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The Disappearing Bible

Greetings All,

Today's "thought" comes to you from a section of Shane Hipps book "Flickering Pixels," entitled, "The Disappearing Bible." 
     It's a critique of the dangers of the digital age and the growing aversion to right-brain learning (seeking by linear deductive reasoning to solve complex ideas by in-depth study, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of a topic), in favor of left-brain learning (seeking through art, photos, intuition, emotional stimulation, subliminal impressions, and a short not-so-comprehensive, "throw out a personal opinion and see how people respond" approach to topics). 
     The second, as Hipps points out, is an approach to learning that has made in-depth study of the Bible (to know it well) a thing that is avoided, or even seen as obsolete, in many areas of present-day church culture.  He is not opposed to visual or intuitive learning, but simply advocates what he calls "brain balance" -- seeing the need to retain our ability to reason through complex ideas, while taking advantage of digital technology and all that it has to offer.
     To use a common phrase, the growing popularity of the short, non-comprehensive, opinion-based blog, should not cause us to "throw the baby out with the bathwater."  Believers need both, lest they lose their grip on the truth and fall prey to whatever tweaks their emotions or happens to sit well with their current (but soon passing) preferences.  To help you as you read: right brain = intuitive/artistic/emotive, and left brain = reasoning/logic/science.  Enjoy.
The Disappearing Bible

     "Most books present an extensive, in-depth monologue, a thorough argument carefully crafted in linear, successive paragraphs and pages. This is true of both novels and non-fiction. The left brain is heavily engaged by such activity.  But Internet text presents a nonlinear web of interconnected pages and a vast mosaic of hyperlinks with no fundamental beginning, middle or end.  We are immersed in a boundless, endless, data space. These are conditions specially suited to the right-brain...  The power of intuition, emotion, holistic perception, and pattern recognition are all gifts of the right-brain. The right-brain is the hemisphere that allows us entry into spiritual practices like contemplation, centering prayer and silence. The left-brain is allergic to such practices; it is the dogmatic theologian rather than the intuitive mystic...
     The Internet is stunningly effective at enticing us to open a Pandora's Box of perpetual links, sights, sound, people, places, feelings, and ideas. Our intellects are spread a mile wide and an inch deep. Consider blogs. Their great wonder is their dynamic speed.  We are exposed to many more ideas than previously possible and given a chance to dialogue in near real time. Yet because of their brevity and the constant evolution of content, blogs are forced to stay on the surface. Blogs are ill-suited for deep-level analysis and thoughtful reasoning. The Internet makes a flat stone of the mind and skips it across the surface of the world's information ocean. A book, by contrast, is a sturdy submarine, diving the mind deep into the sea..
     The emerging right-brain culture presents other challenges as well. Protestant Christianity is a by-product of a single medium -- the printed Bible. Without printing, no one could have challenged the authority of the pope. How disconcerting to have a faith yoked so closely to a medium that is now in the dusk of its life, at least as we currently know it. Our culture has a shrinking preference for reading books, especially complex ones, and if the Bible is anything, it is complex. So it should not surprise us to see a growing biblical illiteracy in the electronic age.
     The Bible is an extraordinarily demanding library of books. The stories, letters, and laws are shrouded by the fog of time. The thick dusty languages of ancient Greek and Hebrew convey the message through cumbersome translations. The books were born in civilizations and cultures alien to us, and the assumptions and attitudes of the original authors often escape us entirely.  In many cases, excavating the meaning [of texts] requires the fortitude, patience, and discipline of an archaeological dig.
     In other words, bulging left-brain muscles are an essential tool for understanding the Bible. Unfortunately, our digital diet sedates the left-brain, leaving it in a state of hypnotic stupor.  The left-brain begins acting like our great Uncle Jerry, nodding off in his recliner after Thanksgiving dinner. Large portions of the Bible are growing faint and becoming inaccessible to the lethargic left-brain." 

     Hipps goes on to say these two forms of learning must find a way to co-exist.
     We must never allow the tensions and disagreements (and at times contrary purposes of the one as opposed to the other) prevent us from availing ourselves of the benefits of both. Each has its place, and it is always a danger to, "tear asunder what God has joined together."  If we are to "Love the Lord our God with all our... mind," we must seek to avoid anything that would disparage either the right-brain or left brain approach to truth.
     The Church suffers when the faith is made into something only the scholar and grasp, but it also suffers when people embrace ideas foreign to Scripture, or contrary to Scripture, simply because it came to them in a moment of earnest contemplation or artistic creativity. The two forms of learning balance each other off. After all, God could have created us without dividing the brain into left and right lobes. He could have created the lobes so they functioned identically. But He didn't.  And therefore, to disregard one, simply because we have a preference for the other, is to insult the Creator, and call His all-knowing wisdom into question.
To the end that we may love the Lord our God as we should -- with ALL our mind -- Pastor Jeff