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My Body Is Not a Prayer Request

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Amy Kenny does a really beautiful job weaving this book together. It’s part history/policy review, part memoir, and part scriptural exegesis and it fits together wonderfully. I wish there had been a little more discussion of inclusion of intellectual/developmental disabilities, but as Kenny has a physical disability that’s the experience she shares. 

I listened to the audiobook, read by Nan McNamara who did a nice job. Her narration was clear and inflection really brought out the humor and sarcasm in places. I found myself going back to the print copy to highlight and make notes.

Thanks to Baker Academic & Brazos Press for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
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“To assume that my disability needs to be erased in order for me to live an abundant life is disturbing not only because of what it says about me but also because of what it reveals about people’s notions of God.”
 
“Jesus’s ministry is not all about a physical cure but about holistic healing.”

This phenomenal book is moving straight to the top of my recommended reads! Dr. Kenny shares prophetically about how to embody disability justice in the church, which is unfortunately in contrast to her lived experience as a disabled person. She explains how ableism harms everyone, not just disabled people, because it falls short of Jesus’ intention for the Kingdom of God.

Dr. Kenny exegetes familiar scripture passages through a disability justice lens, adding a layer of richness that has greatly expanded my view of God and holistic healing. Each chapter has questions to facilitate crucial conversations.

Dr. Kenny’s description of a world in which “all bodies have needs that must be met without shame” helped me examine how ableism has contributed to my feelings of inadequacy, particularly as a person with anxiety disorder. I have struggled with the shame attached to my mental health, which has been compounded by well-meaning Christians who preached what I now recognize was an ableist gospel. I felt liberated when I considered that I don’t have to wait until some future time when I am “delivered” from my anxiety but can experience the abundant God intends for me in the here and now. 
 
Dr. Kenny’s voice is prophetic, holding in tension a much-needed critique of the current reality while inspiring us with a picture of how things could be. I can’t recommend it enough!
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I almost wish that Amy Kenny's excellent memoir wasn't marketed so strongly as Christian. Not because I don't respect her faith and her advocacy for disability rights in the church. But because I think a wider audience needs to read about her experiences. She writes about fighting for equal treatment in high school, strangers questioning her need for a disabled parking placard, the challenges of qualifying for federal disability, and struggling through our biased medical system. But she also has powerful things to say about the profound hypocrisy of churches treating her like a potential miracle and an inconvenient burden at the same time. 

Good selection for mid-sized and large public libraries.
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Dr. Amy Kenny's book is a breath of fresh air for anyone who feels traumatized, rather than uplifted, by their spiritual community in living with a disability or chronic illness.

It goes almost without saying that society as a whole is, shall we say, Not Great at disability awareness and support. But, after my own son was diagnosed with multiple disabilities and chronic complexity as an infant, I was shocked at how much ignorance I encountered (and frankly, how much pain was inflicted) by well-meaning but horribly misguided Christians around me. I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I did this to my son myself, in the early days after his diagnosis: viewing disability as a curse, assuming God's lack of healing was lack of love for my son. If even I, as a parent, had to dramatically alter my mindset, imagine how much education there is to be done among people who don't live in close daily contact with disabled people.

Which is why Kenny's book is like a small miracle. She has outlined in unflinching detail the most common myths, misconceptions, and misguided approaches to disability within the church--the church as an institution, but also the church as a community of believers. As Christians, we are called to minister to the marginalized, to go to the edges. My Body is a Prayer Request is an invaluable guide about how to do this well, where disability is concerned.

Each chapter is a tightly rendered weaving of personal experience, Biblical reflection, and theoretical and theological perspectives on disability. She debunks lines of thinking such as praying for healing as if it's a magic trick, introduces the social model of disability to a wider audience, draws the connection between eugenics and some of the most commonly used legal and moral approaches to disability, and argues strongly against the various forms of circular, flawed reasoning that keeps disabled people from access and accommodations. 

Each chapter ends with a "Top Ten" list of the most egregious things Christians say and do regarding disability -- a delicately effective means of defusing these lies that feels playful without losing any argumentative power. Reading those lists stacked up together, within the context of her forcefully developed chapters, starkly outlines the psychological, ableist harm of these often well intentioned, all-too-common remarks.

Can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone who works in ministry and/or loves someone with a disability.
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This book touched my soul and gave me a voice with under two hundred pages. It was impactful with my personal struggles while challenging me on a corporate, church level. I don’t feel adequate to express how much I loved this discussion of disability in the church. I could relate the judgment and doubts that the people in the building express. I have struggled with that for so long that it is easy to believe but I now view my disabled body in a different light. This book has helped with that change in perspective. I think that this is a book that the church needs to read in order to fully embrace the disabled. 


I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
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My Body is Not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church by Amy Kenny is part memoir, part Biblical analysis, and part guide for how to include disability justice in a church or religious community, I could not put this book down. Growing up I constantly watched strangers interact awkwardly with my mom because she used a wheelchair. I saw people stop her and have invasive conversations about her medical history, and cannot even begin to count the number of times people told her they would pray for her to be able to walk again. Now, I can’t speak to how my mom felt about this, but reading Kenny’s word I felt like I was gaining a vocabulary and Biblical grounding for why such interactions always left me feeling really unsettled. 

For me as a reader, I was excited about this book not for it to radically change my way of thinking, but to give me a frame of reference for how to talk about these issues that I care deeply about. One of the brilliant things Kenny does is give her readers action items. At the end of every chapter there are questions to ask yourself or your community, to keep the discussion going and refuse to allow people to feel complacent and like they’re doing good enough work just by reading the book (because meaning well is absolutely not enough, as Kenny makes beautifully clear). But even though I felt like I knew a lot going in, Kenny’s writing showed me so many points where I should strive to improve and engage in reflective self-analysis.

For anyone who is intrigued by the phrase ‘disability theology,’ I think this is the absolute perfect book to start with. She balances memoir and theology perfectly, and writes without any pretension but with deeply scholarly knowledge. This is a book full of conviction and rage and power. Whether or not you attend a church or identify as Christian, this is a very worthwhile read, as it is not just the Christians who can be ‘prayerful perpetrators.”

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read and provide an honest review.
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Amy Kenny, MY BODY IS NOT YOUR PRAYER REQUEST sees Kenny explain her heartbreaking story of alienation within the church as a result of false notions about disability and its place within Christianity. At times hard to read, Kenny takes an unflinching look at the modern church and asks how it can improve its attitude towards the disabled community.

With humour, wit and sincerity, Kenny digs deep into theology and sociology to try to combat the myths that surround disabled people within the church. She tells us all to change our thinking, to re-evaluate the idea that to be disabled is to be less than a fully realised person and to extend compassion to those who are tired of justifying their existence to an institution that believes disabled people are a reminder of a fallen world, as if we aren't all reminders of it.

While some sections could be articulated better and less repetitive, Kenny makes a clear case for a full overhaul of Christian teaching surrounding the disable community.
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3.75 stars 
(I recieved an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

"We are not called to be comfortable. We are called to love one another. We can move beyond our fears and love our neighbors enough to stretch ourselves."

I'm not gonna lie, I ended up skimming the last 15% of this book, which is a shame because it had a super important message. I learnt so much with this book and the author did such a great job at firmly but kindly calling out my own subconscious biases towards disabled people. I really enjoyed the writing style; It read almost like spoken word poetry in some places and I would love to listen to it as an audiobook as I think the format really lends itself to that. The Reflection and Response sections at the end of each chapter are a great way to get the reader to stop and think about what they've read and I think it would be a really great book to read in a group because of this. I found myself talking to my friends, Christian and non-Christian, about what I'd read in this book and it opened up a lot of really interesting conversations.

Even though I disagreed with a few of the theological points in this book (which is bound to happen with books relating to faith because it's such a personal journey for everyone) I was so interested to look at bible verses, that I may have read loads of times or simply skimmed over, in a completely different light. I particularly loved the comparison between accessibility in the Church today and the story of the man who was lowered through the ceiling of a house to see Jesus. That's a story that is told all the time in churches, and the actions of the mans friends and Jesus' response to the situation are celebrated, so why do we, as a Church, seem not to care as much about our disabled community as Jesus so clearly does?

This book relied heavily on anecdotes and metaphors, and at times I found this to become a bit repetitive. As I said earlier, I believe that this book lends itself to audiobook format as it reads almost like a conversation, which is not always an issue but sometimes became jarring while reading. I think if I had read it in the way one might read a Bible study, one chapter at a time rather than reading large chunks in one go, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. This book, however, was not advertised as a Bible study and so, in my opinion, could have benefited from a bit more editing to take out some of the repetitions. 

That being said, this was a great own voices take on how disability is handled in today's church. It absolutely made me think about my own attitude towards the disabled community and I think a lot of people in the Church would benefit from reading it.
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Disabled people are made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly. Unfortunately, the reality is that the disabled are often mistreated, ignored, shoved to the side, treated as less than human, and much more. This should not be so. It especially should not be true in churches, but we seem to be the worst.

This book feels part memoir, part theology, and part sermonic. It's hard to pin down in any category other than to say that it should be read. It gives you a picture of what life as a disabled person is actually like. It is not a false inspirational only story, nor is it a story of simply suffering and lament. It is a human story. The story of a woman made in the image of God who has something to teach us.

There is so much Christianese and faulty theology this book reveals and corrects. She does good theological and biblical work. She mines Biblical stories and texts to show what they actually say about disability and God. I found myself having to reconsider texts in a new light. I also learned how hurtful the cliches Christians spew truly are.

It concludes each chapter with good and helpful reflections and responses. I am always tempted to skip these sections in books, but I found these particularly good. They also each have top ten lists. Usually, these are lists of 10 ridiculous things people have told her.

If you think disabled people are made in the image of God, then you should read this book. You probably are blind to the ways that you dehumanize and mistreat the disabled around you. I would especially recommend this to pastors, or those who serve in churches. We have to be better in this area. But we will never get better if we do not listen.

I received an arc of this book from netgalley.
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You are likely accustomed to my romance reviews. This one is a clear departure, but one I feel I need to include, as a Christian disabled woman.

And I'll just say it now, repetitive though some of these chapters are, this is an important book. Not just for disabled people, nor just for churchgoers who claim disabled people would be healed if they prayed more.

This is important for everyone.

The author shares the societal norms a disabled person endures,  like intrusive questions, offensive language, inaccessible public places, exclusion from activities and community...and then points out that this is a social construct. That the world around us (read: the people in it) have the ability to create activities, build buildings, establish community, with disabled people (as opposed to able-bodied people) at the forefront of minds and plans. 

She pulls from her lived experience and from Scripture then, to show believers that Jesus Himself is disabled in the crucifixion...and He is God and man. Thus she says, God is disabled (pointing to Luke 14 often.)

There is so much more in this book. But rather than summarize the rest, I want to share my thoughts.

I'll be honest. It physically hurt me to read this book. I avoided it, and when I finally did pick it up, I read it in bite-sized pieces. I finished it rather than DNF'ed though, because this book is MY experience, and it is really well written. It just happened to be a heavy read.

I felt everything the author described about her experiences: the hurt, frustration, forced patience (and actual patience) as a result of others' choices. I relate to it on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

The author's words gave me the push I needed to see that:

My  disabled body is beautiful.

It is not wrong to be hurt by slurs, nor is it wrong to correct them.

My disabled body is as much an image of God as my able-bodied peers, and 

My disabled body is not a prayer request, as something to be delivered from. It is something to celebrate. I am someone to celebrate, just as every disabled person.
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None of us are promised perfect bodies—not even Jesus. According to the Gospels, even a post-resurrection God Incarnate emerged from the tomb with scarred hands and feet. 

The Christian God is no stranger to disability and disfigurement.

And yet, as author Amy Kenny, points out, ableism flows freely through many of our Christian churches, homes, and in the wider culture. 

In this unflinchingly honest and compassionate book, Kenny points out the many ways Christians have created theology and practices that deny the full humanity of people with disabilities. 

Kenny relates her personal stories of the harmful words and treatments she has received from the Church, the ways she’s felt ignored, and the ways she’s been taught that she is less than whole as she is. 

Though the stories and truths in this book are often uncomfortable and unsettling, Kenny shares her heart with the reader with an abundance of kindness, wry humor, and hope. 

My Body is Not a Prayer Request is convicting and encouraging and an important read for everyone, whether or not you plan to set foot in a physical church building again. 

Thank you to the Amy Kenny, Brazos Press, and NetGalley for providing me an advanced digital copy of this book for review.
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My Body is Not a Prayer Request is an extremely transparent and helpful. In MBNPR, Amy Kenny writes about disability in the church, while sharing her story and the impact of many experiences she’s had. This is a book that would be beneficial in any church library and can be a tool for growth in any believer. I have been encouraged, challenged, and prompted to repentance in many areas while reading. I am almost speechless after reading this book and I am so thankful to Amy Kenny for writing it. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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This is a great overview of the author's experience with ableism and Disability Justice, with specific scriptural tie-ins as faith-based evidence and support towards building a more inclusive Church experience. I especially liked her distinction between the concept of being "cured" and being "healed", and how the type of healing that her faith provides may not always look like the type of body or lifestyle uplifted by ableist ideals. This book does focus on the author's specific experience, so there is not much discussion around how disability can intersect with other marginalizations, such as race or queerness, but many of her discussions are framed in a way that does translate to a broader experience- for example the section about microaggressions. This book is definitely targeted towards a practicing Christian audience, but there is so much in here about disability experience and justice that would be valuable to any reader.
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This book was beautifully written and I am so thankful that I was blessed with a digital copy of my own to read!
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What an incredible and important book! Dr. Kenny does a wonderful job engaging with a heavy topic and giving practical tools for all of us to become more aware and inclusive in our communities and places of worship., which have been inaccessible for so many for far too long. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about disability justice and their own role in creating and advocating for a more accessible world - regardless of faith association or not. 

As someone who has worked with disabled children and adults for the past seven years, this book reminded me of the role I play as an advocate, as well as exposed places where I still have much to learn.
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One-part activism, one-part fact-spitting, this book packs a punch. Sorely needed in today's religious climate, Kenny touches on a subject that I've never read in-depth before, but definitely hits home for a lot of people. My father suffered from chronic illness my entire life, and I was raised in the church. The congregation prayed for him and asked me (a 7-year-old, at the time) how he was doing. I got the ick from it after like, five years of "he's ok, thanks," but never had the words to explain why. 

For the first time, someone explains the ick I felt when my church prayed for my chronically ill parent, week after week after week- for years, but I couldn't name why it felt so bad. This names it.
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Thank you so much to Net Galley and to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of "My Body is Not a Prayer Request" by Amy Kenny in exchange for an honest review. All of the following opinions are formulated on my own.

5 out of 5 stars

First, I do not often read Christian books and I probably won't start - none of that is based on this book! I mainly decided to read this upon the description. I am a disabled person who has stepped away from the church for the most part due to how I have been treated since my diagnosis. 

While this book would not be a comfortable book to read for most able-bodied people, I think it is the reality of what is happening and I felt very heard reading this from Amy Kenny.
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I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review: 4 stars 
 I really liked this book. It is definitely written for nondisabled people but I did learn some new things. I wish there was a bit more for us but I understand this book is meant to educate nondisabled people. I would suggest this book to any Christian disabled or not (especially those in leadership positions). I hope this book ignites a movement within the church. We desperately need more accessibility and understanding.
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This book really does a great job of covering what it means to be disabled not only in the church but in the world at large. This book really hit home for me.
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My Body is Not a Prayer Request provides a theology of disability in a way that is persuasive as well as practical both inside the local church as well as in the local community. Ableism is entrenched in society and Amy Kenny shares examples that many may not realize are the shared experience of our neighbors with disabled bodies. She challenges that accessibility ought to be a standard rather than an exception. That all bodies are made differently and our communities and churches should reflect that, without exception. The experience of invasive prayers or advice for healing was one that resonated with me personally and something many have endured. Dr. Kenny speaks with passion and personal experience, while also handling scripture with skill. This is a book long needed in the church and will open up opportunity for listening, learning, conversation, heart change and space making.
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