This week has wrought surprises in my self-knowledge.
All my life, my drawing ability has resembled that of a toddler’s first attempts to make marks on paper. Then a few weeks ago, an artist friend loaned me a book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.
My family and I are amazed at my drawings.
“You have two brains: a left and a right,” writes scientist and neurosurgeon Richard Bergland in “The Fabric of Mind.” “Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words. ... Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.”
As a working writer, I communicate information accurately using my left brain. After many years, I find it difficult to write creatively or “think outside the box.”
Something else that happened this week: an evangelical Christian celebrity published a Facebook post in which he ranted against his fellow Christian leaders for denouncing their faith in God.
“Is it any wonder that some of our disavowed Christian leaders are letting go of the absolute truth of the Bible and subsequently their lives are falling apart?” asks John Cooper of the band, Skillet.
This morning, mulling this over, I connected these two events.
What is “the absolute truth of the Bible?” The Bible contains many words. Reading it with our left brains, influenced by our group’s theology or spin, we understand it as we have been taught.
But what if we were to read the Bible with our right brain (which God created at the same time as our left brain)?
As we open the first pages of Genesis, we read the creation account and imagine Earth in its newborn glory: “And God saw that it was good.”
Wow! The Bible begins with goodness. Original goodness? What if, rather than seeing my fellow humans through the eyes of original sin, I see them in their original goodness?
And what if there is no such literal place as hell? What if hell is a metaphor? What if a loving God never intended to “send” people there?
I’m not creating a new theology here, just letting my right brain imagine.
I, too, have grappled with my faith. I’ve gone through periods of questioning the existence of God. But I could not get to a place of believing there is no God.
Perhaps it’s my wordless experiences, my deeply personal (right brain) encounters with God that have kept me from denouncing my faith.
However, I have many doubts about what the church has taught me about God.
The church will have to answer for all the people it’s driven away from God with its insistence on the rightness of its doctrines. It claims to understand “the Word,” which it has systematically defined and keeps the keys to the meaning of.
“But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God,” John Cooper writes. “For He changes NOT.”
Much of modern Christianity is a left brain operation. But God is love, so maybe a higher way of getting close to God is without words.
Edwards writes, “In order to gain access to sub-dominant, somewhat hard-to-access R-mode, the non-verbal, visual perceptual system of the brain, it is necessary to present one’s own brain with a task that the dominant verbal system, L-mode, will turn down.”
My L-mode turns down the task of silent, contemplative prayer. In doing so, my right brain perceives God in new ways.
And my unchanging God is always new.