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MadeinHisimage
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20 Dec 2016, 1:28 am

Hello, I am an Autistic protestant Christian.
I admin a Facebook page for Autistic Christians, (https://www.facebook.com/groups/215099788929753/), so I'll put the link to this question on that group to ask everybody else. I'm studying in a Christian college at the moment. I want to do some sort of work that helps people because I believe that's the mission of God.

I was born into a Christian family, my parents ran the Sunday school in a Baptist church and practiced everything on me. I loved it and open-heartedly wanted to follow God. I became a Christian a few months before my third birthday. My parents had explained to me that Jesus had died to forgive my sins, and that I could go to heaven if I believed in Him. I wanted to go to heaven, so I said the 'sinner's prayer'. I'm not sure I meant the 'I will try not to do bad things anymore' part. Nor did I have much concept of what heaven was, or who God was, but that was the moment my faith began. I believed in God, that He was good, that heaven was good.

It would have also been about that age when I had the first meltdown (At least the first one people noticed as a meltdown) in a Church playground (Because of a swing that just wouldn't stop moving and screeching!) At one point my parents were worried that it was demonic because I would become terrified whenever I heard the music in Church. (Demons hate the sound of people worshiping God) But they brought me to a preacher to pray over me and he told them I did not have a demon. I think he might have said something like 'It might be autism'

At about five, I remember having a lot of difficulty believing that God was real. I wanted to believe, but I couldn't see or hear Him, so how would I know He was.

What I've also had difficulties with is understanding grace. (I don't know if my difficulties are because of autism or not, they're just the difficulties I had) As a small child, I thought I could just do whatever I wanted, and just say the magic words 'God I'm sorry for X' afterwards, and then God would just forgive me. But I was terrified of what would happen if I died and forgot to say sorry for something. At 10, I was given an anxiety medication which ended up causing a lot of anxiety and OCD symptoms. At that point I became obsessively religious. I always felt like I was one sin away from being unforgivable. I was terrified God would damn me to hell forever. So I tried to follow all the rules and do everything exactly right. Most of these rules were not the ones in the bible, per say, rather the ones set by my OCD.

After I'd come off the meds, my mother explained to me that Jesus' forgiveness was a gift. That by believing in Him and choosing to follow Him I was accepting the gift. That was such a relief.
Now, I'm 19 years old, and I'm still learning how to follow God. Of course I'm not perfect. But God is faithful.



quaker
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20 Dec 2016, 2:11 am

Thank you again everyone for your contributions so far.

I thought I would share with you a little peice of writing from my latest book. I do hope you all find it of value.

Autism and Spirituality

"I am a spiritual being on a human journey into which autism is inseparably woven."
Christopher Goodchild.
_______________________

Spirituality for you has little to do with beliefs, but in living faithfully within the mystery of what it means to be most human.

You have little desire for the beliefs in which 'god' is often 'wrapped up'. What you truly ache for is what you already are, though you cannot yet fully see this truth. This is because you have more work to do in loosening your attachment to the play of duality that separates you from God, so compelling your roles as father, son, teacher, writer, or even a person in the autistic spectrum.

Deep down you know that your true identity is a soul dressed up within these very roles. Here the image of Lazarus comes to mind, for like him, you too are being called out of death into life - out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of awareness. The more you are being drawn out into the light, the more your roles which you wear like tightly wrapped bandages unravel and loosen.

Like many in the autistic spectrum, you can be absolutely resolute and relentless when you set your mind to achieving things. Such drivenness and dogged persistence, combined with your ability to hyper - focus, can be a great asset in life. However, whilst you can be driven by obsession and attain your goals in the world, the spiritual life is a completely different game. In the world the emphasis is on how much you can accumulate, whereas in the spiritual life it is about how much you can let go of. Drivenness can only take you so far up the mountain.

This represents an enormous challenge for you, for how can you tell the difference between obsessionality which is so natural for you and many others in the autistic spectrum, and the unforced discipline of letting go into the one-pointedness of mind referred to in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It is in overcoming this challenge that your vocational calling to the Alexander Technique pays dividends. Through this you have come to understand that whilst obsessionality has a clinging and contracted quality, like a tightly clenched fist, contemplative practice is, by its very nature, soft expansive and all embracing, like a releasing and opening hand. The same principle applies with respect to your carefully structured routines, for whilst they can hold and contain you, if taken to the extreme, they can become vice - like and leave no aperture for the light to enter.

The extent to which you can hold tenderly your autism together with all your life's experiences, is the extent to which you can move beyond seeing them as an identity and into your deeper nature as a spiritual being.



Ganondox
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20 Dec 2016, 2:48 am

I was raised Mormon, but I wasn't really spiritual at all, I just held a stubborn devotion to my religion. Overtime I found Christianity wasn't what it was made out to be and inwardly fell away from even that, but my one remaining aspect of spirituality which lingered was a firm faith in God. Also, as a child I once believed in scientism, but in the same time period of time where my faith in Christianity died I became more and more vehemently opposed to scientism as it was just stupid. This all changed once I started going to college, where I became very spiritual as someone explained spirituality to me in a different way, one which actually made to since to my intellectual mind rather than the typical conformist BS, and I remain spiritual to this day. It's only from being spiritual that I now have the motivation to actually stand up to orthodoxy, because without spirituality it's just harmless, but now I see how people are being held back from God. I'm still Mormon, though I have many problems with some of the leadership (particularly Boyd K. Packer, may he burn in hell :P) and I believe the church has fallen.


_________________
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Softly Spoken lies
You never know just how you look
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Autism FAQs http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt186115.html


Snowcone
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20 Dec 2016, 5:54 am

quaker wrote:
Thank you again everyone for your contributions so far.

I thought I would share with you a little peice of writing from my latest book. I do hope you all find it of value.

Autism and Spirituality

"I am a spiritual being on a human journey into which autism is inseparably woven."
Christopher Goodchild.
_______________________

Spirituality for you has little to do with beliefs, but in living faithfully within the mystery of what it means to be most human.

You have little desire for the beliefs in which 'god' is often 'wrapped up'. What you truly ache for is what you already are, though you cannot yet fully see this truth. This is because you have more work to do in loosening your attachment to the play of duality that separates you from God, so compelling your roles as father, son, teacher, writer, or even a person in the autistic spectrum.

Deep down you know that your true identity is a soul dressed up within these very roles. Here the image of Lazarus comes to mind, for like him, you too are being called out of death into life - out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of awareness. The more you are being drawn out into the light, the more your roles which you wear like tightly wrapped bandages unravel and loosen.

Like many in the autistic spectrum, you can be absolutely resolute and relentless when you set your mind to achieving things. Such drivenness and dogged persistence, combined with your ability to hyper - focus, can be a great asset in life. However, whilst you can be driven by obsession and attain your goals in the world, the spiritual life is a completely different game. In the world the emphasis is on how much you can accumulate, whereas in the spiritual life it is about how much you can let go of. Drivenness can only take you so far up the mountain.

This represents an enormous challenge for you, for how can you tell the difference between obsessionality which is so natural for you and many others in the autistic spectrum, and the unforced discipline of letting go into the one-pointedness of mind referred to in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It is in overcoming this challenge that your vocational calling to the Alexander Technique pays dividends. Through this you have come to understand that whilst obsessionality has a clinging and contracted quality, like a tightly clenched fist, contemplative practice is, by its very nature, soft expansive and all embracing, like a releasing and opening hand. The same principle applies with respect to your carefully structured routines, for whilst they can hold and contain you, if taken to the extreme, they can become vice - like and leave no aperture for the light to enter.

The extent to which you can hold tenderly your autism together with all your life's experiences, is the extent to which you can move beyond seeing them as an identity and into your deeper nature as a spiritual being.


It was nicely written I think. I wish you all success with your book :)



mr_bigmouth_502
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20 Dec 2016, 6:28 am

I'm a skeptic, but spirituality and the occult do interest me somewhat. I have a hard time believing a lot of it on a literal level, but on more of a philosophical level, I can see how people can use spirituality to improve their lives. You can more or less call me an agnostic; I don't know what's out there or what's true, so I don't (usually) jump to conclusions on things. I was more of a hardline atheist when I was younger, but now, I'm just not sure. There seems to be evidence for both sides of the whole "is there a god?" debate. (My theory? Aliens. ;))

One thing I will say, I don't think most mainstream religions do much to encourage actual spirituality; in fact I think they often do the opposite. I think spirituality is a very personal thing, and that the focus should be on self-improvement rather than giving up control to some organization. It's human nature to want to follow a group, and unfortunately a lot of people take advantage of this in order to exercise control over others.


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HappySpaceInvader
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20 Dec 2016, 8:49 am

Without wishing to deliberately offend, "spirituality" is something I've always considered an "NT thing", as it seems based on emotional reasoning more than logical reasoning and my brain can only comprehend the latter. For that reason, I would contend that autism and spirituality are mutually exclusive, and the presence of the latter would cause me to doubt that person is on the spectrum at all.

But, I would love to hear counter arguments to the above.



GarTog
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20 Dec 2016, 9:29 am

I choose to be a Germanic/Norse Heathen - it makes me feel positive and creative.

Studied meditation and Vietnamese zen and they reduce my stress. Practice silence with Quakers who are the only people who don't seem to care "what" I am. Developing shamanic practices. Had clear and lucid visions at times but would never claim they are some message from the God/desses but they do give clarity to some of my issues.

Enjoy finding out about other religion's practices but it is peculiar when they challenge my beliefs (as I say I choose to believe) with their subjective "proof" (the Bible was from God because He said so etc...) - the act of proselatysing seems patronising.

Think my "spirituality" is based on the fact I feel physically and mentally much better in the wilds and darkness.



Ganondox
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20 Dec 2016, 6:17 pm

HappySpaceInvader wrote:
Without wishing to deliberately offend, "spirituality" is something I've always considered an "NT thing", as it seems based on emotional reasoning more than logical reasoning and my brain can only comprehend the latter. For that reason, I would contend that autism and spirituality are mutually exclusive, and the presence of the latter would cause me to doubt that person is on the spectrum at all.

But, I would love to hear counter arguments to the above.


I don't think so. What I actually think is the case is that because of culture we live in spirituality is associated with NT traits, but there is no inherent connection between the to. First, it has nothing to do logical versus emotional reasoning, as mysticism is actually very logical, this is just a meme that followers of scientism spread, but scientism is really less rational than mysticism. A lot of it is based on the lie where subjective is the same as emotional, and objective is the same as logical. Also, aspies really aren't more logical or less emotional than NTs, but it'll take to much time to explain the actual difference. The main thing I think that is going on is that aspies are less intended to teleological reasoning due to problems with cognitive empathy and are less prone to conform for related reasons, while in our culture spirituality is closely associated with those two tihngs.


_________________
Cinnamon and sugary
Softly Spoken lies
You never know just how you look
Through other people's eyes

Autism FAQs http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt186115.html


PaulAspie
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20 Dec 2016, 7:45 pm

I've found Catholicism very helpful with its regularity and peaceful worship. I tried charismatic on pentecostal churches a few times but they just didn't fit me. Much of it is so hard to describe in words.

I'm not quite as monastic as downeaster59 but I definitely tend a little that way.


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Professionally diagnosed January 2016 in my mid-30s. I always knew I was a little different but always thought it was quantitative not qualitative and I don't like labels I don't need. Now I finally understand a lot I didn't before. (Technically now called ASD in the USA but I really don't care about autistic v aspie for terminology.)


downeaster59
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20 Dec 2016, 9:11 pm

Ganondox wrote:
HappySpaceInvader wrote:
Without wishing to deliberately offend, "spirituality" is something I've always considered an "NT thing", as it seems based on emotional reasoning more than logical reasoning and my brain can only comprehend the latter. For that reason, I would contend that autism and spirituality are mutually exclusive, and the presence of the latter would cause me to doubt that person is on the spectrum at all.

But, I would love to hear counter arguments to the above.


I don't think so. What I actually think is the case is that because of culture we live in spirituality is associated with NT traits, but there is no inherent connection between the to. First, it has nothing to do logical versus emotional reasoning, as mysticism is actually very logical, this is just a meme that followers of scientism spread, but scientism is really less rational than mysticism. A lot of it is based on the lie where subjective is the same as emotional, and objective is the same as logical. Also, aspies really aren't more logical or less emotional than NTs, but it'll take to much time to explain the actual difference. The main thing I think that is going on is that aspies are less intended to teleological reasoning due to problems with cognitive empathy and are less prone to conform for related reasons, while in our culture spirituality is closely associated with those two tihngs.


No, the issue isn't logic at all. The issue is what premises you will accept before reasoning kicks in. Religion/spirituality is based on certain premises. All the natural sciences are based on certain premises - premises that the sciences themselves cannot prove. If one of your premises happens to be that only the empirically provable can be accepted as true, you rule out most of spirituality out of hand. But that premise is itself not scientific. It cannot be scientifically verified or falsified. It is a philosophical stance, not a scientific one. Nor is that premise, in itself, necessarily more logical than any other. Many brilliant people wound contest it, mainly because it rules out other possible sources of knowledge, such as intuition. Emotions can also be a valid source of knowledge, within certain limitations.

If anyone would like to delve into this further, check out Faith, Science and Understanding by John Polkinghorne (a leading British expert on quantum theory and a Catholic priest). If you want more examples of faith done logically, read C.S. Lewis, especially Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. And, when you're ready for the next step, there's Thomas Aquinas. Check out Denys Turner's bio on Aquinas before reading Aquinas himself. Robert Barron also deals with some of this on wordonfire.org. Or, if you're a Great Courses fan, try the one called Science and Religion. Agree or disagree, you'll find it fascinating.


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tick
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20 Dec 2016, 9:36 pm

I was raised in a nondenominational Christian church that was pretty much like Baptist except they had open communion. And I'm sure a few other differences that kids wouldn't notice. Anyhoo, at 16 I started paying attention and realized I was too much of a feminist to keep attending.
Eventually after years of not attending church I wandered into the Episcopal church that I attended for 3 1/2 years and where one Sunday morning during Mass I realized I didn't believe in God. That was when I was 26. Spent years still reading Quaker books but otherwise not thinking about religion. And then the presidential election of 2008 happened.
I started referring myself to an Atheist after that and two years later joined a local atheist group. And as well as it turned out socially for me in some ways, in other ways it was a disaster and I decided after much thinking in a depressed state that I was maybe a Pantheist. Ok, couple of years later and the 2016 election happens.
Now I am thinking about Quakers again. It was good seeing the word Quaker on the forum, really good timing. What keeps me interested is the simplicity, pacifism, and the idea that being nice seems to matter. At least that's my impression. I feel like The Society of Friends might be the opposite of a lot of what I saw during the election. The Meeting nearest me is 100 miles away so I don't think I'll be attending any time soon. Sometimes I attend the UU church but the service really doesn't interest me. The idea of sitting quietly is more appealing, maybe because of being an aspie. Or maybe just because quiet is a good thing for anyone.



wrongcitizen
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20 Dec 2016, 9:39 pm

I am a firm believer "or interested in" Shinto philosophy.

Also I need to believe something like that because when I just believe that the world is atoms and reactions I get highly depressed. This gives me a way of grounding myself in OUR world rather than THE world.



redrobin62
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20 Dec 2016, 9:46 pm

I'm a Jain. Even though I've been earnestly practicing it for two years or so, my behaviour throughout my life would indicate there was some form of Jainism I was already practicing.



Ganondox
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21 Dec 2016, 3:56 am

downeaster59 wrote:
Ganondox wrote:
HappySpaceInvader wrote:
Without wishing to deliberately offend, "spirituality" is something I've always considered an "NT thing", as it seems based on emotional reasoning more than logical reasoning and my brain can only comprehend the latter. For that reason, I would contend that autism and spirituality are mutually exclusive, and the presence of the latter would cause me to doubt that person is on the spectrum at all.

But, I would love to hear counter arguments to the above.


I don't think so. What I actually think is the case is that because of culture we live in spirituality is associated with NT traits, but there is no inherent connection between the to. First, it has nothing to do logical versus emotional reasoning, as mysticism is actually very logical, this is just a meme that followers of scientism spread, but scientism is really less rational than mysticism. A lot of it is based on the lie where subjective is the same as emotional, and objective is the same as logical. Also, aspies really aren't more logical or less emotional than NTs, but it'll take to much time to explain the actual difference. The main thing I think that is going on is that aspies are less intended to teleological reasoning due to problems with cognitive empathy and are less prone to conform for related reasons, while in our culture spirituality is closely associated with those two tihngs.


No, the issue isn't logic at all. The issue is what premises you will accept before reasoning kicks in. Religion/spirituality is based on certain premises. All the natural sciences are based on certain premises - premises that the sciences themselves cannot prove. If one of your premises happens to be that only the empirically provable can be accepted as true, you rule out most of spirituality out of hand. But that premise is itself not scientific. It cannot be scientifically verified or falsified. It is a philosophical stance, not a scientific one. Nor is that premise, in itself, necessarily more logical than any other. Many brilliant people wound contest it, mainly because it rules out other possible sources of knowledge, such as intuition. Emotions can also be a valid source of knowledge, within certain limitations.

If anyone would like to delve into this further, check out Faith, Science and Understanding by John Polkinghorne (a leading British expert on quantum theory and a Catholic priest). If you want more examples of faith done logically, read C.S. Lewis, especially Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. And, when you're ready for the next step, there's Thomas Aquinas. Check out Denys Turner's bio on Aquinas before reading Aquinas himself. Robert Barron also deals with some of this on wordonfire.org. Or, if you're a Great Courses fan, try the one called Science and Religion. Agree or disagree, you'll find it fascinating.


I completely agree with you. The reason I said scientism is less rational than mysticism is because the philosophical premises of scientism contradict it's epistemology.


_________________
Cinnamon and sugary
Softly Spoken lies
You never know just how you look
Through other people's eyes

Autism FAQs http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt186115.html


quaker
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21 Dec 2016, 6:01 am

I love these two quotations. They speak to my condition as us Quakers would say.

"He who sees the Infinite in all things, sees God. He who sees the Ratio only, sees himself only"- William Blake

"I didn't arrive," said Albert Einstein, "at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind."