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Transcript of Episode 58 - Amy Kenny

Transcript of Down to Earth Conversations Episode 58: Amy Kenny – My Body is Not a Prayer Request


Kia ora, welcome to another episode of Down To Earth Conversations with me, your host, Andy Dickson. Thanks for joining me again. Or if this is your first time, nau mai, haere mai. You are very welcome.

The heart of this podcast is the belief that heaven is not some abstract future thing reserved for the afterlife, but that when we do good in the world, we bring a bit of heaven down to earth in the present. Today's guest does that by challenging our mindsets about disability. Dr. Amy Kenney is an amazing human being who has recently released a book titled my Body Is Not a Prayer request disability justice in the church. In the book and in our conversation today, Amy shares her experiences of living in a world that is not designed with disability in mind. And sadly, her experience is that it is actually worse in the church than elsewhere. We talk about her role teaching Shakespeare, her book and how it came about, and we tackle issues such as using disability as a metaphor, healing culture, whether she will run in heaven, whether hitting her other knee with a hammer would be helpful, how the church can be less ableist, and the difference she sees between inclusion and belonging. If you're moved by the episode, please consider sharing it with someone else. You are the only way that this podcast grows. So let's get to Amy and the wisdom she has to share. This is episode 58 of Down To Earth Conversations. Here's Doctor Amy Kenny.

Andy: Well, it is my great pleasure today to have Dr. Amy Kenny on the podcast Kyoto. Amy,

Amy: thank you so much for having me, Andy. I'm happy to be here.

Andy: A lot of people won't have heard of you. So do you want to just tell us a little bit about yourself?

Amy: Yeah, I am a disabled woman who is unashamed of being disabled, and that kind of throws people a little bit. And I'm from Brisbane, Australia, originally, and I've also lived over here in the States for quite a few years now. I've lived in London as well, so my accent and my life is really going for those Citizen of Heaven vibes these days.

Andy: Yes, it's beautiful.

Amy: Yeah, it tells quite a story. It's every other word you can hear a different part of my story, I think.

Andy: And you teach Shakespeare?

Amy: Yeah, sometimes, part of the time.

Andy: What got you interested in doing that?

Amy: Who doesn't love Shakespeare now? A lot of people, it turns out. I got interested in doing that because I think there is something about literature that allows us to imagine new worlds and what the world can be. And I think that while I teach Shakespeare, what I actually teach is compassion and invites students into thinking about immersing themselves in the story of another and attempting to have compassion for the characters in that story. All of us have experienced love and hate and betrayal and trauma and all of that can be found in these stories, even if we haven't experienced the particulars of what these characters are going through. Yes, we read and watch and talk about Shakespeare, but what we really do is talk about what it means to be human.

Andy: Yeah, that's amazing. I love that for you. It's not just about, “well, here's some good literature that's going to teach us how to write.” It's actually, “here's some good literature that's going to teach us about being human”, which I think we could all do with a bit more of.

Amy: Yeah, the literature is just the gateway to a larger conversation about race, sexuality, disability, and how all of those interact and are discussed and lived and experienced in these plays and in our own lives.

Andy: Yeah, I mean, for the average Joe, I don't think, oh, Shakespeare, here's a good chance to talk about disability or here's a good chance to talk about race. But actually, like you say, all of that stuff is present, all of that stuff is good to talk about. And that literature raises those points or at least raises even the heart posture that leads into that. When I heard that that was what you did, I just found that really fascinating. And of course, then you've gone on to write your own book, which is one of the big reasons we're here today. You released it earlier this year. Called My Body is not a Prayer Request: disability justice in the church. And I just think it's brilliant. It's part autobiographical, it's part biblical exploration, it's part cultural examination, and I just found it 100% captivating. Was this a long term plan for you to write or was it more just grabbing an opportunity that presented itself?

Amy: It wasn't a plan at all. I feel as though I just followed the cloud and here I am talking to you months later. I had joined a writing group, really just to process my own experiences, and writing is the way that I do that. And I wanted to process so many experiences that I have as a disabled woman growing up and participating in church communities. And over the course of doing that, I would share my writing with people. And they were so kind as to encourage me to share it with a broader audience. And I did. And it's been a vulnerable and beautiful task, but also one that feels like I have see through skin sometimes, sharing pieces of my story with the wealth. And my hope is that it invites people to rethink some of the assumptions about disability and to really consider how disabled people can teach the rest of the church and the rest of the world what it means to be human.

Andy: Yes. I think for me, there's books that I read because they've got really important content, and then there's other books that I read because the author is really captivating in the way that they write. And I think for me, yours did both. It was something that pulled me into the stories, disarmed me with the humor, and then gave me a sucker punch that I wasn't quite expecting because I had been lightened up.

Amy: Well, that's me humor and punching people (laughing).

Andy: I guess I was wondering, was that a real natural thing for you of the balance between the humor and the serious stuff? Does that reflect you as a person, or is that just a deliberate strategy?

Amy: Yeah, I wish I could say it was a deliberate strategy and that I did that to entice readers, but no, that is just how I am. And I also wanted the book to be true to myself and not adopting a particular voice or style in order to tell pieces of my story. And I wanted also to include the personal, the embarrassing, the funny, the hard and all of that, because I contain multitudes, as we all do. And so often disabled people are relegated to stereotypes or archetypes, and we're treated as though we're not fully human and we don't have interests and likes and dislikes and gifts and frustrations. And I wanted to share just sort of the breadth of my experience as a disabled woman.

Andy: Yeah, and I think you just did it so well. I mean, there were times when it was really funny until it suddenly wasn't, and you realized, oh, that's not okay. And things that are good that you can laugh about, but it's kind of sad that you have to laugh about them. My emotions went everywhere. I thought I was going to just blat through this book, pick up some information, but I just had to stop and keep processing. And I think for me, it's like real meditation literature that I'm going to have to go back to it and read it again and process those things that come up for me emotionally as I do it and go, Why is that speaking to me? Because there's just so much in there, and I think you've done it really well.

I want to pick up on several themes that you address in the book, particularly ones that jumped out to me and things that maybe I hadn't thought of as much before. And this is coming from someone who I felt like I was doing okay at inclusion and those kind of things. And then this has just made me have a complete rethink and go, well, maybe I was doing better than I used to, but there's still room to grow. And so one of those ideas was talking about disability as a metaphor. And for me, I've long held the position that it's just not okay to use disability language as a slur. But honestly it was like a huge whack in the face for me to realize that I'd been using disability as a metaphor in a way that basically was saying the same thing to people with disabilities. That the metaphors kind of equate disability to bad and then want to get from there to somewhere better or somewhere in church. We do it all the time. I mean, even the most common of phrases I was blind, but now I see. Can you just say a little bit about that?

Amy: I'm sorry and you're welcome for slapping you in the face. Yes, it's so commonplace and once you start noticing it, you notice it everywhere. And something that people say often is that meeting was crippling without realizing that those of us who could be called and have been called to our faces cripple. That is a metaphor that is essentially making a connection with someone by putting my body down and by using my buddy as the tool to explain how horrible something was. We use these all the time in the church to talk about how revealing something is or how unfortunate something was and it probably seems to some like well that's not a big deal or they don't intend harm there. But it's not really that great to be everyone's example of something cheesy. Bad. Undesirable. Gross all the time and it chips away at your sense of worth and dignity to constantly be used as everyone's metaphorical punching bag for me.

Andy: You also talked about that it equates suffering with disability and then tries to erase both, which I hadn't realized that my language was doing that but now as you just explained, that going oh man, if that was me and someone was saying was using part of who I am to explain why their situation was bad or negative or why they were suffering, that would be horrible. And yeah, that's your experience and the experience of so many others within our churches, which it leads to that idea again that you hit really well in the book of Christians wanting you to be fixed and equating a fixed body with wholeness. How do we as a church get away from that, I guess? Is that something that you think that we're consciously doing or something that we just haven't realized we're doing or all of the above?

Amy: I have to believe for my own ability to show grace that people are not aware of what they are doing, that folks are ignorant and that they are well meaning but they just don't realize how some of this language is really harmful and exclusionary. A lot of people in churches that I've been a part of and actively participating in and leading in have tried to prey me away, tried to offer me remedies to cure my disabled body without ever asking whether I want to be cured or whether my disability is something that I'm ashamed by or have a problem with. I've been recommended everything from eat more kale to hit your leg with a hammer. Somehow I'm still disabled.

Andy: Someone actually asked you to hit your other leg with a hammer?!

Amy: Oh, yeah. And I give the most out there examples to show how bizarre it is. Right, but when you look at the spectrum of remedies that people recommend to me, unsolicited me just rocking up, using a mobility aid and folks coming up and saying, you should eat more kale or here's some oil, or here's a potion that I made for you, you should use this. I think many people find that ridiculous and extreme, and indeed it is, but it's just as ridiculous and extreme to offer platitudes and to say, the only disability is a bad attitude, or chin up, just smile, it'll all be okay. You can't be disabled with a smile like that. Sometimes I hear, well, no amount of smiling has ever made my legs work differently. And I express those in the book, partly in those top ten lists to add a little bit of levity and partly to reveal to folks through humor how tiring and harmful this type of ideology is to think that just by virtue of using mobility aids, that my body mind needs to be changed in order to fit your perception of what's perfect.

Andy: Yeah, and I think the part that hit me the most is you say in the book, “you'll be whole one day or you'll be running in heaven, they promise through purse lips, as though I am not already a new creation with the mind of Christ, as if the Holy Spirit doesn't already dwell in my disabled body.” And I think that's just beautiful words that to me showed a sense of both heartache and self-worth, that there's pain there because you just have to keep enduring these comments. But also you've got worth in yourself that actually no, I don't need to hear that. Thanks all the same. But yeah, it seems like as Christians, we are obsessed with trying to fix disabled people. I mean, that's clearly been your experience. What do you think is behind that?

Amy: Ableism? Yeah, that's probably for people's therapists to say, but I think that it is connected to fear. Folks project their fear onto my body because I represent what they could become. I'm the Christmas of future. And I think there's a lot of fear around what it would mean to become disabled, probably because somewhere deep down they realize that there's so much ableism in our systems and structures and the ways that we gather not just in church, but in all spaces. I think people project those fears on to me. I think there's also a mechanism of control at work that people want to control their lives and others, they want to know that if they are air quotes a good person that that will equate to them having a certain body mind, a certain health, wealth, status, all the things. And while many people can critique prosperity gospel in the sense of you can't say a prayer and get rich, I think there is an understanding of a type of bodily prosperity gospel where folks want to believe that you are only disabled if you don't have enough faith or if you have sinned. And people have said that right to my face. People have asked me what sin prevents you from walking? Or said to me that if I just believed, I would be able to run. And I think that reveals that sin and disability are still so deeply conflated in a lot of people's understanding of body minds.

Andy: Yeah, I mean, I think it reveals that they haven't read the Bible either because…

Amy: John Nine

Andy: yeah, that's what people say to Jesus and he's like, no, actually, no.

Amy: Yeah. And yet many people would, I think, say that out loud. They would say, oh no, of course sin and disability isn't conflated. But how many pastors do you know who are disabled? How many in your church who are elders or deacons or leaders or serving in some capacity or leading in some capacity are disabled? That's generally not connected to how we understand leadership, how we understand learning from one another that is generally reserved for non disabled people.

Andy: Yeah. And that's actually a huge thing to go. What are you saying with your words? But what are you saying with your environment? What are you saying with your structures? What are you saying with your actions? And again, that came through time and time again in the book, you talked at one stage about moving to a church space that had a ramp and then they made the main door the one that didn't have a ramp. And what does that say? It says a lot, doesn't it?

Amy: Yeah, it says that you are not worthy of belonging and care. And the main entrance where we are going to have community and coffee and gather together is one that you can't access. And when you point that out to us, you're the problem, not our ablest idea of exclusionary practices. And in that church and others, I've been told, well, you're the only one who needs the ramp. We don't have disabled people here. Well, I wonder if that's related to the ableism.

Andy: Yeah, totally. A church that I was working at, when I started working there and it's been remedied, thank God. But if you were disabled and you came in a car, there was a disability parking space and whatever. But if you came along the road in your wheelchair and then wanted to come into the church, the only way up was you had to roll up a shared driveway with speed bumps and the shared driveway had trucks going up and down it. And then you had to roll through the car park. Fortunately, now the situation is that they've put in a gate and a crossing that goes all the way from the road to the front door. But, yeah, it wasn't until someone said to us, hey, what is that saying to people? It was like, yes, we do not want to be saying that. And, yeah, I think what can be seen by a lot of us as the little things are actually really big things when it comes to accessibility, when it comes to a sense of belonging, a sense of the community, valuing people. I want to read a little bit from the book. You tell a lot of similar stories to what our previous guest, Manny Cox has shared, and he talks about being pushed out of his wheelchair in Jesus name and those same sort of things that you have said, which is just horrendous. But I think one of the things for me was the point you brought up before about how often people assume the right to make judgments about you and your body with no relationship, with no understanding of how you see yourself and your body, all that kind of stuff, and even to the point of judging whether you're disabled at all. And so I just want to read the story that you've got in here, because I think it starts in that place, but it lands really well for how does this connect to church? So this is when you've gone to the DMV to get your disability plates renewed. So it says, “ten minutes later, I've produced all the forms verifying that I am disabled, which, I mean, even that sentence just anyway, and I'm not just using a cane for kicks. There is nothing left for her to do but humiliate me. If you were really disabled, you wouldn't be able to drive, she Scolds she won't renew my disabled plates until I pass her arbitrary test of removing my current disabled license plates. If you tried hard enough, she says, you'd be able to blink. Blink, blink, blink. I count in my head, unsure how to respond, trying to blink away my irritation. It's like we're reenacting the sloth scene from Zootopia, except there isn't a punchline rewarding us. At the end of the awkward suspension, a slender stranger wearing a tank top that reveals more tattoos than skin approaches what is now becoming a scene. Can I change your plates for you? He offers compassion, beaming from his chestnut eyes. My new friend is fresh out of prison. As he unscrews my plates, he spills that he knows what it's like to be dismissed by the system and he wants to support a fellow outcast. And it's there, in a DMV parking lot atop of crumbling cement, that I am met with more accommodations than I have found in most churches. Jesus showed up in the form of an eavesdropping ex-felon that day. Jesus is always showing up for me like that whenever disability doubters linger nearby. I just wish Jesus would hang out at church more often. Maybe then my disabled body could belong.” Some of me just feels like letting that sit there for people for a minute. But yeah, I think that's an extremely powerful story because it not only highlights the horrendous attitude people have and the way that you get treated, but it also brings into a sense of your spirituality and how in some ways that's getting met more outside the church than inside the church. Do you want to say a little bit around that?

Amy: That has absolutely been my experience is that people have been more accommodating to me, more compassionate, more understanding, and treated me with more dignity outside of the church than inside. Inside, I'm a problem to be fixed. I'm a villain, a victim. I'm everything that is wrong with the fallen world. I'm an example of sin and the fallenness runs through my veins. And folks are so caught up in all of that that they can't see that my disabled body is made in the image of the creator of the universe. Yeah, my disabled buddy is divine. And yet too often, church folks would rather be dead than divine,

Andy: Which is just, I mean, I find that really painful and I'm not on the receiving end of that. But I think it's good for us all to hear. I think it's good for those who are listening, who have a similar story to yours that's good to hear, to know that they are not alone. For those who don't have a similar story to yours, it's a massive wake up call, especially if we're part of the church to go, how can we have been treating people like this? And I mean, there will be pockets of things that are going well in different spaces, but as a whole, we just really need to do some work on it. How does your disability allow you to experience God in ways that others might not?

Amy: Disabled people are the most creative people that I know. Disabled people have created everything from the electric toothbrush to the snuggie to touch screens to texting. The wheelchair is a precursor to the bicycle and that creativity is from the divine itself. And so I think I experience a deep sense of my own ability to live outside of the world that we have created and live outside of the systems and structures that are so harmful and create something that is inclusive and that allows for everyone to belong regardless of their body, mind or their access needs. And I think that's a way of me participating in co-creating with God, with the spirit and a gift that disability has given me time and again. I think also that there's a way that being disabled and living by crip time and outside of calendars and clocks and there being a lack of certainty and control in my life because my access needs fluctuate. And some days I need help getting dressed, others I don't. But on all days I have dignity, I have worth. And on all days, regardless of whether I need help putting my socks on, I radiate the creative's image to the world. And I think that being disabled has really equipped me with a deep sense of my own worth, dignity and divinity in that sense, because that's not coming from anyone else. Because I think there's a way that nondisabled people can kind of trick themselves into believing that they are independent and that they have worked hard and created whatever amount of success, whatever amount of success they have. And I just can't keep up in the independent, hustle culture, capitalist lifestyle because my body mind cannot keep up. Now, of course, none of us can, but I can't even fool myself. And so I think that's also a gift of disability is knowing that it is not my hard work or hustles that equip me with worth that can't be taken from me even if I can't get out of bed today.

Andy: Yeah. Which is something that a lot of us would do well to learn, I think. All the technology development stuff that you mentioned, I never realized that until I read your book, that so much of the things that we use regularly have come from people with disabilities creating ways to thrive in life. And in New Zealand, our indigenous people are the Maori. And a number of us would say that what's good for Maori is good for everyone. And I think similarly, this idea, again, I think you said in your book that actually what is good for the disability community is good for everyone. And I think that's a perfect example. It's not a case of, well, if we accommodate them, then they'll stop moaning about it. But actually, if we can help each other that are thrived, then we can all thrive. Have you had experiences where that has gone well?

Amy: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that because we're all interconnected. And sometimes when we're talking about accommodating disabled folks, it does turn into this idea that disabled folks are just whinging. But it's good for all of us if access needs are met and if we are able to create a community where we get to co-flourish. And just think about how often you use all of those different technologies that I mentioned and imagine the world that we could create if we actually created a system where we could all flourish together. Imagine all that we're missing out on. When people ask me why we should accommodate disabled people, there's so many responses. Of course you should do it because it's the right thing to do. And because I think that's part of being in the beloved community with one another. And you should do it because it instills people with dignity. But beyond that, even for selfish reasons, you should do it because you're missing out on the amazing creativity that the disability community brings. I have experienced communities that are willing to learn and grow and make sure that disabled people can thrive. And it hasn't been on a massive scale. It has been more in kind of smaller groups and smaller settings. But it is deeply healing and equips us with imagination to create more community spaces where everyone gets to flourish.

Andy: For me, what your book kind of highlights is, isn't that a picture of the kingdom of heaven? Isn't that a picture of the beauty that God's after? Not that we would fix all of you so that we could all be the same, but that actually we could embrace each other in a way that just welcomed one another and listened to one another. I think it's a big challenge, but it's so worth it.

Amy: Yeah. And that's the model that we see from Jesus in that Luke 14 banquet that he describes that usually we take to mean new creation. That when we pray your kingdom come, that's the model that Jesus gives us. It is poor and disabled people invited first to an accessible banquet. There's no talk of cure. There's no condemnation. There's just community.

Andy: Yeah. I think, again, just you mentioned of the word cure. That was another really big moment for me, was recognizing the difference between healing and curing or healing and fixing. And I've talked about this with Manny a lot, actually, that maybe the healing that is needed is not a curing of people's physical bodies, but a healing of the attitudes that are excluding those people. That maybe we've even got the healing located in the wrong person or the wrong set of people. And I think that's something for all of us to go, actually. What is the healing that I need? Your experience of disability, how has that impacted the way that you then interact with those around you, the way that you love your neighbor?

Amy: Yeah, I just turn my scooter up to the highest speed and I just run them over, whatever they bother me. I think it has given me a deep compassion and understanding for when people are excluded, even if people are excluded in ways I haven't experienced. I understand what it feels like to be the odd person out and to be criticized or shamed or stigmatized. I think it has allowed for me to understand that Jesus is in the face of every one of the least of these, and that loving our neighbor is loving Jesus. And that it's not often my experience through these kind of hyper spiritual, transcendent moments where there's swelling music and necessarily scriptural verses and things and not critiquing that, but it's more of these one on one moment with our neighbors sitting with them in knowing silence when they're really suffering through something. Loving them enough to show up in the mass and complexity of healing. If you've ever been with someone in the process of recovery of any kind, post surgery, recovery from any sort of addiction, it is an ongoing, messy, complicated process. And healing is messy. And it's loving people enough to cast out even our most pressing fears of what if I say the wrong thing? What if I don't know what to do? What if it's awkward? What if I mess up? What if they say something rude? Loving people enough to stretch yourself, to be elastic enough to really love our neighbors.

Andy: Beautiful. Well, I mean, there's so many other things that I could talk to you about. I've got so many questions. But as we start to wrap it up, I just want to kind of reiterate that I love that your end goal isn't just to end ableism or even just to promote inclusion, but you say we want to foster belonging. Do you want to just, I guess, give us a little bit of an understanding? What's the difference for you between inclusion and belonging? Because I think that's a really profound point and something that we all need to consider in our lives and in the spaces that we occupy and then as churches, it's huge. Can you share a little on that?

Amy: Inclusion to me, is when you are present, but you can be present and not really loved or missed. If you're not there. You can be present and see the awkward stares, feel people's touch without consent, people recommending remedies to you and trying to pray you away. All of that is somehow under the umbrella of you were included in that ceremony or ritual or experience. But to belong is to get to be your full self, to not have to hide the messy parts of yourself, to not have to mask or pretend who you are and for all parts of yourself to be welcome in a banquet that centers the most marginalized. I think inclusion is well meaning, but it also, really interestingly to me, is about a person in power extending an invitation to a person who is not in power. Whereas belonging is co flourishing, it's communal, it isn't hierarchical, it isn't something that one person can give to another. It's co-created and it dismantles and disrupts every sense of hierarchy that we have and every sense of proving ourselves. You don't have to prove yourself to belong in a space where you belong. You can show up without your face done. You can show up without saying the correct answers to everything. You can show up however you are that day and you can still be met with dignity and love. And that's what I would hope we would move into. And that is a space of mutuality where disabled people are not just treated as objects, but subjects that we get to co flourish with, learn from, and that we get to actually see thrive.

Andy: I think that's a beautiful place to land this conversation. And if people wanted to follow what you're up to engage more in this discussion, how can they do that?

Amy: The best place would be my book. I'm not on social media at the moment, just taking a break from all that. So the best place to engage with this would be my book and then my hope would be, take it to your own communities, talk about it with folks who you are in community with, wrestle with it together, share the hard parts, share what punched you in the face and what you don't agree with, and wrestle with that together in order to grow.

Andy: I just want to say, I think everybody should read this book. Go and get it now. Read it, read it again. I think it's going to be really profound for so many people. So, yeah, thank you for your time today. Thank you for bringing, I guess, more depth to this discussion. I still feel like we're just scratching the surface, but go read the book and you'll get more depth to it as well. But, yeah, thank you for also being prepared to be vulnerable, to share those moments and to share your experiences, because I know not every disabled person wants to have the responsibility of teaching others about this. And I think that's a big thing is not to then rush out to the disabled people and try and get them to share their stories, too. But thank you for who you are. Thank you for what you're doing to bring a bit of heaven down to earth.

Amy: Thank you, Andy.

Song: Hello. Hello, heaven. I hear you whisper to come near.

Andy: Wow. I had this conversation several weeks ago and to be honest, I'm still reeling a bit. So much of what Amy has to share with us is hugely important when it comes to our desire to love our neighbor as ourselves, and yet it's so often overlooked, especially in our churches. For those of you who resonate with Amy's experiences, I am so sorry that you have to go through life in a world not built for you. On the flip side, I have so much to think about and many adjustments to make in my own life if this is connected with you at all. Honestly, I can't rate Amy's book highly enough. Definitely go check it out in print or in kindle, wherever you can find it. Amy, thank you for being who you are and for the difference that you are making in the world. Here is a blessing for you.

Amy, may your cup continue to be filled as you observe the difference your classes make in your students lives. And may your students be known for their compassion as you guide them on a journey of love and embrace through the writings of Shakespeare. May your book be read by thousands and thousands across the world that it might challenge the status quo and bring about conversations that lead to actions of meaningful change for individuals, small groups and even whole church communities. May you find moments of surprising joy when you unexpectedly meet Jesus inside the church and not just in DMV parking lots. And may you continue to find the divine everywhere and in everyone as you roll through life just being you. May you continue to know your unimaginable worth, despite the words and actions of people that would even unintentionally tell you otherwise. And may the knowledge of your worth sustain you when it all seems just a bit too much. May you find more and more places of belonging, communities that go beyond an acceptance of your presence to a real coflourishing for all, bringing to life that which lies within all who are involved. And lastly, may you know that you are appreciated, you are valued and you are loved. Thanks to Strawn for the music and thank you for the karakia.

Join me next time when I interview poet, journalist, author, storyteller and all round great human. Mohamed Hassan. Mohamed is a former New Zealand poetry slam champion. He's worked in television and radio journalism in New Zealand and abroad over the last decade and he's the author of the recently released book, How to Be a Bad Muslim and Other Essays. We talk about the power of words and storytelling, being Muslim in a Western society, we hear about some of his journalistic exploits, including time in and amongst the tensions in Palestine, Israel and his covering of the Christchurch terror attacks, when he was connected in so many ways to so many of the victims from the mosques. We also hear about why it was important to Mohamed to share about his mental health journey in a number of his books essays. It's another fantastic kōrero (conversation). I hope you'll join me. Until then, me inoi tātau (let’s pray).

Finishes with the Lord’s Prayer in te reo Māori (the Māori language).

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