Thursday, July 24, 2014

"The Church and the Divided Brain" by lia Delio, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis
..."a shift toward left-brain dominance in Western Christianity emerged with the rise of scholasticism. ..."Knowledge of God and the things of God began not with experience (the right brain) but with the hypothetical question (the left brain). The rise of heliocentrism furthered the divided brain by disconnecting the human from the cosmos (or microcosm from macrocosm). The image of the world that emerged from physics after Copernicus, Galileo and Newton was a confluence of blind forces where there is no place for contemplation of divinity in nature (right brain). The cutting off of the right brain from the world gave predominance to the left brain and the systematization of knowledge. The ideal, theoretical world of laws and rules began to triumph over that of experience. By the 19th century, Catholicity was a set of rules and instructions found in a manual. Seminary education became what Karl Rahner called, Denzigertheologie, a compendium of brief doctrinal definitions and statements composed by Fr. Heinrich Denziger. This kind of theology favored modern Catholicism’s inclination to the juridical approach, rather than a theology attached to life, rooted in the real. Denziger theology became linked with an understanding of the church governed solely by laws and instructions: Faith is a process that ends in definitions, and the task of theology to prepare concise and clear definitions. Have we constructed a church that is the image of the world the left brain has made internally, where appeals to the natural world, culture, art, the body and spirituality, have been cut off and ironed out of existence? Catholicity belongs to the human person who has an inner wholeness, where the right brain and left brain work together. The “catholic” mind seeks to bring together experience (right brain) and information (left brain) to create meaning that can be returned to the world through new horizons of insight that undergird new connections. The sacramental imagination, nurtured in the liturgy through ritual, music and art, is aimed toward the “catholic brain.” We “taste and see” (right brain) in order to know (left brain); we know that we may be deepened by love; and we love so as to unite and transform what we love into the presence of Christ. It is important that theology begin with the right brain, with passion, connectivity and experience of the real, to process this information (left brain) in such a way that knowledge contributes to the evolution of self and world. We are created to be part of evolution and to illuminate the mystery of God in evolution. Teilhard de Chardin summed it up when he wrote: “To discover and know is to actually extend the universe ahead and to complete it.”
[Ilia Delio, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of Washington, D.C., is Haub Director of Catholic Studies and Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. Her recent publications include From Teilhard to Omega: Cocreating an Unfinished Universe and The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love.]

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