New and forthcoming books from religion publishers are examining the experiences of people with physical and mental health impairments in an effort to ensure all marginalized people are welcomed and accommodated within faith communities. From autism to mental illness, to those with physical disabilities, authors are sharing perspectives that have long been ignored, silenced, or forgotten in hopes of strengthening understanding in both able-bodied and disabled readers.
This article has been updated with language preferred by people with disabilities as well additional information about With Sighs Too Deep for Words.
Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion
The pastor and author of I am Strong: The Life and Journey of an Autistic Pastor explores biblical text as well as historical and theological issues of disability with the aim of helping churches better minister to those with diverse abilities. Hardwick, who was diagnosed with autism in his mid-thirties, also lays out steps people with disabilities can take to become fully participating church members.
Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges
Swinton—founding director of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Spirituality, Health, and Disability—calls on churches to become the epicenter of compassion for those experiencing depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health difficulties, part of which means dropping assumptions that often accompany these diagnoses. It’s possible, writes Swinton, that these people experience God in unique, real, and revelatory ways. He includes firsthand accounts of people experiencing mental health challenges in each chapter.
Might from the Margins: The Gospel's Power to Turn the Tables on Injustice
Edwards, associate professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary, makes a case for the power that marginalized Christians have to take leadership roles in the church. This includes racial or ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women, and those who have been displaced from their homeland. He encourages readers to embrace that power for the good of the church. “I believe that those who have been marginalized have power that is not only unnoticed, but often underutilized,” writes Edwards.
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body
Taussig, a high school English teacher, began writing essays to explore what it means to live with a disability while working on a Ph. D. in disability studies. Sitting Pretty examines the complications of kindness and charity, living independently and dependently, and experiencing intimacy, plus more, while also challenging society to understand better the diversity of humanity. She gives voice to what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit.
Teaching Students with Autism in a Catholic Setting
Ordained deacon and psychologist Sutton offers a guide to people working with autistic children that aims to manage behavior to enhance education, reduce challenges these children face, and identify and cultivate gifts and strengths of autistic individuals. He draws on case studies, personal experience, and educational best practices, all grounded in the Catholic principle that every person has dignity and gifts.
With Sighs Too Deep for Words: Grace and Depression
Hirschfeld, a bishop who quietly received treatment for depression for decades, shares his experiences as well as reflections on what the publisher calls "the stigma around mental illness in our culture," including the belief many Christians have that it represents a deficit in their faith. The book features meditations, prayers, and creative practices for Christians suffering from depression.