A Successful LIfe Hermanus Contractus and Disability Theology

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Abstract

This study contextualizes the case of the medieval disabled Benedictine monk and scholar Hermanus of the Reichenau with modern theological approaches to disability, resulting in the challenge of several assumptions. Neither Hermanus’ theology nor his identity are defined by his disability. This is both confirmed and contradicted by modern theologians. Liberation from expectations such as virtuous suffering and the importance of mutuality and community emerge as keys to a self-determined successful life fulfilling Shakespeare’s concept of a ‘narrative’. An explicit disability theology is not only not necessary, but may be counterproductive and limiting, both of God and of self.

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