Thin Places

For those interested, the journal First Things recently published an article of mine. It is available at http://firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6367 A corresponding interview is available at http://www.firstthings.com/blog/2008/10/22/interview-becker-on-babies-perfect-and-imperfect/

Our small group at church is studying the book of Isaiah. We read chapter one a few weeks ago, and I was struck by the emphasis on helping the widows and the fatherless. The prophet writes, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead…

Almost every day, I tell Penny, our two-year old, to “listen with your ears.” For some reason, that four word phrase is more effective than the shorter command, “listen.” It makes it more concrete, I suppose, to identify listening with a part of her body. So as she tottered away from me this morning, naked,…

William is 2 1/2 weeks old. He has gained almost two pounds since birth, and he has grown nearly two inches. He is beautiful–slate gray eyes and a full head of dark hair and pouty lips and long, delicate fingers and toes. He has a cleft in his chin that reminds me of his dad.…

We spend our summers in Madison, Connecticut. I forget the peacefulness of this place every year until we drive up and see the water and smell the salty air and feel the breeze. It is what the Celtic Christians called a thin place—a place where heaven and earth touch, where God seems more readily present,…

A year ago, I read a book by Michael Berube called Life as we Know It. Berube is a professor of English, and his son Jamie has Down syndrome. His book contains philosophical and practical reflections about Down syndrome in general and about Jamie in particular. In one chapter, Berube discusses the sociology of Down…

All this talk and information about Down syndrome has left me thinking about language. People struggle (myself included) to know how to talk about Penny. I remember when she was first born and I would say that we had expected a “normal” child, which implied that Penny was abnormal. Then I learned the word “typical”…

I have been reflecting more and more about my sense that I know “why” Penny has Down syndrome. I’ve concluded that I was wrong in much of what I previously thought. In general, we’ve heard two “reasons” that Penny has this extra chromosome. One is because we, as her parents, need a child who is…

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Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes about theology, disability, family, and culture. Two major life experiences have shaped her writing and her faith—caring for her mother-in-law as she battled cancer and welcoming her daughter Penny into the world after she was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. Both experiences expanded and enriched her understanding of what it means to be human and to receive each and every person as a gift.  A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, and the forthcoming A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House). Her essays have appeared in First Things, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Christian Century, ChristianityToday.com, and Bloom, among other online venues.

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