James A. Petrait

A popular new book (1981) is "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Dr. Betty Edwards. In the book Dr. Edwards shows how students can improve their drawing ability by encouraging them to think with the right side of their brains. She makes use of the findings of other scientists who have discovered that logic and speech come from the left side of the brain while artistic and visual abilities come from the right side of the brain. One of the procedures is to have students copy pictures which are upside down. This turns-on the right side of the brain and results in a better picture than if the original picture were right side up.

Another recent book (1981) is "The Right Brain" by Thomas Blakeslee. In it he summarizes all of what is known about the differences between the right side and the left side of the brain. He says that the left side of the brain tends to think in words while the right side of the brain thinks directly by using images received by the senses.

The separation between the right and left sides of the brain is not complete. There are many connections between the two but all of the evidence points to the fact that each side of the brain thinks in a different way. The left side makes use of words and logic and is like a computer while the right side makes use of pictures and sensations and is like a work of art.

It occurred to me while reading all of the books and studies on the right and left sides of the brain that perhaps, God, our Maker, must have had some reason why he made us that way. Perhaps he is trying to show us that there are two ways that we can come to know Him and that each way can originate in a different half of the brain.

Using the left side of the brain, we can learn about God by using logic and many words in the study of theology and other subjects. This is not a bad way to know God. Look at the many learned human beings who have become Doctors of the Church and saints by using this method. It is the same thing you do when you study religion in school and have to use words and reasoning to understand it.

Using the right side of the brain, we can also learn about God but not by using many words and logic but by sensing and picturing His goodness and seeing His beauty everywhere in us and around us. By using this method, humble farmers who could neither read nor write have also learned about God. You do it everytime that you realize that God exists even though you cannot explain it. Did You ever look at the countless stars in the sky on a clear night and wonder that somehow you just knew more about God?

As human beings, we have a right side and left side of the brain and as human beings we have two ways of knowing and loving God. Both ways work either together or separatedly. You can go to God using the left side of your brain, the right side of your brain, or both sides of your brain but the most important thing is to go to God!

".Go Right Or Go Left But Go" was originally published in the May/June 1981 "Reflections" Newsletter of the Salesians of Don Bosco. issue of the "Savio Notes" newsletter. Also another version was published in a past issue of the Catholic Digest.


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