I'm an autistic queer. Though I was a near life-long theology geek and have been part of many faith communities, I never would fit in. I saw them tolerating me but I knew their idea of spirituality felt utterly foreign to me also.
Along the road, I have met several autistic people of various faiths. Most of them were extremely knowledgeable, had quite eclectic beliefs and interpretations of their faiths, and they all relayed to me how they felt excluded from and misunderstood by their faith communities. Some of them resorted to building their own DIY religion.
And we're quite a gift to the world, the silent elite squad that this planet needs to save itself
(think Greta Thunberg
). We smell bullshit from a hundred miles away. We've got no time for "nuances," hypocrisies and other excuses. We tend to be brutally logical and rational, yet exceedingly capable of creative out-of-the-box thinking. We're very much detail-oriented but we see the big picture.
You can be the next great prophet, world-changer, innovator, or culture-maker.
It's time that we stopped apologizing to neurotypicals for not fitting into their narrow social norms.
The truth of the matter is, neurodiversity is the next frontier in religious communities. Neurodiversity is, unfortunately, discouraged in most communal expressions of spiritual life.
We've been told to shut up, that we're making people "uncomfortable." We've been made unwelcome. We've been coerced into silly woo-woo exercises, excessive emotionalism, ableist mindset, and rigid gender norms that made no sense to us.
They operate from assumptions that are entirely foreign to how our minds process things.
When I noticed this, I looked around, made numerous searches on the Internet, and found no resources designed to enrich the religious and spiritual experiences of autistics and other neurodiverse people (except for offensively patronizing articles written for parents of autistic children and pastors who "have to deal with" autistic kids).
In the past, I was a failed church-planter. I had an ordination as a priest (that's apostolic succession in an Anglican lineage, if you're a theology geek and wondering) and had the vision to start a missional church in the inner city of Portland. I hoped to attract more or less normal people, and I followed a more or less standard church-planting formula. After two years of this, nothing came out of it. I wasn't a "people person," and dealing with group dynamics and church politics wore me and burned me out very quickly. Although I went to a Bible college and a seminary and going into ministry was my dream, it was frustrated by the very reason why neurodiversity isn't accepted in most churches.
One day in the summer of 2019, I was at a small business conference and a speaker was talking about the importance of "nicheing." Suddenly, my eyes were opened: this is what I am really called to do.
Soon, two words came to me in a thought form:
Like many in the autistic spectrum, I'm a logical and visual thinker. In my early childhood, I remember staring at a map on a wall for hours at a time. Geography was my favorite subject in school.
Come to think of it, every one of us has a rich, unique, complex terrain within our mind. Especially in the neurodiverse community, we often think of our minds as a world in its own right--and often that is very different from the neurotypical concept of self and theories of mind!
Trek the amazing inner geography of your mind and soul like an explorer.
I'm simply here to facilitate your quest and to help make sense of it all, building upon your own uniqueness as the foundation for your strengths.