My Body Is Not a Prayer Request

Disability Justice in the Church

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"With humorous prose and wry wit, Kenny makes a convincing case for all Christians to do more to meet access needs and embrace disabilities as part of God's kingdom. . . . Inclusivity-minded Christians will cheer the lessons laid out here."--Publishers Weekly

"A book the church desperately needs."--Elisa Rowe, Sojourners

Much of the church has forgotten that we worship a disabled God whose wounds survived resurrection, says Amy Kenny. It is time for the church to start treating disabled people as full members of the body of Christ who have much more to offer than a miraculous cure narrative and to learn from their embodied experiences.

Written by a disabled Christian, this book shows that the church is missing out on the prophetic witness and blessing of disability. Kenny reflects on her experiences inside the church to expose unintentional ableism and cast a new vision for Christian communities to engage disability justice. She shows that until we cultivate church spaces where people with disabilities can fully belong, flourish, and lead, we are not valuing the diverse members of the body of Christ.

Offering a unique blend of personal storytelling, fresh and compelling writing, biblical exegesis, and practical application, this book invites readers to participate in disability justice and create a more inclusive community in church and parachurch spaces. Engaging content such as reflection questions and top-ten lists are included.

Contents
A Note on Language
Preface
1. Disability Curatives
Top Ten Recommended Remedies
2. Disability Discrimination
Top Ten "At Leasts"
3. Disability Doubters
Top Ten Disability Denials
4. Disability Justice
Top Ten Reasons I'm Disabled
5. Disability Blessings
Top Ten "I Know How You Feels"
6. Disability Mosquitos
Top Ten Mosquito Swatters
7. Disability Lessons
Top Ten Disability Icebreakers
8. Disabled Foundations
Top Ten Disability Accolades
9. Disabled God
Top Ten Disability Theologies
10. Disabled Church
Top Ten Disability Dreams
Benecription for Nondisabled People
Benecription for Disabled People
Further Reading


Endorsements

"Amy Kenny's My Body Is Not a Prayer Request is holy ground. Kenny writes with devastating humor and uncommon depth that will remind readers of Anne Lamott. You will laugh, weep, and fume with rage--all on the same page. The words she writes will matter to you. They will change the way you see--everything. Kenny's courage to say the things that need to be said is only matched by the skill with which she wields her proverbial pen. All hail this new and necessary voice."

Lisa Sharon Harper, author of The Very Good Gospel and Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World--and How to Repair It All

"By times wise and tender, then grab-you-by-the-lapels prophetic truth-telling, Kenny's passion, anger, and hope for disability justice is utterly embodied. I found this book to be not only a call to justice but an invitation to deep blessing. I will be pressing this book into the hands of every ministry leader I know."

Sarah Bessey, editor of the New York Times bestseller A Rhythm of Prayer and author of Jesus Feminist

"In My Body Is Not a Prayer Request, Amy Kenny describes with wit and candor her experiences as a disabled Christian in worship services and Bible studies, but also in places like the DMV, high school, the doctor's office, and Disneyland--showing, lamentably, how ableism at church looks just like it does everywhere else. She raises up the way of Jesus to practice holistic healing in the face of ableism's holistic harms. Drawing from diverse biblical narratives and insights from disability studies, Kenny issues a convicting invitation to the people of God to live up to our deepest values and to stop excluding the necessary gifts of our disabled kindred, for the good of all. I will be giving this book to my disabled and nondisabled friends alike."

Bethany McKinney Fox, author of Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church

"In Amy Kenny's outstanding debut, My Body Is Not a Prayer Request, she tells us this book is her unstifled scream. Are we listening? I am screaming alongside her when I read about how we as the church harm her and other disabled people. Kenny exegetes not only Scripture and individuals with precision but also the American system and the church. Our theology and our actions demonstrate that many are anything but pro-life--we are guilty of ableism and eugenics, and we need to repent. Kenny is among the sharpest writers and thinkers, and she offers the truth through beautiful writing, wit, wisdom, and grace while showing us the way forward."

Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself

"Incisive, witty, and revelatory, My Body Is Not a Prayer Request is a much-needed prophetic intervention against the ableist 'common sense' that prevails in many churches. This work is sure to be a balm for those who have ever felt sidelined because of ableist theology and sure to be a redemptive kick in the pants for the rest of us."

Andre Henry, award-winning singer-songwriter, writer, and activist

"Through a series of fascinating, moving, and sometimes disturbing narratives, Amy Kenny takes us into the heart of the experience of disability and the practical and theological challenges that people face on a daily basis. In her experiential narrative theology, she brings to light the inadequacies of certain theological assumptions and at exactly the same time draws attention to the invaluable perspective that theology, thought through in the light of disability, brings to the life of the church and the world. The book opens up fresh perspectives that can help all of us understand disability theologically and appreciate our humanness more fully."

John Swinton, professor in practical theology and pastoral care, University of Aberdeen

"Kenny's book doesn't just turn the American church's misguided understanding about disability right side up. It invites the church's members into the community of the beloved where disabled bodies and nondisabled bodies are seen, valued, and loved equally and holistically. Her book is a loving invitation into communal wellness. May it be so."

Chanté Griffin, journalist and advocate

"Beautifully written and vulnerably shared, Amy's message cuts to the core of ableism, whose culture has been allowed to roam unchecked in the church, perpetuating harm. Kenny calls us to be a more inclusive people, graciously and honestly helping us learn new theological insights, practices, and ways forward together."

Michelle Ferrigno Warren, activist and author of The Power of Proximity

"Amy Kenny says this book is her scream! What resounds is the Holy Spirit's empowering witness to the ends of the earth about what redemption in Christ looks like for a disabled person. This witness calls all of us nondisabled persons to repent of our ableism: how our assumptions about what is 'normal' make life more challenging for disabled persons. Be prepared to experience God's saving transformation of our minds, our prejudices, and our ways of life so that we can go from seeing bodies like Amy's as a prayer request to being part of a church that challenges the ableism in our world."

Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This book is sure to challenge churches in precisely the right ways. Amy Kenny writes with an honest, compelling, clear, and prophetic style, artfully weaving together personal narratives with rich biblical understanding. The result offers transformative possibilities for cultivating faithful communities of belonging for all."

Thomas E. Reynolds, associate professor of theology, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto


The Author

  1. Amy Kenny

    Amy Kenny

    Amy Kenny (PhD, University of Sussex) is a disabled scholar and a Shakespeare lecturer whose research focuses on medical and bodily themes in literature. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, The Mighty, The Audacity,...

    Continue reading about Amy Kenny

Reviews

"Mixing memoir with social critique, Kenny draws on her experiences as a Christian disabled person to examine ableism in the church in her enlightening debut. The author, who uses a wheelchair, contends that disability is not something to pity or look away from, but something to accept and celebrate. . . . With humorous prose and wry wit, Kenny makes a convincing case for all Christians to do more to meet access needs and embrace disabilities as part of God's kingdom, rather than treat them as 'glitches.' Inclusivity-minded Christians will cheer the lessons laid out here."

Publishers Weekly

"My Body Is Not a Prayer Request--part memoir and part disability justice hermeneutic--is a book the church desperately needs. . . . As a disabled person, I find power in Kenny's larger concept of a disabled God: I am not a deficient image of the Creator but rather emanate God in all that I am. . . . May Christians, both laypeople and clergy, approach this text with a soft heart and emerge from their reading to pursue disability justice."

Elisa Rowe,

Sojourners

"This book teaches us to embrace the gift and witness of disability, which enrich our theology of bodies. And the picture Kenny paints of radical accessibility can deepen our understanding of what it means to be church."

Rebecca Bratten Weiss,

U.S. Catholic


Resources