Background to My Interest in Teaching Children with Autism

Encounter World Religions
You may remember that I am a member of the Community of Christ (formerly known as The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). One of our ministers, J.W. Windland, was founder and (then) Director of Encounter World Religions, which was established to introduce people to religions other than their own – and which has been recognized by the Parliament of World Religions as our church’s “gift to the world.” Encounter World Religions provides classes to various school and colleges and, each summer, organizes a week-long course in which participants get to visit with several religious groups. The summer that I took their course, we visited with and worshipped (?) in Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples, a Sikh gurdwara, a Muslim mosque, a Zoroastrian fire temple, and (outside) with a Wiccan group – most of which I had never encountered before, and all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. JW is now deceased and the current director is Brian Carwana who, if I remember correctly, was (and probably still is) Roman Catholic. Interestingly, many highly religious people are able to embrace more than one religious community. JW visited each of these religious groups often enough that he became a member of their communities.
Interestingly (to me), the church to which I belong once had an apostle who was a Buddhist, and I understand that there have been Roman Catholic priests who have been Buddhist as well. At the funeral of one of our church members, a tribute was given by a friend of hers who was Wiccan. It seems that being a member of one church community doesn’t prevent a person from being associated with other communities as well – although my younger “born again Christian” sister would tell you differently. But I subscribe to the mystery of the noumenous: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” as someone once said. ☺
JW taught that each religious group has its own mythology and that religious beliefs can (should?) be understood metaphorically, which is not dissimilar to the Buddhist aphorism, “The true word cannot be spoken.” Religions try to express in human language experiences for which there are no words. As it says in Tao (the Tao Teh Ching translated by Charles MacIntosh, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1926):
The way to which mankind may hold
Is not the eternal way.
Eternal truths cannot be told
In what men write or say.

The name that may be named by man
Is not the eternal name
That was before the world began
Or human language came.

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