Life & Faith

Not an Inspiration

July 20, 2017

How a spinal cord injury revealed to Shane Clifton both the wonder and fragility of life.


"I landed upside down in the pit and I knew immediately I had broken my neck. I couldn’t move anything. I yelled out to my wife, and she thought I was joking at first. I remember just apologising to my wife. There was this sense that I’d done something I knew was going to impact our whole family drastically."

There are a lot of words you could use to describe Shane Clifton: husband, father, professor, theologian. When you meet him you’ll notice that he’s in a wheelchair, because Shane is also a quadriplegic.

But one word we’re not using to describe him is "inspiration".

"As soon as you say, 'that’s amazing because they’re disabled!' you’re actually diminishing what it is they’ve achieved. My point would be to do your best to treat people as people."

In this episode, Shane tells the story of how a freak accident led to him becoming a quadriplegic. He also explains his problem with the "positivity myth", and shares his insights on what the Bible and Christianity have to say about disability.

"The cycle of life, the wonder and the joy of life, all the good things that we’ve got in life, are connected to the cycle of fragility and vulnerability. ... If I can accept the wonder of the cycle of life, I guess I have to accept the consequences of that too, which in my case was a spinal cord injury."


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