Author of “The Disabled God:” dies at 44

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The New York Times reports that Nancy Eisland, author of The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability has died at age 44.

Dr. Eiesland’s insights added a religious angle to a new consciousness among the disabled that emerged in the 1960s in the fight for access to public facilities later guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The movement progressed into cultural realms as disabled poets, writers and dramatists embraced disability as both cause and identity.

Pointing out that anyone can become disabled at any time, the disabled called those without disabilities “the temporarily able-bodied.” They ventured into humor, calling nondisabled people bowling pins because they were easy prey for wheelchairs.

Dr. Eiesland’s contribution was to articulate a coherent theology of disability. Deborah Beth Creamer, in her book “Disability and Christian Theology” (2009), called Ms. Eiesland’s work the “most powerful discussion of God to arise from disability studies.”

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Derek Olsen
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Derek Olsen

I had the privilege to work as her research assistant for several years. As well as a compelling advocate for people with disabilities she was a terrific sociologist of religion.

She will be greatly missed.

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