I’m more convinced that our ‘fall-outs’ over issues from the meaning of life, theology and politics to art, sport and domestic disputes are due, in large part, to depending more on the left-side of our brains than the right.

If the brain’s left side controls the body’s right side and is all to do with logic, and the right side of our brain coordinates the body’s left side, performing tasks to do with creativity and the arts, which side do you lean more towards?

A psychologist described the balance / imbalance in our brains as between mastery (left side) and mystery (right side). This supports my hunch that, if we are more inclined towards mastery and being in control of things, and don’t allow room for mystery and, dare I say, grace, then we will end up falling out with a lot of people.


It also strikes me that scientists like Richard Dawkins, who argue vigorously against the existence of God, are so thoroughly wedded to the ‘left side’ of their brain that right sided openness to mystery is little used. I’ve been entertained and challenged watching Alain De Botton (Youtube) talk on his view on the ‘purpose of art’. Alain has written extensively (e.g. Religion for Atheists) on the continuing value of some aspects of religion to secular society.

He sees Culture replacing Scripture and gives a very utilitarian view of ‘art’, helpful in serving the needs of psychology rather than theology, aiding us to live and die. A tool of memory, art can restore hope and remind us that darkness is not the whole story; it can help us acknowledge and work through pain, provide a corrective to our listing and losing in life, comfort our sorrows and point us to what we’re missing; it can flatter and promote civic pride, make us feel less lonely and deepen our intrigue to find out more about living.

I think De Botton is right in almost all he says about the purpose of art, but he doesn’t seem to give room for ‘mystery’ and the truth that art, like life, can be a fathomless ‘mystery’ which can’t always be reduced to propaganda of one sort or another. Might a readiness to suspend left-sided analysis to entertain and explore mystery open him up to the possibilities of a gracious God who loves him deeply and dearly and comes in Christ to do ‘Life’ with him through thick and thin?

As Eugene Peterson puts it, “Mystery is not the absence of meaning, rather the presence of meaning that is unfathomable.” I’m loving Sam Wells’ book ‘Incarnational Mission – being with the world’. Here’s a wee quote, “There is very little access to mystery without patience. And mystery is sometimes another word for hope. But it is perhaps the only way to glory.”

So, in your brain’s activity, are you more right sided or left sided? A wee prayer to finish: “Great Master and Mystery, in your grace, help us to use our brains to ‘the max’. Mixing mastery and mystery, and merging logic with creativity, lead us on in this baffling and beautiful world of adventure. Amen.”

2018-11-05T16:03:55+00:00 5 November 2018|Comments Off on Mystery & Mastery