I have been in the States for over four weeks now. After bringing Debbi to Wheaton College, I had some ‘wait time’ before DOVE meetings this week. It was great to visit my father, who lives with my brother Larry and his wife, in Florida (photo: with my father and brothers).
I’ve been reading books about cognition in order to prepare for a pending child development writing assignment. The human brain: fascinating; miraculous; mysterious. Even with all the advanced technology and high-powered microscopes, scientists have hardly begun to learn how our brains work. The concept that different brain centers are responsible for different functions (language, music, movement, logic, etc) is not as rigid as it was earlier believed to be. More than one part of the brain, for example, is involved in language. Utterance of a single word causes a unique pattern of activity to ripple all the way across the cortex. A single memory is distributed over an entire network of neurons.
Apart from the synchrony coming from teamwork among sections of the brain, what actually gives the brain its amazing power is networking. Every brain consists of a mass of cells called neurons – perhaps a trillion or so — which form complex, interconnected networks. As our brains make new connections and re-forge old ones, we learn and adapt. “Connections need to be intact so that the brain can function cohesively. . . The whole is clearly more than the sum of the parts” (Greenfield, Brain Story, BBC, 2000).
What’s the point? Being away from home (in a ‘foreign’ culture that is actually supposed to be home), I am thrown off balance by all the differences. There seems to be a completely different set of rules. What is considered ‘normal’ is different. Worldview is different. Definitions are different. It would be easy to despair: HOW DOES ALL THIS FIT TOGETHER?
But I gain courage from the brain story. We are created by God, meaning that our brains are created by God, meaning that He must place a very high value on networking and interconnectedness! He must want His body, the church, to function like that, too. And how much more, in the global village that is our 21st century reality. Dr. Todd, in his book “Fast Living” (a great read!) sets out a compelling vision of a “globally connected, globally influential, working together” church that will significantly change the world around us and bring an end to extreme poverty.
The brain and the body. Synergy and networking is what makes them work. With all our differences, we need each other – and the earth “WILL be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!”