It’s OK to Call Evil ‘Evil.’

I highly recommend that you read my friend Ellen Painter Dollar’s recent post on disability and goodness.

It’s called”Do I Hate My Life? No. But I Do Hate My Disability.”

In the post, Ellen dismantles some of the cultural (and, specifically, Christian-cultural) myths about suffering generally and disabilities specifically.

Sometimes I feel troubled by the way certain theologies–including ones I once held–try to insist that ‘whatever happens’ is good and God-intended and meant to be received with gratitude. This world is full of evil and brokenness, and I think God desires that we struggle against those things as we participate in God’s efforts to make all things new. Death is a bad thing. (See my CT post on why a funeral is not the time to rejoice.)

Ellen writes:

OI [the genetic disorder Ellen and I share] is an example of the world’s brokenness. I have come to believe that illness, disability, and disease are neither fundamentally good things disguised as bad (thus not the intentional work of a loving God who works in mysterious ways) nor value-neutral manifestations of human diversity. Illness, disability, and disease are, quite simply, the result of life in a world that does not work as God intended.

[…]

I believe it’s permissible for me to hate OI with that perfect hatred for the things of this world that are broken, fallen, not of God. God designed bones to shore us up and protect our tender bodies from all that would assault them. Bones are not supposed to crack under the weight of a laptop computer. They are not supposed to snap when a little girl is simply dancing in her living room. A routine fall from a scooter should not land a child in the emergency room with multiple fractures. Forty-something-year-old knees should not be completely stripped of their cartilage. No matter how much good (wisdom, love, understanding, compassion) comes out of living with this capricious disorder, the disorder itself is not good.

Read the rest here.

The Eating Disorder You Don’t Hear Much About

The thing about a disorder like anorexia is that it eventually makes you look something like what the dominant culture regards as most beautiful, and achieving that ‘look’ becomes more important than, say, staying alive.

And it’s perfectly socially acceptable–for the most part–to tell skinny people how ‘good’ they look. When I was 17 and recovering from major thoracic and spinal surgery, I returned to school fragile and emaciated from the ordeal, only to hear “Oh my God, you lost so much weight–you look so good!!!”

Only a few sane, mature adults registered the appropriate shock and concern at my wasted appearance. Our culture is so sick that we think “sick” looks “so good!!! Anorexics are even praised for their self-discipline.

Image credit here

On the flip side, it’s seldom recognized that many people who are obese are actually suffering from an illness–compulsive eating disorder–that is often moralized as a lack of self-discipline.

It’s the unglamorous eating disorder. Because while thin people are praised, fat people are scorned. There are cries of war against ‘obesity’ from the highest places in the land while the Goddess of Thin gathers more and more worshipers to herself.

One thing I know is that we are all more than we look like; that we all are beautiful, marvelous, and perfect even in our brokenness because we are made by a God who is beautiful, marvelous, perfect, and who became broken like us to redeem that brokenness.

It would be better for all of us if we could stop keeping score–my disorder’s prettier than yours!–and give grace to one another. A great place to do that is in the breaking of bread, together.

Continue reading The Eating Disorder You Don’t Hear Much About