Cover Image: My Body Is Not a Prayer Request

My Body Is Not a Prayer Request

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Member Reviews

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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Dr. Amy Kenny perfectly discussed what it means to be disabled and Christian. And really, what it means to be disabled in our modern world at all. She perfectly critiques the church in its ableism while also offering ways to fix that learned behavior. She does an amazing job at breaking down ableism in our society and law and shows just how much still needs to be changed for their to really be accessibility for everyone. 

As someone who has been disabled for most of my life, Kenny's story hit home. The battle of trying to get the world to see you as valuable when you're disabled is real and true. More so, as someone who grew up disabled AND in Catholic school, she hits the nail on the head for the changes that absolutely need to be made in how the church handles disability.
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I really enjoyed this book. A unique (at least to an able-bodied person) look at the Gospel. I liked that the author included portions of Scripture that represent disabled individuals, and not just the Scriptures of the disabled individuals getting cured of their disability. This book really makes you think (and even includes reflection questions) and figure out next steps you can take to make your church (and world) more accessible to everyone. Definitely a book anyone in ministry needs to read.

"I have the right to flourish. To be considered an image-bearer equipped with my own gifts. To be a leader. To use my own voice instead of being a mouthpiece for what you want to say on my behalf."

"God sure focuses on the lame when giving us glimpses of new creation and restoration. God doesn't remake bodies to fit the world but restores the world to welcome our diverse bodies. God's kingdom is built around disabled people, and so, too, should our churches, as they are appetizers for the banquet of the kingdom."

"Imagine the possibilities if we experienced bodily difference not as defect or loss but as a unique opportunity to experience the diversity of a vast creator God. It just might make the body of Christ healed and whole."

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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I really love My Body Is Not a Prayer Request by Amy Kenny and gave this five stars. After reading the ARC, I ordered a copy for myself, and sent another copy as a gift to a friend. People should read this one. On her website, Amy Kenny describes herself as "a disabled scholar and Shakespeare lecturer who hates Hamlet." This book reflects her Christian background as she talks about her experiences in the church. But there's also a lot about living as a disabled person in the world. I think this book would be appropriate for more than just a Christian audience. There's so much good stuff in here, including theological and scriptural analysis. It’s a brilliant book. It’s funny, it’s insightful, it’s engaging and thought provoking, 
I really appreciate how Kenny tells the stories about what has happened to her, and calls us to notice that ableism is everywhere. We're all steeped in it. So even if we haven't directly refused her disability accommodations, we still have ableist thoughts, language, jokes, songs, practices, etc, that are unexamined. I really appreciated that reflection and examination. 
The narrative is full of great reflections throughout, and the book’s structure lends itself to a group discussion. I encourage you to take this book tor your churches and book groups.. One reason why I ordered a physical copy is that there was so much that I wanted to highlight and underline. There were so many places where I thought, "Yes, this this", "this is insightful." "I never thought of that." "I want to think about this more." "Oh, this is a brilliant question that I want to ponder" and so forth. 
You can see the full review on my Booktube channel (https://youtu.be/ohFZfrozaOA?t=661)  but the short answer is: buy the book, read the book, share the book with your friends.
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Going into this book, I had never read about disability justice through the lens of the Church. As a Catholic, I am familiar with the focus on healing narratives in the Church and have struggled with them since being diagnosed with a chronic illness. 

This book definitely shifted my thinking around these narratives and made me curious to continue studying Scripture through this lens. Beyond that, it gave me insight into aspects of the disability community that I am not as familiar with, and helped me to better understand certain issues such as the importance of the language we use around disability and in our everyday lives. 

At moments, I felt the book got caught up in metaphors which detracted from the strength of its message, but overall it was an interesting and compelling read.
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This book is excellent, deeply necessary, and ought to be mandatory reading in every church.
Dr. Kenny has given us an absolute gift with her no-holds-barred honesty and vulnerability. She's laid out for her readers what ableism is, what it can look like, what it's impact on disabled people is, and what we can do to begin the lengthy process of unlearning it. With a grace that the church, by and large, has not earned, Dr. Kenny tells us what it will take for disabled people to truly feel like they belong in our churches and what we've been missing out on through our exclusion of them. Non-disabled readers will feel constantly convicted as they read, but the beauty of this book is that Dr. Kenny invites us to view that conviction as a starting point for learning, growth, and action. We could hardly ask for more.
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This book showed me a perspective I haven't seen very much in the church. I agree with Dr. Kenny that the church often does not put anyone with a disability front and center (unless they are a visiting speaker). They tend to parade the "normal" and "beautiful" people. I never realized how many Christian lyrics and sermons contain words that disrespect those with disabilities. That was eye opening for me and something I will apply in my life as well. I will edit my writing with that in mind. I also realized how many sermons I have heard where the emphasis is put on a disability being healed. There are many things like that which I recognized and gained a new perspective on. 

I grew up in a church that had Joni Eareckson Tada visit several times and I also read her book at a young age. In my eyes, she was and is a hero. There was also a disabled member of my childhood church who was heavily involved. He participated in everything from karate to ushering, and volunteered in the children's ministry. He could barely speak and was in a wheelchair. Off the top of my head, I can think of several disabled members who participated in everything. My mom often picked up disabled members who could not drive. I mention all this because these experiences and church members made me feel like those with disabilities were no different than anyone else. 

I am not disabled. But, I have had my fair share of health issues to which Christians have responded by telling me things like "they're praying for me" instead of helping or even asking if I want prayer. I am also guilty of thinking some of these healing sentiments about myself. That specific topic resonated heavily. I realize that the church I was raised in may have been outside of the norm in their treatment of disabled members and that's why, to me, some of the issues Dr. Kenny mentions did not seem to be rooted in how Christians treat disabled Christians but, instead, issues with Christians in general. I wrestled with mentioning this because I do not want to discredit Dr. Kenny's experience, but I also want to acknowledge that a lot of the examples Dr. Kenny provides also happen to Christians without disabilities. In the same way she has been treated, I have watched new mothers, single mothers, former addicts, new Christians, new members, etc. receive the same treatment by Christians (not necessarily the church overall). If anything, I felt this shed light on the unChristlike way many Christians are. Good for Dr. Kenny for saying something. 

Overall, I felt this book landed somewhere between a Bible study book and a memoir. Each chapter began with a memoir introduction and then ended in a study. I did not agree with all of Dr. Kenny's Biblical interpretations. I also did not think all of them tied into her memoir pieces. Being half study, half memoir, the book felt like it just scratched the surface of both. This is a great introduction book to this topic for the church and would make a wonderful book for a Christian book club and study. I enjoyed the workshop bits at the end of each chapter and did most of them.
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It's very obvious that this was written for able-bodied people and not disabled people like myself. There were a lot of good points in the first third of this book, but then I felt that those were replaced with comparisons and metaphors, some of which I don't agree with. This book did remind me how lucky I've been to work with good doctors and health care professionals for the most part. But that also meant it was hard to relate to a lot of the situations the author was talking about.

Another thing was that the author talked about disability pride but I can't say that I've ever felt proud to be disabled. Being disabled has allowed me to see the world differently than most people, which I'm grateful for, but I think pride is a bit of a stretch.

I also had issues with the parts where the author interpreted Bible scriptures. Though I have had negative experiences with religious people where my disability has been looked down upon, I also felt like the author was interpreting the verses without acknowledging that the Bible is a very old document and that everyone interprets the scriptures differently. I am blessed with a church family that accepts me for who I am. 

I don't really feel like this book accomplished what it set out to do and for that it missed the mark for me. Thank you to NetGalley and Baker Academic & Brazos Press for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Dr. Kenny gives a first hand account of what it’s like to have a disability and live in a world that varies in response from denial to blame shifting and gaslighting.
This would be enough of an eye opener on its own, but much of the book wraps around her account of ableism in the church and how it has impacted her life. 

Spiritual abuse is a major theme throughout the book. This is important because her examples of this highlight the discomfort the church has about the disabled and the opportunity they have missed in excluding them. 

If the church could get past trying to miraculously cure people and focus on bringing all people together to heal hearts and lives, they would have the kingdom mentality that Jesus brought with him to this broken world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Brazos Press for an ARC of this book.
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This book is amazing! I ended up reading it through in one sitting as I kept finding my own experiences and thoughts within the pages. While disabled people make up the largest minority group as we are all spread out and not geographically located together sometimes you can wonder if you’re the only one who experiences ableism in a certain way, reading this it appears that is far from the case.

Amy Kenny writes with a strong and powerful yet clear voice about her experiences as a disabled person within both the Church and society at large. She points out how often narratives create disability as something that is entirely negative and that inclusion can easily be written off as unnecessary due to a variety of reasons. At no point though does Kenny come across as moaning about the situation instead she sets out how the current situation is not the best society can be and why before making suggestions on how to make positive changes. In many ways the book is a workbook that Churches could easily go through to reflect on their own communities and inclusivity. Kenny includes sections on both physical inclusion but also thinking about what language we use too. What stood out for me was her interpretations of different aspects of theology and how curing someone physically and healing can be entirely different things. 

I did feel that the primary target of this book is probably for able bodied people and is definitely a very good starting tool to get people thinking (and hopefully acting). That being said one of the end questions Kenny asks of the reader is, ‘How are you different for reading this book?’ and for me it was very much a case of feeling of belonging and appreciation that other people out there facing similar barriers to me are actively making changes and I suspect other disabled people will feel similar.

Every Church needs a copy of this book! 

Also I am going to have to steal the analogy of ‘Ableism malaria’ (if curious as to what that is definitely read this book!)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you too to Amy Kenny for writing this and being the voice of many people.
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I’ve been savoring an advanced copy of My Body Is Not A Prayer Request by @dramykenny and am pretty sure it will end up being one of my top books for 2022. And since I’m reading it on my kindle, I thought I’d share a favorite quote (one of MANY):

“A person’s feelings of discomfort should never be in competition with someone else’s belonging.”

Whether you know someone or are someone in the disabled community or not, this book is for all of us.

I love how Dr. Amy Kenny talks about how our flourishing is connected. We all benefit when someone else flourishes, and she shows how this gets to be true over and over again.

I am so grateful for her perspective that many of us are only temporarily able-bodied. We will all experience brokenness in our bodies, whether that comes from aging, sickness or disability. Being dependent and having needs is how we were made. This is part of the good news of the gospel. I’m so grateful for the lens of disability brought to scripture and the embodied hope it offers.

Even the parts of this book that have been convicting or hard to read are good and true and needed. I’m learning a lot and am so grateful for the courage it took to both write and live this book.

I don’t often recommend books before I’ve finished them, but this one seems worth the exception. If I could press this one into your hands, I would. We all need this message of embodied hope and the invitation to reconsider how we love our neighbor.
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I could not have written this book, but I needed to read it. Routinely I advise my students to allow people to speak for themselves, whether or not you agree with them. “Agreeing” and “disagreeing” aren’t actually relevant in considering what Amy Kenny has written; she has told her story truthfully, credibly, and powerfully and all of us need to hear genuinely what she is saying. My Body is not a Prayer Request is a hybrid genre: autobiography and theology.  As a Christian ministry professor whose doctoral research focused on biblical studies, I am comfortable evaluating her theological reflections, and what I found here is thoroughly biblical, profoundly thoughtful, and saturated with the gospel. I dare not evaluate her story, but it resonates strongly with my second-person experience as the father of a young man with Down syndrome. Ultimately, all theology incorporates a measure of autobiography, and Amy Kenny has blended the two modes wonderfully. I am appalled at what she has endured from some people, I am encouraged by her hope and stamina, and I am hopeful that the church can become the community she envisions. We (I. e., the church) can and should do better than we have done. Thank you, Amy Kenny, for pointing us in the right direction.
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If you read one book this year, it should be this one. Amy Kenny is brilliant and passionate as she discusses disability, the church, theology, and ableism. She truly brings disability justice to light with such grace, love, and honesty - and in a manner that one could only hope to emulate. My Body is Not a Prayer Request is truly an important and necessary addition to the disability conversation, and I would recommend this book to those who are religious and those who are not.
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Through wit and wisdom, Kenny challenges all readers, not just those of faith, to recognize ableism and exclusion. This much needed call to advocate disability justice in word, deed, and setting should be required text for every church, every community, and the spaces each inhabit. With powerful, paramount messaging, Amy Kenny’s ‘My Body Is Not a Prayer Request’ is not only timely, it is an absolute game changer
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A powerful book that deserves 5 stars, My Body Is Not a Prayer Request is one I've already recommended to a dozen people within a week of reading. I learned and am changed from this book.
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