I have written all about my own search and relationship to God and religion lately.(See under YOU) It was and still is, an outgrowth of my acceptance or nonacceptance, of what my children have to deal with on a daily basis in trying to navigate the neurotypical world in which they live. But I think a more interesting discussion, especially at this festive holiday time of the year, would be just how does your aspie deal with God, religion or just the search for universal truth. I can tell you that from the perspective of having two boys with aspergers syndrome, both who are so different, albeit so much alike, even this aspect of life draws the family into some rather interesting discussions, or in the case of the boys, fights where they truly need to sit at opposite sides of the room during festive meals. (It’s always something isn’t it?)
So let’s start with collegeman. I can tell you that he emphatically does not believe in God; rejects religion of any kind. In his mind it is irrational to believe in a higher power that can save us from ourselves. He, as a history buff, will tell you that man already knows right from wrong. That we don’t need a God to tell us how to behave, we should just do it. It is actually beyond him why mankind just doesn’t behave already. I can tell you that the holocaust class did not endear him towards God either. But in that course, mankind itself does not look so good. He found out how even the United States abandoned the doomed Jews of Europe. He learned how the European countries while fighting the Nazis still turned over their own Jews. Some would say he is angry. As his mother I know he is more hurt. He feels abandoned by God and country. He is a descendent of an American Revolutionary war hero and should not feel so unwanted by the nation he loves. (US support for Israel notwithstanding, he is afraid of Iran, a nuclear bomb, another holocaust and the nievety of the present US government) When asked to make the prayers over the Hanukkah candles last week, he did it reluctantly which resulted in a diatribe about God.” If God could free us from the Egyptians then where was he during the holocaust?” The problem here is there was no answer. It is actually an answer I think people have been searching for for over 60 years but to no avail. Unfortunately collegeman sees no lessons learned. If the US has learned its lesson about genocide why isn’t the US in Darfur he asks? Darfur is a cause of his that takes his time, and his money. He wants to see proof of God. He wants to see a miracle. He wants to see something tangible. He is an aspie. He wants concrete proof. I try to tell him that religion is a matter of faith. He thinks we are morons.
Highschoolboy is the complete opposite of his brother. God is a fixture in his world. No not a constant, three times a day and five times on Saturday, kind of constant. (The amount of times Jewish people are supposed to pray) But God is there. God created the big bang. God created the universe. God provides when it is necessary. Interestingly, in a very aspie like way, HSB didn’t even believe in evolution until the end of 8th grade. (When I asked his special ed teacher to fix him, she laughed and said he is such an aspie. ) To him, the Bible is the Bible and it is the literal word of God. No I am not saying he believed in Intelligent Design. He believed in the concrete, absolute word written, as he interpreted it himself. Remember he is an aspie and everything is dependent on only his perceptions. Luckily, he was able to reconcile evolution and the Bible. Which is good since it is hard to pass biology, chemistry and physics without an understanding of evolution. It bothers him that his brother does not acknowledge God in any way. They do have fights about it. Like I said before, opposite sides of the room during festive meals. HSB has even reconciled the reason for God’s absence during the holocaust. Since man is made in God’s image, then God can get sick like man, and he was sick during that time; once he got better, he ended the Holocaust (with the help of the US army). A rational mind trying to rationalize the irrational. He doesn’t need concrete, tangible proof of God’s existence per se; the universe itself is enough for him. He doesn’t seek certain answers. He doesn’t want them or need them. He thinks his brother is a moron.
So in their search for universal truth my children have come to opposite conclusions on how to get there. Each in their own aspie way though they know that the ultimate goal is to be a better person; to treat others with respect and to help those less fortunate. In keeping with that thought since they are older they no longer receive presents at Hanukkah, but are required to give charity, they give presents to others. We, in following Jewish tradition, give in multiples of 18. Eighteen is significant because in using hebrew letters to write out numbers, the letter equivalent to the number 18 is the word "chai" or "life". So we teach our children to give multiples of life.
Here are some of the organizations over the years that they have chosen: Save Darfur; Smile Train; The Food Bank; ASPCA; VFW; Leukemia/Lymphoma Society; PBA; American Cancer Society; Memorial Sloan Kettering; St. Jude Research Hospital; Wishing Well; Make-A-Wish; Toys For Tots; Donors Choose. I have talked about Project Linus and TAPS in other posts. On another note: the Salvation Army (put a dollar in that little red bucket) has reported a 70% drop in donations this year and an increase in need by 30%. In a time of holiday, remembering the miracles that God has given, or like the atheists just using history to acknowledge that there is a difference between right and wrong, is it not shameful that our society, the wealthiest in the history of human civilization, still has persons who go to bed hungry. Remember my aspies have found the "universal truth" by caring and giving to others. Now it is your turn.
Until next time,