Three Pounds of What???

Simple question is the brain hardware or software and why?


Answer…I have no clue.  But unfortunately I had insomnia last night.  So here is what I was thinking about:


I was reflecting on my mom.  She had a stroke when she was my age.  I was about 12 at the time.  Strokes by definition cause brain damage.  Her stroke left her left side paralyzed and deaf in her right ear.  She regained most of her mobility, but remains deaf in the right ear.  The more subtle change is a point of debate between my sister and me.  Her personality changed.  She became kind of mean and self centered.  Not to a monstrous extent, but definitely noticeable.  My sister and I were the initial targets.  Since moving out my dad has become the focus of her wrath.


I also reflected on my mother’s roommate in the hospital.  She was in a car accident and had hit her head on the steering wheel.  She swore like a sailor and threw anything that was not nailed down at people walking in the room.  My dad spoke with some of her family.  Before the accident, she was a shy preschool teacher.


Finally I was ruminating on Jesus’ assertion in the Sermon on the Mount that we should not judge.


Here is my thought.  I think the brain is mostly hardware, a storage device of sorts, ROM.  I wonder if our soul is RAM or the “core” operating instructions.  If that is the case, then what we observe in other people is simply the brain and body carrying out instructions.  If you have a good brain, the mind/body should reflect your core intent.  But if you have bad wiring, for whatever reason, then your actions may not reflect your core being.


If that is the case (and I could be full of crap), then no wonder Jesus tells us not to judge.  We have no way of measuring intent.  For instance, under normal circumstances, Tim would probably never kill.  But offer him cobbler, and who knows what he might be capable of.  But that would not reflect his core being, just a weird cobbler anomaly.


Carrying this point a bit further, maybe that is part of what prayer is all about.  In the movie Shadowlands, CS Lewis is asked why he prays as his wife is dying.  Clearly prayer was not changing Gods mind.  Lewis makes a little quip that I think is profound.  He says about prayer, “It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”  Maybe much of what prayer does is put us in touch with our core being, who we are beyond the 3 pounds of meat floating in our skulls.  At our core we are etched with the image of God.  Part of prayer is just receiving operating instructions (Part being the key word.  Prayer is much more than that.  Here me…PART).


Anyway I need more coffee or I am not going to make it through the day.

By Ben Posted in Life

7 comments on “Three Pounds of What???

  1. Too much information. Overload. System core dump. eminent….

    I feel that way sometimes. Lakoff & Johnson, in their book _Philosophy in the Flesh_, has some very interesting things to say about how our actions, desires & decisions are inextricably tied to the flesh. This was a really important point to the Jews (still is…) that we do *not* deny the fleshiness of our selfhood (not an euphemysm) because we are not 100% spirit. We may not be 100% flesh either, but the resurrection of the *body* is extraordinarily important.

    Not sure what I think. I know that my dad cooked his brain on liquid chemicals for 30+ years, and when he turned 50, he decided he wanted to remember his grandkids, and wanted his grandkids to like him at his deathbed (whenever that came). So he stopped. He’s actually a wonderful guy to be around these days. He’s been going to counseling for PTSD (he was a Vietnam vet whose body was essentially shredded by a landmine) and devises little woodworking projects in the basement. He has a soul, which he effectively hid from everybody (except my mom) for 30 years. Should we judge him? Why bother. He’s had it hard enough already (hell–he lives with my mom…).

    Don’t know what else to say about your thoughts, except that I think it would be far more dangerous to take cobbler *away* from Tim, when it comes right down to it. It’s like putting those locks on the trash cans at Yellowstone. Made the grizzlies REALLY angry.

    I think I need more coffee too.


  2. An interesting notion, but I can’t help wondering what impact having a diseased or damage mind has on the soul. If I act out based on a chemical imbalance, does it damage my soul as well? I am not sure but it does raise some interesting questions about motives and justice. Do I have a better soul because I take Prozac? hmmmm…

  3. And to further muddy the waters…

    Where does God’s grace fit in? And can we understand it?

    What if Hitler had a chemical imbalance does this mean we should not judge his actions?

    And then James says that if we have faith then we will have good works, so he seems to be saying that actions must follow beliefs. Remember Satan is not an athiest, he believes in God, but his works show no faith, yes?

    For me all this seems to hinge back on God and His wonderful, incredible grace – – so I won’t even pretend to have the answers.

    Finally if you touch my cobbler – YOU WILL DIE!!

  4. My response to the Hitler question is probably not. But Jesus’ admonition (sp?) did not say judge not except for really really bad people.

    I was pondering more to the sever end of the spectrim. If my IQ is 40, is it possible that I am more than the sum of my brain output? Again, who is to say?

    It just seems to me that we are more than physical. But what is the role of the physical? Not sure.

  5. We need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of the agnostics(?) that said what matters is our spirit only and the flesh doesn’t matter so we can let our flesh do whatever it wants. Again there is God’s grace that is a variable that we cannot count.

    But you are right what is the role? To do good works?

  6. Ok, first I want to say, it is important to make some distinctions about judging, I’m sure you all know this, but I hear “Jesus said not to judge” thing so often as an excuse to ignore or condone sin, that I want to reiterate. We are not to judge the motives of men. We are not to judge unbelievers, that’s God’s job. But we are supposed to judge what is good and what is evil, and we are supposed to judge the acts of other Christians as a part of church life (those things that are clearly laid out in the bible, like adultery). So we can’t judge Hitler, but we can say what he did was evil, and we can’t judge people who sleep around, but we can say what they do is wrong.
    All that is a preface to my main point. My son is severely mentally ill. His disease is getting progressively worse. He is now having hallucinations that tell him to do evil things. I pray that it will not happen, but I imagine the day will come when he will follow those instructions. Often he does things that are “wrong”, but he is driven to those things by his mental illness, and when you understand his point of view, they make sense. Other times he does things that are wrong just because he wants to. It is difficult, and becoming more so. But as his parent, I still feel it is important to discipline him. I have to try and judge his motives, it is really my job. And the reason I feel it is important is so that he knows there is a right and wrong. He might not always be coherent enough to follow it, but even in his illness, I want him to try. I think the intent is what I am after. He is sort of an oddity amoung the kids at his treatment center. Lee’s problem is he is mentally ill. He is not in trouble with the police, he has never done illegal drugs (he has enough legal ones)
    he really doesn’t have horrible behavior problems (apart from his illness) because he has grown up in a stable home with very solid boundaries (He’s not the type of kid that you can ever relax with)
    And so they don’t quite know what to do with him. Usually there are things that they can do to teach kids what to do and what not to do, why drugs are bad, why to follow the law and rules, and so forth. Lee already knows those things. So the best they can do is try help him find channels for those behaviors that are driven by his illness, so that he doesn’t turn into a mass murder. I really see the effects of God in his life. He would be much worse off. I know that Lee would be an amazing person if it weren’t for his illness. He is brilliant. At 6 he could explain the basic concepts of the internal combustion engine, at 10 he was studying forces in science, and explained to the teacher about the fundamental forces of nature, and the teacher learned some things! He has a great sense of humor, and can really come up with humorous and intelligent insights. But all that comes and goes, and seems to be coming with less frequency. Even his IQ has been dropping, you can see it. It is really hard. But I will not let him go. I may lower my expectations, but I cannot let him slide. I think it does make a difference, no I know it does make a difference, Lee is not who he would have been, and I think it is because God was in his life, and we wouldn’t let him just be. So I think that you are more than what your brain ties you to. There are times when he can rise above the hallucinations, his therapists are amazed by that, and when he can’t well he just has to fall back on God’s grace.
    In Lee I really see the battle between the physical and the spiritual, they both have an impact. In him I see that where as the physical can lock us up, we are still there, and don’t go away. Lee has said that himself (he can be very articulate about it) that he feels sort of trapped sometimes. Anyway, it is hard, but I hold on to the fact that someday the physical will be perfect. Until then Lee will have to keep up the fight. And I’ll keep helping as much as I can. I’ve seen the intent seems to make the difference.

  7. Wow…I am amazed by the often heroic challenges that people I know face daily. Lee is incredibly luck to have you and Leslie in his life. I cannot imagine what would have become of him if he were raised in the system.

    Lee actually crossed my mind when I was writing this entry. As is always the case, I wish I could see things from God’s perspective. He sees the soul behind the broken body. I am becoming all too aware of the fact that people are way too focused on what they can observe. I sometimes wonder how we will react (not only to God) on the other side, but to each other. When we are all laid bare, I have the feeling there will be a lot of people who I thought I new well, but really I did not know them at all.

    Keep on slogging through. Hopefully one day this will all make sense.

Comments encouraged!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s