Pentecostalism for Asperger’s

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.

Typical:

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.

Quiet.

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.

4 thoughts on “Pentecostalism for Asperger’s

  1. TWF says:

    That’s pretty interesting, pn. Other than the prophesies, the Methodist church I attended followed a similar pattern, and I still favor that style of service over the glitz and rock hymns. I wonder how different things would have been for you if you were brought up in a different church?

  2. lubeylou says:

    I don’t know, for some Aspie’s church is a very stressful place. The crowds and not being able to ask questions (or getting vague answers) is frustrating. You’re seen as questioning their beliefs when in reality you’re just wanting to understand something that has confused you.

    Take dinosaurs as an example: Ask a religious person about dinosaurs and you’ll either be told dinosaurs are fake or given some vague answer about how God created them. Fair enough, but to a brain that over analyses that’s not a good enough response. You need something to back it up.

    Now I’m not deeply religious but I’m open to it and my siblings aren’t sure on religion either but my mother was the one that sat down with a bible and gave us an answer. Sure the bible isn’t proof or fact (I don’t mean that in an offensive way so I apologise if it comes across that way) but my mother used it as that’s where our question sprung from. We wanted to know did God make dinosaurs, why wasn’t it in the bible, when did he make them etc. But she equally explained it so it matched up with science.

    My mothers answer? If God is real (she never forced us to believe) then yes he would have made dinosaurs. He made them before Adam and Eve (as we know from fossils, dinosaurs came before people) and they were the creatures he spoke of when he mentions making the animals before he made people. The reason there is such a huge gap between people and dinosaurs was because heavenly days are longer than Earth days, though there is no exact time scale written of Heavenly days to Earth time my mother explained that Heavenly days would more likely be the equivalent of several Earth years (possibly even thousands).

    Anyway, I’m done rambling haha. I just wanted to share a little story about religion and Aspergers from another point of view.

    (My sister has Aspergers, brother has High Functioning Autism and I have some sort of personality/mood disorder.)

    • prairienymph says:

      I agree that church can be very stressful for many Aspies. Our church meetings are almost always small and quiet, but you do point out some other ways it can be stressful too. Thank-you for sharing your experience! Your mother sounds like a wise person.

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