Evening all, Dave here. I am speaking here entirely for my self. Certain events today based on my thoughts on a podcast from New Wine have made me very cross. It seems that some people feel I have been wrong and perhaps I should apologise. I feel in no mood to do so, I shall simply lay out my thoughts and feelings here and let you decide, but first a link to said podcast.
I am now 57 years old, I was diagnosed with sight loss as far back as 1987. I was registered blind in 2000, became a guide dog owner in 2001.
I trained for priesthood from 1980 - 1983 with the RC Church, was ordained a deacon and was only weeks away from full ordination when I blew the whistle on a priest abusing children and was ordered to leave.
I have a BA in Theology and Philosophy, I have a BEd In Education and an MA in Access Audit.
I have had two books published on visual impairment and have been commissioned by Guide Dogs, The RNIB and Action For Blind People in the past to do work on their behalf. I have made a movie on visual impairment and written countless articles and help guides.
If all of this does not give me the right to speak with some authority on issues of faith and visual impairment, then quite frankly I'm buggered if I know what does.
In the early days of Disability and Jesus I was dropped and blocked as a friend by the north east regional director of New Wine because I dared to ask disabled people for their thoughts on how accessible their summer camp was, a simple question I have asked many organisations, in no way was New Wine being singled out for unfair treatment.
I have requested information about the qualifications and experience of their speakers on disability and been studiously ignored. We have often explained the principal of "nothing about us without us" and again have been studiously ignored.
Please listen to the above podcast, I believe the tone implies that "what else could a blind person do but beg". As you can see from my qualifications and experience, quite a bit actually.
The subsequent hoo ha on Twitter has been very hurtful to me and I consider it arrogant and unacceptable from such an organisation as New Wine.
I shall not be apologising for my response and would respectfully request that in future they use actual disabled people to speak on such matters.
I am aware that even Bill & Katie may not agree, I don't know as I have not asked them, I'm speaking for myself alone but seldom have I felt like this in response to anything written by a fellow Christian.
Maybe I am being overly sensitive, only you can decide but my blindness is far too emotive a subject for me to simply back down.