Showing posts with label Mental Disorders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mental Disorders. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

My Body is Not a Prayer Request - a review

 


Disability Justice in the Church

By 

Amy Kenny in 2022

Reviewed by

Geoffrey W. Sutton

 

Is anyone among you sick?

Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them

and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;

the Lord will raise them up.

(James 5: 14-15a, NIV)

 

“God told me to pray for you.” Amy begins her challenge to Christians who dehumanize her, and all people with disabilities, by telling the tale of a prayer predator. She interrupts the woman’s plan, “I don’t need prayer for healing. My body has already been sanctified and redeemed.”

Amy uses a cane and a wheelchair. Throughout My Body is Not a Prayer Request, we learn what Christians and medical people have said and done, which have had a cumulative effect of dehumanizing Amy. She has encountered many Christians who do not accept her as she is. Her work is an attack on the mentality of ableism.

[Read about ableism]

Part of her attack focuses on the prayer predators who insist that it is not God’s will for her to have a disability and that God wants to heal her. Unlike hidden disabilities, Amy’s use of mobility devices draws attention to a physical difference. Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians believe God can perform healing miracles. In short, they believe people like Amy can walk again. I begin to glimpse the frustration and even anger with the people who constantly annoy her as if she is a problem in need of a fix instead of fixing the environment that is designed for the able-bodied.

Another part of her attack is on Christians who refuse to design spaces for people who need one or more accommodations to fit in. She takes on the excuses she has heard like limited funds despite churches finding money for other projects. She needs a ramp. Others need large print, sign language, or accommodations for hearing impairments.

Amy also takes on the dehumanization that occurs through the barrage of microaggressions. Mostly these take the form of words and phrases. Christians make jokes about people with disabilities and toss around words like “lame” as if she did not exist. In addition to pointing out the ways some Christians offend people with disabilities, she approaches a theology of disability noting scriptures that reveal compassion and inclusivity.

Read about the concept, microaggressions.]

In closing this summary of the book, I would note she provides suggestions for activities at the end of each chapter that may be of special interest to people in Christian book-study groups.

Quoting Amy

Following are some quotes to give you a sense of her perspective on being a Christian with a disability. The number following each quote is the page number.

No place is safe from prayerful predators. 27

What we need to be freed from is ableism. 27

Constructing buildings and communities with disabled people in mind from the outset produces a culture of belonging that does not discriminate against bodily difference. 36

Perhaps instead of trying to pray away the cane, prayerful perpetrators should ensure that buildings are accessible to me. Perhaps instead of focusing on my body as the source of sin, prayerful perpetrators should repent of the ways the church perpetuates the sin of excluding disabled people.  36

“Crip” is a disability community word that reclaims the slur “cripple” in hopes of transforming the way the world interprets our bodies. 53

Doctors have drugs, churches have platitudes. They use platitudes like a drug they can dole out to make any ailment go away. 99

Crip tax is a term for the way society charges disabled people for being disabled. The cost of mobility devices, medical care, and assistive technology is weighty.  106

Folks routinely wear glasses or contacts without knowing how to manufacture them and without the threat of prayerful perpetrators trying to cure them. 132

I am not your metaphor. My body is not your symbol to use. My crippled body and lame leg do not give you permission to dismiss me as symbolic for whatever you find difficult.  146

Physical space reveals who the world is built for and who we expect to use it. 197

Accessibility is not just a checklist but an ethos.  197

In the charity model, we become objects of pity rather than subjects with our own gifts. 252

**********

Comments

I recommend My Body is Not a Prayer Request to all those Christians who pray for healing. I get it that Christians can point to verses about healing like the James 5 text I placed at the beginning of this review; however, what aggressive, in-your-face-prayer warriors—I like Amy’s term prayer predators—seem to ignore is the millions of devout Christians who are not healed. The unhealed testify to the inadequacy of theologies of healing, which I have written about in a previous series (See Divine Healing).

I support Amy’s call for churches to be more accommodating. If the lack of accommodations is due to ignorance, then see Amy’s ideas and ask people in the church for suggestions. Meanwhile, Christians with disabilities are being excluded. As Amy points out, the number of people with a disability is large. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 Americans have a disability (26%).

When it comes to Christians and ableism, there is a need to address the implications of people who were not good enough to serve in a special way. Consider the following quote from Leviticus 21.

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’ ” 

(Leviticus 21.16-24, NIV)

I will not attempt to create a theology of disability here. You can see what I wrote elsewhere and consult other books. However, I hope Christians can see how the Leviticus quote creates a tone of “not good enough.” Add in the many healing stories in the gospels and Acts and it is also easy to see how people can be “fixed” if only they have enough faith. Attitudes favoring the able-bodied place people with a disability in a lower class. 

Ableism, the discrimination against people with disabilities, is a problem in society and in the church. I agree with Amy that this ablest theology dehumanizes large numbers of people. I would add to her rhetoric on dehumanization that some Christians are in the habit of demonizing people with mental disorders.

 

Book Reference

Kenny, A. (2022). My body is not a prayer request: Disability Justice in the church. Grand Rapids, MI: BrazosPress.   AMAZON

GOOGLE BOOKS



Related books

The Bible, Disability, and the Church by Amos Yong


Theology and Down Syndrome by Amos Yong


Related Posts

Ableism

Microaggressions


Spiritual Bypass

Spiritual or Religious Abuse

Spiritual or Religious Neglect

Spiritual and Religious Harassment

A scale to measure attitudes toward disability

  Attitudes to Disability Scale [ADS]




Disclosure

I am a retired psychologist. Before becoming a psychologist, I worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor. As a part of my work as a psychologist, I consulted with physicians, attorneys, and government agencies on the needs of people with disabilities. I recently published a book about Pentecostals and mental health.

Counseling and Psychotherapy with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians:

Culture &  Research  |  Assessment & Practice 

Available on AMAZON

Please check out my website   www.suttong.com

   and see my books on   AMAZON    

   or  GOOGLE STORE


Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    


You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton  

  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

 Addendum

Throughout her book Amy Kenny provides some lists. Following is an example.





Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Sociopath Next Door- Book Review

 The Sociopath Next Door     


By

  Martha Stout


Reviewed by

  Jaimée Allman 

   and Geoffrey W. Sutton


In The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout, psychologist and Harvard Professor, asserts that monsters do not hide in closets or under the bed, but rather in our neighborhoods, businesses, churches, and families. In this 241-page book, Stout draws on over two decades of experience to provide the reader with a manual for identifying and responding to the sociopaths of society. According to Stout, four percent of Americans can do virtually anything without a single trace of remorse; the other 96 percent of us have both the right and responsibility to protect ourselves.

           Stout begins by asking the reader to imagine what it would be like to live without conscience, to have the unique ability of moving through life without emotional attachment to anyone or anything. Fortunately, this is an impossible task for most readers. The introduction provides the reader with a basic but well-researched definition of sociopathy. She clarifies current thinking on the difference between Antisocial Personality Disorder drawn from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV and research on psychopathy by noted scientists such as Robert Hare and Hervey Cleckley. Throughout the remainder of the book, Stout weaves tales of people having sociopathic traits with information about the definition, development, and benefits of conscience, characteristics of sociopathy, and ways to protect oneself against the cruelty of those who live without conscience.

           Stout describes conscience as the ability to form emotional attachments, and out of those attachments to operate for the benefit of others and not only oneself. Chapter seven, the etiology of sociopathy is examined, with a discussion of nature, nurture, and the influence of the society in which one is born. In chapter nine, Stout presents a theory of how conscience has developed based on evolutionary psychology, Kohlberg’s moral development, and the influences of both gender and culture. Although it initially seems that natural selection would opt out on conscience at the individual level, Stout cites research that suggests altruism may actually protect the transmission of conscience through genetics. After reading some of the stories Stout presents, the reader may begin to question if having no conscience is better than being ruled by its constant naggings. Chapters ten, eleven and twelve address why it is ultimately better to possess conscience than to live without its limitations: the life of a sociopath is one ruled by boredom and eventually the majority of sociopaths end up alone and ruined. Stout concludes that, “One way or another, a life without conscience is a failed life (p. 209).”

           For the 96 percent of Americans who are bound by their conscience, encountering the cold-blooded sociopath may be a frightening prospect. They maim and destroy lives without a second thought, but they blend in with chameleon-like expertise. This raises the question of how to identify those among us without conscience. Stout suggests that sociopaths can be identified by their deviant and aggressive behavior in conjunction with a constant manipulation of others’ pity. If people with sociopathic traits can cause conscience-bound individuals to feel pity for them, they can keep those individuals from exposing her for what she truly is. This type of manipulation often causes the conscience-bound to question their own sanity, because we expect people to operate from conscience. Stout argues that we must trust our own intuition when faced with sociopathic behavior, and bar these individuals from our lives.

           In chapter eight, Stout presents her thirteen rules for dealing with sociopaths in everyday life, stating, “the best way to protect yourself from a sociopath is to avoid him (p. 160).” The other twelve rules address how to question authority, trust your instincts, and avoid pitying those on whom pity is lost. Quoting from a variety of religious sources, including Christian and Buddhist writings, Stout encourages the reader to value conscience, even if submitting to it occasionally causes distress because such submission creates a bond across humanity.

           Readers will find the extensive notes section to be useful for further reading and research. Furthermore, the articles cited represent important authors in the areas of sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder, as well as evolutionary psychology, attachment disorder, and religious theory and thought. The index is a thorough representation of the topics discussed throughout the book, making it simply for the reader to find specific stories and explanations.

           Readers may find The Sociopath Next Door useful for a few reasons. It clearly describes sociopathy and identifies the major questions and problems raised by individuals who lack conscience. The issue of sociopathy is an important one for both the psychologist and the person of faith. Neither religion nor psychology has developed a clear response to the sociopathic individuals in our midst.

Book Reference

 Stout, M. (2005). The sociopath next door. New York: Broadway Books.

Note

This review was submitted for publication but never published by the journal.

Cite this review

Allman, J. & Sutton, G. (2021). [Review of the book: The sociopath next door by M. Stout]. SuttonReviews. Retrieved from https://suttonreviews.suttong.com/2021/06/the-sociopath-next-door-book-review.html

Related Book

The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton