Crippled Grace combines disability studies, Christian theology, philosophy, and psychology to explore what constitutes happiness and how it is achieved. The virtue tradition construes happiness as whole-of-life flourishing earned by practiced habits of virtue. Drawing upon this particular understanding of happiness, Clifton contends that the experience of disability offers significant insight into the practice of virtue, and thereby the good life.
With its origins in the author's experience of adjusting to the
challenges of quadriplegia, Crippled
Grace considers the diverse experiences of people with a
disability as a lens through which to understand happiness and its
attainment. Drawing upon the virtue tradition as much as
contesting it, Clifton explores the virtues that help to negotiate
dependency, resist paternalism, and maximize personal agency.
Through his engagement with sources from Aristotle to modern
positive psychology, Clifton is able to probe fundamental questions
of pain and suffering, reflect on the value of friendship, seek
creative ways of conceiving of sexual flourishing, and outline the
particular virtues needed to live with unique bodies and brains in
a society poorly fitted to their diverse functioning.
Crippled Grace is about and for people with
disabilities. Yet, Clifton also understands disability as symbolic
of the human condition―human fragility, vulnerability, and embodied
limits. First unmasking disability as a bodily and
sociocultural construct, Clifton moves on to construct a deeper and
more expansive account of flourishing that learns from those with
disability, rather than excluding them. In so doing, Clifton shows
that the experience of disability has something profound to say
about all bodies, about the fragility and happiness of all humans,
and about the deeper truths offered us by the theological virtues
of faith, hope, and love.