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Reform Magazine | May 26, 2017

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The autistic Bible

The autistic Bible

Reading about the birth of Moses as an autistic person throws a whole new light on the story, reflects Caroline Henthorne

It is 1970-something and I am a child in a Sunday school class being told the story of the birth of Moses. It’s all rather shocking: the teacher explains that the midwives lied to Pharaoh and that this was the right thing to do!

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Autistic people are by nature honest to the point of bluntness, and suspicious of the idea that it is ever right or necessary to lie. As a child in Sunday school, I had been presented with the all-pervasive cultural assumption of the non-autistics that lies serve some other purpose than obscuring the truth. What if I chose not to believe that?

There has always been debate over how literally to interpret the Bible. It was written, one assumes, in the main, by people who, had they lived today, would not be diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. The Bible has its own storytelling style, sometimes poetic in nature, and there are cultural as well as stylistic issues which get lost in translation. But what if I were to assert my right as a literal thinker, cast in the divine image, to take the Bible at its word and choose to take what the midwives said literally? The results are liberating…

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This is an extract from the April 2016 edition of Reform.

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