Aspie Digest - October 11, 2005
Guess I'll have to find some easy reading materials about AS and give them to my son.
Serious Question about Church!
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with an urgent question.
This past Sunday, I12 announced to us that he was quitting church, like, right now. He actually got up at eight, took a shower, got dressed, and then, standing in the garage in his dress pants and dress shoes, he suddenly goes, "I don't want to go. I'm quitting". Can anybody say "perfect timing"?
Oh, this didn't come as a surprise to me, no way. He'd been begging to quit for a few years now. Only we had agreed that he'd do it when he turns fourteen. Another part of our deal was that, on his thirteenth birthday, I would give him a list of books to read, and he cannot quit until he's done.
We had a deal, dangit. And now he says he cannot take it anymore and he's bailing.
I12 is incredibly logical. If he cannot prove something by means of pure logical reasoning, he's not going to believe it. On a lot of levels, this is a good thing. This means that, when he's a teenager, he's not going to do anything stupid just because "everybody's doing it" or "it just feels right". (Pause as Goldie vigorously knocks on wood).
The flip side of this is that I have to provide solid logical foundation of everything I want him to do with his life. Don't even get me started on "school is a waste of time, and getting good grades is pointless". Or, how about these two real-life examples from church.
Example one, six months ago. I12, K9 and I come in for confession. I12 goes first, and the priest asks him (I assume this is the usual conversation-starter in this case): "Do you have anything to confess?"
I12 replies, "No." End of confession.
Example two, 1998. I12 is in kindergarten in Sunday School, and it is the annual St. Nicholas's Day party for the kids. The entire Sunday School (we are talking two hundred kids here), plus the parents, plus the younger siblings, are gathered in the church's rec center. St. Nicholas comes up on stage and gives a speech ("Dear children, so glad to see you all, my name is St. Nicholas, I lived in fourth century AD and liked giving gifts to the poor..." etc, etc). Throughout the whole fifteen-minute speech, the five-year-old I12 is holding his hand up. Fortunately, no one called on him.
On the way home after church, I asked I12: "So, what were you going to ask St. Nicholas?"
I12 (I5, to be correct) looked surprised.
"I didn't want to ask him anything. I wanted to say something. I wanted to say, Listen everybody! This is not Saint Nicholas! This is a guy dressed up in a Saint Nicholas suit".
I rest my case. By the way, I never told I12 Santa wasn't real. He figured it out on his own before I even got a chance.
But, back to our original subject.
I never expected I12 to become a flaming believer. (Yes, I said "flaming believer", and yes, I did it on purpose. Flaming believers, you know who you are, although I doubt that you're reading this blog.) But I wanted him to have what I didn't have when I was his age - a knowledge base. What I really like about my particular brand of Christianity is that it has an awful lot to offer in terms of knowledge. Orthodox theology can get as complicated as you want it to be. When you grow, it grows with you.
I knew that, sometime during his teenage years, I12 was going to leave. But a part of me hoped that he would, eventually, come back again. To do that, he needed to have enough knowledge to at least realize that our faith is bigger than his Sunday School lessons or the "kids" sermons. In fact, and I told him that yesterday, doubting your faith is completely normal. This means that, up to this point, you have been receiving information about your faith on a certain level, and you have now outgrown this level and are ready to move up to the next one. (No, I didn't come up with this stuff on my own, I'm not that smart - this is Fr. Anthony Bloom).
And I'm running out of time to transfer this knowledge to him.
In a desperate attempt to pass at least some of it to him on his way out, I have shrunk my reading list by 9/10. Forget the thirteenth birthday, the reading starts now. I set the books on his desk yesterday. They are:
C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"
C.S. Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters"
The four Gospels
I have also ordered a book by Val Grieve, called "Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb of Jesus". This book helped me a lot in my day. Because the truth is, I came to Christianity on pure logical reasoning myself. That is probably why I find it so hard to understand why what worked for me does not work for I12.
Here's what my reasoning was, feel free to check it for logical flaws.
1) No matter whether we state that God exists of he doesn't, it is an act of faith in both cases. So I might as well pick an option that is more appealing to me and put my faith in that option.
2) At this point, I chose to believe that God exists, because the world is so complicated, it had to be created by a rational being, et cetera, et cetera.
I12 actually stays with me up to this point. Here's where I lose him.
3) If God exists, has created mankind, and is maintaining life on Earth as we know it, then He has to have certain expectations for us, and expect us to interact with Him in a certain way.
4) What followed was a brief analysis of world religions that was rudely interrupted by my friend the pastor, who saw a vulnerable soul and pounced with his Four Spiritual Laws booklet. Anyway, Christianity made a lot of sense to me, so I put my faith in that.
I was twenty-two years old at the time. Worked for me. Does not work for my twelve-year-old. Go figure.
I think I12's AS gets in the way, as he is very very literal, and he takes his doubts seriously. And of course, I cannot tell him with one hundred percent confidence that what he's about to quit is The Only Way, because, hey, I have doubts of my own. I just chose to take my chances with Christianity. I cannot prove it to I12. Heck, I cannot prove it to myself. I won't find out for sure until I die.
And, of course, I really wonder what part of his decision to quit is intellectual honesty (i.e. he cannot pretend to believe if he doesn't) and what part is the realization that, instead of going to church on Sundays, he can stay at home and sleep in and post on the forum.