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Two Brains

Part of the chemistry building is newly renovated, and I am in the process of setting up my teaching labs in the new space. Everything has been moved, so the area is in the chaotic stage of piles of boxes needing to be sorted and put away. Everywhere I look is a mess to be cleaned, with some parts interdependent on others until there is a tangle of priorities. I have been having a hard time picking a starting place.

One member of my staff is responsible for part of the space, and so I brought him in to help. Not knowing where he wanted things for his area contributed to my paralysis. He looked around, grinned as we got started, and said, “Sometimes it just takes two brains.”

He is right. There is something that seems inherent in social relational beings that problems are often best solved in community. We all groan about the drudgery and fruitlessness of committee work, yet some projects just take more brains. Delegation, brainstorming, different life lessons often all contribute synergistically to create better solutions.

What is interesting is there seems to be some evidence of this in the Godhead. We see Christ praying to the Father repeatedly in the Gospels, and in a number of places throughout Scripture, the Trinity is shown consulting with itself to come to decisions, such as in Genesis 1 when God is creating humanity, “Let us create man in our image…” Of course, the Godhead is in complete unison, and debate doesn’t occur in the same way it does for us, yet, it seems each Person contributes to the various discussions. Thus, it seems that even with God, there is synergy in the perfect community of the Trinity, so it should not be surprising that it is also true for us.

It is not good for the man to be alone.                               Genesis 2:18

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.                         Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

As faculty, we are trained, both by our natures and by our mentoring, to be somewhat independent, to work alone, and we are rewarded based somewhat on what we accomplish. Sure we collaborate, and sure we may have a research group, but there is something in our mindset that values sole proprietorship of our successes. As Christians in academia, how can we work differently to change this aspect of academic culture and to solve bigger problems? We have made a lot of progress on this, especially in the technical areas, but what about the humanities?

I ask somewhat out of ignorance, as I am on the technical side, but also as a challenge to work collaboratively on societal ills, even crossing the divide between the arts and the sciences. Talk about different life experiences and perspectives! What kind of synergy can erupt from a trans-college collaboration?

Sometimes it just takes two brains.


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