When Bean-Counters Take Over

brainIain McGilchrist in his famous book The Master and his Emissary. McGilchrist, both a brain scientist and a literary critic . . . argues that modern western culture has exhibited large-scale symptoms that correspond to the schizophrenia in which the brain’s left hemisphere dominates and the right hemisphere is under-used or screened out altogether. He insists that this is deeply unhealthy, since the right hemisphere, which handles metaphor, music, imagination, poetry and indeed faith, is designed to take the lead (‘the Master’), and the left hemisphere, which crunches the numbers and works out the details, is designed to back it up (‘the Emissary’). The take-over bid by the left brain produces, in a culture, the same effect as when the bean-counters take over the business. That’s not their job. The beans need to be counted, of course. But that must serve the larger purpose, which can never be glimpsed by merely counting beans.

–N. T. Wright,
Wouldn’t You Love to Know? Towards a Christian View of Reality

Beyond the Prison Walls

paradise-thegateWe have been duped into accepting the very first lie of materialism, that is the hideous claim that there is no supernatural order to the universe. The materialists have imprisoned us in a world of mere matter, of physical facts divorced from and devoid of metaphysical truth. Well, I say that they are lying. I say that they are the ones who have come up with a false myth . . . and they have convinced us that it is true. They have made us believe that this is all there is: three dimensions, five senses, four walls . . . The four walls of materialism are the four walls of a prison. The materialists are our jailers . . . They have put us in a prison, a prison of four walls. They don’t want us to see what’s beyond those four walls. They don’t want us to discover what lies outside their narrow philosophy.

–Lewis and Tolkien Debate Myths and Lies

The Sanity of Mysticism

GK Chesterton 10Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. . . . He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. . . . He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man.

The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. . . . The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility.

–G.K. Chesterton,