An excerpt by Dr. Amy Kenny
“God told me to pray for you,” she says. Her words linger like cloying perfume in a claustrophobic space. “God wants to heal you!” She is undoubtedly thrilled with this opportunity. I’ve been here before. It never ends well.
This woman does not know me. She doesn’t have the intimacy that prayer or accountability or sarcasm require. She simply interprets my cane as something that requires “fixing” and ropes God into her ableism, the belief that disabled people are less valuable or less human than our nondisabled counterparts. Internally, I make a swift calculation: endure the prayer to avoid squabble, or call her out on her benevolent eugenics and be branded a heretic again.
I used to play the game. Eavesdropping as they prayed for my broken body, trying to conceal my spasms lest they be confused for demonic convulsions. I thought if I could just assume a veneer of piety, it would inoculate me against their patronizing prayers and invasive interrogations. I believed that I could perfect my way out of people demeaning disability, that somehow my patience would endow me with enough worth in their minds to be considered fully human. All it did was put me on a carousel of dehumanization that made me feel complicit in their toxic theology.
So I choose door B. “I don’t need prayer for healing. My body has already been sanctified and redeemed,” I choke out. I know it won’t be enough, but my dignity is not up for debate, particularly here, in God’s house. Only a second has passed, but there is a lifetime between us…
Theologians/Practitioners to be following:
- Dr. Amy Kenny
- Dr. Andrew Draper
- Jody Michele Powers
- Andrea Mann
- Lamar Hardwick
- John Swinton
- Brian Brock
- Amos Yong
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