Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I Remember

Amy Cannon at Evangelical Outpost (cum First Things' "Evangel") writes of the value of memorization:
This is a particular way of being acquainted with a piece of literature, one wherein you can “own” or contain it as a whole. We no longer need to memorize to have quick access to things, but memorization helps us get to know the rhythm, the cadence, the fabric of a piece in a way that mere rereading or quick reference doesn’t allow. It may also be worthwhile simply because we so rarely push ourselves to exercise our minds in this way any longer.

Secondly, it’s undeniable that what we know already structures what we are capable of learning.
I think she is right here. Memorization is a dying art. I once worked pretty hard to memorize scripture and still retain a good deal of it, but new memorization is not something I practice much anymore. Like the young people I tried to teach scripture memorization to a few years ago, the response was "why?" There are literally dozens of Bibles hanging around the house. My computer contains software with multiple translations and dozens, if not hundreds, of helps. My PDA/phone can find any word, anywhere in scripture faster than I can type in the word. So why bother with memorizing it?

Because of that second point she makes, "...what we know already structures what we are capable of learning." What does it mean to be a transformed Christian? How is a "Christian" carpenter different than a non-Christian one? May I submit that scripture memory is one of the most significant ways.

A transformed Christian ideally lives in constant communion with the Lord. While I believe in the charismatic gifts, I do not enjoy them. I long to hear the voice of the Lord whisper in my ear. And when scripture pops to mind unbidden, I do. More than anything else, memorized scripture not only shapes what else I can learn, it also shapes my very perception of what is around me.

On the top of a mountain in Colorado there is a cross. I have been there a dozen times or more. On the cross it says, "Be still and know that I am God." (PS 46:10) I cannot look upon the glories of God's creation without that verse entering my mind.

It should be that way with every experience.

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