Joe Carter has a five-part series on memorization over at the Gospel Coalition that’s worth reading. I’m a huge proponent of memorizing the Bible:
When we have the entire Bible available as an app on our smartphones, it seems an unnecessary waste of time and effort to memorize specific verses or the grand narrative of the story. By relying on technology to do our remembering for us, we have forgotten the moral aspect of memorization. “A trained memory wasn’t just about gaining easy access to information,” says Jonathan Foer, referring to the ancient world, “it was about strengthening one’s personal ethics and becoming a more complete person.” Foer adds that the thinking of the ancients was that only through memorization could ideas truly be incorporated into one’s psyche and their values absorbed. “Indeed, the single most common theme in the lives of the saints—besides their superhuman goodness—is their often extraordinary memories,” Foer notes.
Oddly enough, in the post, Carter hit on the two things that motivated me most when I first started to work seriously on extensive memorization. Here’s the first:
“My philosophy of life,” says Ed Cooke, a British author and Grand Master of Memory, “is that a heroic person should be able to withstand about ten years in solitary confinement without getting terribly annoyed.”
Cooke has already memorized the bulk of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and is working on doing the same with the works of Shakespeare. “Given that an hour of memorization yields about ten solid minutes of spoken poetry, and those ten minutes have enough content to keep you busy for a full day, I figure you can squeeze at least a day’s fun out of each hour of memorization—if you should ever happen to find yourself in solitary confinement.”
Chances are I’ll never be in a concentration camp or zombie apocalypse without a Bible, but I was inspired by stories of Christians who were to be ready to bring the Bible to the people around me. Crazy? Maybe. But it keeps me going.
The second inspiration for me was St. Patrick. When I read his Confession, I saw passages from the Bible interwoven seamlessly into everything he wrote. The words just came naturally out of him because they had become a part of him. I wanted that to be true of me, too. Here’s how Joe Carter described this:
For church fathers like Augustine, memorization of the Biblical text helped to make Scripture function like a second language. It has been observed, says Mary Carruthers, that Augustine wrote “not only in Latin but ‘in Psalms,’ so imbued is his language with their phrasing and vocabulary.”
No other kind of study has done more for increasing my knowledge and understanding of the Bible than memorization, so I encourage you to read “How Memorization Feeds Your Imagination” and see the list of parts 2–5 at the end of his post.
A doctor in Michigan wrongly refused to take a lesbian couple’s baby as a patient. This is simply a misunderstanding and misapplication of the conscience rights people have been fighting for. No one should be forced to participate in procedures or events one objects to, but it’s a different matter to refuse to treat or serve someone because one objects to him or her personally.
The doctor’s stated reasoning for rejecting the patient was this: “After much prayer following your prenatal (visit), I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.” Either this doctor did not think carefully through this situation (not understanding the distinction between objecting to procedures and objecting to patients, thinking it would go against her conscience to serve lesbians), or she was basing this decision on her expected inability to connect with the parents because they’re lesbians.
If the second is the case, what a lost opportunity as a Christian! As ambassadors of Christ, it’s our honor to serve people in love, thereby demonstrating to others the mercy Christ showed us. How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear if we don’t allow them in our presence?
If the first is the case, we need to do a better job of informing people’s consciences. There’s a world of difference between not participating in a lesbian wedding by providing the flowers and not selling flowers to someone because she’s a lesbian. There’s a problem with gay activists blurring this distinction; let’s not add to this problem by making the same mistake.
In response to this story, Wesley J. Smith reposted some medical conscience guidelines he created to help people evaluate situations such as this one:
– Except in rare and compelling circumstances in which a patient’s life is at stake, no medical professional should be compelled to perform or participate in procedures or treatments that take human life.
– The rights of conscience should apply most strongly in elective procedures, that is, medical treatments not required to extend the life of, or prevent serious harm to, the patient.
– It should be the procedure that is objectionable, not the patient. In this way, for example, physicians could not refuse to treat a lung-cancer patient because the patient smoked or to maintain the life of a patient in a vegetative state because the physician believed that people with profound impairments do not have a life worth living.
– No medical professional should ever be forced to participate in a medical procedure intended primarily to facilitate the patient’s lifestyle preferences or desires (in contrast to maintaining life or treating a disease or injury).
You can read the rest of his proposed guidelines here. As he says of this pediatrician story, “[T]his isn’t an example of the kind of case in which conscience protections should apply.”
Brett’s and Alan’s February newsletters are now posted on the website:
Do You Live in a Two-Story House? by Brett Kunkle: “Most Americans divide their beliefs into two categories of truth—objective and subjective. Imagine this split as a two-story house. Objective truth ‘lives’ on the first floor. This floor deals with facts that are publicly known. These facts are binding on everyone, whether you believe them or not. They form the basis for how we live life in public. Segments of our society allowed on this floor are the sciences, medicine, law, economics, and government. Subjective truth ‘lives’ on the second floor. This floor deals with personal preferences that are private to individuals. These preferences are relative to individuals. There are no ‘right’ preferences. Instead, you’ve got yours and I’ve got mine, and we should live and let live. Things like family and hobbies live on this floor. But our culture relegates religion and morality here as well. The result is devastating.” (Read more)
Are the Chick-fil-A Cows on to Something? by Alan Shlemon: “By eating meat we are discriminating – we are saying that eating animals is permissible. That’s because our culture has been influenced by Judeo-Christian values. This worldview teaches that God made humans in His image, making them more valuable than animals. That’s not all it says, though. We are also stewards of creation, the environment, and animals. While using animals for food is permissible, abusing them is not…. If there’s no God, there’s no way to justify caring about animals. Where would animal rights come from if God doesn’t exist? A right is a just claim to something. It doesn’t appear out of thin air. Without a transcendent rights giver, you can’t ground the claim that animals deserve to not be eaten.” (Read more)
You can subscribe to their monthly newsletters via email here.
Here’s a challenge you might hear from a Christian:
In 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, Paul says, “[M]y message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” If Paul didn’t use “persuasive words of wisdom” when he went to the Corinthians, wouldn’t it be wrong for us to use apologetics today?
What do you think about this one? Tell us in the comments below how you would respond, then Brett will answer this challenge for us on Thursday.