>> November 30, 2010
Continued from yesterday's post.
Where is the line drawn between experiential faith ownership and intellectual knowledge?
I once heard a speaker talk about the three levels of memory. (I've read about it since in the book Searching for Memory, by Daniel Schachter). It made sense, so I wanted to share it with you here.
You know, the stuff you memorize out of history books. Like "In August 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Or what you cram into your fevered brain for that final exam. Learned memory is the most quickly and easily forgotten of the three. (I knew there was a reason that in college I couldn't remember the previous semester's concepts to save my life! They flew out of my brain just as soon as each exam was over, making room for new information.)
This is the stuff you've done ten thousand times and your hands just remember how, no intentional thought process needed. Like tying your shoes, or riding a bike... These are the physically repetitive patterns that even an amnesiac can do easily. "I can't remember my name, but I can button my shirt!" Pattern memory is stronger than learned memory, and can stick with you even after your mind is gone.
These are your episodes of feeling and experience. I had one the other day. I was out running, soaking up the brisk early morning air and warm sunshine on my face. In one yard there were some construction guys starting the day, and one had lit a cigarette. That particular smell of smoke, mixed with unwashed workman's clothes and the cool air and sunshine... and suddenly I was transported to my childhood missionary time spent in Russia - an episode that I will never forget.
My conclusions? Well... in essence... this tells me that as God-followers we must create venues for establishing episodic memory in relation to faith. While truth is essential, it falls under "learned memory" and can easily be overwhelmed by a negative episode. And while many will attend church or participate based primarily on force of habit or "pattern memory", the activities may hold little true meaning for them.
Sooooo... the challenge that lies ahead of every ministerial family? Initiating multi-sensory episodes of faith, based on accurate biblical learning, combined with supportive habit/lifestyle patterns and traditions.
Unleash the ideas on me....
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