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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. Ryder Mills

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

    Every Christian can attest to that statement, you've articulated the essence of what it means to be a Christian so well!

    A great opinion piece on the belief blog.

    October 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • John

      Absolutely!

      🙂

      October 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Vic

      I concur! That's what Salvation is all about!

      October 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Translation.
      My brain is all over the place so I use the bible to help slow it down.

      Sounds very similar to meditation.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Pete

      He's right!

      Fiction is a great respite from the problems of real life.

      October 21, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  2. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    "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."

    More proof that God is just our definition of the feelings and emotions that we get from chemical and biological reactions in our bodies. Have a brain not getting the same chemical inspiration as most humans and they feel as if they can't connect to the spiritual.

    October 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Or..and this is more likely, there is no spiritual, and the feeling people get is just part of a delusion. since there is no evidence, the delusion is far more likley.

      October 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        I do not think there is a "spiritual" either, but I think humans experience chemical and biological reactions in our bodies many want to percieve as spiritual. The connection this guy wanted to find at some of these Churches is a spiritual connection that is quite formulaic and can be repeated by just about anyone willing to let themselves get into it. A rousing round of "This land is our land" with enough people in the room can evoke feelings some might define as spiritual.

        October 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        JTFM
        That may be true, but since I am in the same boat (Aspergers) that this guy is in, but an atheist, not only do I not understand that "fellowship" when it is based on something that makes no sense, but I find it fascinating that others do.
        Similarly I have never understood any fads, like pet rocks, and the entire pop music scene...to me pop music is to music as paint by numbers is to art. It is art, but formulated not composed.

        October 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • bostontola

          I also find it fascinating that Aspergers people can go either way wrt god. My understanding is, people with Aspergers have feelings, strong feelings, they just don't empathize effectively with other people and their feelings. This empathy ineffectiveness could make a person with Aspergers feel apart from others. Maybe that feeling of apartness can drive some to want to be part of a group like Christianity, where an imaginary god provides exactly what that person needs emotionally (and no one else can). All speculation I know.

          On another point, do you ever feel anything so deeply that you would be tempted to describe it as spiritual (not supernatural)?

          October 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          In a way, but not any more than others I think. When I see a beautiful waterfall, with healthy plantlife around, and the whole scene is picturesque, I feel something that others might describe as spiritual, but I think it is more instinctual than that.
          I'm the guy that pulls over to the side of the road to look at a rainbow, watch thunderstorms whenever I can, and can spend an entire evening chasing fireflies with my neices and nephews, or watching bats eat bugs at dusk.. All have a sense of wonder to them.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • bostontola

          I feel that also about nature. I also feel something profound when I conquer a mathematical problem related to the real world that is complex and very difficult but has a simple result, it can only be described as spiritual.

          October 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  3. jj

    Leave the Vulcans out of a discussion of earthly religion.

    October 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Pete

      Are you saying that logic has no place in any discussion about religion?

      October 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
      • Crom

        No, he's saying leave Vulcans out of your arguments. He said nothing about logic.
        Too bad your god isn't the god of reading comprehension, huh.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  4. jknbt

    congratulations on your spiritual successes, bro. Sometimes the greatest miracle is when a bird with short wings flies. Those who overcome much will also have a greater reward than those who have little to overcome.

    similar congratulations to people with different syndromes or conditions that make it difficult to fit into these churches. Christ ministered to the outcasts, the lepers, the spiritually disenfranchised who just didn't fit in with the religious system of the day. Always make room in your churches & small groups for the misfit & outcast & the chronically socially awkward. Jesus especially cares for them.

    October 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That's odd, I tried for years and Jesus ignored me. Since then I have studied many religions, and none of the associated gods had anything to do with me...leaving two probable conclusions. God does not like me and ignores me, or no gods exist. Either way, I have no use for them.

      October 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Richard Cranium : I tried for years and Jesus ignored me. ... Either way, I have no use for [all gods].

        Any doubt what is causing the communications failure here?

        October 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • What IF

          Live4Him,
          "Any doubt what is causing the communications failure here?"

          Well, doesn't it just have to be SATAN?!

          That, or it's entirely Richard's fault, right? This "God" has no control over the interaction?

          October 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Lie4him
          Just as much doubt as is prudent. What about you....if it is not a delusion, there must be some part of you that thinks you may be wrong. If you think wholeheartedly that you are right, you are delusional without question.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • Lisa

          Are you saying that blind faith is needed in order to accept Jesus' gift of faith?

          Like I said earlier, any way you slice it, it all come down to blind faith.

          October 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • Alfred

        Christianity is about having a personal relationship with Jesus. It is great that you've studied other religions, but being a Christian is about that personal relationship with God, no other religion says that. The author of this article got that right when he says, he turns to Jesus for respite not out of duty.

        October 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • I wonder

          Alfred
          "Christianity is about having a personal relationship with Jesus."

          Where in Christian annals does it say that... other than in late 1900s psychobabble, when this catchy phrase originated? You are commanded to obey and follow (and that would be in great part, obey and follow the stuff that Paul of Tarsus and a few 1st century evangelists said.)

          October 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Alfred

          "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)

          October 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          I have a personal relationship with my imaginary friend too.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Madtown

          For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
          -------
          I have trouble with the notion that God only had 1 son. God is clearly extraordinarily powerful, to create this entire universe, world, and all life within. Couldn't he do pretty much anything? Couldn't he have as many sons/daughters as he desired?

          October 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • Pete

          And Atheism is all about having a personal relationship with reality. 😉

          October 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
        • Pete

          Madtown
          Wouldn't "son" imply that Jesus was made, and not eternal. That's what we understand that word to mean.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • Larry

          @Pete
          It's like a lot of words people have to describe Jesus. He's a son, but not born like a son, or really deferring to God his father like a son. He was always an equal with his father and the other one.

          Jesus is a shepherd, but everyone who grew up in the country knows that shepherds don't keep sheep as pets. Shepherds live by fleecing the wool of their sheep, and then eventually eating their meat once they've outlived their usefulness. That's what real shepherds are like, so you can tell that Christians don't really spend much time thinking about these things.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • jknbt

        HEY RICHARD– you obviously have never repented. When you come to God, you have to do His thing His way. Do you remember the old "Let's Make A Deal" show with Monte Hall? Remember door # 1, door # 2, door # 3? Well I've got news for you....coming to God is not a heavenly version of Let's Make A Deal. God has offered Jesus as the one way home to Him. Jesus is the deal. As long as you are double minded and flirting with other gods, you shouldn't expect God to answer your prayers. Do God's thing God's way, and you will have good success. You need to have a change of heart and mind.

        October 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • G to the T

          Translation – you have to believe before you can BELIEVE. I'm always amazed when people say this.

          October 22, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Lisa

          Yup, it always starts with blind faith.

          October 22, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Todd

      Agree with what you are saying.

      "In God's garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit"-Rick Warren

      October 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  5. OldManMontgomery

    Brother Hansen.

    I'm not diagnosed as Asperger positive, but I do not 'get' the majority of human 'emotion'; especially in the sense that 'feelings' are more important than information. My two 'role models' after whom I pattern my life are Jesus Christ and Sherlock Holmes. The truth is, I do better emulating Holmes than Jesus. Jesus loves me anyway.

    I have the same problem with many aspects of Christianity – I deal with God on a logic level, based on data and logical inferences. So I understand your point of view.

    I have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, by His grace. Not because I have a 'feeling'.

    Logically, that's a good thing.

    October 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • bostontola

      Why do you find Christianity more logical than Islam?

      October 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Vic

        It takes a human to know one. We all are sinners, fall short of glory and cannot earn our redemption. Christianity proclaims God's Ultimate Provision to grant Salvation by His Grace through Faith ALONE in Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior (The Penal Substitution,) as a Free Gift, Unmerited Favor, while Islam proclaims (reverts to in reality) redemption by a harsh merit system of laws that is unattainable by man (human.)

        October 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
        • bostontola

          Vic,
          Your response was stunningly off the question asked.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @bostontola : Your response was stunningly off the question asked.

          OR – you just didn't understand it. What Vic is saying is that Christianity is premised upon our faith, rather than our works. Islam is a work-based salvation – if you provide Allah with enough of your works, then you'll be saved.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • ME II

          @Live4Him,
          You and @Vic seem to be arguing which is "better" based on your own perception of value of works-based or faith-based(?) salvation.
          The question was, which is a more logical (or logically consistent, perhaps) system, not which is a more logical choice, IMO.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • Dilemma

          It's like arguing about whether Leprechauns' vests are brown or green, and whether they have 3 buttons or 4 on them.

          It's like arguing about whether Unicorns prefer golden saddles or platinum ones.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • tony's assistant (and Vic translator)

          membership is easy as long as you pay the dues
          (or don't act like a jerk in church and pay the dues and walla – you're a member!)

          October 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Lisa

          Vic
          Have you ever considered that not reaching human perfection isn't something that one ought to feel guilty about? Personally, I'm happy with the notion of doing the best we can. "Perfection" is a completely subjective concept, making it an unattainable benchmark to judge people by, and therefore useless.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • ME II

          @Lisa,
          I would suggest that not only is human perfection not achievable, but that it does not exist. In other words there is no ideal that could be considered "prefect" in a human sense, because it involves subjective criteria. There can be no single set of attributes and/or behaviors that equate to a single perfect human, regardless of achievability.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • Lisa

          Live4Him
          The Muslims seem to have a different view of that. From IslamWeb

          The faith in which knowledge, emotion and will are all involved, is manifested not in the form of a doctrine or dogma, but in the form of an ideal value.

          Faith in Islam is the moral ground and basis for action and not a dogmatic assertion of salvation-justification like Christianity. The well-being of man, therefore, depends upon faith that is accompanied by good actions.

          http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=articles&id=134445

          And then there is James 2:14-26. Faith without works is dead, right?

          October 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Lisa

          ME II
          "Perfection" itself is an abstract concept. Can you name a single thing that everyone agrees is "perfect"?

          October 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • What IF

      OldManMontgomery,
      "I have a relationship with God,..."

      And what is the verified evidence for this "relationship"? Does "God" talk to you? What does 'he' say? How do you know it's really "God" and not someone else, or you talking to (and answering) yourself?

      What if I say that I have a relationship with Great Caesar's Ghost?

      October 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Vic

    "To me, Jesus is the only one who really makes any sense."

    I have been saying that all along!

    October 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Medal

      Wow, Vic, I guess that makes you a real ground-breaking pioneer! How special! Here's your medal... @-

      October 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Vic

        It's all about Jesus Christ.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Starter

          Are you saying that the ironic atheists that spend all day talking about religion and God don't make sense?
          But Jesus does?
          Actually that makes a lot of sense. These trolling atheists are delusional.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Madtown

          These trolling atheists are delusional.
          ---–
          LOL. Thanks for a real-world example of irony. Excellent work.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • Joe Friday

          Starter,

          As the line goes, "Just the facts, Ma'am." The fantasies and superst.itions of believers often affect us all. We're just trying to keep you in reality.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Vic

          I respect everyone. Everybody's entitled to his/her opinion. That's what "Free Will" is all about. If I were a pastor and someone is brought to to me by force to minister to, I would never do so, I would set him/her free.

          My above comment "It's all about Jesus Christ." means that all the Glory is to the Lord Jesus Christ.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well, as is the case with the author, you are correct.......it makes sense TO YOU. To others, it does not make sense.

      October 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • Vic

        I can appreciate that.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Madtown

          Good. Your way is not the "correct and only" way. Glad you think so!

          October 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • Vic

          Well, I do believe Jesus Christ is the ONLY Way, just like others may believe it's somebody else.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Madtown

          Vic
          Well, I do believe Jesus Christ is the ONLY Way
          ---–
          Yet, you acknowledge there are humans who have never heard of Christ. If that is true, doesn't seem Christ is the ONLY way. He's just the ONLY WAY FOR YOU.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Vic

          If someone does not know about Jesus Christ, as I believe God is Just and Fair, they might be included according to His Will but still through Him.

          October 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Crom

          Can you appreciate the fact that your religious values and beliefs are not above the laws we have agreed upon as a country?

          October 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • Starter

        Right, to a few guys and gals who spend a lot of time talking about religion and God on religious message boards what Vic says doesn't make sense.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
        • Madtown

          Ah. So there really is only 1 "true and correct" way of looking at spirituality and religion. Thanks for the clarification.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Starter

          There you go again, preaching your opinions as facts.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Starter = pot = kettle

          October 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • Madtown

          It is most definitely not my opinion that any particular religion is the "only correct" one. Seeme to be yours.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Lisa

      Vic
      Jesus is a character in a book, written so cryptically that everyone has to form him in their imagination. If he make sense to you is's probably because you custom made him to make sense to you.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  7. CommonSensed

    Mr. Spock is logical. Ergo he does not go to your or any other church.

    October 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Starter

      Right. Church is for human beings. Not robot-like creatures.

      October 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • C3PO

        Direction at Services:

        - All Stand.

        - All Kneel.

        - All Sing.

        - All Sit.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Starter

          Nope.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Spock isn't robot-like. He saved Kirk and sacrificed his own life. More like your Jesus than you are. And still doesn't need your churches.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • Crom

          Nobody knows what Jesus did or said or if he even existed. He died for being stupid, not for anyone's "sins" and not by his own choice and not in anyone's place but his own. He was a criminal and got a criminal sentence of death.
          If you say he did it on purpose, then he violated his own rules. Nothing about religion makes sense because it was made up on the spot to BS someone at that moment. That is why no stories match and nothing makes any sense in the bible.
          It's all fake. All of it. You worship a fake idiot who could only die for being stupid. There are no gods and no "sin".

          October 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  8. Darwin

    First of all, Spock is a fictional character, but even if here were real, he would find religion illogical – it cannot be proven.

    Second of all, the dude in the picture is smiling. Mr. Spock would not have smiled.

    October 21, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  9. Brewed

    It's nice to see someone share something like this. I often find the emotionalism of church to be frustrating, I don't have Aspergers but I can't help feeling like much of it is disingenuous. After studying and learning about many of the worlds religions, Jesus still speaks to me in ways no other religious figure could. I always find solace in Him. I find statements like "He was never even a real man" or "He was just a copy cat story from other religions" to be useless and unfounded. But whats the sense of getting into an online argument with anyone who has already made a firm decision. You don't know me and I don't know you. What I do know is that after becoming a christian and getting to know Jesus my heart was changed and I feel whole. No amount of ignorant internet criticism can change that. I am thankful that He left the 99 to find the one.

    October 21, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Amado

      Good stuff Brewed.

      October 21, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Madtown

      after becoming a christian and getting to know Jesus my heart was changed
      ----
      That is just fine. Please realize that humans who follow other religions feel the same way. Your religion isn't the "true" one, or the "correct" one, it's just your preferred one.

      October 21, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Starter

        He didn't say that.
        But you did.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Madtown

          Indeed I did, because I've heard many, many christians say that. Likely you have too.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Starter

          No. I hear atheists talk about it more than I hear Christians say it.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Madtown

          That's because you appear to be one of them, that think it's the only right way. Incidentally, I'm not an athiest, if you're referring to me.

          October 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lisa

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've made a firm decision, right? Are you admitting closed-mindedness?

      October 21, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • OldManMontgomery

        Lisa, I am a Christian. Am I "closed minded"? If by 'closed minded' you mean am I completely and fully convinced, past any meaningful degree of doubt? Yes. I do not breathe water, either. I'm pretty closed minded about that, too. I'm a male; pretty closed minded about that as well.

        But everyone has to be 'open minded', right? You're pretty closed minded about that, aren't you?

        October 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Lisa

          Simple question, are you open-minded enough to admit that Jesus and God might not be real?

          October 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Crom

          The problem with imaginary gods is that they can always be used as an excuse for criminal behavior.
          These imaginary people always hold views that are created by the one imagining them and not by the non-existent imaginary "god", so they always reflect that person's personal values, react just like that person would, and judge people exactly like that person would.
          The evidence is plain enough to someone willing to step back and examine just what is going on when a person is under the delusion that some imaginary super-being is guiding them despite all evidence to the contrary.
          As a primate, you will naturally feel more comfortable with imaginary rules that support your primitive instincts, including all the violent ones, the nasty ones, like a male monkey screeching to protect his little group that he will beat into submission.
          I've seen lots of old men become doddering cranks who wallow in the wife-beating, women-hating rules of Christianity and Islam.
          Admit you're a primate, not much better than a monkey. We all are. Logic isn't one of our strengths. Screeching and flinging poo is more our speed. Time to wake up, granpa. The heat from the fire is burning your ass.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
      • Starter

        Lisa does not demonstrate open-mindedness.

        October 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • Lisa

          I'm open-minded enough to admit that I could be wrong, and God could be real. I just need some good evidence before I start believing in something. Provide that and you can make a believer out of me again. Are you open-minded to the possibility that God isn't actually real?

          October 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  10. Henryo

    No eye contact? Wait, he's looking directly at the camera...

    October 21, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Henryo
      First ...cameras do not have eyes.
      Second...by his age he will have learned how to use eye contact, even though it does not come naturally.

      October 21, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • Henryo

        Ah, I assume you also have aspergers....seems like the "in" thing to have right now.

        October 21, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • James

          Ever since Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory show, it has. This guy comes off more like someone ready to cash in by writing a book and making appearances on Christian TV.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        I have had it for 50 years now. They didn't really diagnose it for many years so I have dealt with it long before mainstream started paying attention to Autism and Aspergers.
        I also has synesthesia, do you think that will be looked at as a fad by those who don't understand it as well?

        October 21, 2013 at 11:29 am |
        • Henryo

          I don't know, to tell you the truth, but I think synesthesia is working as more of a crutch than a disability for you. I'm not trying to be rude, but you're the one that commented to my original posting, so I don't have to agree with you.

          Having a disorder, or handicap doesn't make someone special, it makes them a part of the human race – everybody has something that's a struggle to live with.

          I just don't see the point in the author's story. Besides that, he's not the one that said he learned, after years, to make eye contact. And yes, a camera is JUST like looking into someones eyes. In fact, I find it even more uncomfortable.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          I do not see either as a disability, they just are part of what makes me different. I see things other do not, pay attention to things others don't, but don't pay attention to things others do.

          Your initial post seemed to think this guy is faking or something...each person is different. I have learned to make appropriate eye contact, abut cameras have never boothered me. Someone else might be different.The best way for you to undestand what the main part of Aspergers is it is like being born without the social gene (there isn't really one, but that is what it is like.) Social cues that others do without thinking have to be learned. That's is really it in a nutshell.

          That guy that avoids others, and seems perfectly happy watching others or being alone, just might have Apsergers. It doesn't make him handicapped or disabled. It just makes him different.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  11. Agnostickids

    A Paragraph consists of more than one sentence. Only create a new paragraph when the topic or dialogue changes.

    This article was so poorly written that it lost my interest. Having Aspergers isn't an excuse for poor writing.

    October 21, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • dan

      It was written vary well. I loved it. Great read. a Must !

      October 21, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Agnostickids

        Uh huh....you would, judging from your own comment.

        Sigh.

        October 21, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  12. Gamer

    Free will = choices = good or evil = judgement = God the Father/hell. Profoundly one can not know love with out free will. Original sin brought the curse upon us (as a human race/created beings loved by God) Our understanding of love is great and small at the same time. If you will: Animals and humans, there is a profound likeness and difference so couldn't one see the likeness and difference between us and God the Creator. He is love, perfect love. We are kept from him by our imperfections. He has remedied that with the sacrifice in his death to pay for our sins (wages of sin is death) that is what The Son of Man did (Jesus Christ). Seek him not your feelings or anything else created, seek him with all your heart, mind and soul and you shall find your rest in him. When we read the bible we are told to chew on and digest the word of God. To me that means to know the time in which the people lived and their history(the bible stands the test of time, it is timeless and for all time) in the way they spoke,how they spoke the words they used and the meaning of those words in context.
    We are a people that get bored real fast and constantly stiffen our necks as we acquire more of anything. Except for the Holy Spirit and the word of God. See self is at the core of our curse. Christ is at the core of and the only remedy for salvation in it's context...which is Love = grace = God.

    October 21, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Sara

      Free will=illusion.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Gamer

        Yes your right free will got us to where we are now on this planet. A race of beings that die. We are born with " illusion". The curse, the knowledge of "good" and evil". Wow if that isn't a recipe for tangent thinking....but of course it is. Our loving Father in his grace shows us the right path through all our illusion.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Lisa

          How do you know that your beliefs about God isn't part of the illusion then?

          October 21, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Madtown

          Our loving Father in his grace shows us the right path
          ----
          What is the right path?

          October 21, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Rina

          Gamer Free will is not an illusion. Free will is human choice. You choose to believe or not believe. You choose to do something or not to do. You think it's a fantasy? You probably should stop do drugs and start to live in real life. Life is not fantasy. But it's you, who choose how to live it. This guy in article probably want to understand something, he couldn't, because of his deseas. Maybe he shoud stop to do thingsm he can't understand. If he don't understand, why people go to church and what is in this church for them, he should stop to go there. Probaly people with some mental deseas can't understand faith. Maybe they should do just what they understand and what seems logic for them. It's not disrespect to church, it's just people shouldn't go where, they felt themselves ackward.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • Gamer

          Lisa you are on your path in this life and I am on mine and it is a wonderful thing. Keep questioning and researching, you will be given faith as you ponder and ask for it. Keeping in mind that God loved and loves you before the foundations of the earth were formed, just as we love our children while still in the womb not knowing who or what they are or will become we love them.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • Gamer

          Rina scroll up

          October 21, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • Lisa

          Gamer
          You remind me of myself, about fifteen years ago. So sure, so trusting of everything ever told to me about Jesus.

          I loved my children while they were still in the womb, I love them now, but I could ever stop loving them enough to kick them out from under my roof when they disobeyed me, like God did with Adam and Eve. The never-changing God must have had to mellow in old age quite a bit to send Jesus to reconcile with humanity, eh?

          October 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  13. Sara

    I read this a couple of time and I still don't understand how the author is saying god reached him. Can someone explain? I'm not sure if I'm missing something.

    October 21, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • It's a leap

      across a giant gap. (the god of the gaps)

      October 21, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • Sara

        I'm still not seeing that and I read it again. How are you getting the god of the gaps from this?

        I think he might be saying god=rest for someone with aspergers, but it's not very clear.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • ME II

      I'm not sure he is saying that God reached him. I think he is saying that like the character of Spock, Jesus brings him and possibly other Autism spectrum people peace from/in the confusion of human relationship, which often don't make logical sense.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Sara

        Yeah, I think it's something like that. I'd like to see a better edited version of this some time.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Lisa

      I think that he's saying that he liked how Jesus supposedly "gets" people like him, and that feeling of being understood reached him on the emotional level that he was looking for.

      Or, basically, he was a pastor's kid long indoctrinated into Christianity, desperately looking for his own personal proof of God, and (surprise, surprise) he managed to create .. ah, "find" it. It's pretty typical. I went through it myself. It took me a long time to get past how good it felt to be understood by "someone" to ask if that someone was actually real.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Agnostickids

      It was so poorly written that you won't understand the author or the point he's trying to get across.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  14. Madtown

    To me, Jesus is the only one who really makes any sense.
    -----
    That's cool. Just please realize, sir, that he makes sense to you because you're aware of him. Many of your human brothers/sisters are not.

    October 21, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Ken

      Jesus is also a character in a book, so he was crafted to "make sense" more than any real person.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • Gamer

        Yes but you left out the most important thing.....He crafted himself as man...other than that he has always been.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • Ken

          Men wrote the New Testament. Jesus basically doesn't exist outside of that book. There are no reliable references to him in other contemporary works. How can you claim to know that he wasn't just an invented character, or at least a real human being with an invented divinity?

          October 21, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Gamer

          You made a choice to not believe in him. The bible tells us that God is a trinity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Jesus concedes he was given the power to create from the Father. The Holy Spirit he tells us is sent to us as it was sent to Christ in his service to God here on earth. I have faith that Christ died for all of us and sits at the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit is helping God's church (Christ's Bride) and holding all together for Christs return. We did know of God in our beginning and to be in awe of him, we didn't of him in the person of Christ till he came to us as the Son of Man. We knew of a power that assisted men such as Moses but we didn't recognize the Holy Spirit till Pentecost, which Christ told the early church of followers would be coming to help them.
          I don't have answers for you, only God does just as he did so for the gentleman in the story above. The "gap" I wouldn't say was "jumped" as much as it was "filled".

          October 21, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Madtown

          You made a choice to not believe in him.
          ----
          Some people have never even heard of him. How could they choose to not believe?

          October 21, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • tallulah13

          The bible was written by men a couple thousand years ago. It is no more valid than any other recounting of human myth. You may as well be sacrificing hecatombs to Zeus.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Ken

          Gamer
          I never made a "choice" not to believe in God any more than I chose not to believe that 2 + 2 = 5. I trusted that God was real for a long time, but when I realized that this was wrong, I simply stopped believing.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • Mike

        By saying that, I doubt you've actually read the gospels or epistles. What's evident in the New Testiment is that he was confusing to the people at the time – both deciples and non-deciples. None of them come off looking very bright or insightful.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  15. luke

    (Retrying: can't find my earlier posts...here modified.)

    I am a believer (a Mormon, a Christian).
    It is bad that some people have used a false religious cloak to do bad things. It is reasonable to ask the hard questions, like why bad things are allowed to happen, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. Questions have answers. God is real, and what we do matters.

    To the critics: that is easy to do. There are many critics of belief, some eloquent. But I know God lives, and nothing anyone says can change that I know what I know. Your assumptions on why I say so are merely that. The Book of Mormon and Bible together teach great things, that are real and work. It works. I invite you to read them carefully and thoughtfully.

    When you know, you can also know He loves you more than you now realize, and that if you choose to follow Him and keep His commandments, you can be forgiven through His Son's mercy, and He can bless your life. What the author quotes about "come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (dif't xlations...) is so profoundly real. To say I don't know, just because I can't explain it to your satisfaction is an unfortunate leap. I know it just like I know what food tastes like, or like I know I love my wife, but maybe I can't prove my knowledge about that to you either, but it is nonetheless real and can't be disproven. The experience is profoundly real. And He promises peace in this life and Eternal life in the world to come. This world is confusing and we need direction, and it is available. Please don't say others don't know, just because you haven't understood yet. I do know. There are those who can tell you how to know for yourself, and our Father lets you choose for yourself, and the results follow.

    October 21, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Madtown

      used a false religious cloak to do bad things
      ----
      How does one differentiate between "false" and "true" religion?

      October 21, 2013 at 9:50 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Many false religions are nothing more than supernatural ponzi schemes concocted by known con-men.
        They're pretty easy to spot – any religion that says ti/thing is essential to salvation is a scam.

        "Ti.thing is an important test of our personal righteousness. By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. … By it it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful”
        (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 276).

        October 21, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Lisa

        Well, it's all religion, but keep in mind the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, chances are it isn't.

        All religions promise things too good to be true, don't they?

        October 21, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      Special feelings are not proof of god. Human emotions are amazingly easy to manipulate.

      October 21, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Sara

      I've read both books cover to cover and didn't see anything persuasive. The book of Mormon seemed to be plagiarized from the Bible and several other contemporary sources. I don't know what your experiences were, and for all I know they might be hints of something greater in the universe, but I'd be willing to bet they weren't particular evidence of Christianity or Mormonism.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • Lisa

        Look up "The Lost 116 Pages of the Book of Mormon". That should give you some indication of just how divinely inspired that book was.

        October 21, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • luke

        Sara, Thanks for saying so. Did you fully try the advice in Moroni 10:3-5? That would be the next thing to do. Or find someone of whom to ask questions.

        October 22, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Lisa

      luke
      You appear to know what it's like to believe that God is real, but you do not have any factual evidence that God is real, correct? You are convinced by the arguments for God being real, and we atheists are not.

      Think of it like a trial, the prosecution has presented it's case, the defence has presented the problems with the prosecution's case, and some of the jury are not convinced of guilt. The accused could still be guilty, but the prosecution's case just wan't strong enough for people to commit to believing that he was. If you want everyone to be convinced that God is real, build a stronger case.

      October 21, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • Sara

        I think what Luke and others are saying is that they do have evidence, but they can't show it to us. It's like seeing color in dreams. If you don't, or don't remember dreams at all, and someone tells you they saw color in a dream do you believe them? If they tell you of lucid dreaming, do you believe? The best way to check is your own test...to see if you can recreate it. That is a kind of evidence we all do take very seriously, although there are other interpretations. Just because we didn't have the technology to measure REM sleep 2000 years ago doesn't mean that one persons experience of lucid dreaming or whatever wasn't, even then, evidence.

        Where their case has problems is in 1) convincing us to try the experiment in the face of thousands of other systems claiming the same, 2) dealing with those who have tried and got different results (yet remember, not all can achieve lucid dreaming) and 3, explaining how experiments, such as direct brain manipulations, can reproduce the same religious experiences (there could be religious explanations here, too, but you rarely hear them).

        October 21, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • Ken

          I find that it's like talking to people who have experienced UFO abduction. I believe that they experienced something, but I'm thinking that they're just latching on the most popular explanation for what they experienced, not necessarily the correct one. 100 years ago, before Science Fiction, people use to explain the same thing away as being abducted by fairies, just like people use to explain the same feelings using some other god before Jesus became popular. Some day we might learn what causes it all.

          October 21, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • tallulah13

          There is a natural phenomenon called "sleep paralysis" that explains the whole alien abduction thing very well.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • CharlesP

          Where I come from, "sleep paralysis" is called "The Old Hag". I don't think that I've ever heard of anyone around here being abducted by aliens. Different place, different folklore explanation, I suppose?

          October 21, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • bananas

        Well Lisa, explain to the jury how the universe was created.

        Gee, I don't know for sure but I believe it could have been the stooges.

        Really? Why is that?

        They once were alive!

        October 21, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • Lisa

          bananas
          You are driving in the desert and you notice a dead roadrunner beside the road. Do you just assume that the coyote finally managed to drop an anvil on it while being strapped to an ACME rocket, or do you guess that it's just ordinary roadkill?

          When it comes to the origins of the universe, is it a better bet to say that some super being that was never born, from outside of everything, magically popped the universe out of nothing, or that there is some natural explanation for the origin of the universe that we haven't found yet? Keep in mind that people use to think that thunder gods throwing their spears was the most sensible explanation for lightening until scientists figured out the natural cause. Are you then saying that the god answer is always "correct" until science proves it isn't?

          October 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Luke

          We believe that God created the earth not out of nothing, but out of existing materials, following the laws of how things work. We also believe not that he is a magic being outside everything, but that He is our Father, who simply understands all the laws of the universe completely, and that we have much to learn. And that both science and true revelation via prophets can help us learn those things, and that all truth is self-consistent, regardless of its source, and that when there are seeming conflicts (as has happened a lot in history), to simply be patient and we will learn more later. So far that's worked out really well for me. I am very happy and feel like I am learning and growing, and that things make sense, even the nonsense and trouble in the world, and I'm on a path that makes sense to me, and I know where I'm headed, and that things will be OK in good time.

          (Not that there are no problems, because those, big and small, are part of our learning experience here in mortality, and part of the results of the ability to make our own choices, which He gave us.)

          October 22, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • Nathan

        Lisa, The interesting thing about Christianity is that it is not through proof that we believe. It is out of Faith. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. Faith is not something you can get from reading a book, seeing proof, or being somehow convinced. The ONLY way that you will ever receive faith is by Jesus giving it to you. He is the author of our faith. So it is no surprise that you do not see or understand. This is not intended to slam on you, it is simply designed to help you see why you do not "get it". Hopefully, one day, Jesus will bless you with the faith to see who He is. But until that day, do not worry about it! Live your life as well as you can. Enjoy who you are and what you do. I think your comments are intelligent and good to read. I do not pity you nor do I think somehow that I am better than you. Could I be wrong? Of course! But that is to be seen later. For now, I trust in the faith that God has given me because...it was given to me. Hopefully this helps you understand. Have a great day!

        October 21, 2013 at 11:29 am |
        • G to the T

          I was "blessed" with faith for most of life but saw that what I actually had faith in was the bible. I know longer have enough faith to believe in it's integrity or it's god.

          October 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Madtown

          The ONLY way that you will ever receive faith is by Jesus giving it to you
          ----
          That's not an interesting feature of christianity, all religions require faith in things unseen. Something that is interesting, is that people who've never heard of Jesus or christianity also think the same way that you do. I'm not saying you necessarily think your way is the "right" way, but many christians do. Many religious do. Follow your way, but admit freely that it may not be correct for everyone, and admit that it IS NOT the "only right way".

          October 21, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • Lisa

          Nathan
          And the interesting thing about Ponzi schemes is that people give their faith to an investor who cannot supply any actual evidence for their program working. I rather not invest in anything that requires faith. I have confidence in the things that I do invest in because I've done my homework, and they live up to their promises. One of the things that raises a red flag with me are promises of huge returns at minimal risk. I can't think of a single religion that doesn't make a promise like that. Think Pascal's Wager.

          The ONLY way that you will ever receive faith is by Jesus giving it to you. He is the author of our faith
          But you have to believe in Jesus first, right, and that requires blind faith. If you want to argue that belief in Jesus comes from reading the Bible, then you're starting off with a blind faith in the Bible. Any way you slice it, Christian belief always begins with taking a leap of blind faith. Once you have that, you will of course "see" Jesus in everything because you already expect to.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • Nathan

          Lisa, no...actually you cannot believe in Jesus before He gives you the faith to do so. It is impossible. Anyone who tells you different is a fool or a liar. That is why I said that I enjoy what you are saying. You are someone who speaks from your heart. You say what you believe. I respect that...more so than many "Christians" who spew their ideas instead of what the Bible actually says. The guy who wrote this article said that he longs to go to the gospels because Jesus is the only one who makes any sense to him. The sad fact is that you are more honest than many Christians. But that said, I can say that having been given the faith that I have, I am more humbled than ever before. I understand the reasons why you and many like you do not believe...nor want to believe. This makes me sad, but it is a cold fact. So I hope that you can meet other Christians who accept you and enjoy talking to you as much as I have enjoyed our short interchange.

          October 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • Lisa

          "no...actually you cannot believe in Jesus before He gives you the faith to do so. It is impossible."
          What are you saying, Jesus is brain-washing people? Jesus infests people's minds with faith whether they want it, or not? Is this what people mean when they say that they weren't looking for Jesus, but Jesus "found them"? I guess I shouldn't feel bad about not believing then. I just haven't been chosen by Jesus to infect.

          October 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Mack

    Asperger's, no, just another adolescent case of I, I, I, me, me, me.

    October 21, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Becuase there's nothing more selfless and humble than believing that the Almight Creator of the Universe is not only anthropocentric, but that He is intimately concerned with the minutiae of your everyday life, heeds your messages to him and becomes petulant should He not hear from you regularly.

      October 21, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • PeaJay

        You're almost there. It's not that we are selfless and humble by believing that He is anthropocentric, but He is selfless and humble because He is very involved in our lives even though He doesn't need to be:
        "Let his mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:5-8

        October 21, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • Lisa

          So, you're saying that Christians aren't selfless and/or humble?

          October 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  17. AngryJew

    Zionism is not healthy for humanity.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:36 am |
    • S'oras

      Explain.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:39 am |
  18. Bootyfunk

    Spock would go to church for his research on cult brainwashing.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • S'oras

      Logical

      October 21, 2013 at 4:31 am |
    • ScottCA

      Indeed indoctrination into a religion is brainwashing.
      And like all cults they seek out people in their most mentally unstable state, impoverished, alone, and desperate.
      This is how all cultists grow, Christianity is just a very large cult, that grows through indoctrinating the mentally weak.

      October 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Steel On Target

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNjEbPfc2d0&w=640&h=390]

    October 21, 2013 at 3:30 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.