Happy Liberal Passover!

How shall we celebrate June? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When Autism Awareness Month started in April, I ordered some bracelets that say Autism Awareness on them and started wearing them. For you, my readers, I blogged on an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to have Aspergers, a subset of Autism. I did an interview on the topic for a Christian podcast as well.

I barely remember seeing one ad, I think on Hulu, about Autism Awareness.

Yesterday was June 1st, the start of Gay Pride Month.

Already, the day before Words With Friends 2 has a theme going on this week about gay pride with a bonus yesterday if you played the word “pride” and today if you play the word “trans.” I saw WatchMojo released a video on top LGBTQ+ characters in video games and I am sure more such vids are coming. I saw ads from companies like LinkedIn and others celebrating. I saw numerous people on Facebook posting messages for Gay Pride Month.

Now these businesses and people have a right to do what they want with their business. However, where was this support for the Autism community? After all, if we say we care about the people involved, does this mean that most companies today don’t care about people on the spectrum? I don’t want to think that, so perhaps there’s something else going on.

Have you seen what happens if you disagree with the LGBTQ community? You get blacklisted and “cancelled” and often sued. Is it a shock then that so many businesses are putting up rainbow images? Imagine if we changed Exodus 12 to this idea.

And the LGBTQ community said, “And we will pass through your social media accounts, and when we see the rainbow avatar, we will not destroy, but if we come to any business account that does not have a rainbow account, we will bring all our forces on you to show you are against diversity and inclusion and you’re a bigot and we will destroy you in our fury.”

Keep in mind that a few years ago, these were the people telling us we need to be tolerant. As is expected, when such people get into power, tolerance is not a virtue that is cared about anymore. It was useful for the time, but you can be sure there won’t be tolerance for evangelical Christians and others who disagree, except perhaps Muslims since we don’t want to be killed.

So as this Liberal Passover goes on (I wish the name was original to me, but a friend came up withit), other communities can be expected to be ignored as is common. I didn’t even see this much last month when it was for Asians and Pacific Islanders. Of course, that’s also because Asians likely won’t sue you if you say nothing about them.

So then for all those businesses who are treating this month like it’s the most awesome thing ever, where was the “love” when it was the month for Autism? Where was the celebration of diversity and inclusiveness? After all, I think it is pretty firmly established that we’re born this way. I don’t think many of you want to go with the idea that vaccines cause Autism since we have heard enough condemnation in Covid about the Anti-Vax community.

So let’s see. We are born this way and we have a known disability and we’re not even asking for pride. The month for April is not Autism Pride Month. It is Autism Awareness Month. I do celebrate that I am on the spectrum, but I know it’s not because of anything that I did so pride isn’t fitting. What criteria do we not fit that we get people to talk about our month?

Once again, as a Christian, while I do oppose homosexual behavior, I also support the freedom businesses have to do what they want. If you want to support Gay Pride Month, that is your choice, and if you don’t want to support Autism Awareness Month, that is also your choice. At the same time, if someone doesn’t want to support a business for their choices, that is also their choice. That’s the way freedom works after all.

I just would like to have some consistency and I would delight in hearing from businesses. Why is this month something you want to shout out about, but April was met with cold silence? Is it hatred or disapproval of the autistic community? Are we just not worth it? Why the silence?

I think I already know the answer and it’s the one I gave above, but if I’m wrong, let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Finale

What is the conclusion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. One final example first. It looks like WordPress apparently independently decided to change my font and I am not sure how to change it back. My Aspie side is internally screaming at this. I realize others not on the spectrum could be the same way, but I definitely am being on it.

But for now, until I get that fixed, let’s discuss the heart of the matter. We’ve been looking all this month at life on the spectrum. Today, it has come to an end. By the way, as I said on Facebook, while I have every now and then seen something about Autism in an ad on a website or a commercial, it is nowhere near the celebration when it comes to identity politics. I find that interesting.

So in the end, what is the goal of all of this? It’s to help those on the outside to understand. It is not to justify any sort of bad behavior. I always say that our Autism is an explanation, but it is not a justification, which only applies if we are doing something wrong or inappropriate. I am not asking for special treatment. I just ask for understanding.

After all, who are we? We are your neighbors. We are your family. We are your friends. We are the people you see at the grocery store. We are the people who are serving you at the bank. You worship with us in a church service. You sit next to us at the DMV. We are in the halls of your schools. You befriend us, love us, and marry us.

We are different from you, but in many ways, we are also people just like you. We can be hurt emotionally, physically, verbally, mentally, and in every other way. Rejection can hit very hard for us. We really do know what it’s like to be on the outside.

Like you, deep down, we all want to be loved. We want to matter to someone else. We want to have friends. I even consider myself more of a loner, but I would not want to go through life without having friends.

The difference is that we do not have our disability out there for everyone to see. If you see someone in a wheelchair, you don’t challenge them to a footrace. Nothing in us explicitly screams “Autism” even if you can tell something is different. Today, I do wear an autism awareness bracelet. Part of it is my hope that someone will notice and at least ask me about the bracelet.

Seek to understand first. I know sometimes when I do something people don’t understand in a public place, I can hear people talking about me and thinking I can’t hear. I can. It doesn’t bother me like it used to, but that’s only after years of studying and learning all that I can. Many others on the spectrum could be less equipped.

Then, show some kindness. Be gentle. We want to know if we are doing something wrong and we don’t like it if we receive mixed messages on that. Life is confusing for all of us and we have an extra layer of that confusion.

However, if you come to know us, we are people who want to be a blessing in your life and we can be. We can be your friend and if you marry us, we can even be a lover to you. Of course, there are varying degrees of capability, but many of us strive to be all that we can be. Personally, that is my own philosophy. Life is a gift and I want to live it and appreciate all that I can of what God gave.

When the month ends, you may not be aware of people on the spectrum that same way. I am aware of it all year long. I am thankful there is a month that people can recognize us, but I wish society would take it more seriously. We are special people as well who can contribute to our world just as much as anyone else can.

Thank you for reading this month. Please be aware.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: A Cure

What would happen if there was a cure for Autism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one will be my opinion in many ways. There are many fine organizations researching Autism and looking for a cure. I have no problem with this. However, I have for years now had the same opinion about the matter.

I don’t doubt there are plenty of people that have extremely difficult cases of Autism such that it is hard if not impossible for them to function. For such people, it would be a great thing if a cure came along. For me, I don’t go that route. If there was a cure today, I would not take it.

I compare it to when the third movie of the original X-Men trilogy came out. Some mutants wanted a cure for their mutation, like Rogue, who wanted to be able to experience human contact without worrying about killing someone. Others would not want it at all because they saw their mutation as helpful.

I would be in the latter group. If someone came up with a cure for Aspergers, I would not be interested in getting it. I consider the benefits that I experience greater than the costs, and there very much are real costs. When I go to a social gathering at someone’s home involving food, it can be a reminder of how I am different in a way I don’t care for.

Despite that, I prefer the benefits. I regularly use multi-tasking and memorization and traits like that. I like the way my mind works. I have even gone so far as to speculate that even in eternity, I could still be an Aspie. I am sure there won’t be any negatives at that point, but I do consider it an important part of my identity. If God takes it from me, then He knows what is best, but I would understand if He didn’t.

Now if you are on the spectrum or know someone who is and want a cure, this is nothing against you. This is just my opinion on my personal situation. If you want that cure and you are sure you will be better for it, God bless you, and I am not at all telling those in research to stop looking. I am also open to anything that improves my life overall.

Whatever side we are on with regards to a cure, whether we want one personally or not, we can all do something to raise awareness about Autism and make life better for those of us on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Emotions

How do we handle emotions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really difficult on the spectrum to make sense of emotions. When I am debating with an atheist who tells me I am a Christian for emotional reasons, I know not to take them seriously. If anything, when I get really emotional, that is when I am most often wrestling with emotional doubt.

Emotions are difficult for someone like me to understand. I wonder what I am supposed to feel in such and such a circumstance. I have heard also that if there is any emotion that a man can really understand and most often experiences, it’s anger. I do not consider myself an outsider on this.

I think it’s also common for men on the spectrum. In the movie Adam, when the main character, an aspie, finds out that he has been tricked by the girl he is dating, he explodes in a barrage of anger and hostility. I have been told that as a small child, if my Mom moved one of my matchbox cars during the night, I would be angry until things were put back.

I suspect this might be because we on the spectrum tend to live in a world of order. We want things to be as close to orderly as possible and fit into their place. When something goes against that, we have a hard time processing it. This is one reason small talk irritates me so much. When you call and engage in small talk, that means that time we could be spending on dealing with what we are meant to dealt with is wasted going through this routine behavior.

Consider this especially with when I have to call a place of business for technical service and have to hear the script that they read. I’m sitting there telling them I know all of this already and could quote it to me. Can we please just move on and deal with the problem?

Sometimes however, we can be very unemotional. This is especially important in a religious context. If you are trying to get someone on the spectrum to the point of feeling in religious discussion, then you could be wasting your time.

This is also why I struggle when I hear people telling me when I am struggling with something to do what you feel like God is leading you to do or what God is telling you. First off, I don’t see that kind of language in Scripture. Second, how can anyone tell what feelings come from God and what feelings don’t?

I have seen this go on at many churches. I have heard Protestant Churches talk about what God has done in their fundraising drives and I have seen an Orthodox Church do the same. I always wonder “How do you know God is behind this?” Suppose the fundraising drive didn’t work out well. Would that mean God was against you? I don’t think this is really a denominational thing. I think it’s more of an American thing.

When I am talking with someone about something, it’s really hard to see something from their perspective. I can know someone is in a lot of pain, and yet feeling it is extremely difficult for me. If you come to me for a counseling situation and expect me to resonate with your feelings, you’ll likely be disappointed. I will stick to talking about the problem at hand and what to do about it.

I even remember in the past a friend told me that they thought the world of me, but if they had a problem, Allie was better at helping them with it because of her better listening skills. I wouldn’t dispute that. I don’t claim to be a therapist. It doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but it does mean that I will not be what you expect.

Now you might be specifically wondering about love. Is an Aspie capable of love? I think unless something comes up, I will tackle that tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: The Internet

What difference does the internet make for us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I was in the membership class at my church and we talked about evangelism. It was discussed how it’s a mistake today to think the goal of the Christian is to get someone to go to church and then let the pastor handle everything from that point on. Every Christian needs to know what it takes to lead someone in the path of salvation and yes, that could include basic apologetics.

We also agreed that that is not just done through face-to-face communication, which I have indicated previously in another post. I know that Hugh Ross, also on the spectrum, has said he would rather talk to 100 people than to one. I am of that same opinion. I am much more comfortable addressing a crowd than I am going up and engaging with one stranger one-on-one.

Thankfully, this is the age of the internet. Now, such communication is no longer the only way to speak. I can instead speak to several people every day and engage in many conversations that sadly, most Christians will never engage in.

This doesn’t mean that I am open with everyone. I know someone else who has given this rule on Facebook and I tend to hold to it as well. If you message me out of the blue and I don’t know you and you just say hello or ask me how I’m doing or something like that, I will most likely ignore you. I do not know who you are and on the internet, you can’t be too careful. Message me something specific and you are much more likely to get a response. (See anything I have written on small talk and saying “How are you?”) The same applies even when I play Words With Friends. If someone messages me saying I did good on a play, I say thank you. If someone just says hi, I ignore. After all, many of these conversations turn into attempts to sell me something.

That’s great for those of us who are high-functioning and able to speak, but what about others? Turns out, they have also found a voice. There have been people who are non-verbal on the spectrum and have been put in front of a computer and found their voice there. The internet has been a special blessing to these people and many parents have been quite happy with the results.

Of course, we still might not know all the rules of communication on the internet, but it is a step forward. Even here on the net, we have to be on guard against interpreting messages literally, for example. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with body language and anything else that confuses us.

For those who are not on the spectrum, keep in mind someone you are communicating with on the net could be on the spectrum. Those of us are who are more aware than some might be also need to be on guard, especially parents, since there are several predators on the internet. Do your part to make the internet a safe place for people on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Prayer

How do you talk to God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the difficult things for a Christian on the spectrum like myself in Christianity is prayer. I can understand evangelism. I can grasp hard doctrines like the Trinity and other such ideas. I can understand Bible study and giving to those in need.

Prayer is something that I find much more of a struggle.

Now why would that be? Picture that if you’re on the spectrum, when you’re talking to someone right in front of you, that can be difficult enough. This is someone in front of you who is actively sending social cues to you and actively responding at times. Your mind is trying to study everything and know what they are telling you and trying to understand any cues that you may be missing.

Now carry this over to prayer. When you pray, you are talking to someone who you cannot see and you’re not talking to just another person, but you’re talking to a divine person. You don’t want to treat them casually just like any other person, but you don’t want to go in acting all high and holy entirely because that can just seem fake and like you’re putting on a show.

How long do you pray? People can often talk about prayer for a long time being a struggle, but then we read about saints in the past who spend hours praying. I think of Martin Luther who said tomorrow, he would be extra busy and he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer. For someone like myself, I don’t understand being able to spend hours in prayer let alone one hour.

I understand all the formulas for prayer which are often problematic for me because they make it, well, formulaic. It can seem like you’re just going through the motions. Again, I struggle here.

Going to length, minute prayers as I call them I can sometimes understand. When I am driving and I hear sirens from a first responder going by, I say a minute prayer as I drive that all will work out well. Naturally, I don’t close my eyes or kneel down for that. I can see that as making sense, but I don’t understand the long time spent in prayer. What are the rules? How long do you go? How short is too short? How long is too long?

It’s interesting that when we look at the Lord’s Prayer, it is actually a short prayer. You can say it in under a minute. This we see in Scripture, but we also look at Scripture and see again, hours of prayer.

So keep this in mind when talking to someone on the spectrum. If normal persons are hard to relate to, divine persons can be so much harder. Give some guidance on this to your friend on the spectrum and help them out. It will be something difficult for them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Friends

What do they mean to us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On the spectrum, I do tend to be anti-social. If anything, I usually find people more annoying than anything else. I can relate a lot to the great theologian Linus Van Pelt. I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.

I realize that’s not necessarily the Christian way, but I think it’s something we all struggle with. How many of us are bustling with love of people when we’re behind someone going very slowly in traffic or the grocery store? Fortunately, in this world, there are still bright spots.

Friends.

I have said before that in a support group I am a part of, I was asked what I can’t live without. This is a Christian support group so naturally, I gave the Jesus answer. However, I also added in something else. Friends. If I didn’t have friends, I think life would be unbearable.

I also think this is biblical. Even Jesus in His earthly ministry had His friends with Him. Friendship is a virtue Aristotle wrote a lot on. It is one of the ones that it’s not necessary for happiness really, but it’s sure a sign of an empty life without it.

Plato’s dialogue Lysis was all about what friends are. Normally, Socrates ends the dialogue with no one knowing what the item in question is and that’s that. In this one, it’s a different ending. No one knows what friendship is, but Socrates says he hopes that we will all leave as friends still.

For me, my life is greatly enriched by them and I tend to stay loyal to my friends. I hope to always be there to help them, but as my pastor told me recently, I am in a time where I need to really lean on them for now.

It has been an invaluable help for me when I can call a friend and talk to them about what’s going on and get the blessing of having them in my life. For me, I view life much like a game still and one great line I have is from Final Fantasy IV. In this, one villain tells the heroes after he beats them that weak people can join forces. Seemingly by doing this, even the weak can overcome great circumstances.

At the same time also, friends make fun a whole lot better. I can enjoy going through a dungeon in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, but what makes it even better is if I have even one friend going through it with me. If I have even more, that makes it all the better. A multiplicity of friends makes life better.

In the age of Facebook, friendship seems to have been sadly downgraded. I do have true friends I have never met through Facebook, but I have over 3,500 Facebook friends. It’s ridiculous to think that I really know all of them. Many of our friends in this case are acquaintances.

To all my friends then, thank you. You make the journey a lot easier when it’s hard, and a lot more fun when it’s not. I am happy to fight alongside you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Logic

What do we stick to? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In my discussion with Erin Burnett, something we talked about was how autism affects faith. For her end, she said it was harder because her autism made her more logical and empirical. For me, I said it was easier because my autism made me more logical and empirical.

So we have differing opinions on the matter of God. Burnett came with an approach that logic makes it harder. I came with the approach that logic makes it easier. For her, it would seem to mean then that emotion is the main help in finding God. I find it’s just the opposite. Emotion is the main hindrance for reaching God.

One reason I state that is I think the problem of evil is largely an emotional argument when it’s raised. I find plenty of emotion when I am dialoguing with internet atheists. Why is it that issues come down to what one feels about something, say sexual matters, instead of whether we should discuss if it is really right or wrong?

However, what we agreed on was logic. Those of us on the spectrum due tend to be more logical. I did bring up a distinction with this that Western Christianity could be more difficult since we are so individualistic and go by experiences. If we went to another culture, it could actually be easier on that end to be a Christian. It could be harder on others, such as persecution in a Muslim or Communist culture.

If anything, I find the experience of Christianity difficult at times, seeing as so much of the language we have is emotionally based. What do you feel like God is leading you to do? What do you think God is telling you at this time? Most of these are supposed to be determined by our emotions. I find no Biblical precedent for any of this whatsoever which makes me an outsider to many of my fellow Christians. When they start talking this way, I just tend to tune out.

This is also the kind of thing I turn to other people in my life for. How do I make sense of my own personal experiences? It is also why I have mentors in my own life that I turn to when I need to make an important decision.

I also find it amusing then when atheists tell me that my emotions are clouding my judgment on Christianity. If anything, it’s the opposite. When I get in a state of high emotion, that’s when I can have some periods of doubt. When I return to a normal emotional level and look at the facts, it gets much easier.

This is also something to keep in mind when you’re wanting to share Christ with someone on the spectrum. If you go and try to get them to an emotional experience, it probably won’t work, which also includes using guilt as a technique, something sadly many Christians do. Apologetics is something much more likely to be effective on someone on the spectrum.

If you’re discipling, keep in mind their experience won’t be like yours. Actually, no one else’s will be, but theirs will be much more difficult. If they don’t “feel” their faith, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. For me, my greatest times of joy in Christianity and reveling in who God is come with some new intellectual insight in theology, history, or philosophy.

Keep this in mind. It’s worth it to reach those on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: How Autism Affects Faith

How did a conversation on this go? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What happens if you take two people on the spectrum with differing opinions on faith as it relates to autism? I found out when I got to have a delightful conversation with Erin Burnett from the UK, who calls herself a Christian agnostic. It was a delightful conversation with some slight pushback, but I wouldn’t call it a debate.

Erin herself has autism as well which led to some different perspectives. What was interesting was our reasons for being in the faith and struggling with the faith were the exact same. When Erin talked about it being difficult because she is more logic-oriented and empirical, I replied that I find believing Christianity easier for me because I am so logic-oriented and empirical. If anything, it’s when I am highly emotional that I enter a state of doubt.

On practical terms, we also talked about what life is like on the spectrum and how the church can relate to us and for this, we had nearly 100% agreement on issues. This was definitely one area where we could easily combine forces and agree on how the church should handle Autism. If you wanted a fierce debate at this point, or at any point in the show, you would be disappointed. If you wanted a good discussion, you got one.

But enough about that. The best way to find out what was said is to watch it yourself. The discussion can be viewed here. If you want to see Erin’s work on your own, her site can be found here.

Feedback appreciated!

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: God

How do I relate to God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As a Christian, sometimes, it is difficult to understand how one is to respond to God. I was tempted to say relate, but how do you relate to God? God is so vastly different from us. Of course, we do have the incarnation to help with this, a great blessing of the Christian belief system.

Unfortunately, I have a great distrust of a lot of Christianese. I have heard this said in Protestant and Orthodox Churches and I am sure it is said in Catholic Churches, and that’s where you hear talk about how “This is what God has done for us” and it’s not what happened in Scripture, but what took place in goals like fundraising or building plans or something of that sort. I always want to ask “How do we know God did that?” It could be we’re going along with our plans and when we see something happen, we interpret that to mean God is giving us a green light, but maybe He isn’t.

I am also highly skeptical when I read a Christian book that is more about something like marriage build-up or dealing with anxiety and depression and not apologetics related and I hear the author talk about what God told them. I am usually very skeptical at that point. Just yesterday I was listening to a book on my Tap where the author talked about sending a message to his wife that he said God gave him, but it was clear, and the author even realized this later on as well, that it was not from God.

A great danger also is if I am right with this and it is not God speaking so much, then we are setting up newer Christians and people on the spectrum for a fall. They have a number of options. Someone can make something up because they think that is what they are supposed to do. Someone can have a strong feeling and think God is speaking to them then. (How many of us really think all our strong feelings are from God?) Some of us on the spectrum who do not have strong emotions or relational skills could think something is wrong with us.

Those of us on the spectrum have a hard enough time relating to other people not sure what all the social rules of a relationship are. It’s far harder for us when it comes to relating to God. Here, we have someone we can’t see and few if any will rarely directly hear.

For me with prayer, it is something I always wonder about. How long do you do it? What do you really say? How do you treat God properly in prayer? I have read books on prayer, but there is still something about it that is hard to understand.

Now keep in mind this is from someone on the spectrum who is also highly well trained in Christian theology. If I have this hard a time with the matter while it is my life’s work, how much harder could it be for the person on the spectrum who is exploring Christianity? When we talk to them about the faith, are we talking about Christianity as it was taught by the apostles, or are we talking about the Western individualist notions we have added in?

The walk with God can be difficult for everyone and in some ways, should be, but it can be harder I suspect for those of us on the spectrum. Be understanding. Apologetics will be a great help here since many of us are logically minded and prefer rules and order. Talking about your personal emotions and experiences will probably not be helpful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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