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking ed. H-Dirksen L. Bauman (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2008),

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