After discovering I score high on tests for Asperger’s, I’ve been learning about it – its what we do. I’ve also learned that it runs in both sides of my family. I’ve been reading books and trying to change some of my thinking. I find it amusing to try and dissect how particular behaviors were tolerated or encouraged.
For example, I always viewed small talk as a waste of time. This isn’t uncommon in the Aspie world. The function of small talk is to build relationships. I didn’t get that. Instead of making social interactions as smooth as possible, it seemed to me that people were being fake.
I spent time with people who skipped small talk and jumped right into discussions (or monologues) on theology, physics, riding horses or L.M. Montgomery. I had always thought my denigration of small talk as unspiritual and shallow had largely come from my church.
Then it hit me- my church was (and is) Pentecostalism for Aspies!
It still has the hallmarks of Pentecostalism. Magical thinking, a tendency towards black and white viewpoints, the feeling of being a persecuted minority, superiority complex (we have the Spirit and one day you’ll see we were right), rebelling against the ‘world’ by obedience to certain authorities, and all that.
But missing from our church is the sensory overload present in so many charismatic circles. We don’t use drums or electric guitars. Lighting is simple and usually a bit dim. People are quiet.“Hilarity” and other emotional outbursts were frowned on from the pulpit. Dancing is almost non-existent.
Being ‘moved by the spirit’ means that most church services have a very predictable order that is decided on by the members of the congregation.
Open in prayer, scripture reading.
Singing. People from the congregation suggest songs or just start singing while the pianist scrambles to find the key.
Prophesies are called out from people in the congregation in a quiet and orderly manner. Or short testimonies are given from people who go to the front.
An elder or deacon walks to the front and gives a message.
Communion and offering plate.
Children go up and recite verses or sing songs.
All children sing songs and sit back down.
Close in prayer.
The order varies slightly from church to church. However, any person can change the order any time they wish. This is important for people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because, while routine is comforting, sometimes it gets boring and change is needed to protect sanity. There are usually enough moments of silence that the Spirit could lead anyone to prophesy, exhort or sing at any time.
My world makes so much sense now.