Inspired by my new toy, A Steam Cleaner, I did some spring cleaning yesterday. These roses looked wonderful in the sunlight and steam.
But back to my books…
I’ve finished reading ‘Chaos’. It ends with some thoughts on the most wonderful natural system of all: our own bodies. Most of the focus at the time this book was published (1987) was on the functioning of the heart. It was known even then that a jolt of electricity could reset the rhythm of the heart when it was running out of control. This kind of rough treatment has also been tried on the brain and sometimes even seems to work, but can also result in damage.
One of the difficulties of thinking about the mind in a Christian context is our tendency to split it into several separate entities. First there is the ‘mind’: A complex computing engine designed to figure out logical stuff. Then there is the ‘soul’ which deals with emotions and spiritual stuff. Both of these are somehow superimposed, but not quite part of, the ‘brain’ which is a wobbling mass of nerves and chemicals.
But Chaos theory gives us another way of understanding the mind. Experiments in artificial intelligence created:
… points of stability mixed with instability, and regions with changeable boundaries. Their fractal structure offered the kind of infinitely self-referential structure that seems so central to the mind’s ability to bloom with ideas, decisions, emotions and all the other artifacts of consciousness.
If we think of the brain as only a sophisticated computer then we have to see the spiritual side of ourselves as separate and non-physical. But if we see it as an almost infinitely complex system, like the weather, then all of who we are can be incorporated into our real, physical brains.
Once we think like this we can have a much more holistic approach to spiritual, mental and physical health. We can see the rhythm of a walk as a way of bringing us closer to the rhythm of God’s creation. We can see intense experiences of the Holy Spirit as being a way of resetting our minds into a better track – like defibrillating a heart. Every action, even spring cleaning, and every sight, like a bunch of roses, becomes part of the pattern of our minds.