Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Room for the Right Brain

I grew up in a Christian tradition that was very left-brained and so was all about thinking. Out of a desire to avoid being ostentatious, everything about our meeting places was minimalist and plain. Any sort of art was purely functional - like the flannel graph figures or pictures used to teach children Bible stories.

There is certainly an academic part of me that can be rational - but there has always been a creative part of me as well. In other words, I had a 'right-brain' side too. In fact, for a while I dreamed of becoming a commercial artist/illustrator - but that was discouraged by more practically-minded people (well-intentioned, I'm sure).

Now I am sharing in a community of believers that has room for the right brain - which is rediscovering art, beauty, creativity, and poetry . . . for at least me and I think for others as well. I am reading Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy and one point he makes is that poetry is more capable than prose when it comes to talking about God.

Now I don't want to set up a fictitious conflict between the two sides of our brains, but rather to point out that prose has its place while I agree that it is incapable alone to express faith. I am finding that I am more of a mystic than a systematic theologian - though systematic theologians have blessed me in many ways throughout my journey.

Within our community of faith we have made a place for artistic expression - without labelling such work 'graven images' . . . because the point was not in the making of things but in the worshiping the works of our hands. That is a whole other subject - and we have worshiped our work plenty, though its not been the artistic work of our hands.

In finding a new place for my creative side I have created a couple of icons of Peter and Paul which are reminiscent of Eastern Orthodox icons.

I contribute these to our community not as decorative art, but symbolic art. In the style we affirm a connection with ancient Christianity, and in the depiction of Peter and Paul we are reminded of the spiritual unity of Jewish and Gentile Christians of the first century despite all their differences. May we be inspired to a similar unity.

There are many poets among us whose creative expression of faith will enrich the whole community.

1 comment:

Steve Duer said...

In Christ there is neither Left Brained or Right Brained.