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aspiechristian
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17 May 2010, 1:00 pm

Okay so I'm an Aspie. Probably the reason why I rushed into a post rather than taking the time to say hello to everyone first, and introduce myself from the Aspie point of view, and explain a bit of my experience in the Church.

I'm nearly 57 years old, and I was diagnosed with AS just last year. I mean, I knew something was wrong with me. I just didn't know what it was. Mainly, I figured I was just a bad person, which is what the Church was telling me in so many words. I've been in trouble a lot - not so much because of things I do, but because of things I say. I lack the social filters of NTs and have often offended them, quite accidentally.

Mainly, I was built with an irreverent sense of humor, which ran in my family. There are a lot of Christians who don't care for this kind of thing at all. The worst part is, I tended to make these remarks when things got so serious that I would feel a lot of nonspecific tension building up inside me - usually broken by some ridiculous thought, which I would blurt out. Most of the time, others appreciated it, and laughed right out loud. But sometimes, a serious, brooding soul would be in our company and take huge offense, report it to the pastor, spread it around the church, and next thing you know, I'd be called in for counseling. Aspies are known for their intellectual abilities, and that in itself can get us into trouble. The pastor would call me in and say, "Look, the only reason a person would say what you said would be for one of two reasons: either they're rebellious, and doing it on purpose, or they're stupid. I know you're not stupid." So, that left only one possibility - I had acted shamefully, on purpose. If I denied it, I was lying. What can I say? I would humbly repent, and go off somewhere to cry, thinking I must be the worst Christian ever.

In Bible school, first semester, I got called into the Dean's office. He told me some teachers had complained about me - that I had been extremely disrespectful and had brought shame on myself as a Bible student. Now, I had been raised in the south, and got whacked for even looking at an adult or an elder the wrong way - always "Yes, ma'am; no, sir," always using Mr. or Mrs. until I was invited to do otherwise. I was polite before I became a Christian. So I knew, with all good conscience, that I had not been disrespectful to anyone, and told the Dean they must have confused me with some other new student. The Dean assured me they were talking about me, and so I asked him what I had done (he wouldn't reveal the names of the reporting teachers, so I couldn't figure it myself). He said, "One of these teachers told me when you meet him in the hallway, you are invasive, ask personal questions, and make silly comments to him." I said when I see my teachers outside of class, I greet them, ask how they are, and sometimes comment on class material. I was just trying to be friendly. He said, "Maybe you're being a little too friendly." From around the corner, I heard his secretary say, "Familiarity breeds contempt, you know." Of course, I was a very sensitive person and I tried not to cry, but I was so disappointed in myself, I broke down right in front of the Dean. What argument could I give? In a way, I had done those things of which I was accused - I just didn't know they were wrong.

I didn't fully understand what was happening at the time, but I did see that I had missed something that everybody else got. I use this event as an example because of what I call "The Great Unspoken." There was a set of unspoken rules that I had disobeyed - not knowing they even existed. I say this because I'm sure there are other Aspies who have found themselves in similar situations. The Great Unspoken is not only in the church, it's just sometimes more severe there. You'll find it among your co-workers, groups of friends, civic organizations - every place where rules of conduct exist, there are usually two sets of them: The set that are actually put into print, and The Great Unspoken. Many times, punishment for violating the latter is worse than breaking the tangible rules. By breaking the unspoken, we enter that place of doubt: "Hmm. Maybe he's not really one of us."

The older I got, the more introverted I became, if that were possible. I did find a coping skill that works in some social situations: Watch. Whenever I meet a new group of people now, I watch before I open my mouth. I watch for body language, for demeanor, the way people talk, and the things they talk about so I don't make an idiot out of myself right off the bat. I still have trouble making small talk. I can't even rightly say that I know what it is - if I'm in a conversation, and we hit on a topic in which I'm deeply interested - and there are many, I will often plunge into intellectual territory. Next thing I know, I'm looking for my wife (also Aspie) so I have someone to talk to. I've been working on eye-contact and refraining from in-depth conversation, but even after all these years, it's still difficult.

Church-wise, the older I got, the older people expected me to act, and with good reason. I became further alienated from the Church. I was strongly conservative, but as I got older, my views became increasingly liberal, although in terms of ecclesiastics, I don't consider myself so much liberal as primitive. I'm extremely interested in the least-understood time in church history - the time between the Resurrection and the writing of the epistle of James.

I tend toward Calvinism, but not "high Calvinism." I don't believe in limited atonement.

I found that it's easier to be a conservative among liberals than it is to be a liberal among conservatives.

I started out low Presbyterian (PCUS), before the unification of the church (although I have no problems with PCUSA). I turned to nondenominational charismania for many years, and finally, found myself in the Episcopal Church - the most liberal church in the country, in terms of the entire denomination. The communion itself is more liberal than most local churches, but at any rate, it's a place where my Asperger Syndrome doesn't seem to get in the way. I'm accepted as I am, and still experience the comfort and power of the Holy Spirit when I go to services. Finally, I'm a happy Christian.

Good to be here. I hope I can make friends and have a place to exchange ideas. I don't have to agree with people to like them, and I hope there are others here who feel the same way.

Blessings to all
aspiechristian



AngelRho
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17 May 2010, 1:28 pm

Welcome! I'm still a conservative-leaning Christian, but for me that only really means a back-to-the-Bible approach. There are a few other Christians on here, but the impression I get is that the PPR forum is irreverently hostile to us Bible-believing conservative evangelicals. Oddly enough, I've made some unlikely friends and have come to enjoy a deeper understanding of alternative views. Agree with them? No. But the dialogue, I think, only serves to bring everyone to a deeper understanding of their own views as well as that of others.

I say be yourself here. If you upset someone, so what? These people can be brutal, but they seem to me equally adept at taking it as they are at dishing it out.

I look forward to seeing you more in the forums in the future.



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17 May 2010, 4:41 pm

Heh, unspoken rules are much crueler than spoken ones, and there is no real making sense of them either. I also get the feeling that the church is unusually insensitive to these differences.

I don't think Amyrdalism seems that consistent to me. (You probably know the term if you've done theological studies, 4 point Calvinism)

I've thought about joining an Episcopal church in the past, but I don't think my experiences would let me, and I've lost all sense of seeing the point.



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17 May 2010, 8:17 pm

Welcome to Wrong Planet and the PPR portion of the forum. PPR is the place for odd-fit intelligence.

AngelRho wrote:
I say be yourself here. If you upset someone, so what? These people can be brutal, but they seem to me equally adept at taking it as they are at dishing it out.


This is what I love about PPR. Its hard, but its fair.

Quote:
Oddly enough, I've made some unlikely friends and have come to enjoy a deeper understanding of alternative views. Agree with them? No. But the dialogue, I think, only serves to bring everyone to a deeper understanding of their own views as well as that of others.


You might find yourself deeply annoyed at the core beliefs of someone here, and in the next topic, it is you and they side by side against the tide. PPR makes for strange bedfellows.

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I look forward to seeing you more in the forums in the future.


Me too. You are as welcome as if you'd never come at all, as the Newfoundlanders say.


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Francis
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17 May 2010, 8:50 pm

I understand where your coming from. I am a christian but I don't do churches. We don't get along all that well.

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I'm extremely interested in the least-understood time in church history - the time between the Resurrection and the writing of the epistle of James
.

I'm a little broader in my timeframe. I only read church writings from the pre-Constantinian era. It seems to me that when the Emperor combined church and state that it got all messed up and went downhill.



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17 May 2010, 9:15 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I've thought about joining an Episcopal church in the past, but I don't think my experiences would let me, and I've lost all sense of seeing the point.


YOU??? In a CHURCH??? Can someone tell me the current temperature in Hell right now? :lol:

I'm only kidding.

Just curious, what's with your obsession with Calvinism?



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17 May 2010, 9:28 pm

AngelRho wrote:
Just curious, what's with your obsession with Calvinism?

It is one of the most intellectually rigorous and fully developed theologies out there.


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Quanta
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17 May 2010, 9:44 pm

I'm pretty new here too. Although I have Christian principals, I tend to strive towards my own beliefs rather than the establishments. I don't think we should haveto suffer in this life, with the promise of a better afterlife. It's better to utilize modern facts, and just incorporate the moralistic values of a religion like Christianity rather than believing in a outdated system of answering for things that we didn't understand for 2,000 years ago and prior. Religion has it's benefits, like giving emotional solace to those who require it.



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17 May 2010, 9:58 pm

AngelRho wrote:
YOU??? In a CHURCH??? Can someone tell me the current temperature in Hell right now? :lol:

I'm only kidding.

Well, I used to go to a church, a conservative Presbyterian church. What happened was that I made a choice, in some sense a massive mistake, but in some sense an act of virtue and honesty, and well... I was horrendously blamed for that. I suffered greatly and people said it was the hand of God behind it, there to cleanse me of my wickedness, and I said that this wasn't right. I tore my mind and self to pieces, and saw that even those things didn't make sense, despite having so many years where dissonance handled itself easily, I barely made sense to myself. In the end, I said that Christians weren't the people of God, and that this world was not a world that any God should be attributed as to making, even one that we could not consider God to be moral to make.

The idea that I would suggest this doesn't seem so odd though. Many strong anti-Christians were once themselves Christians, such as John Loftus of debunking christianity: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ , Ken Pulliam of "Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity" http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/ , Luke Muehlhauser of "Commonsense Atheism" (which is currently down due to a hacker), Daniel Florien of "Unreasonable Faith" http://unreasonablefaith.com/ , and there are scholars such as Hector Avalos, as well as historical figures such as Bertrand Russell. I mean, the possibility is there, and the fact that I have some knowledge of scripture does suggest an unusual background like this.

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Just curious, what's with your obsession with Calvinism?

Multiple reasons:
1) As Orwell stated, in many ways it is one of the more consistent theological positions.
2) I considered myself a Calvinist for a period of time.
3) Calvinism is in many ways a very distinct theology, with a lot of prominence in some circles and some philosophical ideas tend to be Calvinist that aren't found in other circles.



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17 May 2010, 10:00 pm

Quanta wrote:
I'm pretty new here too. Although I have Christian principals, I tend to strive towards my own beliefs rather than the establishments. I don't think we should haveto suffer in this life, with the promise of a better afterlife. It's better to utilize modern facts, and just incorporate the moralistic values of a religion like Christianity rather than believing in a outdated system of answering for things that we didn't understand for 2,000 years ago and prior. Religion has it's benefits, like giving emotional solace to those who require it.

Hunh, the strange thing is that I tend to think that suffering in this life is a central tenet of Christianity. One can secularize this as total self-sacrifice for a greater good, as, after all, I would think that doing something just for the reward could be questioned on Christian principles(depending on the reading of scripture) but, I don't think that Christianity's morality centers itself very much on benefits at all.



Quanta
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17 May 2010, 10:08 pm

Practicing Christians, and even the non practicing ones are the nicest people I have met. I'm not saying other religions aren't polite and friendly, but the core values of Christianity should transcend into character. I learned what I needed to, and no longer need it. That's how I look at it. Alot of Christianity was taken from Ancient Egyptian religions, Paganism , and other such beliefs. Instead of separating ourselves by views, I like to look at all of life the same because we are all work together on this organism we call Earth, why destroy it with wars and hate. That's some things I get from it.



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18 May 2010, 12:34 am

Quanta wrote:
Practicing Christians, and even the non practicing ones are the nicest people I have met. I'm not saying other religions aren't polite and friendly, but the core values of Christianity should transcend into character. I learned what I needed to, and no longer need it. That's how I look at it. Alot of Christianity was taken from Ancient Egyptian religions, Paganism , and other such beliefs. Instead of separating ourselves by views, I like to look at all of life the same because we are all work together on this organism we call Earth, why destroy it with wars and hate. That's some things I get from it.


As nasty as wars and hate may be, they are mere fluff in the matter of the destruction of the Earth. Look to corporate business.



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18 May 2010, 1:55 am

Welcome to you as well Quanta.


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aspiechristian
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18 May 2010, 2:18 pm

Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone. Really made my day to see all your responses, and I meant to quote here, but forgot, but I especially appreciated the affirmation about the church being very sensitive about their Great Unspoken.

Why Calvinism? I believe in the 4+centuries since Calvin's Institutes, there has never been a more elegant system of theology so lovingly crafted. Calvin's love of God, his dependence on his Creator, his sublime description of a loving Father, and his devotion to the LORD's Holy Christ are the obvious foundation from which his theology springs. This is a man who clearly developed his theology from his heart.

From the aspie point of view, Calvin's insistence on irrestible grace and the perseverance of the saints gives us complete assurance of God's calling and salvation. If one were able to lose his salvation - lose a gift he didn't deserve to begin with, well, as an aspie, I would have been lost without hope of remedy a long time ago. I can tell you with all certainty that I am a believer because Christ came and found me - not the other way around. All glory and praise to His wonderful Name.

Why Episcopalianism? I grew up denominational. I was literally dragged out of the Presbyterian church of my youth - which had embraced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was then dragged into nondenominational charismania. I must admit that had I stayed in the Presbyterian church I would have lost out on innumerable spiritual experiences of great, transformative power, yet I still managed to abandon the Christian faith for nearly a decade. I had grown weary of the emotional damage the church can inflict on the AS person. And besides, something was missing from my Christian experience. Although I suspected the nature of it immediately, I went to the library and checked out a book about the English Reformation - probably the most complex and fascinating aspect of church history. After reading that book, as well as a biography of Thtomas Merton, and his New Seeds Of Contemplation I went to a small, midweek Episcopal service at 7 AM, and for the first time, I entered the liturgy and took communion at the altar. What a joyful experience. I had become solidly convinced of the centrality of the Eucharist in the church. I wouldn't push anyone else into it, but for me, it was a new path in my Christian faith, and especially tailored to my aspie brain.

Why? Although I had enjoyed the spontaneous enthusiasm of the charismatic movement for many years, I still missed the structure of the Presbyterian service. Many Christians would say that such formality is the sign of a dead church, but I couldn't disagree more. Fundamentalists decry what they call "empty creeds." For me, the creeds are anything but empty. I love the sound of the voices of my brothers and sisters in Christ, as together we confess our faith. I feel a strong sense of oneness in the creeds.

My mentor in college first led me to the works of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who became well-known in the 1960s. His contemplative writings gave ease to my spirit, and being introverted anyway, suited my personal spiritual needs. For the first time in years, my Christianity was quiet and reverent, and I have always felt the touch of God in such moments.

This next opinion of mine may sound harsh, but I had grown weary of hearing sermon after sermon after sermon, and most conservative preachers act like they haven't done you much good if they fail to put some conviction of sin into your mind. Having AS, I didn't need to be constantly reminded of my imperfections before God - I already knew them well. I think a lot of preachers measure the success of their sermons by how many people come forward for repentance and prayer afterward. Unless the local Anglican church has an especially windy priest, most homilies run about 20 minutes, and are usually encouraging. What a relief. So now, I was in a church situation where the sermon was no longer the center of attention - it was rather Christ Himself, experienced in the Eucharist - quick note: Episcopalians do not believe in transubstantiation. In other words, we don't believe in an Aristotelian view of the Lord's table - the elements do not physically change into the actual body and blood of Christ - they are experienced spiritually.

Finally, the Episcopal service is participatory. In many evangelical churches, Sunday is Christian entertainment day. You sit there strictly as an observer of what's going on up front. You know, some church member will go onstage and belt out contemporary Christian music, karaoke-style. The choir sings for you. The preacher preaches at you, but what have you been allowed to do? Nothing. The Anglican liturgy is call and response, corporate confession of sin, passing the Peace, receiving the Eucharist both corporately and individually at the same time. This kind of interaction appeals to me, and I believe it's pleasing to God.

Now, I didn't mean this to be a tract for Anglicanism, but as you can probably tell, I'm enthusiastic about my renewed spiritual life. Hey, it beats being bored with the practice of my faith. I also hold some liberal views on abortion and homosexuality, but they are based in scripture. I've been on the conservative side of these issues, and frankly, I don't see the scriptural impetus for such strong, time-consuming reactions to these controversies when the fields are ripe for harvest, and evangelism should be at its peak.

So, aspie freak Christian? Probably, but there it is. I'm an imperfect soul in an imperfect world with an imperfect understanding of God, but I must say, it certainly feels better than the burden of having to be right all the time.

Blessings to all,
aspiechristian