Young minds are specially crafted to ask awkward questions. ertainly, in traditional societies, the right hand was the place of honour and power. In these more democratic times, allowances are increasingly made for those whose handedness, orientation, etc. are different. Right and left are confusing. Politically, for example. And in the brain: the right side is governed by the left brain, and vice versa, and the optical nerves cross over from side to side before they get to Sight Central.
In Martin Gardner’s “The Ambidextrous Universe”he quotes these wonderful lyrics:
The fragrant Honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun,
And many other creepers do the same.
But some climb counterclockwise, the Bindweed does for one,
Or Convolvulus, to give her proper name.
Flanders and Swann in “At the Drop of a Hat:”
The two fall in love desperately, twining around each other.Then they are appalled at the thought that their offspring will not know which way to spin - and the match is off!
Louis Pasteur first analyzed the left- and right-polarization of light, each coming from chemicals of the same composition, but mirror-imaged in their crystalline structure.
Siobhan Roberts, in her brilliant study of the Toronto geometry mathematician Donald Coxeter, details some of the effects of mirror opposites:
“Many drugs have mirror opposites… which often have a very different effect. One form of ritalin inhibits attention deficit disorder, the other form is an antidepressant; one … ketamine is an anesthetic, the other a hallucinogen … limonene’s left-handed molecule is … in lemons, the right-handed … in oranges.” (“King of Infinite Space,” Anansi, 2006, page 204.)
What has this to do with faith? Well, left and right are important in the natural order, and like anything else in nature, handedness can be of use when we think about God, to fashion metaphors which deepen our spiritual understanding of the world - and of God.
Along with the idea of Jesus being at the right hand of God, there are many ideas of the right way to do things, what is right and what is wrong, God’s much touted almighty power, and so on. Not all these stand up very well, when we think of Jesus as born apparently illegitimate, concerned for the poor and miserable, socializing with drinkers and harlots - and God as the God of love.
Anyway, how does God act in the world? Economics, natural disasters, many factors contrary to our usual ideas, are often referred to seriously as the “left hand of God’, Who is thus seen working not by might, “but in a mysterious way. wonders to perform.”
Carl Jung’s deeply spiritual advice goads us to face up to the “shadow” side of our nature, to the traditionally “left” area of our being, and there find paths to salvation: in Christian terms, the Cross, death and return.