The Peripheral, the Spiritual and the Brain

Stepping off the plane, you land in the rumblings of an airport whose native tongue is far from what you’d describe as familiar. There are vibrantly dressed children, running around their mothers’ skirts. A nearby stand boasts edible delights with illegible packaging. Melodies pour through the terminal on your way to baggage claim, met by your curious eardrums, eager to fully experience each verse’s message. But you’re a foreigner, relying on an aide or app for assistance. Neither of those methods always translates correctly.

Interpretation is a risk we hedge our bets on daily. Usually we win. We most generally use the kind of communication that only travels from the eye to the mind, though the body still needs its own kind of translation.

In her course on “Design for Engagement,” Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. mentions, “What our eyes see is not the same as what our brain interprets” (“Vision and the Brain,” 2013). The act of seeing is done, really, with the brain. This accounts for the different perceived realities between colorblind and non-colorblind viewers, for example. Optical illusion is another instance of the brain’s creating information that doesn’t necessarily exist within a picture—the length of a line or perhaps the connection between several shapes. If the brain creates or assumes information subconsciously on a moment-by-moment basis, how much more possible is it that the brain does this regarding emotional matters?

More recently, the notion of the seen—one’s gender, as evidenced by Caitlin (Bruce) Jenner, or one’s race, as evidenced by former president of Spokane, Washington’s NAACP chapter, Rachel Dolezal—has been challenged in the minds of some people by those who have defied classification. It’s worth exploring the real, the seen and the truth, as engrained by experience, communities and core truths. Though the constructs of gender and race are significant, the most substantial construct for many people in my universe is that “Jews cannot believe in Jesus.”

As a Jewish American who believes in Jesus as personal and universal messiah, I find that this core issue that is so clearly visible to me, and to a large minority of other Messianic Jews, becomes invisible to the larger Jewish community. The idea of Jews being “for Jesus” is automatically cast into spiritual peripheral vision. The reality of Jesus being for the Jewish people (and every person) is a reality that I want everyone to see.

God sent our Jewish people on a journey, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. He told us very directly we were to become a great nation (Genesis 12), and a redeemer would come from us (Isaiah 59:20). There are many prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures, existing archeological manuscripts, and personal stories of those who would describe themselves as “blind, but now seeing.” Each of these pieces forms a picture we’d love to see form optically in your own heart.

Looking for more? Please chat with us here and be open to what your eyes might read.


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Iris Adler

Iris is a second-generation Jewish believer in Jesus. She hails from the greater New York City area, and could always go for a good, half-sour pickle.

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