Emergence by Temple Grandin and Margaret M. Scariano — Book Review

I didn’t expect to review this book for my blog. I read it for an entirely different reason — there are several young people in my family with autism, and I have been trying to learn more about it. Temple Grandin is about my age, and when she was a child, autism was not understood well at all. Temple faced many challenges, and with the help of family and compassionate teachers grew up to become a successful scientist. She has written and spoken extensively on the subject of autism, hoping to gain understanding herself, and impart what she knows to others. Surprisingly, there is a spiritual aspect to her book. God was definitely at work in Temple’s life. As a high school student, she describes a sermon in which the minister quoted John 10:9:

“I am the door: if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”

Temple was captivated by the idea of the door. As a highly visual person, it became a symbol of the obstacles she had to overcome and leave behind at each stage of life, as she walked through “the door” to become a more mature person. She actually found “the door” at her school — it was called the Crow’s Nest and was a small observation room that overlooked the mountains. This became a holy place to Temple, a place where she could be alone and ponder “Me My life. God.”

Later Temple explains that she believes God formed the gene structure that created her as a person with autism, and that there was a purpose behind her differences. She wonders:

“Maybe God or destiny willed it that way so that I would invent a method or device that would help other people.”


The device she is talking about is the “squeeze chute” she built for herself, modeled after the chutes animals were placed in to brand, castrate or vaccinate them. She found it calmed her and allowed her feel tactile stimulation that was difficult for her to accept in the form of hugs or caresses from loved ones. In her work with animals, she thought about death, and how although God gave us dominion over animals for our use, they were also His creation, and to be treated respectfully.

Temple’s account of her life is inspiring. She points out that some autistic characteristics (such as becoming fixated on an idea or project) can be strengths and should be channeled and guided appropriately, not simply eliminated. She is a living illustration of the way people with autism grow, change and learn to cope with the difficult parts of their personality, just as we all do.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. There were times when Temple tended tp perseverate about an idea too long, but overall this book was illuminating and helpful to anyone wanting to better understand the effects on autism.

For more about autism see these posts:

Autism and your church by Barbara J. Newman — Book Review

Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant, PHD — Book Review

Switched On


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Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant, PHD — Book Review

I really didn’t expect to be reviewing this book on the blog because it’s not religious.  It’s a book about autism and I read it because our twenty-two month old granddaughter (not diagnosed officially yet) is probably autistic.  The author offers plenty of sound advice for parents including some of these thoughts:

  • Every person develops throughout their life.  There is no “cut-off” age to give up on the possibility that a child with autism will improve or learn new skills
  • Every child is affected by autism differently;  they are unique individuals, and there is no one way to go about helping them
  • Parents are the best experts on their own child and should trust their gut feelings about what will work best for their family
  • Take one day at a time and celebrate every improvement

The caregivers who are most successful in connecting with autistic children have the following qualities:

  • Empathy–they try to understand how the child experiences the world
  • Sensitivity–they are attuned to the child’s emotional state
  • Willingness to share control with the child instead of simply pushing a certain agenda or treatment
  • Humor
  • Trustworthiness
  • Flexibility

All of this is helpful information, and included are further resources that include websites, books written by parents and by people with autism and national organizations that can provide information and support.

However, what stood out most for me (and the reason I’m posting this review) was a short section on faith.  Families who cope best often express the importance faith plays in their lives.

“Many parents see themselves in partnership with a higher power in raising a child.  This brings comfort, a sense of shared responsibility and trust, and decreases anxiety.”

The reason for this?  It’s simple:  hope.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  This book is an excellent resource for learning about autism, and full of practical suggestions for helping children with autism overcome challenges and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

For more about autism see these posts:

Autism and your church by Barbara J. Newman — Book Review

Remembering the Important Things

Switched On

 

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey–Book Review

  • A “verboten” library
  • An inheritance of rare books
  • A magic book that tells a different story to each reader

What bibliophile or avid reader would not be attracted to a book containing these elements?  Aimed at middle-grade readers, even adults will devour it.  It is cleverly narrated by Novus Fabula, the magic book itself!  Thirteen year old Piper and her autistic younger brother Phoenix go to live with their Aunt Beryl after the death of their mother.  Their father has been missing for a year after being kidnapped in a foreign country.

It contains elements of several genres — mystery, gothic, fantasy– blended into an intriguing tale that will keep you wanting to read more.  Each chapter begins with a quote (some are real, some invented, but you’ll like them all).  Characters and their emotions are realistically portrayed.  It weaves the mention of other children’s classics into the plot — Harry Potter, The Narnia Tales, The Little House Series, The Secret Garden and more.  In addition, this is a book that will make you think about life, God and paying attention to the world around you and having compassion for others.

Here’s my favorite quote:

“I would never say that God can’t reach inside the words we read in a book or a song and tell us things we need to hear.”

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  Buy it for the middle schooler on your Christmas list this year.

If you would like to purchase this book go to the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-edge-of-everywhen-P005821687

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

For more children’s books, see these posts:

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

Who Will Play With Me by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

What’s So Wonderful About Webster? by Stephen and Alex Kendrick–Book Revie

 

A Father’s Prayer–Book Review

I met the author of this book, Linda Wood Rondeau at the local senior center where she spoke to a small group of people interested in writing.  She told us her story of leaving her job as a social worker in her 50’s and launching a writing career.  She has now published a number of novels.  At the end of her presentation she allowed several of us to pick one of her books to take home.  I chose A Father’s Prayer because she said it dealt with an autistic boy;  I have two autistic nephews, so I was drawn to that topic.

A Father's Prayer by [Rondeau, Linda Wood]

This short novel falls into the genre of Christian romance;  frankly, not my cup of tea.  However, it may be yours.  It’s an easy read, predictable and formulaic.  The heroine, Alexis, returns home after the death of her parents to raise her adopted autistic brother, Gib.  Well-known country singer, Ethan Jacobs arrives on the scene to perform at a benefit for Gib’s school and takes a special interest in Gib.  I won’t say more to prevent this review from becoming a “spoiler.”  What follows includes romance, and the neat wrapping up of various problems encountered by Alexis and Gib, all presented within a Christian framework.

If you would like to learn more about Linda and her other books, you can visit her website:

https://lindarondeau.com/

She serves God through her writing, speaking engagements, and mentoring other writers.  If you are interested in writing, or need a speaker for an event, she would be a great resource for you.

Remembering the Important Things

A few days ago, I attended the graduation ceremony of my twin nephews who have both been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Syndrome Disorder).  Their school meets in a church and is very small (5 in the graduating class) and Christian.  It has come to be a place where students who cannot easily “fit in” to the public school system,  not only survive, but thrive.

One of the speakers mentioned that people might try to put them down by insinuating that this kind of school could not have given them a quality education–too small;  not enough options;  unable to afford the best and latest technology.  However, how wrong this worldly wisdom is.  My nephews, Chris and Nick, had received the best possible education because they had learned the most important things:  they learned that God loves them, and they learned to love others, even those who are somehow “different.”  All the academic stuff (and they got plenty of that, too) is secondary.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?’  And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  And he (Jesus) said to him, ‘You have answered correctly;  do this and you will live.'”  Luke 10:25-28

Let’s all try to remember to live as if we’re really keeping the main thing (love for God and others) as the main thing in our lives.

All the Glory to God

This is the talk given by one of our congregational members during a recent workshop held. The amazing thing about this is that he is young and autistic, but he managed to grasp the concept better than some adults. The Lord was definitely speaking through him, It is with his permission that I post this. Thank you Nicolas for a heartfelt look into the Glory that should always be God’s.
Worthy Are You
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11.
The topic I have chosen is Glory to God. For my starting point, I would like to acknowledge that some people without knowledge of the Lord and his works might think its “selfish” of God to expect us to give glory to him. So I would like to start off with “why” should we give glory to God, and I will try to explain his works by putting them into perspective to do so.
Let me start off in the Old Testament with the Israelites. God’s people were in slavery in Egypt, but Moses did as God told him, and was able to lead them out. God even provided them with food and water in the wilderness. They still disobeyed God however, and were stuck there for 40 years. But even so, God still provided for them, and even allowed them to conquer Jericho as time passed. History went on with a similar cycle, that being: God lets Israel thrive and prosper, they disobey God and are disciplined for it, and God forgives and lets them prosper again and so on. There were several more specifics and details, but that sums up most of it until Jesus came. No matter how much they disobeyed, God always made things well in due time, he constantly forgave without limit.
Now let me talk about my own life for a bit. My Mom and Dad didn’t mean to start a family, they didn’t even love each other, and obviously this was a dysfunctional family. Eventually, they divorced, and took turns with the kids. One hand, you have a guy with a really loud and scary voice, coupled with a short temper. On the other hand, you have a woman who has anxiety, and is now has low income working day care. Combine both with two 6-8 year olds with autism, and a big sister to boot, and that will not go well with my Dad’s temper, or my Mom’s anxiety. They were put in this situation in the first place by disobeying God, by being intimate before marriage. But just like with the Israelites, God provided. My Mom got remarried to the ultimate male role model that is my stepdad, and is now so very happy. My brother & I were also put in a small Christian school, and a social skills group. It’s safe to say we have been much happier, and become more mature ever since. Also just like the Israelites however, I have done and said many things that I regret, and overall sinned against God, and I’m sure my family has too. And just like the Israelites, God has always forgiven me. To ensure that, he has his own son, Jesus, die on the cross, taking my sins with him. At this point, I hope it’s really been put into perspective.
Not only did he send his son to die so myself, and all of you can have a reserved seat in heaven with our names on it, because no matter how much I endlessly sin and disobey, he endlessly forgives me to no end! On top of that, he takes the time to provide for me and my family, and makes hard times good while we’re still here on earth! He did this exact same thing with the Israelites over 2000 years ago, and is still doing that now with no signs of stopping or slowing down in sight! He provides for us all, even when we sin, we may have to be disciplined, but he always forgives and continues to provide no matter what. He’s been doing that forever at this point.
The amount of mercy, grace, and love it takes to do that is so massive, it’s far beyond comprehension, and always will be. Every human has a breaking point for that sort of thing, a point where they snap, but God has been doing this for years and counting for everyone on earth! That’s a lot of tolerance, a lot of mercy, and most of all, a lot of love. For him to love, give, and provide unconditionally for thousands of years, for all his servants at once, deserves far more glory than we could ever give. If that doesn’t deserve the highest amount of glory we could possibly give and more, than nothing will.
Now we know, and hopefully understand why we should give glory to God, now we ask “how do I do it”? Well, to put it simply, we should thank, praise, and acknowledge God in everything we experience and do. We can lead by example doing God’s work, and by that, I mean showing Gods love to everyone around us, and making sure to acknowledge it is God’s love. To do that, we are to humble ourselves, if we are not acknowledging that it is God’s love we are showing, we would be getting all the credit, therefore glorifying ourselves, not God.
One simple, but effective way to glorify God is simply by thanking him for everything we have. An important thing to note however, is that even if we glorify God, that doesn’t mean everything is just going to be unicorns and rainbows in our lives. However, just like I mentioned earlier, when times are bad, God will still provide. So when we are in these times, it is important that we still take time to glorify God. If you glorify him in the good times, but neglect him in the bad, then did you really mean any of it at all?
So, in short, we show Gods love to our neighbors, acknowledging that it is God’s love, and thanking God for everything we have, any chance we can get, no matter our current situations. Those are just some examples, but the main point, is that we are to be “channels” of God’s love and glory to others, not sources of our own glory.
However, many Christians today misunderstand glorifying God, it is important to note things we should not do, as to not misunderstand. There are three main points I will mention, however, all can stem from one thing, pride.
The first is idol worship; idol worship is putting anything above God. An example for me, and probably many of you, is most forms of entertainment. Think for a moment, are there any movies or shows you watch, games you play, or books or stories you have read, that God would not be a fan of? If you’re like me, chances are there is for all three of those categories. For me to use these, is basically me saying “well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt, it’s just a game/show/book”. By me thinking that, it’s basically me saying “I don’t really care enough”. I’m putting my own interests over Gods, and that is my own pride at work. There has to be a line, where if we cross it, we just say no, and turn it off.
The second is hypocrisy, or judging, they fall into similar categories. This seems to be the most noticeable problem Christians of today have. We say we should obey the law, but many of us drive 5 miles higher than the speed limit on the highway. We say to turn the other cheek when wronged, yet we often feel the need to provoke another when they insulted us. There are more examples that many modern Christians tend to condemn. Homosexuality or transgender, abortion, believing in evolution, and many others. We know all of these things are not what God has willed, but if we see others doing these things, we should not condemn, or look down upon them in any way. Not to mention God can forgive any of those sins if asked, just like he can forgive any of ours. Even though we have not done those things specifically, if he can forgive them all the same, then what reason do we have to condemn them, and not our own sins? When we judge others, we think we are better than them. That is your own pride taking over, but that’s not the only sin here. By judging others for their sins, it gives others the impression that God is a God of condemnation and hate, which is not true. By doing this, we are not glorifying God, we are tarnishing his name.
The last of these things is lying. When we lie to others, it is most likely to protect ourselves or our reputation. But if found out, what does that say about God? It gives the impression that our priority is our own wellbeing, rather than that of God’s, which is not true. By lying, you are putting your own reputation above Gods reputation; you think you’re better than him. You know what that is? You guessed it, pride.
When we glorify God, it is important to not let our own pride get in the way. If you do, it will lead to various other things that do not glorify his reputation, but tarnishes it. If we are humble, and acknowledge it is all God’s work and love, we are most definitely glorifying him, but letting pride take over, does the exact opposite.
Now, are we expected to always do this without fail? Of course not, we may be the channels for Gods glory to others, but we are not God. We will make mistakes, we will disobey him, and we will do things that tarnish Gods reputation. Why? Because we are human! We have a sinful nature by heart, so we will continue to sin, that’s why it is important to keep a level head, and be understanding. If someone does bother us, if we lose our temper, and get angry or upset, we are more likely to have an irrational way of thinking. When in this state, we are more likely to say, and do things we will regret, and do things that tarnish God’s reputation.
So, in summary, to glorify God, we must keep a level head, be humble, understanding, and free of self-pride, acknowledge God in all things, at all times-good or bad, and show his love to others, through us.
Now, is this something we absolutely have to do to gain God’s forgiveness or salvation, in other words, are we forced to glorify him? No! We shouldn’t think we give glory to God because we have to, we should as a way to thank him for all he has done for us, it’s the least we could do. And after seeing, hearing, and experiencing Gods love firsthand in our own lives, what joy it would bring to show that same love of God to others who don’t know, haven’t seen, or don’t realize it yet. It makes God happy, and it makes us happy too.
Glory be to God everyone, it’s the least we could do, and it will make us and others happy too.

By: Nicholas Marquez

Switched On

I’m reading a memoir by John Elder Robison who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism at the age of forty.  He describes undergoing an experimental treatment called TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) which gave him (temporarily) the ability to see feelings in others, a quality missing from his life due to his disability.  Instead of taking everything others said literally, he began to notice sarcasm, depression, hurt feelings, etc..  Looking back on his life he says, “I now recognize that many of the events went wrong because I failed to understand someone else’s feelings. … When I remember things I said or did, I cringe and wish I could go back in time and undo my blunders…Knowing what I did wrong is not enough to undo a lifetime of learned behavior, and my tendency to behave the same way is still strong.  Yet I’m doing my best to change.”  He described his experience as being “Switched On”, the title of his book.

 When we are spiritually reborn, a similar phenomenon occurs.  Just as John became aware of his lack of empathy, we become aware of our sinful nature.  However, like John recognizing our problem doesn’t mean we can reverse what we’ve already done or even eliminate it in the future.  It just means we now see (somewhat) what’s going on.

 I believe in the days of the second coming, we’ll be “switched on” completely.  1 Corinthians 13:12 says,

 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then, face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

 Right now, we’re all like John Robison when it comes to sin.  It is so much a part of us and every other person in the world, we fail to see how deeply it mars our lives.  When we’re resurrected in the last day, we’ll understand what made so much go wrong in our lives and in our world; we’ll also see ourselves and others in a new way:  without that veil of sin that distorts everything.  We’ll be disheartened by how we behaved, the sins we committed without even understanding what we were doing.

The good news for Christians is we’ll also see Christ as He really is:  our king, our master, our savior.  At that moment our dismay will be replaced by joy because 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning or crying nor pain …” Revelation 21:4

 I look forward to being “switched on” when Jesus comes again.  I hope you do, too!