Australia Christian Living Ethics the Church

The ASK Podcast 11 – Disability, the Church and History

This weeks ASK podcast

Jack Hanrahan-Shirley is a young history student from Sydney. His story is fascinating and moving. We discuss the difficult circumstances of his birth, his Christianity, how the church treats disabled people, his love of history and Sydney Anglicanism.

Also on YouTube here 

The ASK Podcast 10 – Greg Sheridan on Paul – Christianity’s Lenin

The Real ‘Dirty Deal’ – Abortion, Northern Ireland, the BMA, Killing white babies and Sacking the Disability Commissioner


  1. 100% that Sydney Anglicans are too content. I was shocked when I read the following comment of a Sydney Anglican Senior Minister in a recent book “The Mission Before Us: Why Sydney Anglican Church Ministry?”:

    “Sometimes as I sit in cafes or on the train into the city and see the people running around in their work, their study, their shopping, their sport, I feel for Sydney something of what Jesus felt……so many people lost here on our doorstep”

    “Sometimes”??? That Minister is not fuflilling his call until his sometimes becomes “Always”.

  2. Thank you for this podcast. After introducing your guest, Jack Hanrahan-Shirley. You discussed his disability, how to treat people with disability in the church, and then you ignored the disability and had a wonderful discussion in his chosen field, where he is quite able. It touched my heart because I am an Eagle Scout (1967) and my scoutmaster had Cerebral Palsy. Just before I joined, the scout troop had hiked the continental divide (eastern divide) through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennesse / North Carolina. My scoutmaster, Miles Garber, led the entire way, although his body was twisted, walking sideways and sitting sideways while driving, facing the passenger (he drove with his left foot instead of the right and the head jerked to the left – thus the only way to control the car and see down the road). He had difficulty talking and he had facial tics (but never drooling), but when he sang a song around the campfire, he never missed a note. It was impossible to not see the handicap, but we boys knew him as the most abled person we had ever met. He was a forester with the US Forestry Service until CP robbed him of his ability to do his job. The church that sponsored the troop hired him as the custodian. About that time, I was going through my old hometown, and we stopped to pick up scouting patches. My wife found my name in the Eagle book and showed it to our boys. Suddenly, the person helping me with the patches started fumbling around, making excuses. The strange behavior ended when my scoutmaster, Miles Garber, struggled to enter the room by now needing a cane. They noticed what troop I had been in and they called him – the church only being a few blocks away. Thank you for giving me this memory, a memory of the most abled man that I ever knew, in heart, in mind, in passion, and fighting through the “disability” in physical strength as well.

    1. Mark, I was so excited to see your remarks on this site about Miles Garber. Mr. Garber was my scoutmaster as well and it seems that you and I were both on that camping trip on the Appalachian Trail. My brother David was on that trip, as well, and there were so many memories, sights and smells of it that adventure that are still so fresh – as if they happened yesterday. I too remember Mr. Garber leading us on those mountainous hikes and although it was clear that he was struggling, he was always so cheerful and frequently burst into song. Of course, we all sang along. He is always on my mind and I often tell Miles Garber stories to my family and employees. Tonight I was thinking about him and Googled “Miles Garber Scoutmaster” and your comments popped up. I feel like I have made a connection to a figure that loomed large in my youth and inspired me immeasurably. Just knowing someone else shared some of these same memories means the world to me. My family moved away from Tupelo and landed in Rome, Georgia where my father went into business with my grandfather. I continued my life in scouting and eventually attained Eagle and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow (Brotherhood). Besides our scout troop, I knew Mr. Garber another way. I delivered the Memphis Press-Scimitar on my bike and he was one of my customers. I would often find him sitting on his front porch waiting for the afternoon paper. I would frequently stop and chat with him before moving on. I’m glad to learn a little about what became of him and anything else you know I’d appreciate your sharing. I have travelled the world and lived in many parts of the US but never forgot the cheerful, inspiring man from my youth in Tupelo with cerebral palsy.

  3. I found this so encouraging as a mum (and fellow Scot in Sydney) with CP. My CP certainly impacts my life and limits it in certain ways but I’m still my kids mum, a worker and soon to be a student again. And most importantly a child of God. Wishing Jack all the very best with his PhD applications etc.

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