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'Mr. Spock goes to church': How one Christian copes with Asperger's syndrome
Brant Hansen, a host on Christian radio, says his Asperger's syndrome once made him feel like an alien at church.
October 19th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

'Mr. Spock goes to church': How one Christian copes with Asperger's syndrome

Opinion by Brant Hansen, special to CNN

(CNN) - In the book “Jim and Caspar Go to Church,” an atheist turns to a Christian minister as they're watching a Sunday morning church service and earnestly asks, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?"

I've grown up in churches and I'm a Christian, and I'm right there with the atheist.

I honestly don't get the connection. (To be fair, I've grown up on Earth, too, and there are times that I don't understand any part of this place.)

You see, years ago, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome - and like a lot of "Aspies," sometimes I'm convinced that I've landed on the wrong planet.

For those of you who don't know the medical lingo, Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, but not as severe as what most people think of as autism.

It basically comes down to this: those "normal human" rules for things like eye contact, when to smile, personal distance - we just don't get them.

What's more, Aspies like me don't like those rules. They make no sense to us. So usually, we just say stuff - bluntly - and stare uncomfortably at the ground. That's how we roll.

But it gets even trickier for people of faith like me.

Feeling out of place at work is one thing. Feeling like an alien at church is a whole other matter.

Imagine Mr. Spock at an evangelical Christian tent revival, and you’ll get the idea.

And my father is a pastor, so I was in church a lot.

Multiple times, each week, every week, I found myself wishing I'd be moved by the worship music, or that I could shut off my skeptical mind during the sermons.

I'd see people in church services, Christian concerts and Bible camps overcome by emotion and enraptured with charismatic speakers, and I wondered why I didn't feel that way.

Why did I always feel like a cold observer?

After going to college, I was convinced my lack of feeling meant I was missing something, spiritually, so I joined charismatic Christian groups in which emotional manifestations of the Holy Spirit are common.

I desperately wanted to have what they had - an emotional experience of God's presence - and asked them to pray over me.

It didn't work.

When I didn’t move with the Holy Spirit or speak in tongues, they told me it was because I had rejected God.

I worried that it was the other way around: God had rejected me.

Maybe I felt like an alien because I deserved it. I deserved to be alienated, irretrievably and forever far from God.

I tried to pray, read the Bible, and do all the "right stuff." But I still felt out-of-touch.

I wondered if I was so broken, such a misfit that God simply took a look at me and decided to move on.

I wish I’d known then that I was an Aspie. And that God loves Aspies.

I still feel alienated from many parts of Christian culture, but Jesus himself finally reached me.

And man, did I feel that.

To people who are beaten down or befuddled by religious rules, Jesus offers something that no one else does: rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," he says.

And he sums up the entirety of complex and confusing religious laws with this: “Love God, and love your neighbor.”

Beautiful. Even children can understand that.

The Bible tells a story about a man who approaches Jesus and admits that he has faith, but also strong doubts.

"Help me in my unbelief," he asks Jesus.

Jesus doesn't blast him. He loves him. To me, Jesus is the only one who really makes any sense.

Oddly enough, considering my medical condition, I'm now a radio personality on a network that plays Christian music.

It’s a beautiful fit, in many ways, because I get to talk to many people who also don’t fit in, and wonder if God loves them.

It’s true, though, others won’t understand me. I know that. I’m still an alien in the American Christian subculture.

Each evening I retreat from it, and I go straight to the Gospels.

It's not out of duty that I read about Jesus; it's a respite.

I long for it, because I'm awash in two strange and baffling cultures, both the irreligious and religious.

And I long for someone I can finally understand, and someone who might finally understand me.

Brant Hansen is a radio host on the Air1 network, where his show airs from 3-7 p.m. CT. He also writes a popular blog at air1.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Hansen. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Faith • Health • Jesus • Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (3,030 Responses)
  1. tony

    You don't need to have Aspergers to feel doisconnected fromnm church services. It's normal for the majority of people who were not raised with regualr church services as children.

    Even with that upbringing, and peer pressure to have faith, many normal people feel nothing naturally.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • SciGuy

      You are correct. The natural man does not, indeed, cannot, know the things of the spirit of God. He is utterly dependent upon God to reveal them to him. And he remains under God's wrath if he continues to reject the Lord Jesus as his only hope for salvation.

      October 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • GMAB

        SciGuy,

        You forgot to say, "This is my hunch." The verified evidence for any of it is lacking.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Tricia

          GMAB, he's referring to 1 Corinthians 2:14. As a Christian, it's not "a hunch" as you put it, it's God's true Word, which verifies itself.
          I think if you opened your mind to the possibility that God is real (nothing else, just the idea that God actually exists), when you read the bible you will find that it is verifiable. Plus all that history stuff which backs it up.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • TominVA

          I thought it was faith. At least that's what Jesus says a lot. Don't recall anywhere in the gospels where verification is discussed.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Charge

          'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
          Was there a man dismay'd?
          Not tho' the soldiers knew
            Some one had blunder'd:
          Theirs not to make reply,
          Theirs not to reason why,
          Theirs but to do and die
          –"The Charge of the Light Brigade"

          AKA - shut up and just believe!

          October 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • reply

        SciGuy... "And he remains under God's wrath if he continues to reject the Lord Jesus as his only hope for salvation."

        The reality is God expended his wrath upon Jesus... so he's not angry anymore.
        Jesus was judged instead of us (for those who choose to Believe this)... that's why it's important to know whose you are... because whatever god a person chooses that's what/who will be judged. A lot of people have made themselves (ego....pride etc) their god. That is why they'll be judged instead of Jesus (because Christ Jesus is not their God).

        October 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
        • SciGuy

          You are correct that God poured out his wrath upon Jesus. But you've missed a vital point; he did this for believers. If all were believers then you could say God exhausted his wrath against Jesus for literally all. But, as the scriptures make plain, and as history clearly shows, not all are believers, and owe read in John 3 that God's wrath abides on all who do not believe in Jesus.

          October 20, 2013 at 12:47 am |
      • God is a concept

        I sincerely, utterly believed in Christianity up into about 15. And then, with more independence of thought, development of critical reasoning abilities, education in the wider world beyond my own, learning of other religions and history – the *reality* that the Bible was a collection of stories written by man, and assembled by men in various ways for various purposes, became more evident.

        Reading the Bible with a critical mind, not of one trying to find "proofs" of a religious belief you're trying to maintain, will reveal what religion is, why it was created, and why it persists. And no, it's not because the stories in sacred writings are true

        October 20, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • JimK57

          I do not think you understand critical thinking. Check out the website criticalthinking.org and you will understand.

          October 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  2. Cassarit

    There seems to be an obsessive compulsion among some, to separate Jesus from the Christian churches. We know what you are up to and why. In the end we will stop you.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • kerfluffle

      Feeling persecuted, you poor thing?

      October 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • Michelle F.

        I have to wonder why you feel an honest response has to come from a place of persecution. She was telling it as it is. There is a difference.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • kerfluffle

          Do you share the defensive origin of her premise?

          Christians, in my experience, wallow in guilt and persecution.

          I simply ask that you treat it as the fetish that it is, and enjoy it in the privacy of your home.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • misha412

      The beauty of Jesus is that his message goes beyond the church dogma and reaches people's hearts in different ways. No church can contain or control that message and that is why so many people are finding churches so limiting and restrictive. Love God. Love Jesus. Got little use for churches.

      October 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • Markus

        "If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
        -Luke 14:26

        The typical call of a cult leader for his victims to abandon their lives and follow him.

        "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
        -Matthew 6:34

        The world is going to end soon, so don't care for the future: typical cult nonsense.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • SciGuy

          You have not correctly understood either passage. The second one, for example, is Jesus urging his followers to trust in God for what the future holds, and not to be anxious about their needs. He is not telling them to not plan and work as needed to prepare for the future.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • reply

          He's telling you NOT to worry, about tomorrow or the day after... don't worry about what to eat, what to wear, what you will say, etc.
          Worry and Stress causes premature aging...leads to high blood pressure etc... and even death. So why would anyone want to worry especially since WORRY will never change the outcome of a situation. Can a person grow an inch taller by worrying.
          When you truly believe that Christ Jesus provides all your needs according to his riches (and he IS VERY RICH)...then you will take no thought (not worry) but rather REST in his promises and great provisions.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Markus

    Made sick and commanded to be well: the sadistic idiocy of Christianity.

    We who bother to read history recognize Jesus as belong in the same category as David Koresh, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, etc. You are ordered to abandon your wealth, hate and abandon your family, and expect the world to end, and to worship the dear leader as the only means to salvation. It's boringly familiar.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • nmats353

      Does poor little Markus who flunked high school feel confused about what Jesus actually was and what he said? Seek help.

      <==== Mathematics professor who believes in Jesus

      October 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
      • Markus

        "If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
        -Luke 14:26

        The typical call of a cult leader for his victims to abandon their lives and follow him.

        "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
        -Matthew 6:34

        Tthe world is going to end soon, so don't care for the future: typical cult nonsense.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Reed12

          Sorry man but you can't cherry pick like that a expect one solitary verse to make sense. In Luke when He talks about hating your family it does not mean to actually hate your family. Jesus is saying that love for Him should be so immense that love for others looks like hate, not to actually hate. And in Matthew He is not talking about the end of the world, He is talking about not worrying about tomorrow because today has enough worries and tomorrow will have it's own as well "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." is the NIV translation.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Markus

          "Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
          -Matthew 4:17

          But of course, you bore me with what Jesus 'really meant' or 'meant to say'. In debating the religious, it is clear that there are two types of religious people: the fundamentalists, and those who do not like to read.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Collin

          Markus, like many atheists, you read the words and take them at face value, without taking the time to explore their meaning. You might say I can only say this because I'm a Christian, but you'd be drastically wrong. Having studied Koine Greek and some Hebrew (although my Language of choice is definitely Latin), I, rather than read my beliefs into the Bible, seek to explore the text and find its true meaning, changing a specific belief when I find that it does not have sufficient basis in the Bible.

          Suffice to say, if you were familiar enough with the text and with the language used to make any such judgment as you have, you would realize that it does not require anyone to bear what we consider hatred against their family, but requires that they hate them RELATIVE TO GOD; i.e., they ought to love God first and foremost, such that should their family ask or cause them to disobey God, they would choose instead to follow God.

          As for the second passage, it's not saying so much that the world will end soon as it is that the time of the end is unknown, and thus you should put your dreams and goals for the future ahead of your actions today. One way to look at it is that doing good today is much better than doing good tomorrow, since you don't know what tomorrow holds.

          Please, rather than raise obvious straw men, base your beliefs on actual arguments.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Markus

          The demand that you should love someone so much that all others are 'relatively' hated is disgusting and clearly the work of a cult leader, or a very abusive mate/friend.

          And the insistence that the only alternative is to be 'gathered for the fire' is, again, typical cult nonsense. Would you expect to get deep, fulfilling, universal knowledge from the followers or writings of Koresh, Hubbard, etc.? What separates this fable from all others? Miracles, fulfilled prophecies, emotionally-pleasing role models ... common to so many stories. Why do you separate this one?

          October 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
        • Collin

          We're not talking about what he "meant to say;" we're talking about the meaning behind what he DID say. Any great teacher speaks in words whose meaning tends to be veiled, and can require interpretation.

          And yet again, if he says the Kingdom is at hand, you immediately assume he means that it is here, or should have been here, or will be here very soon. In order to understand the Bible you have to examine it from its own perspective, without bringing your own bias to the table. You are, as I said, doing what most atheist–and even many Christians– tend to do: reading your beliefs into the Bible.

          When you take the time to read the Bible, you see that for God "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years a day." The author's point is that God exists outside of time–an idea very compatible with Einstein's contributions to physics. Since all things with matter take time, and anything that takes time has matter, then, seeing as we define God as having created all things material, he is beyond matter–and thus beyond the constraints of time. From His perspective, all things happen always and yet in order, an idea impossible to comprehend because we are limited by the passage of time and all we have ever known is within those limits as well.So when God says the Kingdom is at hand, you can hardly expect it to mean exactly the same thing to Him as it does to us.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Collin

          Markus, if you ask why separate this one, then you have not read history nearly as thoughtfully and truly as you have claimed.

          Please read the writings of, or anything about, Joseph Smith and David Koresh; I am not as familiar with the others, but I would assume that their history and works would follow the same trend. They are men who claimed to know the way, typically through special revelation witnessed only by themselves.

          Now read anything in the Gospels. Does Jesus claim to know the way? I think you'd have a hard time proving so. He claims to BE the way, a claim which either makes him much, much greater than anyone considered a great teacher or prophet, or else he's clinical. As Christians, we believe the case for the former exceeds that for the latter in soundness and validity. Anyone who chooses to categorize him with those other men should really read more about and by all of them.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Colin

          Well Collin, there are a few facts that are hard to get around. (i) The 4 gospels are inconsistent on the nature of Jesus. Only John claims he was god. The 3 Synoptics have him as the Messiah, but not as divine. (ii) all 4 gospels were written by people who never met Jesus a generation or two after he died in a language he never spoke. They are very likely inaccurate (iii) the gospels we have today may not be what the original authors said. There is simply no way around this. They are hard facts.

          So, when anybody claims to attribute any saying or opinion to Jesus, they are on very shakey ground.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Colin

          It is also almost universally accepted by biblical scholars that JEsus did think the world would end very soon, certainly within a generation. He is recorded as having said so himself many times. As did PAul and John the
          baptist. HE was wrong. Simple as that.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • reply

          Reply mostly for Colin with one L:

          The four gospel writers expounded Jesus this way. Mark is the pashat gospel; he described Jesus in the most simple and direct way. When you read Mark, you learn what happened: what Jesus said and did. Luke is the remez gospel; he described Jesus in a “narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us” (Luk 1:1); he applies what Jesus said and did to the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Matthew is the drash gospel; he constructed his gospel, not chronologically, as Luke did, but thematically, and then related those themes to their Torah and Old Testament counterparts. This is not readily apparent on the surface reading of Matthew, just as the drash meaning of the text is not readily apparent on the surface reading of the text; but as someone begins to learn the Hebraic structure of Torah and the Old Testament, and its major themes and how they are presented, you find that Matthew parallels that structure and those themes. John is the sod gospel; this is why his gospel is so drastically different from the other gospels. He presents the hidden or revealed Jesus. John’s gospel is the home of all the major “I AM” statements concerning Jesus: I am the light of the world, the door of the sheep, the way, the truth, and the life; the resurrection and the life, and the bread from heaven. John’s Jesus can only be known through the revelation of the Spirit.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • kerfluffle

        Your math doesn't add up.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • Which God?

        Well "professor," you sure showed your education, in snarkyness, by calling someone a flunkie. I'm willing to bet you are a fraud as you believe in a fictional character. Your 2+2 is equaling 3

        October 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Michelle F.

      Markus I have read through many of your comments and am saddened by how hurt you must have been and still are by someone in the Christian faith. To take so much out of context must make it seem horrible. To be honest though I can give you a few lines of any book and twist a fairy tale into a horror story or a horror story into a chick flick.

      October 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • Markus

        Well, the emotion here is disgust. I am disgusted when people love Big Brother (call it Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, etc.), and I am ashamed of my species when they proclaim that 2 plus 2 is 5 (walking on water, winged horses, parting the sea, etc.). I am genuinely ashamed that I am 99% genetically identical to such low, broken unperson minds, and I feel a retroactive fear that I could so easily have ended up like them.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Michelle F.

          I know too many that feel the way you do. All I can do is pray that your eyes are opened before its too late. I learned in the last few years to not allow the haters words hurt. I know what I know. Empirical evidence is hard to find but there are many case studies out there that prove time and again that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Its hard to know what I do and know how many I am going to lose in the long run.

          October 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • kerfluffle

          My man. The truth lies within. Not in the false prophets that claim to know you better.

          Free your mind. Transcend.

          **Michelle F>> let Markus find his own path, and ease off on the pressure>>and I cannot say it softer or kinder...but I can say it stronger and with a little more conviction, if you need such...**

          October 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
      • Mark

        "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
        -Matthew 7:5

        You don't know that your own eyes are open – and a fundamental, unassailable principle of science is that you can never know for sure, can never rest, can never end your study. You want my eyes open so that they match your vision, daring to think that you are done? I don't want to shove the beam in! I want to see reality, and your fable joins the others!

        October 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  4. bostontola

    This article is fascinating (thanks Spock). The god meme is strong, and parental influence is amazingly strong. It can even infect people with different emotional capabilities like Autism. The human capacity to conceive and believe imaginary things is not limited to emotion.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • TominVA

      How do you know it's imaginary?

      October 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Markus

        The violations of physics, which also discredit the Legend of King Arthur, the Epic of Beowulf, the Hercules myths, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the folklore of Paul Bunyan, etc. Miracles, fulfilled prophecies, emotionally fulfilling characters serving as roll models ... all trapped in the story, never to get out, no matter the fandom.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • TominVA

          How does God violate physics?

          October 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Markus

          The miracles are (essentially defined as) violations in physics, separate from the work of illusionists. If you see a man killed one day and walking three days later, you should suspect illusion; if you hear it from someone else, you must consider fable as well as illusion. Considering the story actually to be true is foolish without more evidence, and there is nothing more than this story, which is not even exceptional when you look at other stories of resurrection.

          Water into wine, duplication of loaves and fishes, healing with a touch, walking on water – violations in physics. As Einstein said, the only detectable miracle is that there are no miracles: that the universe seems to obey fundamental laws with total consistency. But invoking miracles lets anything happen, so it can be used to defend any random proposal by just saying 'it was a miracle'. It doesn't just let in Jesus – it lets in Thor, Zeus, Azathoth, and the rest.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Collin

          But you assume that the violations in physics are the only things which discredit those stories. Each is written in the form of fiction, and no narrative or authoritative sources are found to confirm their legitimacy as fact. We do not disbelieve their tales SOLELY because of violations of physics.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • TominVA

          Ok, but let's leave Sunday school for a minute. The Bible aside, how does a cosmic creator, we'll call him God, violate physics?

          October 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Markus

          As an author can violate the rules of a story by suddenly ignoring a part already written.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • TominVA

          Very deft answer, but not very scientific.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • Markus

          The Argument from Improbability addresses the problems with invoking intelligence as an ultimate explanation for everything. Even if the universe is improbable in its current state, needing explanation, a mind capable of designing the whole universe must be even more complex/organized/improbable.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • bostontola

        Tom,
        Would you agree that the Greek gods are imaginary?

        October 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • TominVA

          Well of course. Everyone knows the Greek gods are make believe.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • bostontola

          That's how I know.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • TominVA

          But of course we don't really KNOW that the Greek gods don't exist.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • TominVA

          But it seems reasonable that the Greek gods are not real, seeing as they exhibit all sorts of human foibles and since no one in modern history ever seems to have met one.

          Setting aside the Biblical narrative for a bit, a cosmic power who creates seems no more illogical than saying there is no such being and maybe a somewhat less so. What little I can understand of recent developments in cosmology point to a universe so profound and unfathomable, that restricting it to a set of theories with no regard for intent seems strangely shortsighted.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • bostontola

          All true regarding KNOWING. But I know the god(s) of man's religions are imaginary, just like "everybody knows" the Greek gods are.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • TominVA

          And I know there's not Santa Claus either (though that would be pretty cool!). I'd agree it's possible there's no creator, but to me it just doesn't seem very likely.

          Now how we go from a creator hypothesis to the God of the Bible and his son Jesus is a different story.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          Tom, I agree with you on that.

          October 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  5. James

    I'm pretty sure I don't have Aspergers, but I often feel the same way around christians. The popularized "God" taught from most pulpits doesn't really look like Jesus at all, which is a problem, since the bible claims Jesus is the perfect image of God revealed in a human body.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Wendy

      That is an apt observation. I consider myself a Christian. I'm an elder in my church. But modern charismatic American Christianity sometimes presents a singular version of Jesus. I'm sure they would disagree with me. But the book of Matthew presents to us almost a fighting warrior who promises to divide families and burn away the chaff from the wheat. So where does that leave us if Jesus was God in human form? It's hard to reconcile "God is love" with "God will destroy those who don't believe him." But the answers are there in the Bible, and each individual must find his or her own path back to God regardless of what some Christian denominations propose.

      October 20, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  6. Hill

    Conclusion? Your attempt at a syllogism, let's just say, cute. The soundness of your first two premises fails on lack of simple empirical proof. Your last two examples are truisms, like tomorrow the sun will rise since the planets stay aligned, and they are sorta tautological, but run into the old truth function problems that in order to be true, they must be false. Moreover, one could easily say your god concepts are just learned linguistic behaviors, culturally determined since if you had been raised in Islamic culture you would be preaching a different storyline. And, people can hold irrational ideas, like we know there are no monsters on the dark side of the moon, yet that doesn't stop someone from believing that.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • ak

      Funny. Leonard Nimoy is Jewish. 🙂

      October 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Cassarit

        But his Nimoy reference is telling in that it's Jews who have been trying for very long to de-christianize Jesus in the eyes of Christians. Of course I can understand why they would want to. Afterall, if you remone Jesus from Christianity, you destroy Christianity. Cooperative goyslaves like Hansen are actively helping their cause.

        October 19, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • Michelle

          Perhaps christianity SHOULD be destroyed. And tbh, Jesus, wasn't a "christian".

          October 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Really, Hill. The last statement was a contradiction, wouldn't you say?

      October 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        In my original post, I mean.

        October 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  7. Fred

    If god loved this person, he wouldn't have given him the aspie disease.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • dcull71

      Doubt it was God that gave him this "Aspie." I bet it's our failure as humans to realize the crap we do to our environment and the animals we eat that has brought this upon ourselves; the crap we do as parents allowing TV to babysit our kids so we can pursue our own selfish ambitions. PBC's, dioxin, BPA, feeding dairy cows chicken poop just because it's high in nitrogen and cows can convert it, TV programming, the list goes on and on and on... He giave us an awesome place to live and we've been jacking it up since day one (that's figuratively, not literal, on the "day one").

      October 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • GMAB

        dcull71,

        – If a thing or event is good – "God" did it?
        – If a thing or event is bad – Man did it?

        Listen, if this "God" character is what it's cracked up to be, it's responsible for EVERYTHING. It would have known beforehand what the outcomes would be - and did it anyway?!

        October 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • dcull71

          No, that's not what I was trying to portray, but I do appreciate you questioning that. It really is difficult to explain in a forum such as this. So let's pretend God is real (He is to me, but hey, that's my opinion), just for a moment. For the world to exist as we know it there has to be earthquakes, volcanoes, and all manners of stuff that is bad in nature...otherwise this would still be a water world with an atmosphere so dense with water vapor the sun couldn't eek through at all. All these phenomenon kill people, but it has to happen for land masses to exist and blah blah blah. Well if God created the world but He generally prefers to work with the laws of physics then He's bad because those things destroy the very object of His creation. If He was good then that stuff wouldn't happen, right? No, it's complex and not easy to answer. Could God have wiped out this "Satan" and made everything yummy good so there is no bad? Yes. But that defeats the purpose, who wants to look up to a God that squishes everything bad? That's fear, not love. If I step outside the line I'm squished! Who wants to be part of that club, not me! We can't learn love with out bad stuff around us. God allows it, in nature and people, we perpetuate it with our selfish wants. I wish I could verbalize it better. I found a really informative website once called godandscience.org It's better than me at explaining some things. Don't believe on account of my feeble words, but don't be afraid to question everything, even your own beliefs; it fosters growth, even if you arrive at a different conclusion than I do. Any knowledgeable Christian will tell you that we should question everything, Jesus did say that.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Collin

          I am a Christian, and you are completely right. Every Christian needs to come to terms with that.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • Desmond

        dcull71, your comment (which doesn't show a 'reply' button seems to negate the Christian message you promote. You said, if God were to just squish all opposition, that would be a God who gathers His followers through fear, but isn't that exactly what God promises, err, threatens to ultimately do? If it's wrong and based on fear at this or a previous point in time, isn't the future threat of this also wrong and based on fear?

        October 20, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Collin

      Arguably the worst argument in Internet history...thanks for weighing in with your opinion.

      October 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • My advice to Brant

      Aspergers isn't a disease for high functioning cases, its a benefit. It helps you see people for who they really are, I just wish Brant here listened to his skepticism a little more and stopped pretending to be stupid by going along with that dim witted religious charade to fit in.

      October 20, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  8. Billrich2

    Being raised in a Pentecostal church can be tough. If you do not speak in "tongues" then you are considered an outsider. I visited a Pentecostal church once. When people began making strange moaning noises I got nervous. When they started laying hands on us, I got more nervous. I didn't know what to do. Some were saying, "Hang on brother, hang on." Still others were saying, "Let go brother, let go." I got so confused. I wished that I were somewhere else. I didn't know whether to hang on or let go. And I had accepted Christ as my Savior several years before. Now, after thirty years of diligent study, I realize that Pentecostal Christians are what Paul referred to as baby Christians. Those that are in need of the milk of the Word, and not the meat. Many actually go on to study their Bible (instead of just reading passages that the pastor showed them) and mature in the Word of God. For those brothers and sisters, and for Brother Hansen, they realize that our relationship with our Savior is a very personal one that needs to be tended like a precious garden. God does indeed speak to us. But he does so through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and he does so gently, softly, so that you have to be quiet and listen. Peace that passes all human understanding is the result of that nurtured relationship.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Colin

      If it makes you feel any better, speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, to use its technical term, is based largely on forged scripture. The ending of Mark’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells his disciples that they will “speak in tongues” was actually a forgery that was added to the end of his gospel in about the Fifth Century.

      Paul discouraged speaking in tongues because he was concerned that bystanders would think that the early Christians were "mad”. A study of brain activity while a person is speaking in tongues has revealed that activity in the area of the brain that governs language actually decreases, while activity in the area associated with strong emotion increases. Needless to say, there has never been a recorded case of a person speaking a coherent language, otherwise unknown to the speaker, while speaking in tongues.

      It is always meaningless, random babble.

      October 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • reply

        To the Holy Spirit it's not (meaningless, random babble).

        October 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
        • G to the T

          Wow – way to miss the whole point – the practice shouldn't be considered biblical because it was a later insertion, it is not supposed to be part of the gospel to begin with.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Spectator

    Maybe an expert on Asperger's will weigh in with some more information, but here's one set of symptoms:

    2. Restricted and repet.itive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as shown by at least one of the following symptoms:

    A significant and encompassing preoccupation or obsession with one or two restricted topics, that is abnormal either in intensity, subject or focus (such as baseball statistics or the weather) [Religion?]

    Seemingly inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals that serve little purpose

    http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-aspergers-disorder/000877

    October 19, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  10. Andrew

    Great article. I too, like so many others, have suffered from these difficult challenges you mention. Thank you for sharing your experiences. The following article (on emotional health) has also brought me peace: www .lds.org/ general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng

    October 19, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  11. Colin

    It’s a pity the gospels, being the only books in the entire Bible that tell us anything about Jesus’ life, are so horrible unreliable. It would have been wonderful to have a historically reliable docu.ment that told us something about his life. An eyewitness account would have been the best.

    Unfortunately, the best we have are the 4 canonical gospels. They are the only parts of the Bible that docu.ment what Jesus said or did. We don’t even have the originals and it is unlikely that we can reconstruct what the originals said from what we do have, apart from in the broadest terms.

    The oldest gospels we have date from about the early Third Century. They are (of course) handwritten copies of copies of copies etc. of gospels originally written between 40-65 years after Jesus died by people who never met him, spoke a different language, lived in other parts of the World and relied largely on oral stories circulating in a highly superst.itous time and place. We have no idea how accurately these early Third Century copies even represent the (highly suspect) originals.

    So, for those Christians who base your religious view on what we English speaking people have in the English Bibles on our bookshelves in the 21st Century, you have to face a somewhat sobering fact. Your entire faith is based 100% and solely on interpretations of highly circu.mspect docu.ments written by people you know nothing about, who never met the person whose life they record, and who claim supernatural, magical acts! This in itself ought to be enough to destroy their credibility. There is simply no way around this. Please feel free to disagree.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's not about that, Colin. There's a warm feeling of being accepted and loved that you get when you finally surrender and give in to Jesus Christ, any Jesus Christ.

      I've got a feeling, a feeling deep inside
      Oh yeah, oh yeah, that's right
      I've got a feeling, a feeling I can't hide
      Oh no, no, oh no, oh no
      Yeah, I've got a feeling

      Oh please believe me I'd hate to miss the train
      Oh yeah, yeah, oh yeah
      And if you leave me I won't be late again
      Oh no, oh no, oh no
      Yeah, yeah, I've got a feeling, yeah
      I got a feeling

      All these years I've been wandering around
      Wondering how come nobody told me
      All that I've been looking for was somebody
      Who looked like you

      I've got a feeling that keeps me on my toes
      Oh yeah, oh yeah
      I've got a feeling I think that everybody knows
      Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
      Yeah, yeah I've got a feeling, yeah, yeah

      Everybody had a hard year
      Everybody had a good time
      Everybody had a wet dream
      Everybody saw the sunshine
      Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah

      Everybody had a good year
      Everybody let their hair down
      Everybody pulled their socks up
      Everybody put their foot down
      Oh yeah

      (I've got a feeling)
      Everybody had a good year
      (A feeling deep inside)
      Everybody had a hard time
      (Oh yeah)
      Everybody had a wet dream
      (Oh yeah)
      Everybody saw the sunshine

      (I've got a feeling)
      Everybody had a good year
      (A feeling I can't hide)
      Everybody let their hair down
      (Oh no)
      Everybody pulled their socks up
      (Oh no no)
      Everybody put their foot down, oh yeah

      I've got a feeling
      I got a feeling
      Oh yeah
      I got a feeling, yeah

      Oh my soul, so odd

      (Lennon/McCartney).

      October 19, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  12. solargrid

    Like Jesus, Spock was Jewish ... Live Long and Prosper ! http://jewish-jesus.blogspot.ca/2013/10/the-logical-jewish-jesus-live-long-and.html

    October 19, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • bostontola

      Leonard Nimoy is Jewish, not Spock. You should try to separate fantasy and reality.

      October 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  13. TRose

    Since when is Chiristianity an American subculture?

    October 19, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Sara

      The refference is to a subculture called "American Christian".

      October 19, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  14. dcull71

    Absolutely excellent, Brant! You get it. Well done, Brother!

    October 19, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Perhaps Jesus had Asperger's as well. Not many people can view the human emotional mélange critically and with detachment. To me it's a gift. If you believe for a reason that has nothing to do with emotion, I want to hear all about it.

    October 19, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  16. Kris

    Well done Brant!!! Even those without Asperger's can feel that way. It is our relationship with Jesus that makes the difference!

    October 19, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  17. Ryan

    Very nicely written!

    October 19, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Cana

      "I still feel alienated from many parts of Christian culture, but Jesus himself – not his church – finally reached me.

      And man, did I feel that.

      To people who are beaten down or befuddled by religious rules, Jesus offers something that no one else does: rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," he says.

      –Amen & Amen!

      Brant, You've perfectly captured what it feels like to belong to Christ and truly be part of God's family.

      🙂

      October 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  18. Saints, sinners and sinners

    We go to church to worship God and have an experience of God's presence.

    We can agree!

    October 19, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Yes I know

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C58GLUUz12g&w=640&h=390]

      October 19, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Sue

      Why would a god need you to worship it?

      And what was your evidence of that god being present?

      October 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Aw c'mon Sue, Jesus loves everyone unconditionally! With just one condition.....we love him back.

        Makes sense, no?

        October 19, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • Hill

          Maybe the reason he didn't feel anything is there is nothing to feel. God concepts are social constructs; the bible is written by humans, mostly from dead, male dominated Mediterranean cultures. Dinosaurs pose a problem to the Adam Eve origin myth, just like Noah could never have gathered species from South America or the Arctic circle, let alone bacteria, and no geological evidence exists of a world flood. So, live a christian free life.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Eric

          ...no

          October 19, 2013 at 11:31 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Note to self...need a better sarcasm font...

          October 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • dcull71

        That really is a great question Sue, and I'll apologize in advance for any "Christian" bashing you for it.
        (One can't really call themself a Christian for that type of bashing-you response; Brant pointed that out beautifully with the lines about the man that told Jesus he had doubts). God doesn't need us to worship Him, and worshiping doesn't mean a flock of brainwashed individuals on their knees with their heads low to the ground. When we help a small child gain understanding of a concept, such as respect for everyone despite their appearances, we are worshiping. When we help the poor, the underserved; we are worshiping. When we do anything that makes this world a better place, no matter how insignificant we may think it is, we are in fact worshiping. We are giving homage to a being infinitely intelligent in that He created everything we know from an infinitely tiny speck, often called the "singularity" (moment before the Big Bang). The universe is a harsh, harsh place almost beyond human comprehension. The fact that this universe could even support such delicate creatures that biologically advance against the laws of physics begs the mind of childlike curiosity; where did it all come from? The beauty of Psalm 19 always, to me, wraps it up succinctly:

        "The heavens declare the glory of God;
        the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
        Day after day they pour forth speech;
        night after night they display knowledge.
        There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

        I used to think science would cure me of being a Christian (I had hoped it would!), but the more I study astrophysics, the more I seek out knowledge of the sciences and understanding of the universe, and every time I look into the night sky and walk through nature; I am left without excuse that there is something out there that planned this all so that humans could exist and bask in the awesome complexity that is our universe, and to experience the wonderful feelings of when we attempt to make this speck we call home, a better place.

        October 19, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • Which God?

          dcull, you lie to yourself. You are afraid of facing reality. You use the "what if" argument. There is nothing 'out there." It's in your head, and it is illusion.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Saints, sinners and sinners

      "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,"

      1) The doubter
      2) The sinner
      3) The saint
      4) And everyone else in between,
      can find respite and God's love in Jesus.

      Very nicely written, indeed!

      October 19, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  19. Sue

    While the existence of a general creator remains in question, we can be absolutely certain that the Christian god does not exist.

    October 19, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Sara

      It wouldn't be possible for the Christian god to have all the characteristics claimed and for logic to apply to reality. But it could be possible for something with some of those characteristics to exist and that Christians are just mistaken on others.

      October 19, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        God is able to do impossible things (miracles).
        God is a necessary being – it exists in all possible worlds.
        So, impossible things are possible in all possible worlds.
        So, all possible worlds are impossible worlds.

        Conclusion?

        October 19, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Sara

          I don't know how many Christians would accept the premise that god does impossible things, at least in the sense of logically contradictory. For instance, I don't know that they believe god can make a glass simultaneously full and empty. Did you have a specific other definition of impossible?

          October 19, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Hill

          Conclusion? Your attempt at a syllogism, let's just say, cute. The soundness of your first two premises fails on lack of simple empirical proof. Your last two examples are truisms, like tomorrow the sun will rise since the planets stay aligned, and they are sorta tautological, but run into the old truth function problems that in order to be true, they must be false. Moreover, one could easily say your god concepts are just learned linguistic behaviors, culturally determined since if you had been raised in Islamic culture you would be preaching a different storyline. And, people can hold irrational ideas, like we know there are no monsters on the dark side of the moon, yet that doesn't stop someone from believing that.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          A miracle is something that God, and only God can do. Perhaps there are possible things reserved to only one entity. However, their book says this: Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

          October 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Sara

          Hill, Joshua, TTTOO was not trying to make an argument for god but some points about Christian logic.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • Sara

          "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

          I'm not sure still that they are saying logically contrary things are possible, though if the camel statement were taken literally (which even most literalists would shy from) you might argue that physical laws are contradicted. Using the language here, however, he's referring to things that are possible for god, so not by an absolute definition impossible.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          You are right, Sara. Most everyone would say that a possible world has the Law of Non-Contradiction. Perhaps Christians will say that God is bound by it too. So, "all things that are possible are possible with God" may be what they mean. We can't have God roaming around doing logically impossible things.

          October 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Joshua

        BS. Logic can and should be applied to everything. And logic, science and common sense tells us all that there can be no god, gods, heavenly being, heaven or hell, spirit or soul-they do not exist. When you die, the body dies and that's it, end of story. Jesus has been dead for almost 2000 years. There's a reason he has not returned: he can't, he's dead. To worship a 2000 year old man is illogical, completely lacking in common sense and rational thinking. And no, it's not about faith. Use your brain instead of how your parents raised you or how you were sucked into this madness of worshiping a supreme being.

        October 19, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • Sara

          Ummm...were you responding to me? I'm not a theist and am not sure what you are reading into my words if that was a response to me.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          My attempt at modal logic was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Perhpas he was after me, Sara.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Sara

          TTTOO, I can't see it applying to any interpretation of your post, either. Maybe it got completely misplaced.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • Sara

          OK, weird, I think you were right. Someone named Hill seems to be addressing your comment out of line at the top of the page, also thinking it is an argument for god. I'm not seeing it but I guess I am more familiar with your comments.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • John

          You're right. Science, logic, and common sense tells us that if there is no intelligent designer that exists outside of time that there must be in immense amount of parallel universes as well as some sort of compound that exists outside of time. Both requirements are not observable but since such an explanation removes the possibility of a God from the equation it is by default logical.

          October 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.