Episode 55: Inciting A Disabled Riot

Episode 54 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast features a true smarty-pants: Sophia Catherina, M.A. - soon to be Dr. Sophia Catherine! Today’s show is a full-length interview regarding the place of disabled persons in various religions, the pro’s and con’s of labeling, and when and why pagans need to stop accepting everyone’s personal brand of crazy.

Articles discussed:

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Level of Skepticism - Sarah Lawless (The Witch of Forest Grove) http://witchofforestgrove.com/2011/05/30/maintaining-skepticism/

Podcasts! And disability! - Sophia Catherine, M.A. (Lighting My Candle) http://lightingmycandle.blogspot.com/2011/06/podcasts-and-disability.html

You can find Sophia Catherine on Twitter at twitter.com/SophiaCandle (@SophiaCandle), at her spiritual blog LightingMyCandle.blogspot.com, and on her academic blog NaomiJacobs.wordpress.com.

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Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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  1. Thank you for doing an episode about this topic.
    Your guest was wonderful and interesting. I feel you both really got into the issues about being disabled well. Speaking as a disabled person with a mental illness, I do understand that it is often difficult for people to deal with the myriad of mental illnesses. However I do agree with what you have said about not just accepting that a person is a bit off and letting them get out of control with whatever issue they have. While I myself can say I dont like asking for help. Help and support from the community is so important. So I hope people who have listened to this episode walk away with the idea that we all have to take responsibility for our actions and also that being different doesnt mean a person is less equal it just means different. every person has skills and abilities that are different. no one is less important than another in my opinion.

  2. It was such a big religious point that Yahweh made a rule that disabled or disfigured people were not even permitted to enter the temple. King David supposedly thought it was important enough that he offered to pay a bounty to anybody in the kingdom who would kill a disabled or disfigured person so as to prevent them from being able to attempt entering the temple. (2 Samuel 5:8)

  3. Thank you for doing this episode. I've been listening to you for over a year, and haven't taken the time to comment on topics with which I agree or disagree. Being disabled myself, I would be remiss if I did not at least take a few moments to show my appreciation for your covering this topic. Sophia Catherine covered topics which I had never even considered in the past, and I like her point that society actually creates the disability, not the individual who uses a wheelchair, or a cane, or deals with mental illness on a daily basis.

  4. This was a good episode. As always, great job with digging into the sociology, giving a broad range on the topic and then helping relate it to paganism.

    I was thinking about the "brand of crazy" issue. I have worked in mental health in one capacity or another for about 15 years. I am not a social worker or psychologist, I'm an advocate. I get lots of exposure to mental health disorders and treatment.

    It is hard to apply this to spiritual life, though. Why do I cry bullshit on one person's spiritual experiences and not on someone else's?

    If someone says they went into a deep meditation and met, oh, Isis, it doesn't ruffle me. If someone says that Isis was talking to her the whole time she was making breakfast and then gave her step by step instructions on how to do her fertility spell and she sees Isis lurking around the end of her bed when she's trying to sleep, I'm starting to think "Ouch....psychotic disorder?" But what if I'm wrong?

    We are much happier to believe that we are extremely talented magicians than to believe that we probably need some meds, especially in a society that stimatizes mental illness terribly.

    I try to encourage myself and others to use the following plan when we encounter a little extra "crazy" in our pagan travels:

    1. Listen, and be curious. Reserve judgment (even though your gut will probably have an opinion right away). Ask questions.

    2. Observe whether the person's belief or behavior is causing them to be a threat to themselves or others, or if their behavior is causing discord or discomfort in a group they are participating with or (worse) leading.

    3. If no harm is being done to anyone and you are comfortable with the situation, let it ride. They might be nuts or Isis really might have helped them cook eggs that morning. Either way, it's not hurting anyone.

    4. If the situation is harmful, You (or others) are uncomfortable, etc, or the person is rabidly defending their beliefs to the point of attacking others to protect them, there is probably a problem. You or someone they trust can lovingly share the concerns with the person and suggest some help. Most communities have a community mental health agency or a help line. (If the person is endangering themselves or others right at that moment, please call 911.) If the issue persists and the person isn't going to hear you, it's time to move on. It doesn't help anyone to validate beliefs of a harmful nature by remaining silent in the name of trying to be accepting and tolerant. I have done this and it ends badly.

    That's how I try to approach it because the issue does come up quite a bit amongst the many diverse people I meet who identify as pagan people. I would be interested to read what other people think and how they deal with it when this kind of issue comes up.

    Blessings to all,


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