Grace Is a Pre-existing Condition

Faith, Systems, and Mental Healthcare

David Finnegan-Hosey

Feb/2020, 152 Pages, PAPER, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640651968



Crucial conversations about mental health and mental healthcare, from a faith perspective.

Emerging from David Finnegan-Hosey's personal experience of living with a diagnosis deemed a "preexisting condition" by insurance companies, this book explores the theological and spiritual dimensions of our public discourse around mental healthcare and mental illness and finds there the transformative reality of grace.

The author's insights will be of benefit to anyone concerned about creating a more just healthcare system, but particularly those who struggle with–and care for those who struggle with–mental health. Though focusing on mental health, including preexisting conditions and medical debt, his observations are equally applicable to people dealing with a variety of physical and chronic illnesses. While intentionally approaching the subject through the lens of Christian theology, this book is a contribution to a broader conversation about healthcare policy; a conversation which is likely to be in the spotlight in future political debates. Combining the accessibility of personal narrative with issues receiving attention on the national scale, Grace Is a Preexisting Condition can begin vital and creative dialogues at a crucial time for the church and the country.

Read an excerpt

Download a free discussion guide.

DAVID FINNEGAN-HOSEY is the College Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. He is the author of Christ on the Psych Ward. In 2011, David was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a series of psychiatric hospitalizations. He now speaks and writes about the intersections among mental illness, mental health, and faith. David lives in Wilson with his wife, Leigh, and their dog, Penny Lane.

“As someone with bipolar II disorder who works in the church, I found this narrative an especially compelling reminder that God isn’t done with me, the church, or anyone who suffers in this way. This book is what the church needs as we continue to de-stigmatize and reimagine how we care for those who are
struggling the most.”
— Rev. Robert W. Lee, Pastor of Unifour Church and author of A Sin by Any Other Name

“By God’s grace, David shows us how we can courageously ‘step into the big, bold, conversation of many stories and many voices that we must have if we are to see change in the way we treat people with mental health struggles in our faith communities, in our country.’"
— Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund, Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice for the United Church of Christ

“This book is for anyone who lives with mental illness, anyone who loves someone who does, anyone who has tried to navigate the complexities of our healthcare system, and anyone who thinks we can—and should—do better.”
— Rev. Lee Hull Moses, Chief of Staff, Office of the General Minister, and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Introduction: Starting with Grace

PART 1 / Beginnings
1. What’s Pre-existing, and What Isn’t
2. Insurance and Assurance
3. Forgive Us Our Debts

PART 2 / Systems
4. Mental Illness Isn’t Violence
(But Our Systems Sure Are Sick)
5. There (But) for the Grace of God

PART 3 / Care
6. Care, Context, and the Common Good
7. Sharing Stories to Change the World

Conclusion: And Grace Will Lead Us Home
Resources for Action, Advocacy, and Care

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  • mental health
  • mental illness
  • healthcare
  • public policy
  • healing
  • chaplaincy

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