A little right brain imagining

left-brain-right-brainImage by vaXzine via Flickr
I was listening to Radio 4 last night (you can listen again if you like) to “Start the Week” with Andrew Marr – one of his guests was Iain McGilchrist speaking about his work looking at the left and the right hemispheres of the brain.
I was really interesting. He was explaining how both parts of the brain are involved in all our doing, but that they perceive the world differently. The left brain being interested in detail, inanimate things, the world boiled down to individual components. whereas the right brain sees the big picture, animate things, a world where ambiguity is tolerated.
McGilchrist thinks that we have become a predominantly left brained culture, where everything has to be understood in detail and where things that don’t fit are removed. This is of course to the detriment of imagination, art, love of nature and of spirituality.
It makes sense doesn’t it. No wonder the argument of some secularists that “if we cant prove God he doesn’t exist” holds so much water in our modern society.
And look how quickly young people are expected to grow up – there seems fewer and fewer years for play and imagination to exist in, before we have to “grow up and get rational”
As a Christian youth worker I feel all this presents me with an opportunity. Surely, if I make space for young people’s imaginations to have room to flourish, if I make time in our programmes for play – even with older teens – perhaps then, the right side of their brains will have some exercise – and maybe this in turn will provide fertile ground for young people to consider God.
Because of course God cannot be reduced to little boxes, God is infinite. In Psalm 139 it says:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand
Perhaps then, if we can allow for things which with our limited understanding, appear to be ambiguous, there will then be more room for God – for what we know of him and of the great unknown, the borderlands of every person of faith’s understanding.

Put simply, not having the world all sown up, permitting imagination to flourish, opens the door of faith.

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