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Episode Summary

There's a truism that "there are only two types of people in the world: those who are disabled and those who will become disabled." But how does our thinking about normalcy, capacity, independence, and autonomy make us miss what disability can show us about human flourishing? In this episode, Evan Rosa invites Calli Micale (PhD, Yale) to discuss the theological and moral dimensions of disability through stories of her care and service with the physically and intellectually disabled, including reflections on agency and the feeling of personal power, the suffering of chronic pain, maintaining a sense of hope and possibility amidst lost, and the role that spirituality plays in a person integrating a disabling experience; the biblical and theological stories that create and critique our narratives of disability; and finally an examination of the conditions of possibility not just for flourishing, but for making life work at all.

Show Notes

  • Instructive irony: Evan’s disabling experience of setting up a microphone for a podcast interview
  • Three ways to think about disability: Minority Model (Impairment of Individuals), Social Model (Societal factors create impairment), and Political Model (emerges from collective action and identity; generated from Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • Chronic pain, real suffering
  • All three models are important
  • “Look at the arrangement of society—the conditions of possibility that empower our lives or that create obstacles to our flourishing.”
  • How to Speak About Disability 101
  • Care, solidarity, advocacy, and inclusion
  • Understanding the ethics of disability through stories: narratives of the body, biblical narratives of healing, and theological stories
  • Augustine’s City of God and moral impurity and the wounds of martyrs as glorified and amplified in resurrected bodies
  • The hurt of “fixing” those with disabilities
  • Doubting Thomas and exploring the resurrection wounds of Christ
  • Story: Physical disability and amputation
  • “It always starts with thinking about the loss”
  • Hope and possibility through the loss
  • Religion and spirituality as a tool to both help and also a self-critique of the “wholeness” or “normal” narrative.
  • Critiquing the brokenness-wholeness narrative of disability
  • “Drawing attention to the site of divine activity.”
  • Is disability connected to sin?
  • John 9:1-41: Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind
  • Slowness, constancy, unwavering faith
  • Story: Intellectual disability and autism
  • Oxana’s Cymbalstern
  • Cymbalstern (or Zimbelstern) is a star-shaped organ stop that makes a clanging, ringing sound during organ playing.
  • Xenophobia, fear of difference, and stigma
  • Calli reacts to the truism: “There are only two kinds of people: those who are disabled and those who will be disabled.”
  • Visible and invisible disabilities: depression, anxiety, and mental health
  • Are disabled lives worth living?
  • Story: A surgeon develops multiple sclerosis
  • Radical dependence on others
  • Power, agency, and interdependency on others
  • Start with the bare conditions of possibility, and then how those conditions of possibility change when disability emerges?


Calli Micale obtained her PhD in Religious Studies at Yale University and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her dissertation, "Crip Conversion: On Affect, Disability, and Grace," brings resources from affect theory, feminist theory, and queer/crip theory to bear on questions concerning intellectual disability and the experience of grace. She has presented research at conferences in both the US and the UK. Calli currently serves on the steering committee for the Schleiermacher Unit of the American Academy of Religion. In addition, Calli is an active member of the ELCA. She currently serves as Vice President of Bethesda Lutheran Church in New Haven, and she chairs the church's Mission Endowment Fund Committee. While she regularly preaches in and around New Haven County, over the years her preaching has been heard at a wide-range of locations—from a small island along the Atlantic coast to her hometown in northeastern Wisconsin. In her spare time, you can find Calli enjoying long walks with her daughter, Lily, and their pup, Rosie.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Calli Micale
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Logan Ledman, Macie Bridge, and Kaylen Yun
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture:
  • This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit

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