Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Duggars and the Startling Truth About Us All

You no doubt have been aware of a super-size family with 19 children. You may have watched their reality TV shows. You may even be fans of this unique family.

They have been widely looked up to as the model of how family life ought to be.

Now this widely admired family finds themselves in the middle of a scandal, something we never expected would be named among them.

This post is not really about them but about what this recent scandal says about us.

I'm talking about the Duggars, who, though widely admired for their appearance of wholesome, flawless morality and show of a happy family life, have a son who has admitted to having molested several young girls when he was in his teens.

Promptly, my Facebook Timeline blew up with all the rumors swirling around this family, once so widely lauded as the very model of parenthood for all of us. Now the Duggars are being castigated as hypocrites who condemned one widely accepted lifestyle while covering up their son's actions.

Who Are the Duggars?
Though I have long been familiar with this super-size family, I know that many people may not know who the Duggars are. This is a family who consider themselves "conservative Christians" who believe in almost literal separation from the world. They do not believe in artificial birth control devices, have borne 19 children, and are open to bearing more children. They homeschool their children and make ends meet by being in a long-running TLC (The Learning Channel) reality show "Nineteen Kids and Counting." Jim Bob and Michelle are the parents and they believe in a solidly patriarchal model where the man rules his household and the wife is submissive to him. The Duggar children have always been reared in a strict environment. I have long admired them, though I was sensed that there was more to them than they projected publicly and, certainly, on their reality TV show. While I admired their devotion to their principles, I knew that, like all of us, they were not perfect. While I thought their lifestyle was over the top, I believed that as long as they lived responsibly and raised law-abiding children, we had no basis to complain because their lifestyle deviated from the average family. Recently, they took heat because the parents publicly denounced homosexuality as a lifestyle and were trashed as intolerant, judgmental and bigoted.

The Present Problem

It was only a few days ago that I saw an article with the headline about Josh Duggar, now 27 and married and with a growing family of his own. The headline told about his molestation of four or five girls when he was in his teens. I did not read the article; I was doing other things at the time. But, later, I did a search under "Duggar" and it brought up numerous articles about Josh's molestation, which he admitted to in a statement. It appears that Jim Bob, the father, knew about his son's crimes for a year and then turned his son in to authorities. I understand that his parents got him counseling and he had to do hard labor. The victims? Little is known about them, and they no doubt did not want this ever to become public. They all were female. I'm not sure of their ages. If the Duggars were criticized before, they are the subject of intense criticism now! They are being accused of hypocrisy at their opposition to LGBT lifestyles, calling these lifestyles predatory, while they had a child in their home who was himself a predator. A prominent politician, Mike Huckabee, is being lambasted for supporting them. The blogosphere has been exploding with articles about this. I learned about this "Train Up A Child" nonprofit for homeshooling parents that it appears the Duggars had connections with. It advocates a very strict model for raising children, taking the Bible literally and advocating practices that encourage a shame-based view of sexuality, male dominance, passivity in children and submission in wives, and strict discipline. While some of these are taught in the Bible, these are taken out of context and encourage child abuse. All of this tells us that, like us, the Duggars are not perfect and have feet of clay. Child advocates are understandably expressing outrage, declaring that the victims are the ones being hurt by all this, and that they are being forgotten in all this discussion. This is true; these girls will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and so will their families. Now TLC has pulled the Duggars' reality show off the air until a decision is made about it. Another scandal?

What Does This Say About the Rest of Us?

There is a whole lot of ranting and raving about the Duggars, especially about what so many see as their hypocrisy in condemning certain lifestyles while one of their own children turns out to be guilty. And, yes, much is expected from those to whom much has been given. The Duggars have been given a public platform and are public figures with much influence. They therefore have great responsibility. So, understandably, people are livid about how they handled this whole thing. But have we not seen one scandal after another from politicians, entertainers, sports figures, priests, pastors, and Christian leaders? Have we not seen many more of such scandals from less well-known people in all walks of life? What should this tell us? I think we should get the message. Are we not seeing a pattern here? The Bible tells us God's standards for acceptance with Him, and for getting into Heaven and being accepted with Him. Guess what this standard is? It is absolute, sinless perfection. By these standards, we have all missed it. I have, and I know You have also. It is called S-I-N. That dirty three letter word that they do not like to mention even in worship services. It is "too negative," they say. We sin because we are sinners, not the other way around. This is why we have things like scandals, all different kinds of crimes, missing persons, child abuse, human rights abuses, poverty, prisons, lawyers, and all our social ills. Josh did what he did because, in my opinion, his upbringing was too strict and unrealistic (from what I understand of how the Duggars raise their children). But, ultimately, he did what he did because, like all of us, he is a sinner. But if God demands perfection before He will accept us, where does that leave us? Maybe we should not be surprised that these things happen though we should be angry and upset. But does not all this show us that all of us need a perfect Savior to save us from our sins and their consequences?

How We Should Respond to This

Should we think less of this one family because we know that they, like us all, have feet of clay? No, this just shows that we are all in the same boat, all sinners in need of a Savior. What are the lessons to be learned from this? I can see several. First, no one is perfect and when we put people on pedestals, they will let us down every time. Second, child molestation ruins the lives of families, including the victims' families and offenders' families. Third, victims have to live with their abuse for the rest of their lives and can never forget. Fourth, while offenses can be forgiven, this does not mean they do not have consequences (even legal consequences). Fifth, that our trust should be in a perfect Jesus, Who will never disappoint us, not in imperfect mortals. Christians, including the Duggars, are far from perfect, but those of us who trust Jesus to save us from sin and its consequences are seeking to grow in the likeness of our perfect God. Sixth, that following these stories for the purpose of entertainment says more about us than it does about the players. Seventh, that we need to know that these things will keep happening until the Second Coming of Christ, and that we should focus on getting ourselves ready for it by getting right with God.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

This is a memoir by a current Assistant Professor of Medicine and staff physician. It is about his first year as an intern. McCarthy works at Weill Cornell Medical Center. His literary works have appeared in various publications such as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, SLATE, THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE and DEADSPIN, where he also writes a column called Medspin. His first book, ODD MAN OUT, was a New York Times bestseller. This book, THE REAL DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU SHORTLY, is a true story will real people. But McCarthy offers a disclaimer that because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act (HIPAA), that he has had to change all change anything (names, dates, places and any personal details) that would identify patients and has created a composite of several characters. His work has been vetted for HIPAA purposes. He begins his memoir with a prologue, introducing the reader to this book. This book is arranged in six parts and over 42 chapters to give it a readable flow, much like a novel.

This book was much what I expected. In the past, I had read other memoirs by doctors who wrote about their days in training, in teaching hospitals. This book reads like a novel and is a fast read for its book length. It is fascinating reading that takes you right behind the scenes where doctors learn to practice medicine and relate to their patients. I like reading about the view from the inside and what it feels like to be a doctor and especially, what it feels like when learning doctoring. For there is a learning curve for everything and everyone has to get experience. In the case of doctors in training, it is clinic patients who are the ones who doctors owe their early experiences in training to, as interns and residents "learn on" clinic patients. The author is not a believer. His book is laced with the "F----" word and I simply had to disregard that element of this memoir. This book lets the reader know that doctors, and in this case, doctors in training, have feelings and vulnerabilities behind their slick, efficient, businesslike exteriors. I had spent many years as a clinic patient, being treated by such doctors who I was aware were "learning" on us who used clinics for our primary health care providers. Of course, I always saw their professionalism, not any vulnerability. It still sticks in my mind when I was a patient in a teaching hospital, and a medical student was making rounds with more senior doctors. I was warned, in advance, "You will be seen by doctors in a few minutes and one is a medical student. Nothing against him." Because I had read books of this nature in the past, I was already aware that doctors in training are forced to work insane hours and to override their own bodies' need for rest and sleep. As in other accounts, I read in this book instances where the author was so loopy and drowsy that he could barely function, and yet he was forced to operate and still life and death decision. I wonder if subjecting doctors in training is the best way to run health care, though I understand the idea behind this is to prepare doctors in training for the realities of doctoring and for being on call. I felt badly for one patient, who had no visitors in all his time in the hospital where the author was doing his internship. I found myself in a state of suspense about the one patient, treated by the author as an intern, who had disappeared and I was waiting eagerly to see the outcome but I don't want to give out any spoilers to you. This book shows that this author's trials as an intern are not unique and are, in fact, normal for every intern.

I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the making of doctors and what it is like to learn on the job for the first year. It is good to see things from a doctor's point of view and to see that, while these are highly-trained and educated human beings, they are still mere mortals. They are not junior gods walking around. We grant doctors tremendous power and life and death responsibilities. They hold our lives in their hands and they know that it is a must that they know their stuff and get it right. This book, like any memoirs by doctors, is an education and in the form of a novel. Plus it is entertaining reading also.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review of this book. I was not required to give a positive review of this book.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why Do We talk That Way?

I Won't Go There

We rely on this expression when, I suspect, we really may want to say something or discuss a certain topic, but may feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic because we suspect or know that the other person (s) would be offended. Or we think the topic is plain taboo or would add nothing to the discussion in question. Recently, I was in a group setting where the subject of Hell came up. The person who initiated this discussing cut off the discussion abruptly, declaring sheepishly, "We (his parents) will not go there...." Another time, on TV, when the case of a young Black murder victim was as yet awaiting a court hearing and the grieving mom was bringing up the topic of the idea of adding a racial spin on her son's case: "I do not want to even go there." Years ago, when I was upset over what I saw as a betrayal of myself by a certain person, the other person I was venting to believed the issue was my need to not hold ill will against the person. ""We do not want to go there," I was told.

Don't Get Me Started on This.....

I suspect this phrase may actually mean the opposite of what the speaker may want to say. It may not. Recently, I was reading a book, which I had reviewed on this blogspot. The author was discussing achievements we should make for God's service. Then he began a paragraph with, "Do not get me started on my wife," and he proceeded, in the book, to give a litany of all the things that his wife has done in her service. All that he listed was overwhelming; not only did he get started, but I got the impression that he wanted to go on and on! But once, when I was in a group setting, the topic of education in local schools had come up. One person declared, "I have plenty to say about education in our local schools but do not get me started on it...." This person, as I remember, ended that discussion.

No Comment

This one is a loaded phrase, where we really want to make a comment but know that it may not be well-received. This is what I have observed. One time, years ago, I posted a comment on a person's Facebook profile page, when she posted a status about a politician that I have never liked: "No comment from me on this person." Actually, there was plenty I wanted to say, but I knew that the poster of the status would not want to hear my opinion. Years ago, a talk show host was covering a then high-profile missing child case. The child's biological mom was a rather controversial person. Certain comments were being tossed around about her, and the talk show host declared, "No comment from me." Actually, I got the impression that this talk show host wanted to say much more, but knew she should stop. Maybe it was because she agreed with them and felt she could add nothing to their remarks? This phrase is really a form of double-speak that we use when we really want to offer our opinion but know that it is not welcome, so we fall on this cop-out phrase. Hmmmm?

We Have To Talk

This phrase has always creeped me out! Years ago, a person took me aside after an event and said to me, "We need to talk." Immediately, my anxiety kicked in. I was told, "Don't be scared. This scared me all the more! I got an email where the person re-iterated, "I want to talk to you about things." Even though reading nonverbal cues was never my strong suit, I knew that I was in for news I did not want to hear. And I was right! Days later, the person delivered the bad news to me. A few years ago, I had applied as a volunteer for a nonprofit that does much of its work online. After over a month of waiting anxiously to hear if I had been accepted as a volunteer, the executive director of this nonprofit emailed me and simply set up a time where she would call me, saying, "We need to talk." That made a nervous, and with good reason. After the executive director's scheduled phone call, I wished I had not picked up the phone and answered it! It has been advised that in marriage, communication should never be prefaced with the words, "We need to talk." Good advice!

I Should Not Say This, But....

Many, many years ago, I was a student and I was listening to a conversation between two teachers, one of them my teacher and another teacher. They were discussing personalities, and the other teacher began a sentence with, I probably should not say this, but...." Once, I was busy on my computer and I overheard a phone conversation by a family member, where it was clear that much talk about personalities was being done. The family member said, "I know I should not say this, but...." and I heard more about the subjects than I wanted to hear. Once, a couple of years ago, I was chatting with a person on Facebook, and I asked a question, where the person stated, "I know I should not share this with you, but I have no choice now, so...." I think we use this phrase to save face (to ourselves) as we know full well that what we are about to say violates our consciences, if we are about to betray someone's confidence or engage in gossip.

You Cannot Do That

I'm not talking about this saying as used as a factual saying. I'm talking about when this is used to declare what we find unacceptable or taboo. I so often hear it declared, "You cannot do that!" when talking about socially unacceptable things, such as looking unclean or unkempt, being smelly or dirty, wearing clothes not fitting to the season, giving one's opinion on certain topics, and other unmentionables. Yes, we can physically do all these things, but we will not be able to do them and be accepted, maybe not even tolerated, in polite society. I often hear, "You cannot do that," in reference to speaking of matters considered "too shameful" to mention openly, but only in hushed tones of voice. This often includes "You can't talk about that" concerning autism, epilepsy, mental illness, abuse (especially sexual abuse), politic sand politicians, and religion. Yes, we certainly can open our mouths and talk about any of these things, but I'm sure most of us have had it pounded into our heads to keep silent on these matters. That holds true even when talking about them would actually help people, or would even be the right thing to do. When the hot-button topic of abortion comes up in our household, it is said that, "Women want this choice; you cannot keep it from them without them trying to do their own abortions." Yes, it is possible to not make abortion available to women, and convince them that there are other and better (not easy) alternatives to abortion. "You cannot do that," I was told after I had posted something on Facebook, years ago, that angered another Facebook user. What was meant that I could, and did do this thing, but had incurred the anger of another user.

I Cannot Complain

Yes, I know that this one is often used in casual greetings, especially in relationships that are marked mostly by social small talk. I used to think this was a literal and factual expression, that the speaker was saying that he or she had no complaints. However, one day, I heard such a greeting exchanged. "How are you doing?" the conversation began." "I cannot complain," was the response. "Well, that is good," declared the person who started this conversation. "Actually," the other person clarified, "I can complain, but I do not think you would want to hear it." In regard to getting a singing role, I once spoke to a person. "Would you be interested in a solo?" I asked him. "Well, it is possible that I can sing a solo, " he said. "On the other hand, I'm not sure you would want to hear it." Hmmmm.

I make No Apologies for Saying This....

This one is used as a preface when preparing to say things that we know will offend but which we want to say or think we have to say. Many years ago, I was an avid listener of rock music. I read a Christian book on this subject. The author's book was a case against rock music and why he believed it was offensive to God. He stated near the end of his book, "I make no apologies for saying this, but I believe that no Christ-honoring, God-fearing Christian can, with a clear conscience, listen regularly to hard rock music." Much more recently, I have encountered this phrasing when I began using Facebook. I had "friended" a person who is honest to the point of bluntness and tended to begin statements with, "I make no apologies for saying this but...." Not long ago, I was scrolling through A Facebook page, owned by a person (s) who made it clear that he was unafraid of offending people or hurting their feelings. This Facebook page was created to jolt people out of spiritual lukewarmness in the professing Christian Church. He made a hard-hitting post full of his frequent warnings about God's judgment, holiness and sin, declaring, "I make no apologies for saying this...." and he launched into one of his long-winded, hard-hitting posts.

I'm sure we use these kind of phrases, even as double-speak, unconsciously and not aware that we are saying them or why we are saying them. But as a follower of Jesus, I wonder if His admonition, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One" covers these sort of double-speak phrases.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans

This book is part memoir and part musings about the institutionalized, denominational church in the West, especially America. Her memoirs are weaved throughout every chapter, along with her reflections. Glennon Doyle Melton another author, has written the forward to this book. Evans writes her own prologue to her book. The book is arranged into sections for each ritual in church denominations. Part 1 is devoted to Baptism. Part 2 is devoted to Confession. Part 3 is dedicated to what is called Holy Orders. Part 4 is devoted to Communion. Part 5 is dedicated to Confirmation. Part 6 is devoted to what is called Anointing of the Sick. The final section is dedicated to Marriage. She wraps up this book with an Epilogue and provides acknowledgments of those who have been part of this book. The book has several pages of notes that cite sources that Evans has used in her research for this book.

I expected this book to focus on the author's own experiences and her lessons in her congregations. She includes these but her book is more about her musings of what she calls resurrection and what she thinks the church can be or should be. By "church" she is referring not to the universal body of Christian believers. She is referring to local Christian fellowships of various congregations, especially those she has been involved in. I found out early where she stands on GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) issues, as she makes it explicit that the answer to welcoming the GLBT community is to accept their alternate lifestyles as morally and spiritually acceptable. I liked all the parts of her book where she discusses the importance of being real in our church fellowships. In an age of compromise and lukewarmness in the modern Christian Western Church, I could not agree with her solution to the sad problem of the across-the-board lack of transparency and diversity in our local church fellowships, especially our denominational fellowships. One of her solutions is to give into the cultural pressures to re-define marriage as accessible to the GBLT community. This aspect of her book, and her condoning of GLBT lifestyles as morally acceptable, keeps me from embracing Evans as a like-minded sister in Jesus, as much as I want to. I understand why Evans and other like-minded Christians cave into the worldview of the culture, and call homosexuality and its cousins morally acceptable, even to Christians. They are acutely aware of the bullying, hate and mean-spiritedness that have been leveled against the GLBT community. They are aware that even some Christians have failed to show Jesus' love to members of the GLBT community. Evans, like like-minded Christians, fails to see that when Jesus said to the woman in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you," He told her, "Go and sin no more." He did not say, "Since I accept you, I accept your lifestyle. You deserve to be happy." No! Evans and like-minded Christians fail to realize that the grace that forgives us of our sins also is meant to enable us to do what we can to stop sinning. Also, in the book, Evans refers to God the Holy Spirit with the feminine pronoun. I understand that God indeed, sometimes, uses feminine images to describe His love, as He has done especially in the Old Testament. And she no doubt wants to stress that God affirms women. But taking liberties with how God has revealed Himself, as male, is not the way to go. I think Evans can make her point just as well without using a female pronoun for the Third Person of the Trinity. Evans has done a stellar job of diagnosing the problems of interpersonal relationships in the modern Christian Church, but I think she is taking an unBiblical approach in calling things God clearly calls sin, as good and acceptable. I know that Evans is popular and has a popular blog. But hasn't Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you"?

I cannot feel comfortable recommending this book to any non-believer, as this book will just enable them to in their natural desire to make God in their image, and re-defining an institution He has set to operate in His way. For the same reason, I cannot comfortably recommend this book to new Christians who may be confused to read some things in this book that condradict Scripture. I do recommend this book to many Pastors and those in other Christian leadership positions in many churches that are losing members. This book will provide insight into why this is happening, though I do not think that Pastors should condone or embrace GLBT lifestyles in order to show Christ's love to the GLBT community, as she thinks should be done.

I have received this book free of charge through Booklook Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review of this book.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Autism, God & the Bible

Much has been going on these past months and I have not posted about autism or autism-related issues. That is certainly not because these are no longer important, or important to me. With all that has been going on with the threat of ISIS, worldwide terrorism, and the ever-increasing loss of a moral compass in the US, I have not focused on autism or aut ism-related issues. But I have remained fully aware of the raging, heated debate in the vaccine controversy, the alarmingly high rate of missing autistic person cases related to wandering, and the hostility to certain organizations for what is seen as their patronizing attitude toward the autism community. Now there is an massive tragedy of historic significance in the country of Nepal that claims an ever-rising death toll of an estimated 4,000. With things like this, it makes what we may face here in the West, especially in the US, minor. I'm talking about objectively speaking, as everyone's own problems feels like the worst problems in the world. I'm not one who likes to throw around the platitude, "People have worse problems than you; count your blessings." Everyone's own life journey is unique.

Is Autism Man-Made?

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with its variants (Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Nonverbal Autism, and so on) have only been in existence for several decades. Where were people on any end of the autism spectrum at before the diagnosis of ASD was created? They had to be around somewhere; it can't be that all of these people suddenly popped up out of nowhere with the official diagnosis. Back in the 1930's the diagnosis of severe, nonverbal autism did exist but autism was not yet seen as a broad spectrum and those so diagnosed were seen as facing bleak futures. They were sometimes called "changelings" and the condition was called "early infantile autism." There who see autism as a "disease" that only appeared on the scene due to vaccine injuries, see autism as something that has been with us only since the diagnosis of ASD was created. Then there are others of us who see autism not as an alien "disease" but as a neuro-biological condition that has always been with which has only recently been recognized for what it is. Can both sides actually be right or is only one of the sides right? While I know that the vaccine controversy is a very emotional, hot-button issue, studies are indicating that vaccines do not "cause autism." It used to be believed that this was so, but now the cause of autism remains unknown. In that case, then maybe autistic people have always been with us and have just been called other things. In fact, most of them either existed in restrictive settings like institutions or were sent to "special classes" and tightly controlled at home, believing their primary need was physical protection. In my own experience, my own daughter, now 15 and finishing up 9th grade in high school, was originally diagnosed as having "Pervasive Development Disorder" and her diagnosis was switched to "autism spectrum disorder." She is doing very well in school, making good grades and her teachers love her. In my case, when I was growing up, I was labeled many things, and my problems were considered either psychiatric or behavioral in origin. After decades of having no idea "what was wrong with me," I was never able to access as formal diagnosis as an adult until two years ago. The diagnosis came too late to do me any practical good. It only gives an explanation for many of my issues that were blamed on "emotional problems."

Is Autism in the Bible?

I don't know if you read the Bible or not or count yourself a follower of Jesus or not. It is true that there is absolutely nothing in the Bible about autism. But then, the Bible was set in another time and in another culture. It does not contain a word about many other things that we consider important today, because many scientific discoveries had not been made yet. For that matter, cancer was not a diagnosis. The closest I can get is in the New Testament when Jesus healed many people, including those who were considered demon-possessed. While I believe that demon possession is real and probably exists today, I wonder if any of those people counted as "demon-possessed," could have had unknown and undiagnosed conditions like autism, epilepsy, or certain mental illnesses. Though the Bible says nothing about many things we deal with today, including scientific discoveries, it is still relevant to these matters if you believe that God is the Creator of all and the ultimate Author Who inspired men to write the Bible. Of course, if you do not believe these things, there is nothing I can say to convince you otherwise. But it makes little sense to me that autism just showed up on the scene a few decades ago and soon will be "cured" when the cause of this "disease" is found. While I sympathize fully with those who have had negative, painful experiences with being autistic or loving someone who is autistic, I think this "cure" position is a mistaken one.

Following Jesus, the Church & Autism

What are the ramifications for autism and the Christian community? Can autistic people be found in local church fellowships? How do they see God and their place in the Christian community? In my experience, the few autistic people who have been reached and are part of local church fellowships, are those with more severe, nonverbal autism. Many families with autistic loved ones, like many people with other disabilities, simply do not feel welcome in our church fellowships. Usually this is not because of malice but because Pastors and church leaderships do not know how to set up their fellowships to welcome disabled individuals, much less assimilate them into the life of their congregations. I have seldom seen it happen; there are very few books on the Christian market about autism or other disabilities. The rare ones that exist are never written directly to disabled individuals, but to church fellowships or to parents. I know that this is not the fault of Christian retailers but it shows how the Christian community has neglected those with autism and other related disabilities. I know that Joni Earackson Tada, totally paralyzed and an outstanding Christian leader in the field of disabilities, has done much to bring awareness to severe and physical disabilities. She has touched countless lives in that community. But much still needs to be done to reach and welcome those with autism and other, related, invisible disabilities. What does all this tell those of us who love people with autism or related disabilities, or who live with these ourselves? Nothing good. I see very few autistic teens or adults in the Christian community. They do not feel welcome. They are aware that the Church values non-autistic behaviors like eye contact and social interaction and know that these are considered very important in the lives that the Church and in the teachings of Jesus. And so the autism community is largely unreached and even those who love and follow Jesus do not want to do so within the context of local church fellowships. If you read the Bible, especially the New Testament, you find no verses that command us to "go to church." It is true that followers of Jesus are to meet with each other, worship together and serve God together. This does not mean that we always need building to meet, for meeting can be done anywhere. In any case, autistic people seem to generally feel like outcasts and outsiders to the Church and often sympathize with the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,Transgender) community. I have often seen this. It is unfortunate. If you read your Bible, you read in the Goepels that Jesus hang around with misfits and outcasts, not just to welcome them but to call them to repentance and to lives of blessedness. If you are a member of the autism or larger disability community, I encourage you to get a Bible and start with the Gospel of Luke, to see how Jesus dealt with people.

Please sign my autism petition at Change.org.

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