Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting Engaged

As an aspiring academic, a good portion of what I do happens between my ears. I have thought before that if I were to have a head injury, I would have to get into a different field. I could go lose other aspects of functioning and still be fine. If I could not think, I could not function in this environment. That being said, I do not think critically about everything. I think such a lifestyle would drive one to pure madness. Some music I hear and like, for no particular reason at all. Sometimes I like to watch television or movies and just enjoy the ride. I might see intellectual elements or messages in music or stories, but I usually think about them after I have enjoyed being swept away by a compelling story, or a beat that makes me want to cut a rug. Different things engage my mind and emotions differently.

In the original Shema in Deuteronomy 6:5 as we read it in English, there is no mention of the word “mind.” When Jesus quotes it in Mark 12:29, the mind is included. This always confused me because the song we used to sing based on this verse was different from the original scripture. Recently I learned the reason behind this discrepancy. It appears that the Hebrews did not have a word for the independent concept of “mind.” In their language, the word “Lev,” (which is translated as “heart” in Deuteronomy 6:5) included the both the concept of emotion and reasoning. It seems like Jesus included the Greek word “Dianoia” (which means mind) because the Greeks did see the concepts as separate. I think it is interesting that science has subsequently found the Hebrew was closer to being right than the supposedly intellectual Greek.

Reason and emotion are inextricably linked and housed mostly in between your ears. The legal system may think its decisions are based on evidence, but none of this evidence exists in an emotionless vacuum. It seems to me that we have an easy time putting reason on our emotions, but quite a hard time putting emotion to our reasoning.

That being said, it seems to me that many Christians would have us love God only with our emotional connections, not our minds. They might even implicate erroneously (in my opinion) that our understanding of God and understanding anything about God should not be attempted. Conversely, others seem to believe that we should seek God solely as an intellectual pursuit. If we know the right things, then we will act right and be loved by God. Both sides involve engaging different systems unequally.

Given that emotion and reasoning are so closely allied, it appears there must be a third option. This option involves understanding and emotions simultaneously engaged to love God and seek all things that are good in this world and the next. This is my goal and I intend to employ my reasoning and emotions in the pursuit. It is time to get engaged. (my apologies to those who thought the title meant I was getting married).

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